Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jet Stream Extreme? A Severe Winter Storm in Mid-October, the "Dust Bowl" Creeps Back...

We've just had an unprecedented winter storm in Ontario and Upstate New York -- in autumn. Might this be related to anomalies in the Jet Stream, and is there a link to global warming? I'm not a meteorologist, but I don't remember seeing this sort of Jet Stream before. Usually, the Northern Hemisphere Jet Stream is a wavy line circling the entire globe. But Environment Canada's chart for Friday, October 13, 2006 at 18:00 UTC (2:00 PM EDT) was forecasting a small circle of Jet Stream surrounding just the Province of Ontario! Check out the screenshot below (the Jet Stream is represented by the thick red lines):

(Source:, accessed on 2006-10-12, 4:56 PM EDT)

It's fairly well-known that "...the path of the jet stream steers... storm systems at lower levels in the atmosphere...."

Coincidentally (or not)
on October (not November!) 13, 2006, we got this: "'Historic' October snowstorm blasts Niagara Region". Moreover,
Environment Canada said the storm brought 'significant snowfalls of historic proportions.'

'This really does stand out as a historic event and one that will be looked at by meteorologists in a number of years to come,' said Geoff Coulson, a meteorologist with Environment Canada who specializes in warning preparedness.
Nearby, in Buffalo, NY, USA, three people are dead.
'Our street looked like it was hit by a hurricane. It looks like the apocalypse. ItÂ’s unreal,' said [Buffalo resident] Matthew Colken, who lost power at 4 a.m. 'One hundred-year-old trees are down.' (Source: Toronto Star.)
I know that these are the words of a possibly distraught disaster victim in a country where Apocalypticism (or its close relative, Millenarianism) is a known historical current. Still, I cannot help but find this quote to be, how shall we say... chilling.

Yes, it is unscientific to attribute any one weather event to global warming. Global warming deals with patters of weather events (climate), not predicting single events. Still, I cannot help but wonder: are we likely to see more Jet Stream anomalies and extreme weather (both heat and cold) if global warming continues?

By the way, in May 2006, Jet Stream shifts due to warm ocean temperatures were implicated in causing the notorious "dust bowl" of the 1930s. Here's another headline, from later in May 2006: "Report: Jet stream shift is expanding the Earth's tropics and deserts" [emphasis added]. So now we're talking about the present and future. Is the nightmare of the 1930s on its way back? Does the Harper Government care?

Memo to self: Bruce Sterling's novel, Heavy Weather, would make a nice holiday gift for Harper! (Book preview -, local library search -
  • Plot Spoiler warning... If I recall correctly, in this book, the Jet Stream gets so out of hand that it crashes down to ground level and causes unimaginable "F-6" level storms. A bit far-fetched -- or is it?


ydzabelishensky said...

UPDATE: U.S. National Weather Service Confirms Jet Stream Connetcion to Buffalo Storm

"Colder air surprised experts
Tom Paone, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, said the storm surprised even weather forecasters, who at first predicted heavy rain, then just a few inches of snow. But lake-effect storms — caused by cold northern winds blowing across the warmer Great Lakes — are notorious for unpredictability.

"'What happened was that the air behind the cold front was colder than the models indicated. There also was a strong jet stream across New York that lifted the air, and made it even colder. Unfortunately, things came together at the right time in the right way,' Paone said.

"'We kept updating our forecasts, but even if we had put out information that this was going to happen, I'm not sure people would have believed us. There was no way to anticipate the widespread effect,'" he said.

[Bolding added.]

Source: Associated Press via MSNBC, 1:03 p.m. ET Oct. 18, 2006,

(Accessed on Oct. 18, 2006, 10:00 PM ET)

carol said...

1 - According to Wikipedia, the jet streams weren't even discovered until the late 1930's, more noticed by pilots during WWII, and it was much later before any real measurments or theories as to how they form and operate were done. There is no way that any predictive 'models' can be credible with so little data.
2 - Everyone discounts any research funded by corporations (although who else is going to protect them from hysterical charges). Then you ignore the fact that environmental organiztions are huge international behemoths, with huge amounts of money to fund their "we're destroying the earth" agenda. You also don't know what agenda is behind university funding.
Since you say you're not a meterologist, you might want to check out 'the global warming heretic (// who is.

ydzabelishensky said...

Thanks for your comment, carol. I disagree with it completely. Here's why:

1. Where is the scientific evidence to back up your claims? The media reports linked in my original blog entry dealt with Jet Streams and the Dust Bowl era, as well as more recent expansion of tropics and deserts. The studies cited in the media reports had been published in the peer-reviewed journal Science. A bit of Googling shows:

* On the Cause of the 1930s Dust Bowl -- Schubert et al. Science 303 (5665): 1855, 19 March 2004, DOI: 10.1126/science.1095048, at

* Enhanced Mid-Latitude Tropospheric Warming in Satellite Measurements -- Fu, Q. et al. Science 312(5777): 1179, 26 May 2006, DOI: 10.1126/science.1125566, at

"Science is the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is considered one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals." (Wikipedia).

It would take more to refute these studies than your bald assertions about insufficient data.
Again, where is the scientific evidence to back up your claims?

2. As for corporations vs. environmental groups, let's look at just one U.S. company, ExxonMobil. Now there's a real "huge international behemoth, with huge amounts of money" (all sums below are in USD):

"Revenue ^ $404.552 Billion [1] (2007)
"Net income ^ $40.6 Billion (2007)
"Total assets $242.08 Billion (2007)
"Total equity $121.762 Billion (2007)"

ExxonMobil also happens to be one of the most notorious funders of global warming denial (Wikipedia, DeSmogBlog).

I have not found global statistics, but in 2005, "with disaster relief giving included, this subsector [U.S. environment and animals organizations] reached $8.86 billion [] in contributions received" (The Non Profit Times).

Would global donations make much of a difference if you add them to the U.S. ones? Not as much as you might think. The U.S. as a country country may be the largest source of donations for environmental groups.

Let's take a famous global environmental organization that is involved in Climate Change education: the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Their 2007 U.S. revenues were around $160.8 million (WWF). Their International revenues for 2007 were around $133.6 million (WWF [PDF, printout p. 19, screen p. 21 of 28]).

What if you estimate global environmental group revenues in 2007 by quadrupling the total U.S. 2005 figure of $8.86 billion? You would get $35.44 billion. That's still only about 11.4% of ExxonMobil's $404.552 billion 2007 revenues. Again, which is the real "huge international behemoth"?

As for the blog that you mentioned, the author claims in the sidebar on the right:

"I have degrees in computer science and meteorology, which instantly makes my opinions on global climate change more credible than those of Al Gore. Just a thought."

It would be nice to know where the degrees are from, and to see a list of the blog author's academic publications. But the above blog's author chooses to remain anonymous. This makes his claims about academic credentials unverifiable. At least we know for sure that Al Gore has a B.A. cum laude from Harvard (Wikipedia).

The blog author also states in the sidebar on the right:

"Contrary to stereotypes promoted by the AGW alarmists, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a paid shill of the energy industry. However, if you represent the energy industry and you wish to shower money on me in exchange for my advocacy, there is no need for a formal agreement. Just leave bags of cash on my doorstep and I'll be happy."

While the tone is jovial, why would he want to even toy with the idea that his blog is for rent, in untraceable cash?

In contrast, the IPCC, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore,

" a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)," whose conclusions undergo "...a two stage review process by experts and governments" (IPCC, emphasis added).

So which are more credible:

* Anonymous views by a person who claims to have a degree, while joking about taking industry money,

- OR -

* Verifiable, published, peer-reviewed scientific findings from a major U.N. agency?