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