Arctic’s Temperature Continues To Run Hot, Latest ‘Report Card’ Shows … December 12, 2017 … NPR


Melt ponds dot a stretch of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, north of Greenland. This year was the Arctic’s second-warmest in at least 1,500 years, after 2016.

Nathan Kurtz/NASA


The Arctic is a huge, icy cap on the planet that acts like a global air conditioner. But the air conditioner is breaking down, according to scientists who issued a grim “report card” on the Arctic on Tuesday.

They say the North Pole continues to warm at an alarming pace — twice the rate as the rest of the planet, on average. This year was the Arctic’s second-warmest in at least 1,500 years, after 2016.

Researchers say there was less winter ice in the Arctic Ocean than ever observed. And ocean water in parts of the polar Barents and Chukchi seas was a whopping 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than just a few decades ago.

It’s a trend that has some calling the state of the Arctic a “new normal.” But Arctic scientist Jeremy Mathis says that term doesn’t work for him.

“There is no normal,” he says. “That’s what so strange about what’s happening in the Arctic. … The environment is changing so quickly in such a short amount of time that we can’t quite get a handle on what this new state is going to look like.”

Mathis runs the Arctic program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He says changes in the Arctic are going to affect everybody in the Northern Hemisphere.

That is because masses of air and ocean currents circulate between a cold Arctic and the warmer parts of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s sort of like a conveyor belt that is driven largely by the temperature difference, or gradient, between the two regions.

With less snow and ice to reflect the sun’s rays, the Arctic isn’t so cool anymore. “The heat is not being reflected back into space,” Mathis says. “The heat is now being absorbed into the land and into the [polar] ocean.”

And he says that is going to alter the weather — things like the jet stream and rainstorms and hurricanes. “Whether they be wildfires out in California or hurricanes down in the Gulf,” Mathis says, “we have to think about the impacts that changes in the Arctic are having on those disruptive climate events.”

Scientists say they can’t attribute any particular drought or hurricane to changes in the Arctic. But computer simulations show changes.


Stubborn ridge to continue … for awhile … NWS


.LONG TERM...(Monday night through Saturday)
Issued at 225 AM MST Sun Dec 10 2017

The ridge out west will hang on through most of the upcoming week.
There will be a compact clipper type system survive a trip over
the top of the ridge and dive into the High Plains on Wednesday.
Cooler air arrives aloft in the wake of this system and it may
weaken the inversions just a tad but models have not been handling
this feature very well the past few days. A more significant
Pacific wave crashes into the ridge going into Friday.
Unfortunately there is no consistency with this feature this
morning. The best hope is the Euro which weakens but keeps this
wave intact as it swings across the Rockies Friday night. The GFS
splits the energy dropping a low down to the Baja while swinging
the northern split across the Dakotas. This second pattern is more
familiar lately so will probably need most of the week to sort
this out. Otherwise plan in dry conditions continuing.

GFS – US – 500mb – Loop



Emaciated polar bear seen in ‘gut-wrenching’ video and photos … absolutely one of the saddest things you might ever watch…


Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 8.36.39 AM.png

The world’s tragedies often have images that end up defining them: A five-year old screaming in Iraq after her parents were killed by U.S. soldiers. A starving child being stalked by a vulture during a ruthless famine in Sudan.

A video released this week of an extremely emaciated polar bear has served as a similar purpose: as a rallying cry and stand-in for a largely unmitigated environmental disaster.


New insights into the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge & North American Winter Dipole

A timely example: Persistent Western ridge, Eastern trough next 2+ weeks

In the coming days, a remarkably persistent weather pattern will begin to develop across North America and adjacent ocean regions. Characterized by strong high pressure near the West Coast and low pressure over the Eastern Seaboard, this “quasi-stationary,” high-amplitude atmospheric wave pattern will essentially become locked in place for at least the next 2 weeks. Patterns like this have a tendency to become self-reinforcing, lasting for much longer than more typical transient weather patterns and leading to prolonged stretches of unusual weather. This particular event will be no exception: California (and much of the West Coast) will almost certainly experience an extended, multi-week warm and dry spell, while much of the East Coast shivers through repeated blasts of cold, Arctic air.

~~~  READ ON  ~~~

From Mountain Weather Master Joe Ramey

Here is another emergence of the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” that we saw in 1995-96 winter and that led to severe drought across southern California and much of the Great Basin. Dr Jennifer Francis has talked about Arctic Amplification for many years now. Her hypothesis is with less hemispherical thermal gradient (due to stronger warming at higher latitudes), the jet stream weakens and amplifies. This leads to long persisting or ‘stuck’ weather patterns. Here is a quick summary of her theory:



Vanishing Uplands ~ Alpinist Magazine


Edward LaChapelle and Austin Post in 1995. Their book Glacier Ice continues to influence current photographers’ efforts to document climate change. [Photo] Courtesy Ananda Foley

DURING THE 1960s, Austin Post flew amid a wildness of wind and light, capturing thousands of photos of remote glaciers. At times, the American photographer and glaciologist crouched near an open door as he searched for perfect compositions of ice and snow. Other times, his pilot might angle the plane through a tumult of winds between sharp peaks—or rise to higher altitudes, where, unable to afford oxygen, they shivered in the cold thin air. To his friend John Scurlock, who wrote about him in the Northwest Mountaineering Journal, Post explained that he mounted five sixty-three-pound survey cameras on different parts of a twin-engine aircraft. Once, enfolded by clouds, a pilot accidently steered the aircraft between the masts of a ship. Another time, an engine failed, and they made an emergency landing on an unfinished road near the Wind River Range.

Although Post was a mountaineer, visions of unclimbed summits didn’t draw him to take such risks. In 2011, when I’d emailed him to ask about his famous photographs of the Kichatna Spires, he wrote back: “I take mountain photos? Glaciers, ma’am; mountains only incidentally, but it’s hard to photograph glaciers in Alaska and not include a fine peak now and then.” With the legendary avalanche researcher and geophysics professor Edward LaChapelle, Post compiled images from around the world into the now classic Glacier Ice. First published in 1971, the book is an atlas of marvels: bird’s-eye views of glaciers so dynamic they appear like living creatures; gleaming patterns of black, grey and silver that emerge through the curves of turbulent moraines, the ash of erupted volcanoes and the shadows of innumerable crevasses.


“Glacier ice, like rock, preserves in its layering the history of weather influences that went into its making,” the authors explained. It’s been five years since Post has died, and a decade since LaChapelle passed away. The pages still seem aglow with countless strata of things both visible and invisible, forces that shaped the creation and the subsequent meanings of the book.

Bullied during childhood, Post had dropped out of school and found a sense of freedom and vocation “wandering and wondering” in cold, wild places, as his colleague Carolyn Driedger says. As a teenager, recovering from polio, LaChapelle had watched a murk of clouds draw back from Mt. Rainier, and the dusk light up the snows. To his future wife, Dolores, he later wrote, “I can still remember to this day as clear and simple as the note of a bell…when in a single blinding moment, I knew what I must do…with my life.”

The book is haunted, also, by images of absences, from glacier-carved ranges where rock spires remain as “the only remnant of a long-vanished upland” to dark streams of rubble where the ice had retreated—and unspeakable, private grief. The authors dedicated their work to the pilot Bill Fairchild, who flew many aerial photography missions before he was lost in a plane crash, and to the scientist Richard Hubley, who once hiked out from the Juneau Icefield to obtain antibiotics while Post lay ill with severe pneumonia. At the time of Hubley’s death by suicide on the McCall Glacier in 1957, he was researching connections between the recession of ice and fluctuations in global temperatures. In the conclusion of their book, Post and LaChapelle warned: “Much of modern civilization exists by virtue of a delicate balance between this climate and present snow and ice masses.” And they urged ongoing studies for clues to possible futures of the world: “The answers to this question are hidden somewhere in the glacier ice.”

When Glacier Ice first appeared, the American scientific community was still on the brink of understanding the severity of climate change, an awareness that sharpened by the 1980s. Over time, as glaciers continued to retreat, the book became a powerful catalogue of evidence of loss. Its artistic quality also took on—I’ve come to believe—an ethical meaning of its own, reflecting a heightened, diligent attentiveness to ephemeral worlds. “Both men bore uncanny abilities to think new thoughts unfiltered by others’ expectations; to see beyond the obvious to the real meanings of things,” Driedger recalls. LaChapelle once affixed a tape recorder to his skis so he could listen to otherwise imperceptible notes created by minutely different shapes of snow. To him, the sounds seemed part of a ceaseless flow of urgent sensory data beyond ordinary measurement or description. Against dark backgrounds, he and Post placed luminous images of singular crystals—varieties of which LaChapelle had described with sharp poetry in his 1969 Field Guide to Snow Crystals, including “individual snow crystals which have collided and remained fastened…during their fall through the atmosphere” joined by their “intricately branching arms.” Dolores LaChapelle and their son, David, would transform similar visions of confluence into metaphors of deep ecology; to them, a shimmer of interlocking rays of snow evoked connections between individual lives and all elements of earth and atmosphere.

In a 1999 book On Beauty and Being Just, professor Elaine Scarry argued that beauty is not simply an illusion that distracts its viewers from reality: instead, absorbed in contemplation, “we find we are standing in a different relation to the world than we were a moment before. It is not that we cease to stand at the center of the world, for we never stood there. It is that we cease to stand even at the center of our own world. We willingly cede our ground to the thing that stands before us.” Climbers often write about efforts to claim new routes. Among the questions Glacier Ice now raises, I wonder: What if more of us learned to cede our ground in awe? Perhaps we might then try to act more swiftly to preserve what we can of these frozen realms that affect all people and living things, falling together, now, like crystals through the warming air.

This Sharp End story first appeared in Alpinist 60 , which is now available on newsstands and in our online store.

Trump To Take Aim At Utah’s National Monuments, Reversing Predecessors’ Legacies


Broken Bow Arch rises from Willow Canyon in the Escalante Canyons region of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Howard Berkes/NPR

President Trump is expected to announce his administration will dramatically shrink the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments when he travels to Utah on Monday.

The visit caps months of speculation and a controversial review of the boundaries of large national monuments that protect more than 100,000 acres of U.S. public land. The review, conducted by Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, originally looked at more than two dozen national monuments designated by presidential decree since the 1990s.

But Utah, with its new 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears monument and the 1.8 million-acre Grand Staircase National Monument, has always been at the center of the debate, and largely what spurred the review.

On Monday, during a ceremony at the Utah state Capitol, Trump is reportedly expected to announce plans to shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears by up to 85 percent. His predecessor, President Barack Obama, created the monument shortly before leaving office. The Grand Staircase monument, which stems from the Clinton administration, could be cut in half.

~~~  LISTEN / READ  ~~~


Tribune Editorial: Why are you shrinking our monuments, Mr. President?


Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune The view from Rock Springs Point along the west edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Saturday


Dear Mr. President,


Welcome to Utah.


We hope you will enjoy your brief visit to our state Monday, meeting with our elected officials and, we have been led to understand, making those officeholders very happy by announcing that large swaths of Utah’s unique and beautiful public lands will be removed from their current status as national monuments.

Here is what we want to know about that: Why?


What possible reason could there be for cutting the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in half and reducing the new Bears Ears National Monument to two small slivers of the land preserved just last year by your predecessor?


The land is owned by the federal government and held in trust for, legally, all the people of the United States and, morally, all the people of the world. Much of it is possessed of remarkable natural beauty and, especially in the case of Bears Ears, is held sacred by the Navajo and other Native American nations. Taking back the prize that those native peoples worked on, so long and so hard, will of course be seen as nothing more than a gratuitous slap in their face.


In the 20 years of its existence, meanwhile, Grand Staircase has inspired the growth of numerous small businesses that have have come to thrive by serving the many tourists who journey there from around the globe. Changing the status quo that those livelihoods have been based on serves no purpose.


We know what you have been told about these monuments and their history. Some of it is true.

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

The Treasures of Chaco Canyon Are Threatened by Drilling


A rare circular structure at Pueblo Del Arroyo, a “great house” in Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. Credit Gabriella Marks for The New York Times

Santa Fe, N.M. — In the remote high desert of northwestern New Mexico lie the threatened ruins of Chaco Canyon, arguably the most significant cultural site on public land in the United States. The canyon and the surrounding region contain the remnants of great houses, kivas, ancient roads and sacred places built a millennium ago by an indigenous people who became proficient in architecture, agriculture, astronomy and the arts. Everything we know about them comes from these ruins and the artifacts they left behind, but it appears now that much of it could be at risk from the Trump administration’s unseemly haste in allowing oil and gas drilling nearby.

In the early years of the 20th century, when archaeologists and others became alarmed by the plunder and damage to some of these accessible and fragile sites, Chaco Canyon was the chief catalyst for Congress to protect such places on federal land by authorizing the president to declare them national monuments. President Theodore Roosevelt accepted that authority by signing the Antiquities Act in 1906, and the next year he invoked it to declare Chaco one of the first national monuments deserving the protection of the United States government; it is now owned and operated by the National Park Service.


Chtro Ketl, another of the large structures known as great houses that were built by indigenous inhabitants of Chaco Canyon. Credit Gabriella Marks for The New York Times

Unfortunately, the Park Service’s jurisdiction is limited to the canyon itself and does not extend to the vast remainder of what’s known as the Greater Chaco Region. The surrounding area is the domain of the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs whose missions, unlike that of the Park Service, do not emphasize protecting historically significant sites. Nonetheless, the two agencies agreed to defer all new drilling leases within a 10-mile radius of Chaco until consultations could be completed with affected communities and tribes. Now, well before the consultations have been completed, the B.L.M. district manager says the bureau plans to lease 26 parcels of land in the area next March; while none lie within the 10-mile radius of the park, one of them is just barely outside it and others are close by.

It’s not known what other structures or artifacts lie buried beneath the desert floor of the Greater Chaco Region, nor can it be known until proper surveys are undertaken. Largely for that reason, the governors of northern New Mexico’s pueblos and the Navajo Nation, which have geographic, ancestral, historic and sacred ties to Chaco, recently called for a moratoriumon all drilling in the area until the consultations have been completed. Almost simultaneously a group of archaeologists and other scientists issued a report calling for stronger protection of Greater Chaco and its remarkable complex of other Chaco-linked sites in the four-corners region. They specifically recommended the use of new satellite and laser-imaging technologies that can locate underground structures invisible to the naked eye.

~~~  READ ON  ~~~

San Juan Mountains Weather Forecast ~ Friday, December 1, 2017 @ 11:05




The full court press autumn blocking pattern (high) that has dominated our weather for such a long time continues to cover the west & drives potential Pacific storms to our north. I’ve seen this happen so many times especially in la Niña fall/winters so it’s no surprise, just hope for an occasional outlier storm and accept the dry and warm.

The Gulf of Alaska storm from last week was a victim of this high… and now what looked like a decent storm for the San Juan Mountains will be spitting a few inches of snow on the Central and Northern ranges with maybe a flake or two for the North SJ’s late Sunday/early Monday.

And the future doesn’t look so good either. The models I follow aren’t encouraging for precipitation events for the next ten days at least, but we all know how fast that can change. Looks like cooler weather through the first week of December and then a little warming. Things just look dry as a bone through mid month.

Ten Day Forecast GFS vorticity map.



Watch the blocking pattern (high) develop over the west coast and dominate through the 11th of Dec. pushing all potential storm north and then dropping into the eastern U.S. 

Seeking the Source of the Vanishing Great Salt Lake

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 7.09.21 PM.png

The Great Salt Lake in Utah is roughly the same area as 75 Manhattans. It feeds and houses millions of birds of hundreds of species, provides the namesake of Utah’s capital city and some credit it for the state’s trademarked claim to “the greatest snow on earth.”

And it’s vanishing.

Since 1847, the volume of water in the lake has dropped nearly 50 percent. More recently, the change has been so dramatic, you can see it from space. In 2016, the Great Salt Lake reached its lowest levels in recorded history.

“Do we want to in 50 years change the name of our city to Salt City because the lake has gone away?” asked Wayne A. Wurtsbaugh, a retired aquatic ecologist at Utah State University.

He and his colleagues reported in an analysis published in Nature Geoscience last month that human consumption — not seasonal fluctuations or climate change — is primarily to blame for the Great Salt Lake’s desiccation. They hope that creating a better understanding of water flowing into and out of the lake may serve as a model for managing salt lakes that face similar threats.

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

Peru’s Deserts Bloom, but …

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 7.24.01 AM.png

VIRU, Peru — The desert blooms now. Blueberries grow to the size of Ping-Pong balls in nothing but sand. Asparagus fields cross dunes, disappearing over the horizon.

The desert produce is packed and shipped to places like Denmark and Delaware. Electricity and water have come to villages that long had neither. Farmers have moved here from the mountains, seeking new futures on all the irrigated land.

It might sound like a perfect development plan, except for one catch: The reason so much water flows through this desert is that an icecap high up in the mountains is melting away.

And the bonanza may not last much longer.

“If the water disappears, we’d have to go back to how it was before,” said Miguel Beltrán, a 62-year-old farmer who worries what will happen when water levels fall. “The land was empty and people went hungry.”

In this part of Peru, climate change has been a blessing — but it may become a curse. In recent decades, accelerating glacial melt in the Andes has enabled a gold rush downstream, contributing to the irrigation and cultivation of more than 100,000 acres of land since the 1980s.

A 30-year-old photograph taken from a nearby location was placed on the path to the Pastoruri glacier in Áncash, Peru, showing how far the ice has retreated. CreditTomas Munita for The New York Times

~~~  READ MORE  ~~~