Antarctica’s ‘Hottest Day’? Not So Fast


By: - Climate DepotFebruary 18, 2020 7:58 AM

https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2020/02/antarcticas-hottest-day-not-so-fast/

Have you ever wondered how to play the Climate Game, or game the climate? If so, look no further than a remote research station on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, a submarine-shaped office tower on Geneva’s Avenue de la Paix and an international media pack determined to ramp a single yet-to-be-confirmed measurement into another bogus climate scare.

The research station is the Argentine base, Esperanza, coordinates: 63°23′51″S 56°59′52″W. It claimed to have set a new record temperature of 18.3°C on February 6 this year, beating the previous record of 17.5°C on March 24, 2015, according to a tweet (below) from Servicio Meteorológico Nacional (SMN), Argentina’s national meteorological service.

It was déjà vu all over again for the alarmist MSM.

BBC: Scientists warn that global warming is causing so much melting at the South Pole, it will eventually disintegrate – causing the global sea level to rise by at least three metres (10ft) over centuries.

NY Times: Antarctica, the coldest, windiest and driest continent on Earth, set a record high temperature on Thursday, underscoring global warming”. It went on to claim: “the high temperature is in keeping with the earth’s overall warming trend, which is in large part caused by emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Guardian: Antarctica is “one of the fastest warming places on earth, heating by almost 3°C [5.4°F] over the past 50 years”

The Guardian makes that claim despite recent research suggesting a cooling trend since the year 2000, contradicting the carbon dioxide-driven global warming scare. (Media’s horribly dishonest Antarctica warming propaganda, WUWT, February 9, 2020) Five years earlier, on April 1, 2015, it reported on the previous record under the headline: “Antarctica records unprecedented high temperatures – two temperature readings register ominous new potential measurements of accelerating climate change.” “What was incontestable,” the paper’s journalist concluded, “were the unprecedentedly high temperature readings on the Antarctic ice mass.”

Jack Weatherall: Warmists are feeling a polar chill

Yet mean monthly temperatures at Esperanza range from −10.5 °C (13.1 °F) in July, the coldest month, to 1.4 °C (34.5 °F) in January, the warmest month. During summer (December–February), the average high is between 3.7 and 4.3 °C (38.7 and 39.7 °F) while the average low is between −2.0 and −1.2 °C (28.4 and 29.8 °F). In winter, mean temperatures are around −6.0 °C (21.2 °F). So what is going on here?

ClimateChangeDispatch.com’s Thomas Richard ridiculed the Pavlovian alarmism:

To put this in perspective, it would be the equivalent of taking a temperature measurement in Reykjavík, Iceland, and proclaiming that this measurement is indicative of the temperature of the Arctic region, or worse, Tasiilaq (Ammassalik), Greenland. It’s a ridiculous statement and utterly useless. It is well known that West Antarctica is heavily influenced by underground volcanic activity, and hidden beneath its icy exterior is a myriad of active rift systems.

The glass, steel and aluminium tower adjacent Geneva’s Jardin Botaniques is the global headquarters of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) According to a local travel agency, Geneva Live Tourism, the building is “respectful of the environment,” and its “grandiose allure with the double façade seeming to dominate the surrounding space”. WMO is the beating heart of Big Climate. It is the UN’s “expert agency and voice regarding the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, its climate and the resulting distribution of water resources.” WMO issued a media release on the Esperanza result on February 7. It was a qualified announcement – New record for Antarctic continent reported – for the “likely legitimate record” was subject to formal verification.

A committee for WMO’s World Weather and Climate Extremes Archive (WWCEA) will now verify whether this indeed is a new record for the Antarctic continent, which is defined as the main continental landmass.

Dr Randall Cerveny, a professor of geographical sciences at Arizona State University, has been the WWCEA rapporteur – or gatekeeper – since its formation 14 years ago. “Everything we have seen thus far indicates a likely legitimate record but we will of course begin a formal evaluation of the record once we have full data from SMN and on the meteorological conditions surrounding the event.” Crucially, he also made this comment:

the record appears to be likely associated (in the short term) with what we call a regional “foehn” event over the area: a rapid warming of air coming down a slope/mountain.

What is a foehn event? According to WUWT blogger Jim Steele,

…foehn events cause rapid extreme temperature jumps simply due to changes in the air pressure as winds descend from a mountain top. During the 2015 foehn event, Esperanza’s daily temperature jumped from 0°C [32°F] 2 days before, to a record setting 17.5°C [63.5°F]. Elsewhere, Antarctic foehn winds are common and have been extensively studied, often raising maximum temperatures by 10+°C [18+°F] above normal.

In other words, it was just local weather, not a consequence of so-called dangerous anthropogenic global warming, aka “climate change”. “Verification was important”, Cerveny said. “It helps to build up a picture of the weather and climate in one of Earth’s final frontiers.”

The WMO media release noted that: “the Antarctic, like the Arctic, is poorly covered in terms of weather observations and forecasts, even though both play an important role in driving climate and ocean patterns and in sea level rise.”

Despite a lack of data, WMO could not resist the opportunity to trumpet a warming warning. Included in the release were ominous comments on the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers. The latter, allegedly, is “one of the largest contributors to global sea level rise from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet”. There was no mention of its precise “contribution”. That, dear reader, is another story, one about why the BBC failed to mention the many active volcanoes underneath this region, yet found space to jest about “snotsicles”. Spending £38 million of US/UK government funding to “prove” we are in a “climate emergency” has never been such fun.

Scientists fear the Thwaites Glacier could be beginning a process of catastrophic collapse. There is more than three metres of potential sea level rise in the ice of West Antarctica, enough to swamp many of the great cities of the world and drive hundreds of millions of people from their homes.

In any case, speculating about the threat of global sea-level rise, despite the region’s prevailing temperature profiles, is surely a fool’s game.

The Antarctic Peninsula (the northwest tip near to South America) is among the fastest warming regions of the planet, almost 3°C over the last 50 years. The amount of ice lost annually from the Antarctic ice sheet increased at least six-fold between 1979 and 2017. Most of the ice loss takes place by melting of the ice shelves from below, due to incursions of relatively warm ocean water, especially in west Antarctica and to a lesser extent along the peninsula and in east Antarctica.

We will need more than the IPCC’s brave 2C warming guesstimate to melt the massive southern polar ice block.

Spanning 14 million km2 (roughly twice the size of Australia), the Antarctic’s average annual temperature ranges from about −10°C on the Antarctic coast to −60°C at the highest parts of the interior. Its immense ice sheet is up to 4.8km thick and contains 90% of the world’s fresh water, enough to raise sea level by around 60 metres were it all to melt.

There is another important issue here too: geographical semantics. The WMO release conflates the Antarctic Peninsula with the continental Antarctic ice sheet. Little surprise, then, most of the MSM missed the fact that the Antarctic Peninsula is not the Antarctic continent or “region”. The former refers to the narrow northwest tip nearest to South America. As for the latter, the WMO – controversially – defines it as “everywhere south of 60 degrees latitude”. (See Antarctica map)

The Esperanza base is actually outside the Antarctic Circle, which runs 66°33′48.0″ south of the Equator. It is misleading – some might say mischievous – to imply that “record” temperature measurements on the Antarctic Peninsula – less than 5 per cent of the continent and especially those taken on islands at its northern extremity, are meaningful for Antarctica itself, as the WMO does here by including this sentence in its February 7 media release: “The record for the Antarctic region – that is, everywhere south of 60 degrees latitude – is 19.8C, taken on Signy Island in January 1982.”

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Signy Research Station at Factory Cove, Borge Bay, Signy Island, is also outside the Antarctic Circle. Located at Lat. 60°43’0″S, Long. 45°36’0″W in the South Orkney Islands group, it is 1300 km from the Falkland Islands, 900 km from South Georgia, 600 km from the Antarctic Peninsula, and 3250 km from the South Pole. According to the BAS website, meteorological records at this summer-only site “were kept by professional meteorologists from 1947 to 1969 and by station volunteers from 1969 to 1995.” How much confidence can we have, then, in the 19.8C reading of January 30, 1982 — a record maximum for any station south of 60°S — especially when the month is prone to significant variation, including “sudden falls in temperature”, down to -7°C?

Whatever the case, a recent detailed analysis of meteorological conditions prevailing at the time – prompted by Dr Cerveny and the WMO Committee on Antarctic Temperature Extremes — confirms that it, too, was due to foehn (or fohn) warming:

At the time of the record temperature exceptionally warm air was being advected southwards towards the South Orkney Islands from the subtropical South Atlantic…. Since conditions conducive to föhn occur relatively frequently, föhn warming may have a significant influence on the local climate and ecology of Signy Island.

As mentioned, WMO’s WWCEA committee rightly is not prepared to declare a new record for Esperanza without further investigation, at this stage referring only to a potential new Antarctic (continent) high temperature:

The Argentine research base, Esperanza, on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, set a new record temperature of 18.3°C on 6 February 2020, potentially beating the former record of 17.5°C on 24 March 2015.

WWCEAC would “now verify whether this indeed is a new record for the Antarctic continent, which is defined as the main continental landmass.” It has not done so yet, so we await the rapporteur’s “decision and relevant documentation” to be posted on this site (here).

Dr. Cerveny, incidentally, proposed creating WMO’s global archive for verifying, certifying and storing world weather extremes in 2006. As Rapporteur he has called an “ad hoc extremes committee” to “provide an expert and unbiased recommendation” on whether the new extreme qualifies for the archive. This process is easier said than done, for if “the truth be told, world record extremes are mistakenly created all the time.”

For example a “fat finger” error such as hand digitizing a 28.0°C as 82.0 would create a world record observation that every quality control system would say was invalid. Additionally, instrumentation problems can generate a report far in excess of the meteorological conditions. But sometimes a combination of fairly extreme meteorological conditions with minor instrumentation problems, such as calibration errors, can necessitate considerable detective work to determine whether a new world record observation was indeed valid or not. Since weather records are often used as indicators that the Earth’s climate is changing and/or becoming more extreme, confirmation of new weather extreme records should be recognized as a high priority in the meteorology community.

An alert blogger, Nicholas McGinley, made the following post at WUWT :

I am having a hard time verifying this report from Esperanza station.
The thermometer data from the last five days did not show anything close to what is being reported, when I looked earlier this evening. But now I checked again, and the numbers have changed completely. Here is a Tweet I posted with the two graphs side by side:

Nick McGinley@NickMcGinley1

What is going on at Esparanza Station?
Earlier this evening I took this screen grab of the past five days there.
But now, hours later, the graph has changed to the second picture below:

9

It has become nearly impossible to trust anything these days.
Besides for all of that … when a short term blip is announced as if it is a representation of the entire state of the planet, while in Alaska a two month trend of temps is showing the coldest period ever recorded in that entire state, something is not at all right.

Dr Cerveny and WMO’s WWCEA committee presumably will sort it all out soon. After all, it did so when a Czech Republic automatic weather station on Davies Dome in the northern part of Ulu Peninsula, James Ross Island, recorded a temperature of 17.9°C (64.2°F) on 23 March 2015, “a day before the current WMO accepted record of 17.5°C (63.5°F) was observed at Esperanza Base (Argentina) in the same general location in the Antarctic Region”.

The committee adjusted the Davies Dome observation down to 17.0°C ± 0.2°C (62.6°F ± 0.4°F) and declared it to be “the second-highest temperature recorded in the Antarctic Region (continent only).”

The recommendation follows a detailed discussion by the committee of the probability that the station experienced solar radiation bias on the temperature-recording instrument at the time of the record observation. In simple terms, the committee suggested that the temperature sensor at Davies Dome was heated to around 0.9°C (1.6°F) above the true air temperature by a combination of high solar radiation (coming both directly from the sun and also reflected from the underlying ice surface) and low wind speed.

Establishing a “true air temperature” in Antarctica, however the continent is defined, clearly can be a challenge. If one automatic weather station reading can be reduced (“adjusted downwards”) after a “detailed discussion” due to the probability of “solar radiation bias”, then what is the reliability of other station readings?

One item that ought to be on the committee’s agenda is a ten-minute video uploaded on February 9, 2020: Climate Alarmists fleeing to Antarctica. As author Tony Heller demonstrates, with winter and the (temporary) collapse of Arctic melting hysteria, climate alarmists have flown south to the other pole. Let’s hope none of them ended up at Esperanza Base and the Thwaites Glacier.