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.


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


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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:



World Cup medals created by Ridgway artist


Lisa Issenberg works in her Ridgway studio. “There’s so much joy around the whole process of creating awards that honor people’s accomplishments,” she says. (Photo by Elizabeth Riley)

This week, a few works of Colorado art are headed to Switzerland, Germany and Norway, among other countries called home by the winners of the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup. Designed and handcrafted in a Ridgway studio, the medals from last weekend’s ski race in Beaver Creek are just the first few by metal artist Lisa Issenberg that will be awarded this winter.

In past years, top American winter athletes also have taken home an original medal by Kiitellä, Issenberg’s studio’s name, which means “to thank, applaud, praise” in Finnish. Ten of her awards have been won by Mikaela Shiffrin, six by Megan McJames, five by Tim Jitloff, four by Ted Ligety, and two by Lindsey Vonn, to name a few.

More than 10 winter sports competitions will be handing out Issenberg’s awards this season, including the U.S. National Skiing Championships, U.S. National Snowboarding and Freeskiing Championships, FIS (International Ski Federation) Telemark World Cup, and the COSMIC Series ski mountaineering cup. COSMIC is a new client this year.

 “I chose Lisa over all the other extremely talented people in Colorado because she is core! She understands her market. She participates in the sports she makes awards for. Her connections run deep and in the mountain sports community; that’s especially valuable,” said COSMIC Race Director and Owner Jose Risi. “You can tell that each medal someone actually had to sweat over to make. There is the human element in each medal. You don’t get that from a trophy store.”

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.

Peter Shelton reading from his new book @ Cimarron Books, Friday evening (5:30) December 8th …

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Peter searching for the Perfect Turn on Red
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A collection of short essays, memories, and reflections on the magic and addictive pleasures of sliding down snow-covered mountains on skis. Intensely lived and intensely told tales of a life on skis, by on of America’s most accomplished and literary ski writers, Peter Shelton. . . . . “A skier’s progress from boyhood to old-man-of-the-mountain.” . . . . “In a career spanning five decades, [Shelton] has acquired a following among readers who take sensuous pleasure in the way his sentences work.” . . . . “These essays explain to us our own gob-smacked passion for the sport, and bring vividly alive what it was to live for skiing in the last third of the 20th century.” —Seth Masia in