Trump's NOAA: Blame Humans for Arctic Heat Waves of 2016

Illustration for article titled Trump's NOAA: Blame Humans for Arctic Heat Waves of 2016
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is playing no games. The federal department wants everyone to know that human-caused climate change is so real that 2016 Arctic heat waves would not have happened without it.


This is according to new research NOAA published in the journal Weather and Climate Extremes this month. Climate models the team used would not create the extreme warmth the Arctic saw in 2016—not until they added people to the equation. The paper concluded that 60 percent of the 2016 Arctic heat was likely attributable to us humans and our fossil fuels.

“None of the simulations using only natural climate influences were able to reproduce the extreme warmth that overtook the Arctic in 2016,” a press release reads.

Observed differences from average temperature in 2016 (left) and two computer simulations of 2016 (right)
Observed differences from average temperature in 2016 (left) and two computer simulations of 2016 (right)
Image: NOAA

Unusual warmth overtook the Arctic on multiple occasions in 2016, starting at the beginning of the year. There were so few days below freezing that by May, the Arctic literally went off the charts. Fewer freezing days, in turn, meant more melting, and record low sea ice growth in the fall. A fall heat wave was so rare that experts called it a “black swan event.”

What does President Donald Trump think of one of his leading science agencies pinning this on us humans? Probably not much. It’s not like he really believes in climate science. But his disbelief isn’t stopping the Arctic. The situation up north is continuing to worsen, and that’s having ripple effects all over the world.

“It’s been said the Arctic is the canary in the coal mine,” said co-author Martin Hoerling, a NOAA meteorologist, in a press release. “The canary in the coal mine really chirped loudly in 2016. This is where the signal is clearly emerging beyond the noise, and it affirms predictions of how climate change will unfold on Earth.”


If we keep up our current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, 2016's wild Arctic heat waves could become the new normal—within in a decade, the researchers say. We’ve already seen a few this year. Welcome to the future.

Yessenia Funes is climate editor at Atmos Magazine. She loves Earther forever.


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Trump’s administration is in the clear.

According to the journal article, the paper was received on July 13, 2017. That was a Thursday. Sure the entire paper and supplemental materials could be sent electronically, but let’s assume the paper was sent via mail. Therefore it probably sat on the departments secretary’s desk for a couple of days and then mailed at the Boulder post office on Monday of that week. We’re talking now July 10, 2017. Given the July 4th holiday and folks taking global warming inducing holiday travel and shit, the researchers did fuckall from about June 30th to actual submittal date. The paper probably took about four to six weeks to write, given the number of authors and the penchant for CU scientists to be fucking around playing frisby and hacky sack from mid May (after graduation) to late June. The research itself including model runs and whatnot probably took at least six months. Also time was divided between teaching and marching for science. Now we’re getting into early January before Trump’s inauguration. Therefore, this is an Obama work product and funded as such. Thanks, Obama.

In all seriousness, this research is shared between CIRES and NOAA and not a deliverable out of the White House. Yes, Trump’s administration is loaded with dicks, but this work never had to get reviewed by some prick trying to fuck over science at the sub department level. NOAA is under the Department of Commerce headed up by Wilbur Ross. He may have been focussed on gutting ethanol blending requirements at the refinery level for his buddy Carl Icann while this research was being done. So no White House lobbyist, lawyers, communications secretaries, family members or general fuckwits had to approve or disapprove or fiddle fuck with the work. Who knows, Ivanka was going to be the Climate expert (or was that champion) for the Trump family wasn’t she? She might have pushed it through.