Barack Obama

Obama Off to Alaska to Confront Man-Made Climate Change

Alaska is a bit warmer and Arctic sea ice a bit less

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ObamaAlaska
KTVV

President Barack Obama is going to spend three days this week personally inspecting the ravages of man-made climate change in the Land of the Midnight Sun. The President is seeking to burnish his climate change policy legacy. As Whitehouse.gov explains:

President Obama is traveling through Alaska to shine a spotlight on the impacts of climate change, one of the biggest threats we face … it is being driven by human activity, and it is disrupting Americans' lives right now.

Most climate researchers do report that average temperartures in Alaska and the Arctic more generally have been rising over the past several decades. For example, a 2014 study by York University physicist W. A. van Wijngaarden looked at the temperature records for 118 weather stations around the Arctic and reported:

For the period 1820–2014, trends were found for the January, July and annual temperatures of 1.0, 0.0 and 0.7 °C per century, respectively. Decadal variations are evident and much of the temperature increase occurred during the 1990s. Over the past century, Siberia, Alaska and Western Canada have experienced somewhat greater warming than Eastern Canada, Greenland and Northern Europe.

In aonther 2014 study, Wijngaarden analyzed the temperature data for 27 weather stations in the Canadian arctic and also found a warming trend for the period 1895–2014:

Trends were found for the January, July and annual temperatures of 3.1, 1.6 and 1.9 °C per century, respectively. Similar trends were found in the western and eastern Arctic. The warming occurred primarily in the first and last decades of the twentieth century. For the period 1915–1995, the annual temperature trend was only 0.4 °C per century.

Specifically with regard to temperature trends in Alaska, a 2014 study found that temperatures fluctuated hot and cold in phase with shifting sea water temperatures in the northern Pacific Ocean (the Pacific Decadal Oscillation). Still that study reported

There has been a gradual upward trend of Alaskan temperatures relative to the PDO since 1920, resulting in a statewide average warming of about 1°C.

In addition, since satellite-monitoring of Arctic sea ice began in the 1970s, there has been a downward trend in its extent. The National Snow and Ice Data Center is reporting:

On August 16, 2015 sea ice extent stood at 5.79 million square kilometers (2.24 million square miles). This is 1.35 million square kilometers (521,200 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average, and 1.17 million square kilometers (451,700 square miles) above the level for the same date in 2012, the year of the record low extent.

SeaIceAugust2015
NSIDC

Interestingly, temperatures in Alaska had been trending downward during the first decade of this century. Why? Because the PDO has shifted to a cooler phase. Nevertheless, temperatures on the North Slope that are affected by the general warming of the Arctic Ocean remained +1.5 degrees Celsius higher than the long-term average for that weather station. See map: 

AlaskaTempTrend
Wendler

More recently, Alaskan temperatures have again increased with the Last Frontier experiencing its second warmest year to date.

NEXT: Why 'The Volokh Conspiracy'?

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  1. So, what is the correct temperature for Alaska?

    1. So, what is the correct temperature for Alaska?

      Cooler, although it is 39 degrees right now.

    2. If only we had an Earth with no people on it to compare it against.

  2. I have to assume he’s bicycling there or taking a sailboat.

    1. Either one of those options would be preferable as it would use up all the remaining time in his term.

  3. he was kind of weak on his understanding of how auto liability insurance functions but I’m sure he has a handle on this.

  4. Wouldn’t warming there be a good thing?

    1. you really hate polar bears don’t you?

      1. I hate them because they murder baby seals. That’s my job!

    2. Wouldn’t warming there be a good thing?

      It is possible. IF it made hunting better.

      1. Longer growing season, less game/humans freezing to death or starving in the middle of the winter. Of course, realistically, even the doomsday predictions don’t suggest enough warming to make that kind of difference.

      2. What do the native people think about it being warming?

          1. Read any of my posts. Natives are just like anyone else, some like it, some do not. The ones moving their villages because of shoreline degradation not so much, but others are ok with it.

            1. What a lovely day. It’s only -58. If it weren’t for global warming it would be -60.

  5. Obama Off to Alaska to Confront Man-Made Climate Change

    Well, I hope Man-Made Climate Change kicks his butt. Can I get the fight on pay-per-view?

  6. Does anyone here believe that Obama personally gives two shits about this stuff?

    1. He knows it’s important to his followers. Plus, Global Warming is a great excuse to impose the taxes, regulations, and laws that would be hard to justify otherwise. Never let a good crisis go to waste. And if there is no crisis, pretend there is!

  7. I was hoping Tony would show up, but oh well.

    So we have to assume ALL of the following are true:
    1) Global temperatures have indeed been increasing
    2) Temperature increases with greater CO2 concentrations
    3) Man made CO2 is the most significant contributer
    4) Increasing temperature is bad

    1 may be true, but what about the “pause”; and we have far different methods and
    accuracies for temperatures depending on the time scale,
    2 we may have correlation but we don’t have proven causation, and
    3 is not true, although it is arguably the only contributer that we could control to any extent

    Even if we grant the first 3, we have no evidence that 4 is true. Arctic ice would play NO factor in rising sea levels, and the last I heard Antarctic ice was actually not shrinking overall. Indeed, why aren’t the Maldives underwater yet? A 1 deg C increase, which represents something on the order of a .03% increase assuming 27 C average temp (remember have to use absolute temp!!) doesn’t seem very significant. Mankind has ALWAYS done better when it was warmer than when it was colder.

    1. Sorry, I meant 0.3%. Still small!

      1. When the fuck are we going to get an edit button!?!

    2. And increasing CO2 leads to decreased effectiveness of trapping heat.

      In other words, if you are cold when sleeping..add a blanket. As you add more blankets, the difference is less and less.

      Thus the runaway warming and hockey stick is simply not true

  8. Obama Off to Alaska to Confront Man-Made Climate Change tilt at windmills.

    1. But then he slapped down that mountain! Called it by its true name!

  9. “period 1895?2014”

    So if the earth and man is 10,000 years old then we have data from about 1% of its “life”

    If the earth is 4.5 billion year, but man has had behavioral modernity for 50,000 year, then we have data for .2% of its “life.”

    1. And I am absolutely, completely certain that the temperature readings in the late 19th century are accurate.

      1. Never mind accuracy, how are they even comparable? I’m pretty sure they weren’t collecting temperature data across the entire surface of the Earth in 1895. Are they just taking the readings for London and New York and extrapolating?

  10. For the period 1820?2014, trends were found for the January, July and annual temperatures of 1.0, 0.0 and 0.7 ?C per century

    For the period of 13:05 PM EST Feb 2 1979 to14:05 PM EST Feb2 1979- we tested 6 differeny thermometers all placed in rapidly boiling water in our General Science class- and discovered a maximum deviation of 1.7 degrees C. We concluded it was a combination of “user error” and cheap-ass Gov’t supplied equipment.

    1. But, I’m sure those records from 1820 are accurate to .1 degree C…

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