Bomb Cyclone Didn't Melt The North Pole
To end the year 2015, climate change alarmists tried valiantly to drive home their message that the world was going into a global warming meltdown. Myopically focusing on the unseasonably warm temperatures in the eastern half of the United States was not enough, they decided to hype the occurrence of a fairly common winter weather event with the scary name “bomb cyclone.” The weather media–always up for a natural calamity–jumped on the bomb storm meme, billing the impending event as a “blowtorch” that would melt the North Pole. Such a meteorological feeding frenzy had not been seen for ages. Well the storm has come and gone and the Arctic is intact, catastrophe unrealized and the media weather ghouls moving on to the next faux disaster. But was the “bomb” real, and if so, what was it?
Though hardly anyone, climate change alarmists included, have ever heard of a bomb cyclone before they are not a new phenomenon. In fact, such storms are totally natural and not that infrequent. A weather bomb, more technically know as explosive cyclogenesis, refers to a rapidly deepening extratropical low pressure cyclone. Such storms happen primarily over the ocean during the winter. To be classified as a bomb cyclone, the central pressure of a depression at 60˚ latitude is required to decrease by 24 mb (hPa) or more over 24 hours. Despite the seeming novelty of the Arctic melting “bomb” storm, they are not a new phenomenon caused by dread climate change.
In the 1940s and 50s meteorologists first began informally calling some storms that grew over the sea “bombs” because they developed with a ferocity rarely matched by storms over land. Early work on this phenomenon was done in the 1950s by Tor Bergeron. By the 1970s the terms “explosive cyclogenesis” and even “meteorological bombs” were being used by MIT professor Fred Sanders, who brought the term into common usage. In 1980, working with colleague John R. Gyakum, Sanders published an article in the Monthly Weather Review. Here is the abstract from that paper:
By defining a “bomb” as an extratropical surface cyclone whose central pressure fall averages at least 1 mb h-1 for 24 h, we have studied this explosive cyclogenesis in the Northern Hemisphere during the period September 1976–May 1979. This predominantly maritime, cold-season event is usually found ∼400 n mi downstream from a mobile 500 mb trough, within or poleward of the maximum westerlies, and within or ahead of the planetary-scale troughs.
A more detailed examination of bombs (using a 12 h development criterion) was performed during the 1978–79 season. A survey of sea surface temperatures (SST's) in and around the cyclone center indicates explosive development occurs over a wide range of SST's, but, preferentially, near the strongest gradients. A quasi-geostrophic diagnosis of a composite incipient bomb indicates instantaneous pressure falls far short of observed rates. A test of current National Meteorological Center models shows these products also fall far short in attempting to capture observed rapid deepening.
So obviously this is not a rare or all that infrequent an event, but that did not prevent a meteorological feeding frenzy in the media. Following Ron Emanuel's dictum of never wasting a disaster they jumped on the bomb like a dog on a bone. Because the storm's circulation pattern would send a mass of warmer than normal air into the Arctic, the story evolved to center on rapid warming at the North Pole, as seen in the temperature anomaly chart shown below.
“We've probably never seen weather like what's being predicted for a vast region stretching from the North Atlantic to the North Pole and on into the broader Arctic this coming week,” said Robert Scribbler, an “environmental blogger” (I guess I can claim to be an environmental blogger too). The weather media was all a twitter about this storm.
“The Storm That Will Unfreeze the North Pole,” The Atlantic's headline screamed. Quoting “climate writer” Robert Scribbler they reported this way.
While institutional science will take years, if not decades, to confirm a correlation between human-forced climate change and strong North Atlantic storms, Scribbler believes that Wednesday’s insane warmth at the pole resembles the southern incursions of the “polar vortex” that have been seen in recent winters. These changes are related to human-forced climate change, he writes: a sign that something in the atmosphere has gone “dreadfully wrong.”
Just a touch of exaggeration there with that “insane” warmth and things going “dreadfully wrong.” In fact, The Atlantic pretty much relied on know climate alarmist agitators for their information about the storm. Weatherbell.com meteorologist Dr. Ryan Maue called the media on their hyperbolic reporting before the fact. “There's zero chance this "freak" Icelandic storm will set any North Atlantic strength records ... who is feeding the media this crap?”
Others were a bit more restrained in their reporting. As reported in The Washington Post, NOAA's Ocean Prediction Center said the storm's minimum pressure dropped to 928 millibars around 1 a.m. Eastern time, which likely places it in the top five strongest storms on record in this region.
“According to the center's records, the all-time strongest storm in this area occurred on Dec. 15, 1986, and that had a minimum central pressure of 900 millibars,” Mashable's Andrew Freedman reported on Tuesday. “The second-strongest storm occurred in January 1993, with a pressure of 916 millibars.”
That makes this a strong storm, but not an unprecedented one. Data from the International Arctic Buoy Programme confirms that temperatures very close to the North Pole surpassed the melting point on Wednesday. Buoy 64760 at a latitude of 87.45 degrees North hit a high temperature of 0.7 degrees Celsius — or 33 degrees Fahrenheit — around 8 a.m. Eastern Time. So yes, for a very brief time temperatures at the North Pole rose to around or slightly above 0°C. But did the North Pole actually melt down?
First, you must understand that average temperature range at the North Pole is -33°C to 0°C (-27°F to 32°F). According to NOAA, those are averages for winter and summer, and the lowest known temperature at the North Pole was -68°C. Simply put, it's damn cold. Second, air that cold does not hold much moisture, it is actually too cold to snow at the North Pole during the winter. Finally, there is no sunlight during the winter to provide any additional warmth.
What this all means is that any relatively warm, moist air intruding into the Arctic will not stay that way for long. Actual projections for the bomb induced heatwave had temperatures rising to right about freezing for a few hours before crashing back to normal frigid levels. The only sign that the bomb cyclone had ever been there was a dusting of new snow as the warm air froze. And that is all that happened.
“Yup, still frozen,” Ryan Maue commented on Twitter. “Some (top) climate scientists are really lightweights when it comes to synoptic meteorology. All extreme weather is new to them.”
If you wish to reassure yourself that the Arctic is still intact you can check the the graph below that shows polar snow and temperatures (in Fahrenheit), also from Dr. Maue.
Bottom line, the North Pole did not melt, arctic temperatures quickly returned to normal, and the bomb cyclone was not a sign of the climate apocalypse. The bomb bombed and the whole kerfuffle was a non-event. Idiot climate alarmists and their even dumber dupes in the mainstream media have ended the year with a whimper not a bang. But then, the public understood that from the first. An admittedly unscientific poll on the Resilient Earth website shows that 97% of respondents thought the whole thing was bunk. Happy new year everyone.
Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.