The Phenomenal Weirdness of 2012

Yes, I know that 2012 is still in progress (BTW, today is 10/11/12), but I think it's very clear that 2012 has been a remarkable year.  We had a massive drought in the midwest (following in the footstep of last year's whopper drought), Arctic sea ice reached its lowest level ever recorded, and the Red Sox stunk.  2012 is also emerging as an exceptional year in the North Atlantic.  Below is an image of how sea surface temperature this summer compared to the 1981-2011 average.


Of course, the most notable feature of the image is the giant red blob extending from Cape Hatteras to Iceland and penetrating into the Labrador Sea.  This event is larger in than the midwest drought, and like the drought, it has impacted ecosystems and people.  However, because it took place in the ocean, it will be several years before we know the full extent of its impact.  While it is tempting to conclude that this event is caused by global warming (the logic of Jim Hansen's recent paper would suggest it is), I am more interested in using this event to understand how our ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal economies will fare in a warming world.


The Med also looks anomalously warm. I wonder what's going on there. Also, I wonder if the Red Sox struggled during the Medieval Warm Period.

Southern Europe was very warm this summer. Not being a native New Englander, my knowledge of Red Sox lore doesn't extend back to the Medieval; however, the 1950s were an extended warm period in the North Atlantic and I'm pretty sure that was a dark period for the Sox.

Are these anomalies linked to any particular climate indices?

It's been several years in a row of record low sea ice cover in the Gulf of St-Lawrence in front of my office's window, and in the Arctic in general. As ice continues to be attacked from below, a very strong feedback loop is predictable.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy Pershing published on October 11, 2012 8:22 AM.

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