“Bizarre Spikes” Becomes a Standard Feature of Climate Change — not just in the Arctic

Check it out — an opinion piece from E&E in February of 2018.

from Medium <https://medium.com/@Michael_Spencer/arctic-alarms-climate-scientists-with-bizarre-temperature-spike-ac1354427b97>

Michael K. Spencer 

Arctic Alarms Climate Scientists with Bizarre Temperature Spike



In a world of misinformation, fake news perpetuated by algorithms, walled gardens and digital immersion, people sometimes lose touch with the real world. We read the news as a kind infotainment, but what if we’re missing the news that really matters?

Cape Town is struggling with a water shortage that could end in disaster this year, and recently, record warmth in the Arctic this month is sending experts into new rants on the start of an unprecedented warming event.

In late February 2018, the North pole was warmer than parts of Europe. There are Twitter accounts (@Zlabe) of climate scientists worth following in the story of arctic warming. Why does this matter? Because it influences all of us, all the people alive on Earth. Arctic warming, water shortages, they will go hand in hand in the coming decades. There’s reason to believe, global warming could accelerate faster than many of our simulations.

An extraordinary heat wave pushed temperatures at the northernmost tip of Greenland was as high as 6.1 C this weekend. And the sun won’t rise for weeks. (The Star)

Flooded by extremely mild air on all sides, those southern winds are wrecking havoc on what’s supposed to happen at this time of the year. Something very strange is occurring, it can be summarized as the following: The #Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. 

The cold weather in Europe led in early 2018 to extremely high arctic temperatures. The likes of which we have not seen before. Put another way:

It’s the Middle of Winter and the Temperature at the North Pole Is Above Freezing

About one week ago, the Arctic was so massively unusual, it was stewing in temperatures more than 45 degrees above normal. The Arctic sea ice around Svalbard is at a record low for the date. It has been well below average all winter.

The sun won’t rise at the North Pole until March 20, and it’s therefore supposed to be close to the coldest time of year, however the hot spike was intense. Droughts leading to water shortage crisis like Cape Town, and in late February, mean temperatures of+3.9°C in the arctic signal sweeping changes have perhaps come sooner than expected. This where the climate average for the date is -16.3°C. These aren’t normal variations!

The northernmost weather station in Greenland saw temperatures soar above freezing on 9 days this month so far. Sea ice near there disappeared. Unheard of for February.

How do you have the arctic perpetual night, but still above freezing? Certainly as the Arctic ice melts more significantly the light reflected will accelerate global warming. We now know this ice will disappear, within our lifetime. Perhaps as soon as 2035 or 2040.

Sea ice fell to its lowest level since human civilization began more than 12,000 years ago.

Human beings left Africa in waves, one of the primary ones being around 55,000 years ago, yet man-made climate change that we’ll witness could trigger changes that might threaten the very way we live.

Residents in Cape Town are awaiting “Day Zero,” when water supplies in the city’s reservoirs drop below 13.5%. Mayor Patricia de Lille estimated recently that the day will likely be April 21, now revised to June or July of 2018.

If you think these events are not related, you would be probably mistaken. Just as humanity is closing in on a technological singularity when technology and our ability to self-engineer ourselves could threaten our survival, we may also be entering an ecological environmental press that could push us to rapid progress, or actually a humanity extinction event. Let’s not even talk about the debt-bubble our global economy is in.

As a futurist, I think about all of these forces and their relationship upon our psyche. Yet in an era of Netflix, mobile immersion and video game zombieism, one has to wonder if we’ve lost touch with the very aspects of what made us most human for the last few thousands of years? The majority of humanity, won’t even be aware of arctic warming or the issues in Cape Town. Most people will still be living locally, without a deep concern for the state of the species. Without a recognition of what colonizing Mars actually means.

The Arctic could be a sauna and it wouldn’t even make the news.

The Arctic does not usually look like this, warning this image may not be understood by most viewers.

It was in in Utqiaġvik, previously known as Barrow, where a paradox occured, temperatures soared to a record high of 31 degrees, 40 degrees above normal. What does it mean?

So it goes — yet another anomalous winter in the #Arctic. Will Twitter care, human beings already impossibly irresponsible, emphatically lacking in sustainable agility — already we hardly can even formulate what’s to come for our children and grandchildren. The shift, almost beyond our imagination. Climate change skeptics, raging on.

Warm intrusions in February, in the Arctic! Par for the course now each year for Zack Labe, a climate scientist working on his PhD at the University of California at Irvine.

Even the most battle hardened cynic would find it hard to dispute the disappearance of arctic ice.

Hmmm, well I’m not a climate scientists. But this is kind of clear.

Temperatures over the entire Arctic north of 80 degrees latitude have averaged about 10 degrees above normal since the beginning of the calendar year of 2018.

There’s no viral meme to entertain us of what this actually means for the planet Earth. There’s no clear understanding of the consequences, or what comes next. It’s not the end of the world, but The Arctic Ocean once froze reliably every year. Those days are over. Perhaps for the first time in 1,500 years.

We’ve been measuring arctic sea ice extent by satellites since the 1970s. Fifty years later, we’re witnessing an event. It could have feedback loops which transform the way we live. Closest to the North Pole (>80°N latitude), #Arctic temperatures are the highest on record for the month of February in this data set. This is not News, as humans who follow their apps know it, this is the Earth we are talking about, the very ball of life that has sustained even our ability to destroy such massive amounts of biodiversity and forests in a few thousands years that aliens from other planets must be debating our danger to the cosmos. We’re clearly, not a normal species.

Humans might be on top of the food-chain on this enduring planet, but we are not without our fragility. The top of the world is turning from white to blue in summer as the ice that has long covered the north polar seas melts away, and we did it! We brought this upon ourselves. How many more Cape Towns will there be, and how soon? How many climate change migrants will be forced to leave their homes? How many more frequent weird storms shall appear?


We’ve witnessed a lot of species go extinct on our watch, probably more than most of us even realize. The biodiversity that existed before we colonized areas, before we probably made Neanderthals and Denisovans go extinct after some splendid and isolated origies, well — we deserve some credit. Our crisp cities are growing into mega-complexes while the natural world dies; as forests retreat and all the usual things we rarely think about.

We rarely do acknowledge the feedback loops or how we would cope if global warming triggered a mini ice-age. We plan for nuclear war from Russia or North Korea, but not that. A day may come when the Earth’s livability may make colonizing Mars seem like a really good idea.

Arctic sea ice was at its lowest extent on record this past January, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This February of 2018, we witnessed another arctic warming anomaly that will probably seem very weird, perhaps that is, until 2019.


About Bruce

Work for sustainable development of small islands and the Chesapeake Bay; ex-Peace Corps (Volunteer and staff) in LA & Caribbean; cruised Caribbean on S/Y Meander for three years; like small tropical islands, French canals, Umbria, Tasmania, and NZ. Married 52 years to the late Kincey Burdett Potter (see Kincey.org). President of the now-sunsetting Island Resources Foundation.
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