Extreme Heat Event in Northern Siberia and the coastal Arctic Ocean This Week (Updated 7/9/2018 to discuss Canada/Scandinavia)

Updated 7 pm CDT 7/9/2018:

Because of the attention of this post, I’m updating it to discuss the ongoing intense warming of the parts of the Arctic this week into next week and the implications on the mid-latitudes further. The heatwave in northern Siberia is receding, but heat is building in Northern Canada and Scandinavia this week. All the result of very strong, persistent high pressure systems, leading to surface temperatures 15-30 degrees F (8-17 C) above normal.

Global Forecast System computer model forecast 7-day mean temperature anomalies for the Arctic. Very anomalous warmth expected over the Canadian Arctic (Nunavut) and Scandinavia and northwestern Siberia during the next week. Also note anomalous heat over much of the Greenland and Barents Seas to the edge of the sea ice extent (waters east of Greenland and to north-northeast of Scandinavian countries).
These anomalies, much like what occurred to a spectacular level in north-central and northeast Siberia translate to very warm temperatures for so far north of 60 N.

Arctic and Sub-Arctic Canada appears to go through the most significant impacts Monday-Thursday with temperatures into the above 79 F (26 C) and even approaching 90 F (32 F).

GFS Model high temperature forecast for Canada Tuesday afternoon. Temperatures into the 80s F and approaching 90 degrees F (27-32 C) well into the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

High temperatures Thursday.
At the same time, Scandinavia and northwest Russia will also see significantly above normal temperatures of similar magnitude.

GFS Forecast high temperatures Tuesday over Scandinavia. Temperatures above 81 F (27 C) extending north of the Arctic Circle. The pattern remains persistent through the weekend and possibly longer.

GFS Model forecast high temperatures for Saturday afternoon. Note temperatures near 90 F (32 C) in far northwest Russia.
All of this very abnormal heat over the high latitude landmasses, overspreading the peripheral seas of the Arctic Ocean continues to cause substantial and persistent decrease in daily sea ice volume in the Arctic and surrounding areas. Significant reductions are being caused by decreases in concentration of ice within the Arctic Ocean; ice which is also quite thin from months of abnormal warmth, including in the polar night. In addition, a major ocean cyclone struck the Beaufort Sea and part of the Central Arctic Basin over the weekend,bring in heat from the warm Pacific and eastern Siberia and churning up wave action under the influence of strong wind gusts over the open, ice-crusted sea.

Visible image of Arctic cyclone over the Beaufort Sea (“C” shaped cloud structure on the left near Alaska). Note the ice cover over the Arctic Ocean and ongoing areas of break up along offshore Eurasia (on the right side of the image). Image from July 7th, Terra satellite.

Satellite data showing sea ice concentration in the Arctic Ocean and adjacent areas for July 8th.
Research by scientists such as Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University (recent recorded lecture discussing her research can be found here) have shown that decreasing sea ice can lead to a) progressively weaker jet stream with higher amplitude, slower-moving waves (atmospheric ridges and troughs) capable of producing more frequent extreme weather events (extreme heat, heavy rainfall patterns, etc) for weeks at a time. Also areas of very low extent and open compared to the past are hypothesized to enhance the very ridges of high pressure which produce extended hot, dry weather (research into this still ongoing). These ongoing effects are all a product of very abrupt changes in the Arctic climate over the past 20 yrs, which have to evolved to the point of effecting both Arctic and mid-latitude weather on meteorological timescales (several days or weeks).

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These pronounced effects on the mid-latitudes leading to more extreme weather events would be expected to continue as the planet continues to warm, with the Arctic warming twice as fast as the planet north of 60 N (and up to 4 times faster north of 80 N) with such extremes having implications on crop yields, water resources and human health in the coming years.

–Meteorologist Nick Humphrey

(Original post from 7/2/2018 below):

This isn’t typically what I would write about in this blog, as I typically cover threatening ocean storms. However, this has implications for the Arctic Ocean and possibly mid-latitude weather. An extreme heat event for this particular region…with high temperatures of greater than 40 degrees F (greater than 20 C) above recent normals…will impact the coast of the Arctic Ocean (specifically the Laptev Sea and Eastern Siberian Sea) Wednesday-Friday. This will generate maximum daily temperatures as high as 90-95 degrees (32-35 C) near the open ocean coast!

Yes,  you read that correctly.

Wednesday Afternoon (local time) high temperatures along the Laptev Sea in Northern Siberia. Widespread 80s to mid-90s, over 40 degrees above normal as forecast by the Global Forecast System Model.

Thursday Afternoon (local time) high temperatures along Eastern Laptev Sea and far western portion of the Eastern Siberian sea in Northern Siberia. Similar temperatures and departures to Wednesday.

Friday Afternoon (local time) high temperatures along the far western portion of the Eastern Siberian Sea in Northern Siberia. Widespread 80s to mid-90s, over 40 degrees above normal.
Needless to say, a true roasting for this area.

I’ve looked over the European model and there appears to be general agreement over the intensity and timing of this extreme event. It is absolutely incredible and really one of the most intense heat events I’ve ever seen for so far north. Climate change has sent temps skyrocketing in the far north of the planet over just the past 20 years. While that’s been quite reflected in the rapid rise in wintertime temperatures, it’s increasingly being reflected in summertime temperatures as more and more sea ice disappears earlier in the season, leaving more dark blue ocean to absorb more daytime sunlight. This heating of the ocean surface by low albedo (very low reflectivity…little sunlight being reflected back off into space) causes some heat to be released back to heat the atmosphere above, speeding up warming of the Arctic region. This is known as Arctic Amplification. And one larger-scale hemispheric consequence being actively researched by Dr. Jennifer Francis (YouTube Video Presentation) and on others is that Arctic Amplification is causing an abrupt weakening of the polar jet stream (on timescales of just the past decade or two), the main feature which steers and intensifies weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. The weakening is causing the polar jet to become much wavier, with greater wave “breaks” and blocking patterns where waves sit in the same place for weeks promote extreme weather patterns (extreme cold relative to normal as well as extreme heat, very wet, and drought conditions).

2018 has unfortunately been a prime example of global warming’s effect on the jet stream. And northern Siberia has been getting blowtorched by heat that refuses to quit because of an ongoing blocked pattern favorable for intense heat.

Mean temperature anomalies the past 30 days. Normal relative to 1981-2010 baseline.
This, in turn, has result in significant erosion of the sea ice in the Laptev Sea and warming of the waters into the mid-40s (5-6 C) in the sea (around 43 F/6 C).


Warming in of +6 C (11 F) above normal sea surface temperatures in the ice free area of the Laptev Sea on the left. Also circled is the ice free +6 C area in the Chukchi Sea on the left between Siberia and Alaska, which also had record low sea ice extent this past winter and spring.
I would expect sea ice concentration to decline further this week, perhaps significantly as these incredible temperatures strike the region. The numerical models not only indicate the intense daytime heat, but also nighttime lows in the 60s (15-20 C), with 70s (21-26 C) not far inland.

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Thursday Morning (local time) temperatures along the Laptev Sea. Upper-60s to mid-70s.
Incredible! Also, during the daytime hours there will be strong offshore wind blowing hot air offshore out to sea capable of heating waters and destroying more and more sea ice.

In addition to the immediate impact on sea ice, there is also the impact on permafrost. Or perhaps, what was “permafrost”. More of these kind of intense heat events now hitting the Arctic at the height of summer will result in more rapid destruction of land permafrost as well as heating of the shallow waters just offshore where sub-sea permafrost is located, allowed for increasingly more carbon dioxide and methane to be released into the atmosphere, speeding up global warming and resulting climate change, including effects on storm patterns in the mid-latitudes.

—Meteorologist Nick Humphrey


Update on the Eastern Pacific Tropics

The North Pacific and North Atlantic appear to be fairly quiet as far as significant ocean storms. However, I wanted to make note of a likely developing tropical cyclone in the Eastern Pacific Basin (east of 140 W longitude). The US National Hurricane Center has pegged it with a 80% chance of development over the next 2 days before it moves northward toward much colder waters after Monday. It should be no threat to land at this time.

Developing tropical cyclone over the Eastern Pacific late-Saturday afternoon. Much cooler waters exist to the north, which can be noted by the thick layer of low clouds (known as “stratocumulus”) to the north of the red circle. These signify a “stable” atmosphere near the surface, not conducive for deep thunderstorm activity which tropical cyclones need to survive.
Saturday afternoon graphic by the National Hurricane Center showing the likely development region for the future tropical system during the next two days.

A couple of other tropical waves are ongoing east of the one mentioned above; one south of mainland Mexico, another offshore Central America. Numerical models indicate the two waves may merge and possibly form a tropical cyclone the second half of next week (after Tuesday). There’s also appears to be a favorable signal for elevated tropical cyclone development in the Eastern Pacific starting mid-week going into early the following week. Details become sketchy that far out of course, beyond the general pattern set up. The active pattern signals forecasters look for are 1) active monsoon trough…the convergence zone for abundant thunderstorm activity from Central America out over the very warm waters of the Eastern Pacific, 2) active Central American Gyre which provides thunderstorm complexes with mild spin as they move from land over open water, and 3) a low wind shear environment over the open ocean for systems to form without disruption. And with more cyclones means greater risk for landfall impacts as were seen with Bud and Carlotta. Waters over the basin continue to be abnormally warm (1-1.5 C/2-3 F above normal generally) relative to mid to late-20th century norms.

Water temperatures up to 28-30 degrees C (82-86 F) over the main development region for the Eastern Pacific Basin.
Water temperatures are running roughly up 1-1.5 C (2-3 F) above normal across the main development region of the Eastern Pacific. This is relative to the 1961-1990 baseline which I reference as global warming has warmed the oceans significantly since the mid to late-1970s.

So something to watch later next week for more significant impacts to either Mexico or the Southwest US for remnant moisture yet again.

–Meteorologist Nick Humphrey