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Fri, 24 Mar 2017
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Extreme Temperatures

Snowflake Cold

Black Blizzard: Cyclone wreaks havoc on Russia's Arctic city of Norilsk (VIDEO)

© Norilsk News / YouTube
A powerful cyclone has triggered days of severe snowstorms in the world's northernmost city of Norilsk, leaving inhabitants battling to maintain a regular lifestyle in the face of extreme cold, biting winds, and low visibility.

Storm warnings have been announced every few days throughout the past month, with the latest declared on Sunday night, as a warm cyclone hit the city. Temperatures have risen from about -25C to -15C, but a third of the expected monthly snowfall fell on Sunday night alone, and precipitation has not subsided since. Average snow cover has reached seven inches.

Winds have regularly exceeded 25 km/h, and have on occasions reached 40 km/h, which is defined by Russian meteorologists as a "black blizzard" - a severe weather event. Visibility has fallen below 1 km, but videos posted by locals show that it is hard to make out the houses on the sides of the road even during daytime - which only lasts five hours - without streetlights.


There's so much snow on Loveland Pass, Colorado that it buried an avalanche warning sign

© Jake Gronseth with Rex Berkey
This sign is not very useful given the conditions.
If you've been reading the news at all over the past few weeks, you might have heard that it's been snowing in the mountains. A lot.

And how much snow has Loveland Pass gotten? So much snow that it's burying a sign warning of avalanche danger.

Viewers Jake Gronseth and Rex Berkey uploaded a photo of the buried sign to Your Take. They say they took the picture at around 11 a.m. on Thursday.

"Yes, it was cold," they write." Whatever the sign says, it doesn't help very much."

After a slow start, snow has been epic at Colorado's ski areas. Loveland has gotten 115 inches of snow this January. The average amount for this time of year? Fifty eight inches.

Yeah, that's pretty epic.

Snowflake Cold

Upheaval by John Casey, instantly frozen fish and South California freeze warnings

John Casey's new book Upheaval is out and connects the anti-correlation of low sunspot activity and high earthquake activity. The take away is that during grand solar minimums such as the type we are entering now, there will be a major 8.0+ quake in the Mississippi River Valley destroying bridges, ripping apart gas pipelines and all trade crossing the Mississippi will come to a halt. Also Switzerland experiences the most days below zero since 1964 and flash frozen Pike with a fish in its mouth, Mastodon.


Bizarro Earth

Earth 'overdue' for magnetic pole reversal

© Shutterstock
The Earth's magnetic field, magnetic poles and geographic poles.
Earth's magnetic field may be about to reverse, which could have devastating consequences for humanity.

Scientists think that Earth is long "overdue" for a full magnetic reversal and have determined that the magnetic field's strength is already declining by 5 percent each century. This suggests that a fully reversal is highly probable within the next 2,000 years

Earth's magnetic field surrounds the planet and deflects charged particles from the sun away, protecting life from harmful radiation. There have been at least several hundred global magnetic reversals throughout Earth's history, during which the north and south magnetic poles swap. The most recent of these occurred 41,000 years ago.

During the reversal, the planet's magnetic field will weaken, allowing heightened levels of radiation on and above the Earth's surface.

The radiation spike would cause enormous problems for satellites, aviation, and the power grid. Such a reversal would be comparable to major geomagnetic storms from the sun.

The sun last produced such a storm that struck Earth during the summer of 1859, creating the largest geomagnetic storm on record. The storm was so powerful that it caused telegraph machines around the world to spark, shocking operators and setting papers ablaze. The event released the same amount of energy as 10 billion atomic bombs.

Researchers estimate that a similar event today would cause $600 billion to $2.6 trillion in damages to the U.S. alone. National Geographic found that a similar event today would destroy much of the internet, take down all satellite communications, and almost certainly knock out most of the global electrical grid. The Earth would only get about 20 hours of warning. Other estimates place the damage at roughly $40 billion a day.

A similar solar event occurred in 2012, but missed Earth.

Cloud Precipitation

Australian crop losses due to wet and cold, temperatures drop scientists terminated for speaking up

© Courtney Fowler
Taralee Orchard's apricot harvest was a seventh of the normal size crop after the unseasonally wet spring.
Australian crop losses mount from cold and wet conditions across the agricultural belt. Although the BOM head meteorologists had forecast never ending drought. Which has turned out to be the opposite with record floods across the country this year. Additionally new ACORN data sets show Australia has remained the same temperature as 1920.



Study relates Atlantic hurricane frequency to sunspot activity

© Rojo-Garibaldi et al. (2016)
Figure 1. Annual hurricane count in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea over the period 1749-2012. Red line indicates the linear trend.
Paper Reviewed

Rojo-Garibaldi, B., Salas-de-León, D.A., Sánchez, N.L. and Monreal-Gómez, M.A. 2016. Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and their relationship with sunspots. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 148: 48-52.

Although some climate alarmists contend that CO2-induced global warming will increase the number of hurricanes in the future, the search for such effect on Atlantic Ocean tropical cyclone frequency has so far remained elusive. And with the recent publication of Rojo-Garibaldi et al. (2016), it looks like climate alarmists will have to keep on looking, or accept the likelihood that something other than CO2 is at the helm in moderating Atlantic hurricane frequency.

In their intriguing analysis published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, the four-member research team of Rojo-Garibaldi et al. developed a new database of historical hurricane occurrences in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, spanning twenty-six decades over the period 1749 to 2012. Statistical analysis of the record revealed "the hurricane number is actually decreasing in time," which finding is quite stunning considering that it is quite possible fewer hurricanes were recorded at the beginning of their record when data acquisition was considerably worse than towards the end of the record. Nevertheless, as the Mexican research team indicates, "when analyzing the entire time series built for this study, i.e., from 1749 to 2012, the linear trend in the number of hurricanes is decreasing" (see figure above).

As for the potential cause behind the downward trend, Rojo-Garibaldi et al. examined the possibility of a solar influence, performing a series of additional statistical analyses (spectral, wavelet and coherence wavelet transform) on the hurricane database, as well as a sunspot database obtained from the Solar Influences Data Analysis Center of the Solar Physics Department of the Royal Observatory of Belgium. Therein, their exploratory analyses revealed that "this decline is related to an increase in sunspot activity."


Brutal Western U.S. winter weather has been terrible for animals

© Jerome A Pollos
Two juvenile elk wander in a field
Antelope injured while falling on ice. Horses stranded in snowy mountains. Cougars descending from their wilderness lairs to forage in a town.

It's been a beastly winter in the American West, not just for people but for animals too. One storm after another has buried much of the region in snow, and temperatures have often stayed below freezing, endangering a rich diversity of wild animals.

In southern Idaho, about 500 pronghorn antelope tried to cross the frozen Snake River earlier this month at Lake Walcott, but part of the herd spooked and ran onto a slick spot where they slipped and fell. Idaho Fish and Game workers rescued six of the stranded pronghorn, but 10 were killed by coyotes and 20 had to be euthanized because of injuries suffered when they fell down.

Another 50 pronghorn were found dead in the small western Idaho city of Payette after they nibbled on Japanese yew, a landscaping shrub that's toxic. Tough winter conditions have forced some wildlife to feed on the plant in urban areas.

Heavy snow has forced the Idaho Fish and Game department to begin emergency feeding of big game animals in southern Idaho.

In this Jan. 18, 2017, photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, elk feed at the Wenaha Wildlife Area near Troy, Ore.

Comment: See also: Animals struggle with heavy snowfall, winter weather in Idaho


Snowball Earth - Entire Earth covered by ice?

© Neethis
Imagine the earth enveloped in ice, as it was during Snowball Earth times.
Imagine the entire Earth covered in ice. It's not that far-fetched. It actually happened - and more than once.

Was it because Anna got mad at Elsa? No - but the real reason is even cooler. Scientists figured it out only after a rather provocative hypothesis tied a bunch of bizarre evidence together.

The first clues were discovered on some desolate Atlantic islands. There geologists found layers of rock formed by glaciers, but sandwiched between tropical rocks. How had this happened? Did the islands tectonically drift from the tropics to the poles and then back?

Nope. Microscopic magnetic particles in the rocks showed that when they were originally deposited, the rocks were located near the equator. This could only mean one thing - that the tropics had once been covered by ice.

No problem, you say? There are glaciers atop plenty of equatorial mountains, like the ones that feed the Nile or that dot Ecuadorian rainforests. Maybe such high-elevation glaciers could explain the equatorial ice evidence geologists were finding.

Except that the tropical strata below and above the glacial rocks weren't deposited at high elevation. Rather they were deposited in warm water, near tidal flats and ocean beaches.

It gets even crazier. In other reaches of the globe, scientists scratched their heads about similarly bipolar deposits - in Australia, Africa, Asia and our own Rocky Mountains. Much like paleontologists figured out that dinosaurs all disappeared at the same time, it took a long time for geologists to figure out that all these glacial-tropical rocks were about the same age.

Meaning: Maybe the entire planet, even delightful places like Ecuador, had once been covered by vast sheets of ice. A Snowball Earth.

Bizarro Earth

Rainbow in freezing temperatures?

When the temperature dips below freezing, rainbows vanish, right? Rainbows require liquid raindrops, and frozen water doesn't do the trick. Yesterday in Alaska, however, a rainbow appeared that seemed to defy the simple laws of physics. John Dean photographed the pale arc over Nome:
© John Dean
I seen this at sunset this evening, I first noticed the left hand side then the whole bow, there is a second bow by the streetlight, this is facing north also. The sun had just broke through the clouds as it was setting behind me. I have never witnessed this before here in Alaska
"It was not raining," says Dean. "The temperature was 25 F and a light snow storm had just passed through about an hour before. This is a first for me, and it has me perplexed."

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains what happened: "This is definitely a rainbow made by water drops, even though it was so cold. Ice spheres, hail or snowflakes cannot make them because a rainbow needs almost perfectly spherical, smooth and transparent water drops. This bow is broad, telling us that the water drops were small. They were also probably quite high up, and might even have been supercooled below the normal freezing point of water."

Supercooled raindrops can form when droplets of water fall through layers of subfreezing air. Droplets containing specks of dust or even microbes readily freeze as ice crystals form around the impurities. But when rain droplets are especially pure, they can remain in a liquid state even when the temperature drops below freezing.

Hence -- the "supercooled rainbow." High latitude sky watchers should be alert for these rare rainbows as strange Arctic weather grips the North in winter 2017.


Ice age cycles linked to orbital periods and sea ice

© Jung-Eun Lee/Brown University
The Southern Hemisphere has a higher capacity to grow sea ice than the Northern Hemisphere, where continents block growth. New research shows that the expansion of Southern Hemisphere sea ice during certain periods in Earth’s orbital cycles can control the pace of the planet’s ice ages.
Providence, R.I. — Earth is currently in what climatologists call an interglacial period, a warm pulse between long, cold ice ages when glaciers dominate our planet's higher latitudes. For the past million years, these glacial-interglacial cycles have repeated roughly on a 100,000-year cycle. Now a team of Brown University researchers has a new explanation for that timing and why the cycle was different before a million years ago.

Using a set of computer simulations, the researchers show that two periodic variations in Earth's orbit combine on a 100,000-year cycle to cause an expansion of sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere. Compared to open ocean waters, that ice reflects more of the sun's rays back into space, substantially reducing the amount of solar energy the planet absorbs. As a result, global temperature cools.

"The 100,000-year pace of glacial-interglacial periods has been difficult to explain," said Jung-Eun Lee, an assistant professor in Brown's Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Studies and the study's lead author. "What we were able to show is the importance of sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere along with orbital forcings in setting the pace for the glacial-interglacial cycle."

The research is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.