Recent news items reinforce messages from yesterday’s book review.
A study published in 2012 showed that by changing the temperature balance between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, rapid Arctic warming is altering the course of the jet stream, which steers weather systems from west to east around the northern hemisphere. The Arctic has been warming about twice as fast as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, due to a combination of human emissions of greenhouse gases and unique feedbacks built into the Arctic climate system. The jet stream, the study said, is becoming “wavier,” with steeper troughs and higher ridges.
A new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters shows that reduced sea ice cover can favor colder and stormier winters in the northern midlatitudes. [my emphasis – UK readers will need no reminding of this!]
So bear those references in mind as you read:
Breaking News (Literally): NOAA Video Confirms Early Breakup
March 23, 2013
Published on Mar 22, 2013
A series of intense storms in the Arctic has caused fracturing of the sea ice around the Beaufort Sea along the northern coasts of Alaska and Canada. High-resolution imagery from the Suomi NPP satellite shows the evolution of the cracks forming in the ice, called leads, from February 17 — March 18 2013. The general circulation of the area is seen moving the ice westward along the Alaskan coast
“Intense storms” are not an unheard of thing in the arctic. What’s new is that the ice is so fragile that normal storm activity is breaking it up much earlier than has been seen in the past.
To recapitulate: It is normal for the ice to crack and for leads to occur. However, this is very extensive cracking and there are some very big leads, and all of it seems to come earlier than expected. Given last year’s melting mayhem and the low amount of multi-year ice, it makes one wonder whether this early cracking will have any effect in the melting season to come.
There are still several weeks to go before this part of the Arctic is going to start melting, up till then the ice will actually thicken some more, even when the Sun’s rays start to reach the ice. But the ice is already getting broken up in smaller pieces, which means that 1) the pack becomes more mobile (like we saw last year), and 2) the thin ice that now grows to fill up the leads will go first when the melting starts, potentially leading to more open water between floes to absorb solar energy and convert it to heat.
But maybe not. Maybe this will have zero influence. We don’t know. That’s why we watch.
Nothing more to add except to ponder on what strange weather we will be experiencing this year! Actually, no need to ponder. The UK Met Office issued a weather warning last Sunday that included this sentence, “Cold easterly winds will persist through the coming week with bitterly cold conditions.” That came on the back of a blog entry from the Met Office that same day that included:
Many areas also saw strong winds, with a gust of 61 mph recorded at Shap, Cumbria and 48 mph recorded at Machrihanish, Argyll . These winds have caused even deeper drifts of snow in some areas. [my emphasis].
61mph? That’s Storm Force 10 under the Beaufort scale and 3mph under the lower boundary of a Violent Storm; Beaufort Force 11!
The next item that caught my eye was some ‘goodish’ news from the US Senate via a recent post on 350.org.
Bill’s Response to the Senate Vote Today
Posted by Duncan Meisel – 03/22/13, 4:51pm
After a very chaotic week on Capitol Hill, I wanted to write you with an update on what just happened in the Senate today.
First and foremost: the oil industry’s Senators did not manage to pass legislation that would force President Obama to build Keystone XL.
Because you — and people like you, all across the country — jumped into action this week, they backtracked and instead held a vote on a nonbinding resolution that says it would be nice to build the pipeline, but doesn’t actually do much about it. For that vote, they got the stomach-churning number of 62 Senators to vote with them. As usual, the ones who had taken the most money from the fossil fuel industry lined up to cast their votes—the cosponsors of the bill, on average, had taken $807,000 in dirty energy money.
Now, this amounts to symbolic chest thumping by the oil industry: showing just how many Senators they can get to jump when told to. It’s not the worst thing that could have happened, but it reminds everyone why, in one recent poll, congress had approval ratings lower than head lice and colonoscopies — even on the symbolic stuff, they can’t get it together to stand up to the oil industry guys cutting them checks.
In a certain way though, this vote couldn’t come at a better time. Congress is going on break, and for the next two weeks, these 62 Senators will be back in their home states, doing things like meeting with constituents — people like you.
Home states are where some of the most heroic work took place the last week — in Minneapolis, say, where 150 350MN.org activists showed up on very short notice at Sen. Klobuchar’s office in a snowstorm to tell her to vote no on Keystone (and she did, it should be added).
If you’re interested in following in the fine example of those leaders who held actions at their senators offices, you have a chance in the next two weeks.
We’re looking for people who can step up to lead, and then we’ll put the 350 network into action to get people to join you. If you want to lead an action, just click here to tell us when you’d like to do so: act.350.org/survey/kxl-senate-accountability-2013/
Look, there are two ways to react to a democracy for sale. One is to walk away in disgust, which is what the Koch Brothers count on. The other is to stand up and say: no more. If you visit your Senator, take some pictures or some video so we can share them around. It’s time to build this broader fossil fuel resistance.
And remember, Capitol Hill is not the center of the world. Around the country this week our friends at Tar Sands Blockade have been actively targeting Keystone investors; faith groups have been hauled off to jail in front of the White House to protest the pipeline; and the divestment campaign has expanded off college campuses and into municipal and state governments.
The movement is doing amazing stuff — we just need more of it. We can’t outspend the oil industry, but we can out-organize them. In fact, we have to.
“the cosponsors of the bill, on average, had taken $807,000 in dirty energy money.” Words utterly fail me!
Funny old world!