“They believe it is cyclical”

(and they should know – surely – they run the weather station!)

I have a habit of taking photos from planes when travelling, even though they usually turn out to be “Why the hell did I take that one?” shots.  In mid-June I had the privilege of flying over the Southern tip of Greenland on an unusually clear day and I’ve spent a bit of time looking at satellite photos of the area and playing with Google Earth.  My initial interest was the ice melt – seeing up close what break up looks like, compared to what satellites show….

Mid-June: Ice Melt in Progress

Greenland Mid-June looking North to Prins Christian Sund (fjord) on approach to Cape Farewell

Progress of ice melt in Southern Greenland over the last month  (http://ice-map.appspot.com/)

The resolution on the satellite photos doesn’t allow great detail, but it does show the reduction in peripheral sea ice in the two weeks since the photos were taken.

The area we are talking about is very close to the weather station at Prins Christian Sund.  A little bit of digging found its location and a bit of its history (nicknamed “Hell’s Corner” it was built by the USAF in 1942) .  Here’s the temperature record from GISS and location:

GISS temperature record for Prins Christian Sund

The location of Prins Chrisian Sund Weather station

.“Unprecidented ice melt” being the big story in the Arctic, the temperatures here peaking in 2005 are certainly part of that story. But it is a story pushed by those with short memories or a blinkered field of view.  In looking for modern photos of the weather station, I came across a gem –  I stumbled on a sailing blog that included a voyage to Greenland.  Sailing being a passion from childhood and the source of my weather obsession I couldn’t resist reading er, rather a lot of it.  Jim and Jean Foley arrived in Nuuk in the West of Greenland in July 2007.  They had an obvious interest in how the climate is affecting Greenland, asking one guest, a student, about it, who said:

“…..Disko Bay used to freeze over enabling dogsleds to cross the ice from his home on Disko Island to the mainland for most of the year. The last freeze was ten years ago. Now, helicopters are the only link when the brash ice gets too thick for boats.”

Down the steps Prins Christian Sund from the Weather Station. Image from: http://www.foleysail.com/news/072307.htm

In mid-August 2007 they were, briefly, guests of the weather station at Prins Christian Sund, and spent what sounds like a very pleasant evening having dinner with the station operators.

“We called ahead to the Danish weather station perched next to its antenna farm on the last wind blown mountain top at the eastern entrance of the sound. We had hoped to be able to tie their pier for our last night before leaving for Ireland. We were granted permission.

The station was originally built during WWII as a US weather base for 30 weather men and telegraph operators. Today, airplanes on the transatlantic run rely on its data. The march of technology has made it fully automatic and reduced the staff to three, a maintenance person, a cook and a manager.

Their number of annual visitors can be counted on one hand. We arrived to find Oleg, the manager and most of the staff waiting to help us tie up on their dock. We were invited to climb up to the station for a shower and dinner.

We gathered our clean clothes and climbed the stairs to find a compound of buildings tied down by a spider web of steel cables to keep them from blowing away.

After cocktails, dinner with wine and desert with schnapps we discussed global warming (they believe it is cyclical) and life in the universe (there must be).” [Bolding mine]

The weather station operators at this station believed global warming is part of a cycle.

Greenland - weather stations with a long record

If this concept is new to you, there is plenty of evidence to support it from weather stations in the region (map left; scroll down for graphs), and it is throughly discussed on many sites and blogs.  Alan Cheetham at Appinsys has a summary of recent and historical temperatures in Greenland and a couple of his figures are reproduced below.  Tony Brown of Climate Reason has also researched the subject from a historical viewpoint and had a great post on Watts Up with That (Historic Variation in Arctic Ice) this time last year.  Thanks to Tony I also became aware of a website and book How Spitsbergen Heats up the World, from which I reproduce the following figure:It is also possible to compare the rate of warming and see that the trends for many Arctic stations are comparable on interactive maps for the periods 1910-1939 and 1970-2010 but contrast with the cooling period 1940-1969 (see also Mapping Global Warming).

Going back to Alan Cheetham’s graphs, he has calculated the temperature anomalies for long-lived weather stations in Greenland.  The graph below clearly shows the cyclical nature of the temperature anomaly, and also that the rates of warming are similar in the 1920s to currently. He has also superimposed the average temperature anomaly on the AMO.

Temperature anomaly history of GHCN stations in Greenland (reproduced from: http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/RS_Greenland.htm)

Averaged temperature anomaly for longlived Greenland GHCN stations overlay on the Annual Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation index (Figure from Appinsys: http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/RS_Greenland.htm)

Going further back in time, ice core data (oxygen and nitrogen and argon isotopic ratios), sediments and many other proxies are reviewed here.  So no more talk of unprecedented ice melt or warm temperatures in the Arctic.   People using such language are: pushing an agenda, have not looked at the length and breadth of the data, or have short or selective memories.

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4 Responses to “They believe it is cyclical”

  1. tonyb says:

    I meant to say when I dropped by earlier that I thought this was a very nice post.

    I’m hoping to do part two of Historic variations in Arctic Ice covering the period from when the Titanic went down up to around 1940. I see this as useful companion piece to the good article on this period that you have cited above.

    Difficult to get motivated when the weather is warm and settled for a change 🙂


  2. Luther Wu says:

    Here’s one way to look at it, VJ- now you have the internet and before you had no way to know that they were lying to you.

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