Arctic Wildfires In Winter: Norway Experiences Freakish Historic Wildfires In January

Flatanger Fire

(Flatanger Fire during the long winter night in Norway. Image source: NRK)

Major wildfires in California in winter are bad enough… Unfortunately, now we must include the Arctic to the anomalous tally. For since December, three major wildfires have erupted in Arctic Norway, with two of these extraordinary fires blazing through coastal Nordic settlements just this week.

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On Monday, a major wildfire erupted along the western coast of Norway near the city of Flatanger. The fire, fanned by winds ranging from 30-50 miles per hour and by a drought in which almost no precipitation has fallen since Christmas spread rapidly, rushing over the mountainous terrain to put both life and livelihood at risk.

As of Wednesday, the fire had exploded to the largest wildfire recorded in Norway since World War II. It had also consumed 139 homes as it raced down the rocky mountain sides of western Norway.

By late Wednesday, as firefighers struggled to bring the Flatanger fire under control, a second massive fire erupted on the island of Froya about 80 miles to the south and west. The fire exploded with such ferocity that 430 residents were forced to evacuate as flames and smoke rushed down along the hillsides. As of Thursday, the Froya fire still burned out of control, threatening to spur evacuations from other settlements in the path of the blaze.

Froya wildfire

(Aerial Photo of the Froya Wildfire. Image source: News in English)

The Flatanger and Froya fires mirrored another large blaze that erupted in Norway during early December, consuming 40 homes near the town of Laerdal. The Laerdal fire coincided with a period of excessive warmth and drought, with December marking one of Norway’s warmest winter months ever and Oslo experiencing its hottest Christmas since record keeping began in 1937.

Needless to say, it is not at all normal for Norway to experience wildfires of record intensity during winter time. A clear sign that climate change together with a mangled jet stream and extreme polar amplification are well in play to create dangerous and freakish conditions.

“Just a month ago, no one would have said there was a threat of brushfires in Trøndelag at this time of year,” noted Dagfinn Kalheim, director of the Norwegian fire prevention association. Now, they’ve experienced three of their worst fires on record during winter. Unfortunately, in the context of a warming globe and related human-caused changes to the atmosphere, land and sea, locations around the world and especially around the Arctic Circle are under the gun to experience ever-worsening fires.

Drought, Fuel, Wind, Ignition

Western Norway has been in the midst of an ongoing drought since late fall. The drought, spurred by a ridge in the polar Jet Stream has steered storms away from the usually wet Norway and slammed them over and over into the British Isles, France and Spain. The drought left mountain scrub and thawing tundra in the region very dry and vulnerable to fire. This anomalous period also included one of the hottest Decembers in Norway’s reckoning.

In recent years we have seen increased fire vulnerability in far northern regions due to thawing tundra, increasing periods of heat and drought, and, possibly, maritime emissions of flammable gasses. The tundra is full of organic material and, in certain regions, emits methane in high enough concentrations to burn. The Arctic seas have also been emitting high volumes of methane and related flammable gasses, but it has not been determined that these emissions come in high enough concentration to add a potential secondary ignition source. Though a cause has not yet been determined for the historical Flatanger fire, it is likely that a combination of drought, related dry scrub and the yearly advance of thawing tundra in the region contributed to the intensity of the blaze.

Strong winds over the drought-stricken coastal region enabled the fire, which would generally be suppressed by temperatures near freezing, to rapidly spread through the tinder-dry underbrush and sporadic regions of thawed tundra. Fire fighters have been unable to locate an ignition source at this time.

You can watch a video of this anomalous blaze racing down the Flatanger mountainsides here:

(Video source: Se Flammen Fra Luften)

Climate Change Context

Climate change drives both increasing heat, extended periods of drought in previously damp regions, and changes to the environment, especially in the Arctic, that provides more fuel for wildfires. In addition, more numerous Arctic thunderstorms provide an expanding ignition source for these blazes while the Arctic Ocean and adjacent tundra now emit prodigious volumes of methane.

It is also worth noting that both the World Meteorological Organization and UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres have both established an ‘absolute’ link between human caused warming and increasing numbers of wildfires. And the fact that we are seeing the eruptions of major wildfires throughout the Northern Hemisphere during winter, a time when wildfires hardly ever occur, is yet more evidence that the situation is growing ever more extreme.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast for Norway shows continued dry conditions for at least the next two weeks. In addition, a period of warming is expected to bring temperatures 7 degrees (Celsius) or more above seasonal averages over the coming days. With higher temperatures and dry, southerly winds continuing to blow, Norway remains under the gun for extreme winter wildfires.

Links:

Most Extensive Wildfire Since World War II

Fire Sweeps Across Peninsula in Northern Norway

Climate Change is Absolutely Linked to Wildfires

News in English

Northern Europe Experiencing one of its Mildest Decembers on Record

NRK

Colorado Bob’s Climate Feed

Mangled Jet Stream Sparks Drought, Winter Wildfires in Southern California

Hat tip to SeeMoreRocks

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74 Comments

  1. james cole

     /  January 30, 2014

    This story just leaves me speechless. It speaks for itself, and requires no comment. A bit off topic, and maybe someone will comment on it. The United Kingdom is being and has been battered by storms off the Atlantic for so long now I have lost track. Major rain and wind events arrive one after the other, month after month. This weekend another one is slamming into an already heavily flooded South West England. David Cameron, a moderate climate change denier and great proponent of Fracking all of Britain as fast as well can be drilled, has taken personal charge of dealing with the floods in Somerset Levels. Now, this never makes US news, nor does the great Alaskan heatwave, nor do these Norway fires, nor does anything but the minor cold snap brought on by tropical heat streaming into the Arctic to push the polar vortex south. NO, these stories are NOT covered. This is a deliberate attempt to cover up mass climate change from the public, this is due to corporate ownership of media and it slavish behavior to fossil fuel industry. You can read about how cold a Siberian city is today in the Daily Mail, you can read about 2 inches of snow in Atlanta in the New York Times, YET, all the stories of record heat and the complete collapse of normal arctic weather patterns and these crazy blocking patterns causing droughts and record rain. NOPE, these are off limits. I read Orwell in High School 1984 with it’s control of news present and past, well this is in full operation in the US and British Main Stream Media. They disgust me, as if their children and grand children will escape the world wide disaster that draws nearer than anyone dared predict. What we see right now, today has put the almighty fear of god into me. None of this was supposed to happen or begin to happen till earliest 2050 to 2100. Imagine if you will, what will this blog be writing about when the next major El Nino develops and heat comes roaring out of that sea water where the energy is being stored. Wild fired in Norway in January burning hundreds of building? Really, that is Science Fiction level events.

    Reply
    • And corporate control is what delivers the Orwellian nightmare. Milton Friedman, the author of our oppression…

      I’ll see what I can do about a comprehensive piece covering storms in Britain. There’s a lot on my plate. But my pace isn’t what it should be. I should be knocking out two to three stories a day. So I’ll work toward that. For everything I write about there are four or more things going on that aren’t getting the needed press.

      As for what I’ll be writing about come the next El Nino… Probably how the globe’s warmed 1 C above the 1880s average or how the risk of a megastorm hitting the US west coast just went through the roof, or how the eastern Pacific launches hurricanes at Hawaii in December or January. Or how a Nor-Easter bombed out at 950 mb off the US east coast and set off a 10 foot storm surge from Cape Hatteras to New Jersey. Those and a number of other things unimaginable to me now.

      But, yes, the media coverage on this is but a whisper compared to what is actually happening. I’m glad, at least, that the weather channel now regularly mentions climate change. But they still don’t explore the larger context that is needed to gain a handle on these issues or for the public to understand the risks.

      Reply
    • Harry

       /  January 30, 2014

      Climate change deniers like Delingpole, Lawson, Monckton and Paterson (our Minister for the Environment of all things!) puzzle me. None of them have scientific backgrounds and yet they somehow feel they have the authority to fly in the face of almost unanimous scientific consensus. Are they directly in the pay of the fossil fuel industry? You would think that that would be a very dicey proposition for the politicians.

      Most of the deniers are also parents, so even if they are being rewarded with junkets, freebies or backhanders, they are in effect exchanging this relatively small amount of material wealth for the future wellbeing of their offspring and descendants. Are they stupid then? Obviously in a sense they are – but clearly none of them are so stupid that they cannot understand the basic science at the heart of the matter. So what on earth motivates them? With the very vain Delingpole there is the possibility that he enjoys the attention that comes with playing the contrarian but that’s where I run out of theories.

      When the elephant in the room becomes to big for the general public to ignore these individuals will be the focus of much vexation. The same applies to some of the more high profile members of the banking community because another global credit crunch and stock market crash is unfortunately every bit as inevitable as continued climate change.

      James, I too have noted these glaring omissions in the MSM. 2012 was England’s wettest year on record and Ladbrokes are offering 4/5 on this year topping it. If you want to find the truth better to go to the bookies than to a politician or newspaper.

      Reply
      • Harry

         /  January 30, 2014

        And an article about January’s record-breaking rainfall entitled ‘Why has it been So Wet?’ on BBC’s UK news website today is an outrageous case in point – not a single mention of AGW or climate change:

        “All of this might just be down to the UK weather’s natural variability. It seems to like going from one extreme to another. This time last year there was plenty of snow around and more was to come in March.

        “But there might be another reason the jet stream is behaving as it is – the quasi-biennial oscillation or QBO for short.

        “This is a cycle involving a band of winds high above the equator. Every 14 months or so these winds switch from easterly to westerly.

        “The Met Office believes a westerly phase is more likely to produce stormy winter weather in the UK. There has been a westerly phase since early last year.

        “The humbling thing about weather is that we still don’t have all the answers.”

      • Harry

         /  January 30, 2014

        Only The Guardian seems prepared to go as far as quoting someone who actually knows what they are talking about:

        “Environment groups linked the succession of exceptionally wet or dry seasons to climate change. Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said, “November and December were record breakers in Scotland, with storm after storm hitting around Christmas. Climate change is bringing chaos to our weather, not just increasing global temperatures but affecting ocean currents and global air currents. Scotland is caught between the changing influences of disappearing Arctic ice, the shifting jet stream and a weakening Gulf Stream. It is no wonder our weather is becoming less and less predictable. The consequences for us are more extreme weather, including more.”

      • I think you can put them in the category labeled ‘ill-informed and self-made imbecilic zealot.’

        They’re cheer leaders for the status quo which doesn’t have a context for corporations being held responsible for environmental harm — see Milton Friedman and his (not at all liberal) neo-liberalism which, among other things, argued for business not to be held to any constraint and said that “the only moral obligation of business is to increase its profits.”

        If this is true, corporations, which now are bound by no law but that of profit motive do everything they can (inside and outside of the law) to reduce wages and externalize costs (ie pollute, reduce safety etc). In other words: make working people poor, create dangerous working spaces and wreck the environment. And this is exactly what we’ve seen since Friedman’s views came to the fore in the 1970s onward.

        This is now the dominant political, economic, and societal model of the day. It is the author of our current globalized economy and its basis is leadership by corporations whose only morality (meaning obligation to society) is to continue to generate ever greater profits. In this case, corporations only have a moral obligation to the already wealthy for whom they generate these profits, not broader world civilization as a whole.

        It is an ideology that could best be described as ‘greed.’ And like any ideology it has a ‘church’ and an alter at which various of its devotees worship. These devotees don’t care about any other reality than that established in the context of their particular artificial intellectual construct. In this case, the construct is neo liberalism ala Milton Friedman. And to them, given the massive gaps generated by that ideology, there is no context for which a corporation can be held responsible for or made to reduce the harm it causes.

        The only moral obligation is to increase profits, remember?

        So if there is an existential crisis, as climate change is, that requires responsible action by corporations or, in some cases, their ultimate dissolution, we end up with a high degree of cognitive dissonance confronting the ‘true believers’ in the church of Friedman. They can either accept the fact that there are massive gaps through which you can drive a world-wrecking climate crisis in their world-view. Or they can switch to option B: denial that the problem even exists or requires a solution.

        Monckton et all have chosen option B.

      • mikkel

         /  January 30, 2014

        To be fair to Friedman, he explicitly and repeatedly stated that externalities must be properly identified and priced or else the entire charade would collapse in market failures.

        On an intellectual level he completely understood the constraints of the “profit maximization” mindset but I never heard him actually fight for it once his vision was being implemented. He completely failed on a moral (and intellectual) level that then completely discredits his entire world view.

        Similarly, Keynesian thought is built almost entirely on trade flows. Stabilization through government expenditure only makes sense if it is to make the deficit countries export more and the exporting countries import more. In the way it is actually used, it is a complete waste of money for countries that are imbalanced and Keynes understood this.

        In contrast to Friedman though, Keynes fought for this at the creation of the IMF. He wanted the creation of a global unit of trade (the Bancor) that would value/devalue relative to a local currency based on its trade deficit/surplus so that any country would have a very hard time getting over 5% GDP.

        The US vetoed this (they had 25% surplus at the time) and Keynes said the IMF would fail to adjust imbalances and instead become a tool of the industrialized countries to control the developing. Well he was certainly right about that.

        Unfortunately he died relatively soon afterward so we lost out on seeing whether he would have been able to influence the direction of WWII economic thought in a different direction.

      • Friedman provided all sorts of rationalizations that were later swept aside once neo-liberalism took hold. I’m not certain any came from a genuine sense of responsibility. They were probably more related to selling the ideology, than to actually supporting accountable systems. What we have seen is that businesses, once empowered by Friedman, cast off even the, very limited, restraints he proposed. And so here we are… Living in the age of the Godzilla Zombies ;)

      • mikkel

         /  January 30, 2014

        Because they are empty suits in the existential crisis (climate, social and resources) they are very weak and so are terrified at the slightest movement http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/wealthy-top-one-percent-economy-finance-102833.html

      • Well, if they don’t want people to be angry, they should start creating solutions rather than continuing to create problems. Accepting higher taxes, stopping the fight against public and higher education and shifting investments, en mass, away from fossil fuels would be a huge step. Supporting higher wages for workers and maximizing sustainability at the expense of profits would help too.

        In other words, stop profiting off the backs of making people poor, uneducated, and wrecking the environment.

        And Pope Francis should speak for the poor. The poor don’t have much of a voice for themselves, do they?

      • mikkel

         /  January 30, 2014

        Well the problem is that these people have never actually built anything. They grew up and were told what to do, then went to elite schools and given the keys to progressing up the chain.

        Because they’ve never built anything, they only know how to be rentiers. Look at the concept of upper management: it’s no longer even considered necessary for them to know about the industry they’re in because they can just look at numbers they are given and manipulate them until things are good.

        They have zero ability to distinguish what can and can’t work, so just throw money at everything and make it statistically…and when things blow up they get bailed out by the government.

        My room mate from college grew with the children of these people and idolized them while growing up; but now that he has been cast into the lot of the rest of us (largely because he is too focused on trying to make real things) then he is honest about how weak and clueless they all are.

        Unlike the robber barons, most of them are not ruthless masterminds but petty gossips. They know that the world you speak of has no place for them because they have nothing to contribute, and that is what drives the fear.

        There is a class of young Wall Streeters and other similar executives who seem to understand this, and drip by drip they are quitting in order to exercise skills doing real things. Several of them have written quite elegantly about the artifice of financialization and how they realized everything is driven by addiction (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/opinion/sunday/for-the-love-of-money.html).

        So the system can’t quit because they it is addicted and doesn’t know what else to do.

      • I grew up with quite a few as well. You could say I was on the edge of it. One foot in one world. One foot in the other. I could never abide myself with the constant shell games and manipulations of those who seemed to consider themselves a part of the ‘to be ruling class.’ In my view, they never believed in themselves enough to be true to anything real. Sure, they read Atlas Shrugged, and imagined themselves the John Gaults and Dagney Taggerts. And, yeah, they were smart enough to go to great schools and earn good grades. They walked that line well enough, because that was how you got the keys.

        That was all a given to them. But there were very few who actually made it on their own. And those that did, who still thought this way, ended up as twisted hyper-individualists who preyed on their fellow human beings.

        So, yeah, I have a rather poor opinion of these people. What I would like to see is an ounce of bravery, a dollip of compassion, and a dash of genuine trust and forthrightness. And yes, they need to step out of that mold ASAP, or start breaking it up from the inside.

        Think of it as a chance to truly grow up.

      • mikkel

         /  January 31, 2014

        My partner read Atlas Shrugged without knowing the social lens from which its viewed and she quite liked many aspects of it. She kept bugging me to read it and I have finally started — about half way through.

        It is clear that the real message of the book and its description of looters is almost entirely directed at the corrupt elite. The working and underclasses are only derided in the context of learned helplessness and there is a twinkling respect for those that do their best in a noble way even if it is a common unvalued job.

        My partner feels the core message of nobility through self action is a genuine reflection of Rand’s subconscious, while the fixation on profit and industrialism is due to her anxieties, particularly about her fear of nature and fear of failure.

        In any case, the bravery and compassion will not rise forth on its on, but must be encouraged. The weapon to get them to change is present in their own world view, for they would then realize they are the villains in their own self created tale. Many will continue to deflect blame and even get more violent about it, but a few will answer the call to become heroic and do what you suggest.

        Because of this, Randianism should not be attacked as a dichotomy that forces them to choose our side or theirs, but instead we should point out they aren’t living up to their own standards. The path I laid out on the prior thread is Galtian in nature; its aims are just around honoring instead of fearing the earth. It also upholds individualism for all, instead of a narrow personality type, and recognizes that people needs support to find themselves.

        Nathaniel Branden, Rand’s affair partner and once crowned prince of Objectivism, became interested in the psychology necessary for Objectivism. He believes the world view is fine as it is, but has no path to grow into, and so the people who hold it true are filled with self loathing and pity that they aren’t heroic. From that they try to hurt others and that is the source of the corruption of the self motivated message.

        That led him to focus on the aspects necessary for true self esteem (http://nathanielbranden.com/what-self-esteem-is-and-is-not) and work towards helping patients develop it.

        Regardless of whether the foundational reasoning is aligned with ours, his work demonstrates that there is a lot of overlap in the level of consciousness needed for change. If there is one thing I’d wish to emphasize, it’s that I don’t think we need to sit around and hope for the powers that be to change, but instead develop our own mental and physical strength to the point that we can reach out and embrace them in their own constructed reality. Those that are in psychic pain because of their fraudulent actions will see a path open that they presently are not aware of.

      • It’s pre-disposed to narcissism and the notion that those who are not successful are worthless parasites. It’s as internally flawed as most dictatorial mind-sets and from its philosophical premise stems many of the failed economic constructs of the later 20th Century (see neo-liberalism).

        Objectivism objectifies. It is the anti-spirituality. Or the fake spirituality of the self-centered materialist. And of course those who adhere to its tenants fail to live up to them. You’d have to be a machine or an inhuman thing to live up to its precepts. It fails to embrace failure. It fails to understand imperfection. And it simplistically removes the notion of rational compromise.

        In purely ironic fashion, Objectivism is a fantasy that transports the reader who identifies with these kinds of characters into a belief mode in which one imagines oneself as a flawless savior of the world and to whom the world should simply provide every form of wealth and power.

        If it were only fantasy and only a story, then it would be innocuous. But it is a philosophy masquerading as a story. It is a fantasy that says — this is the way you should be and this is what you deserve and if you are one of the special people, the world depends on you and this can be your reality. You deserve this wealth and power if you act as such…

        Yet another ideology painting a construct over the face of reality. Yet another mode of thought attempting to interrupt one’s perception of the real world.

        For in the real world, it is usually the wealthy in society who, through various constructs, loot the labor of their fellow human beings to propel themselves forward. The wealthy, therefore, all too often have a compromised moral character. A fact that Rand conveniently ignores.

        Now, in reality, there are exceptions. Now and then, an inventor or somesuch arises of their own effort to great wealth and fame. And it is in this possibility of exception that the Objectivist fantasy lives. But more often the invention is stolen long before the originator has the opportunity to prosper from his/her original effort. Or the inventor is already employed by a corporation and, therefore, the fruits of his thought are already owned.

        In the real world, for the wealthy not to become looters, they would have to abandon the deceptive and exploitative aspect of their character that so often results in their success.

        So Objectivism is the perfect fantasy for those who gain their success by any means necessary and wish to assuage their guilt by reading materialist fantasy.

        And the irony is not lost on me that Rand worshiped and had an obsession with a sociopath. Her mode of thinking is all too appealing to those among us who worship themselves and treat their fellow human beings as objects.

        Needless to say, if the story is simply read as fantasy, then I would think it somewhat innocuous if not too much was taken away from it.

      • mikkel

         /  January 31, 2014

        Haha as my partner says, “If Atlas Shrugged does anything, it’s proving Objectivism is completely unrealistic because the characters themselves can’t live up to it without magic happening.”

        But all philosophies are inherently delusion and differ only in degree and kind. It is through action that we all are faced with our own flavor.

        So yes, what you write is true about them needing to abandon the exploitation and perhaps some will, but not until they can join a new community that lets them give up their current delusion.

      • Ha! That’s a great assessment.

        Usually, I can give Objectivists hell for succumbing to the looting tendencies Rand so often derides. It tends to be their blind side.

        I suppose one can hope about the abandonment of exploitation. The record for exploitative cultures changing isn’t too great. But, now and then, you see it. I suppose we could do well to urge them to prove their exceptionalism.

        In other news:

        Oh the joys! I have climate change deniers trying to misrepresent scientific statistics in the comments. Sorry, not here! Reserved for intelligent discourse only.

  2. jyyh

     /  January 30, 2014

    normal winter in Norway would have storms with rain or snow, I think. it’s pretty dry here too (about 700 miles southeast) but this came as a surprise.

    Reply
  3. Absolutely amazing! For what it is worth Norway experienced an unusually warm December – http://www.dawn.com/news/1079274/northern-europe-sees-unusually-mild-december

    Reply
    • Yes December was a strange month for the west coast at least, very very mild. Although the cold finally came, there has been very little if sporadic precipitation and atm the west coast has increased risk of wildfires as well as the north of Norway where these fires have been. Oddly enough, very mild weather (up into 7C) is forecasted from this weekend and forward so it seems that warm front is stuck and perhaps this will be the year with no real winter to speak of for people in western Norway. In the east and south they are on the ridge of the weather system and have have blizzards and cold weather.

      On the positive side, some precipitation is forecasted next week here so lets hope there is no new fires.

      Reply
    • Ah, this is good link. More context is always welcome!

      Reply
  4. Thank you for these wonderful reports. I’m impressed at how you manage to write so many, well-written, informative. Between you and Paul Beckwith, I feel I am keeping up with the full horror of climate changing in real-time.

    Reply
    • Glad to be one of those manning the pumps on this one. Paul produces some great info. It’s fantastic to have a non-reticent scientist out there.

      Reply
  5. Harry

     /  January 30, 2014

    Wow – holocaust denial; even more depressing than climate change denial. You’ve lowered the bar there, Gerald.

    Reply
  6. One dry season is not enough to kill off trees and cause unprecedented fires. Even in California, which has been in a terrible drought for several years, trees have survived worse. (see: http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_24993601/california-drought-past-dry-periods-have-lasted-more)

    What is killing the trees and causing fires is not drought, it is air pollution. Background leels of ozone in the troposphere get worse every year, and it is highly toxic to all vegetation. see links to research at http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/

    Reply
    • Interesting. I’ll investigate this further.

      Reply
    • The issue is that we have increasing episodes of drought, a rapidly warming climate, an increased hydrological cycle in which evaporation and precipitation are more intense, rapidly moving climate zones that do not allow for vegetative migration, and high levels of pollution (noted above) that can be damaging to the biological functioning of plants.

      The root of all these problems is the same: fossil fuel emission.

      That said, it is likely that all of these factors combined have resulted in mass tree kills. I find it highly unlikely that getting rid of ozone pollution by itself will stop the excessive tree deaths in a world where both weather and climate are rapidly changing. The pathogens killing the trees are also spurred by warmth combined with excessive drought. It’s not just the drought that’s the issue, it’s the added warmth, changing zones in which various insects can breed and proliferate together with drought that provides a combine insult.

      I also think it strange to assume that previous periods of extended drought did not result in tree kills. The issue here is that we don’t just have a California drought. We have a drought over all of the US southwest that is expanding north and eastward. We have the Sahara poised to leap into southern Europe and we have new weather patterns that lock intense drought and increased evaporation over certain zones for extended periods.

      We are out of the context of the climate even during the mideval warm period when these previous droughts occurred. The ones we are experiencing now are both warmer and more intense in their ability to remove soil moisture over a short period of time.

      This is not to diminish the role of air pollutants like NOx, which also harm trees. The issue here is we have devastating climate change adding harm on top of pollution. And even if we add new filters to get rid of NOx, the climate change does not go away.

      In other words, warm the world by 2-3 and almost all of California’s forests are gone — NOx pollution or no.

      So the issue is that we must stop GHG emissions if we’re to have much hope of saving these forests. And the silver lining is that once GHG emissions stop, so do NOx emissions.

      Reply
      • Robert, you would be hard pressed to find a person with a bleaker outlook regarding climate change than me. The point is, that trees are dying off rapidly from ozone and THAT is going to accelerate global warming far, far faster than current climate models predict, because not one of them takes forest decline – at the pace it is actually occurring due to pollution – into account. And there is convincing evidence that it is pollution which underlies the global trend of premature dieoff, not climate (YET) – which is that characteristic foliar damage caused by ozone is occurring on vegetation everywhere – including aquatic plants, and tropical ornamentals grown in pots, that are being watered. It is also a distinction that matters, because (like ocean acidification causing a parallel loss of coral reefs) it makes clear that geoengineering temperatures alone will be utterly futile. As you say “…the silver lining is that once GHG emissions stop, so do NOx emissions.” That is the sole solution to both problems – climate change and pollution – but unfortunately, it’s too late to avert catastrophic warming and furthermore, it’s very clear that humanity has no intention of stopping emissions.

      • Oh, climate change is killing trees now and causing wildfires now. I think to state the contrary is to ignore numerous convincing scientific papers on the issue.

        And yes, ozone and sulfur dioxide damage plants and root systems. We’ve known this for years.

        As for the issue of whether or not we have any hope… Let’s stop fossil fuel emissions first and then check back and see. It’s not a question as to what intentions are now. It’s a question of whether or not we can change intention.

        For my part, I completely agree that geoengineering temperatures is a very, very bad idea and one most likely to fail horribly. Which is why we must first stop fossil fuel emissions if we are to have much hope.

    • “It may be hard to imagine that pollution could be invisible, but ozone is. The most widespread pollutant in the U.S. is also one of the most dangerous.”

      http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/health-risks/health-risks-ozone.html

      I wasn’t aware that ozone was so bad. Considering the effect it can have on plant life, perhaps ozone pollution is also a key in the increase of auto-immune diseases in people?

      Norway has due to a bad choice of policy had a great increase of diesel cars on the roads (as well as a lot of electrical vehicles which are good) – and the quality of the air has deteriorated greatly in the cities these past years. There is a diesel fume stench everywhere you go now and from what I understand NO2 (NOx) from diesel combustion is also the vital component into the creation of ozone, so the more diesel cars, the more ozone we have too. Not hearing much about this pollutant in the media here at least, and this is the first time I have heard about its impact on vegetation… will follow this more closely.

      Reply
  7. Erwin

     /  January 30, 2014

    one thing to look at also would be the North Atlantic record low pressure events. Apparently since 1820 there have been about 30 low pressure events below 940mbar. Now we’ve had apparently three since December. The jetstreams are staggering around like a couple of drunks, high on their pints of fossil fuel..

    Reply
  8. I hope that guy doesn’t finagle his way back in here again, Robert. Holocaust deniers? We don’t need that here.

    OK if you want to delete this, just had to say something.

    Reply
    • It’s OK, Miep. I just didn’t want the whole thread to devolve into that, very unsavory, abyss.

      I think I’ve managed to fix the filter so he’s gone for good. He’s certainly had more than enough warnings.

      Reply
  9. I wonder if you have any comments on this –
    Chris Busby: “Gulf stream seems to failing. i have noticed increasingly the depressions get stuck in mid – Atlantic. we have had stuck depressions mid atlantic since november and a continuous high over scandinavia which means high winds and rain in England and cold easterlies in Latvia with no snow. Scary.”


    (via Facebook)

    http://robinwestenra.blogspot.co.nz/2014/01/atlantic-ocean-currents.html

    Reply
    • Absolutely true. Writing an article based on this, among other things, right now. The Gulf Stream is very weak and continues to weaken.

      Reply
    • The Gulf Stream has decreased in strength by about 10 to 15 percent since 2004. This is largely due to increasing melt outflows from Greenland and due to ocean current changes in the Arctic and extreme North Atlantic. Greenland melt is likely to continue to increase over the coming decades. So we should see a continued weakening and southward diversion of the Gulf Stream.

      Reply
    • Well the heat anomaly surely has affected the rate of refreezing of the Arctic as its been going more slowly up and today there is less ice compared to last year although still above 2012 which turned into the record melt year. Follow this closely to check how this year will turn out:

      http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/arctic.sea.ice.interactive.html

      No doubt 2012 was probably an outlier event, but 2013 was very likely a return to mean so chances are we will see lower extent this year as we have had yet another year for our planet to store additional energy from the imbalance we have from 400ppm CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. No doubt we will race past 400ppm this year:

      http://keelingcurve.ucsd.edu

      Reply
      • Seems we have an outlier year about one in 5. It’s possible the next one will take the Arctic to ice-free or near ice-free conditions. The one after that almost certainly will.

        It’s important to note, however, that ice sheet melt is a pretty strong negative feedback for sea ice, helping preserve it against the assaults of ocean warmth by providing a cold, fresh layer. So the last hope for sea ice in the north comes from the melting Greenland glaciers. Not a happy thought, really.

  10. Following the extensive brush fires in Trøndelag this week, the Met Office has issued warning of extreme danger of brush and forest fire along the whole western coast from Stavanger in the south, to Steinkjer in the north.

    This is due to the high winds and lack of precipitation over several weeks in the whole region.

    http://www.norwaypost.no/index.php/news/latest-news/29492-danger-of-more-brush-and-forest-fires

    Reply
    • The weather that usually hits Norway has intensified and shifted south, leaving Norway windy and dry. More cold fresh water outflow from Greenland meddling with the Gulf Stream…

      Reply
  11. Methane Rising As Funding Cuts Threaten Monitoring Network

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) monitors many potent greenhouse gases, such as methane, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, at observatories around the world. In the past six years, funding for part of the network — the collection of air samples in flasks — has not kept pace with cost increases, said Ed Dlugokencky, an atmospheric chemist with NOAA’s Earth Sciences Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.

    “We’ve had about a 25 percent decrease in the number of air samples measured from the global cooperative network,” Dlugokencky told Live Science. “If we want to understand what is happening [with methane], we’re going in the wrong direction to do that.”

    http://www.livescience.com/42986-methane-greenhouse-gas-monitoring-threatened.html

    Reply
    • First they try to cut the satellites, now they try to cut the ghg monitoring. We need more monitoring, not less. And deep ocean h2s monitoring would help as well. Yet one more reason to raise taxes on the already too wealthy. Heck, we could use a few more scientists, don’t you think?

      Reply
  12. Back in 2004, Lisa Sloan, professor of Earth sciences at UC Santa Cruz, and her graduate student Jacob Sewall published an article in Geophysical Research Letters, “Disappearing Arctic sea ice reduces available water in the American west” (subs. req’d).

    As the news release at the time explained, they “used powerful computers running a global climate model developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to simulate the effects of reduced Arctic sea ice.” And “their most striking finding was a significant reduction in rain and snowfall in the American West.”

    “Where the sea ice is reduced, heat transfer from the ocean warms the atmosphere, resulting in a rising column of relatively warm air,” Sewall said. “The shift in storm tracks over North America was linked to the formation of these columns of warmer air over areas of reduced sea ice in the Greenland Sea and a few other locations.”

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/31/3223791/climate-change-california-drought/

    Reply
  13. Of particular note were the amazingly warm January temperatures in the Balkans. According to weather record researcher Maximiliano Herrera, “over 90% of all stations in the Balkans from Slovenia to Croatia to Bosnia to Serbia To Montenegro to Macedonia to Kosovo etc, have DESTROYED their previous record of warmest January ever (many locations have 100 – 200 years of data.) In many cases the monthly temperatures were 7 – 9°C (13 – 16°F) above average, and the new records were 3 – 4°C above the previous record. This is for THOUSANDS of stations, almost all of them. In Slovenia, for example, Mount Kredarica is the only station in the whole country not to have set its warmest January on record.”

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2624#commenttop

    Reply
  14. coopgeek

     /  January 31, 2014

    I think your use of the term “historic” here is interesting. It got me thinking about whether that’s the case for this fire in particular, which is certainly freakish but perhaps not historice in and of itself. So I wrote a bit about that term and what it means for the weather that we face. Thanks!

    http://coopgeek.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/historic-weather/

    Reply
    • It’s historic in the sense that there is no context for a fire like this in winter in Norway and that it is the largest fire in this country since World War II. In addition, 139 buildings were destroyed. We have no record of wildfires in winter in Norway of this scale or intensity. So yes, given these contexts, I believe it is entirely appropriate to call the event historic.

      It’s one of the worst fires in Norway’s history and it happened in winter, when such fires shouldn’t happen at all.

      Reply
      • coopgeek

         /  February 1, 2014

        I agree that this is a historically-significant event, and not just for the people living in that remote corner of Norway. However, I think we need to save a term for that which is more transformationally historic. Can’t think of the word for that yet – maybe “historic” vs “Historic?” Maybe I’m getting too semantical. In any case, there’s little doubt that the Norway fires are part of something transformational, so thanks for bringing them to our attention.

    • Strange and stranger.

      Reply
      • jyyh

         /  February 2, 2014

        And now it’s finally put out, it currently reads.

      • It gets worse, jyyh. Got this in my spam tonight:

        teensy on to the adjacent. A appreciation that is an impressive
        time of jewellery can prison cell a lot cheaper than livid atomic number
        79, but rather confusable in appearance, which makes the
        variation. As was declared to begin with, mass can understand and that
        can take in them national leader piquant.

        On the plus side, still getting some good much needed rain here.

  15. O.K., robertscribbler, I Thank You for the link to this site, which few people probably bother to go check out. You commented on another site, and put up a connecting link. Very interesting site, here, very informative. Will come back another time when it isn’t so far past my bedtime! Arkansas Gloria

    Reply
  16. Just blocked this and took down most of the related comments.

    Neither holocaust denial nor climate change denial lives on this blog. Time to ban Gerald again…

    For those of you who responded appropriately, thank you.

    Reply
  1. Arctic Wildfires In Winter: Norway Experiences Freakish Historic Wildfire… | TinderNews
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