By Matti Vooro, P.E.
I recently read a news clipping from the Canadian Press headlined: Never mind that cold snap-fed stats suggest Canadian winters are getting warmer. According to the article, the figures were compiled by Environment Canada and released to the Canadian Press on January 25, 2011.
I checked the Environment Canada data and have come to a different conclusion from their climate data record. I have produced two graphs of past winters from 1998-2010 showing the annual winter temperature departure for 11 of the Canadian regions and Canada as a whole. All temperature data comes from Environment Canada.
Here are the 11 climate zones in Canada:
This is what the graph shows.
Here is what the graph tells me in my opinion:
* For Canada as a whole, the average linear winter trend is negative (cooling), see graph above.
* The linear winter trend of 8 of the 11 regional areas was also cooling, see graph below.
* The linear trend of the Atlantic coast is flat.
* Only the linear trend for the Arctic tundra and fiords (far Arctic North) shows warming.
Next is a chart showing the plots for all 11 regions of Canada and their winter temperature departures from 1998 -2010. The Canadian average is also included together with the linear trend for all of Canada.
What my objection to the Canadian Press article and its headline was that it implies to the Canadian public that Canadian winters are getting milder when they have not for the last 13 years. That is significant.You can’t ignore that if you are going to write an article about changes in Canadian winters. The article compared winter data sets between 1970’s and today. I however compared 1998 and 2010/2011 which is much more current and up to date.
The 1970s were at the bottom of the climate cycle when both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as measured by AMO and PDO were in the cool mode. Now we are near the top of the current warm cycle and starting to come down fast. So naturally any comparison will show a warming. But it does not mean that the warming will continue. It is like comparing winter datasets to summer datasets and saying we are warming – forgetting that after the summer comes another fall and winter. The PDO and AMO are again heading for the cool phase like the 1970’s.
When costal waters around North America cool, the inland areas will cool first and to a greater degree. This is exactly what is happening in North America and Europe and Asia.
The SST anomalies for US coastal waters [20N-50N] dropped more than 0.65 deg C by January 2011. The January 2011 reading for the U.S. Coast Waters is the lowest on record for the satellite-based Reynolds Oi.v2 SST dataset [as to Bob Tisdale’s recent post on WUWT].
So I think what was missing in the article was the fact that, yes, it is interesting that our Canadian winters have warmed between 1970’s and today but what it did not say is that we should not to expect this to continue, since the climate factors that caused the cooler climate back in the 1970′ are back again and have already caused the cooling to return during the last decade. More cooling can be expected during the next 20-30 years. Even the AGW climate scientists have admitted to the media that there has been no statistical global warming since 1995.
The winter of 2009 perhaps is indicative of what might be ahead for some of the future Canadian winters. It already had winter temperatures close to those of the 1970’s for many regions . Most regions (7 in total) had below normal winter temperature departures except (4) Atlantic coast, Mackenzie District and Arctic Tundra, Mountains and Fjords. The 2009 winter had both the AMO and PDO negative or cool, like what we may get again in the decades ahead. The 2011 winter also mimiced similar conditions as the coastal waters around North America had cooled to record low levels [similar to a negative AMO and already a negative PDO]
The second wrong message in the article was that the warming between 1970 and 2010 was due to global warming when it has clearly been shown by climate scientists, including the Met Office, that natural planetary cycles ENSO (stronger El Nino’s) were behind the recent warm phase.
Not just Canada is cooling – but the United States too
– Winter temperatures have been dropping for 10 years since 2000.
– Annual temperatures have been dropping for 4 years.
– US winter temperatures have dropped 6°F between 2000 and 2010.
Global snow extent
– 2011 winter had the 3rd highest snow extent in the Northern Hemisphere and North America since 1967.
– 2010 winter had the 2nd most snow extent for Northern Hemisphere since the1978/1979 winter [2008 had the 3rd highest since 1967].
– 2010 winter had the highest winter snow extent since 1967 and the extent has been climbing since 2006.
– 5 of the11 highest snow extents for Eurasia have happened since 2003[2003 was the2nd highest since 1967].
Let’s do some fact checking about our current GLOBAL MEAN TEMPERATURE ANOMALY
Other regions of the globe
– The cold weather in US has reached the Mexican/US border with significant lost crops this year.
– Record snow or new cold temperatures set in December 2010 across various parts of the Northern Hemisphere.
– Sweden had coldest December in 110 years and 2010 was the coldest in two decades. Norway had its coldest year since 1941 and 10th coldest since 1941.
– UK had its coldest December since in 120 years. Germany had its coldest December in 41 years, Ireland had its coldest December since 1881 or in129 years
– Similar cold records were set in the Middle East, the Korean peninsula, Mexico, China, and India.
– Following another extended stretch of sub-zero temperatures, ice coverage on the Baltic Sea is greater than it’s been in nearly a quarter century, Sweden’s meteorological agency reports.
– The Russian are having one of hardest winter in the last 100 years during the 2011 winter. The average temperature for February in Moscow was 11°C below normal!
So how can we say that Canadian winter temperatures are getting milder when the data shows that Canadian winter temperatures as a whole are getting cooler for 8 of the 11 regions since 1998? Only the high Arctic shows warming. The more logical conclusion would be the winter temperatures were fluctuating but the trend is cooling. For some regions like the Prairies and Northwestern forest areas, there was 6.6 to 7.1 C of cooling between 2006 and 2009. Once the 2011 winter gets added to the data, the cooling aspect will be even more evident.
Here are the winter temperature departures for all 11 regions of Canada. As you will note, the linear trend line for all are negative or cooling with the exception of the Atlantic coast which is flat or no real change and Arctic Mountains , Fiords and Tundra which show warming or rising trend line.
Trends for different Canadian climate zones: