Friday, April 11, 2008

Updates on the remarkable winter of 2007-8

Yes, yes, I know. Climate is long-term, and one cold winter does not a trend make. Still, even CoGW adherents ought to take note of the mounting evidence that this winter season is unlike any we've seen since.... since when?

Since this winter has been undeniably extraordinary, those who have much invested in the AGW paradigm have been forced into "Yeah, but" mode: "Yeah, you've never seen this kind of winter in your lifetime, but it's all because of La Niña. Even though we attributed the extraordinarily warm temperatures of El Niño year 1998 to AGW, the extraordinarily cold temperatures of La Niña year 2008 are a routine fluctuation. We expect the doomsday countdown to resume shortly."

Even as Solar Cycle 24 stubbornly refuses to establish itself (despite months of numerous premature announcements that it had started), our planet's northern hemisphere winter has thus far declined to respect the calendar, as is evidenced by the unusually heavy April snowstorm currently working its way across the northern plains of the U.S. and Canada.

How unusual is this winter in the U.S.? Here are just a couple of examples from the past week:

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, April 11:

The latest-ever start to the Mississippi River navigation season in Minnesota is unfolding today.

[...] The average opening date of the navigation season for the past 30 years has been March 20. In 2007, the first tow to make it to St. Paul arrived on March 29.

This year's late start, due to unusually cold spring weather, breaks the previous late record of April 7, set in 1978.

Boston Globe, April 8:
Some Maine syrup producers say the season is off to a late start with delays caused by cold weather and taps and tubing hidden by snow in northern Maine.

Bob Moore of Bob's Sugar House is busy boiling sap this week, but he'd be a lot busier if he could tap all of his trees. He said at least 75 percent of his 5,000 trees are unreachable.

"I have trees that still have 3 feet of snow around them," he said. "It's not looking good right now."

Maine's maple syrup production can start anytime between mid-February and late March. But like most agriculture ventures, the season is subject to the whims of the weather.

"As usual, for some folks, especially in the far south of the state, sugaring season is over," said Kathy Hopkins, a maple expert with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Skowhegan.

"But I doubt they'll be done tapping in The County until June," she said in joking reference to the state's northernmost county, Aroostook. "In some places, they just can't get to their trees and all their tubing is buried under snow."

On the other side of the world, southern China got its worst winter in 50 years. At the bottom of the world, the media shrieks whenever a piece of ice breaks off of an ice shelf, but we get nothing about the fact that overall, Antarctica has been cooling in recent decades. In fact, the just-completed antarctic summer has yielded still more extraordinary news: Surface snowmelt there is running about 40% below the average of the previous 20 years.

But never mind all that. Once La Niña subsides, we can get back to TEOTWAWKI.