While Americans enjoyed balmy summer days, the southern hemisphere had an exceptional winter.
The South Pole recorded its coldest winter on record.
Between April and September, a research station sitting on a high plateau in Antarctica, registered an average temperature of minus 78 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 61 degrees Celsius). That’s the coldest temperature recorded since record keeping began in 1957, and about 4.5 F (2.5 C) lower than the most recent 30-year average, according to The Washington Post.
The previous record for the coldest winter was minus 77 F (minus 60.6 C) in 1976, Stefano Di Battista, a journalist wrote on Twitter. The Post learned of this record through Battista, but then confirmed the information with Richard Cullather, a research scientist at NASA’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office.
Scientists credit a strong polar vortex for the deep freeze.
The stratospheric polar vortex is a seasonal phenomenon. In the Southern Hemisphere, it forms in the fall, persists through the winter and weakens before reversing course in spring.
The strength of the vortex has connections to weather at the ground, said Krzysztof Wargan, a research scientist with NASA’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office. He said a strong vortex is associated with low surface temperatures.
Whether the vortex is strong or weak depends on a cycle known as Southern Annular Mode (SAM). Right now, the mode is in its positive phase and the vortex is intense.
“Basically, the winds in the polar stratosphere have been stronger than normal, which is associated with shifting the jet stream toward the pole,” wrote Amy Butler, an atmospheric scientist at NOAA in a message. “This keeps the cold air locked up over much of Antarctica.”
As a reminder, the press featured the melting of Antarctica’s “Doomsday Glacier” as proof of global warming just as the record cold season began. This gem was published in April.
The fate of Thwaites – nicknamed the doomsday glacier – and the massive west Antarctic ice sheet it supports are the biggest unknown factors in future global sea level rise.
Over the past few years, teams of scientists have been crisscrossing the remote and inaccessible region on Antarctica’s western edge to try to understand how fast the ice is melting and what the consequences for the rest of the world might be.
“What happens in west Antarctica is of great societal importance,” said Dr Robert Larter, a scientist with the British Antarctic Survey and principal investigator with the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, the most ambitious research project ever carried out in Antarctica. “This is the biggest uncertainty in future sea level rise.”
More serious scientists should, just perhaps, consider the level of solar activity when assessing causation for the record cold. For example, a paper published in Temperature reports that the Sun has entered into the modern Grand Solar Minimum (2020–2053) of sunspot activity. This means that there will be a significant reduction of solar magnetic field and activity like during Maunder minimum leading to a noticeable reduction of terrestrial temperature.
Currently, the Sun has completed solar cycle 24 – the weakest cycle of the past 100+ years – and in 2020, has started cycle 25. During the periods of low solar activity, such as the modern grand solar minimum, the Sun will often be devoid of sunspots. This is what is observed now at the start of this minimum, because in 2020 the Sun has seen, in total, 115 spotless days (or 78%), meaning 2020 is on track to surpass the space-age record of 281 spotless days (or 77%) observed in 2019. However, the cycle 25 start is still slow in firing active regions and flares, so with every extra day/week/month that passes, the null in solar activity is extended marking a start of grand solar minimum.
It appears that the concept is gaining ground with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Predictions indicate that the Sun’s sunspot level will bottom out in 2025.
An approaching Grand Solar Minimum is gaining “support” including NASA with their recent SC25 prediction — though they stay clear of the implications. NASA’s forecast for the next solar cycle (25) reveals it will be the weakest of the last 200 years.
The maximum of this next cycle — measured in terms of sunspot number, a standard measure of solar activity level — could be 30 to 50% lower than the most recent one. The agency’s results show that the next cycle started in 2020 and will reach its maximum in 2025.
However, none of this information supports “The Science” preferred by the media and green justice activists in key government positions. So, of course, the record cold means nothing.
— CTV News (@CTVNews) October 17, 2021
It’s just a mere data point.
The weather gets cold, and the jokes come out. “Whatever happened to global warming?”
Sometimes, though, it’s not a joke. Sometimes, it’s a sign that the person asking the question doesn’t fully grasp the science behind the climate change. They may not realize that one data point – Antarctica’s coldest winter on record, for example – isn’t enough to invalidate a wider trend.
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