Thursday, August 9, 2012

Does Shell's Arctic Drilling Plan Adequately Address Arctic Summer Storms? Of Course Not

Arctic climate scientists have been closely watching the development of weather anomalies associated with diminishing sea ice in the larger Arctic Basin.  A good place to keep track of what are known as Arctic Summer Storms is the web site, Arctic Sea Ice Blog.   As climate science blogs go, this one's commenting community seems to be top notch, with a few contrarians or anti-alarmists to spice things up.

That the potential for devastation from Arctic Summer Storms is growing might easily be shown by the alarming graph posted below, prepared by the blog:

Essentially, Arctic Summer Storms are byproducts of decreasing sea ice during the summer.  They have the capacity of further reducing sea ice coverage rather rapidly, which might then lead topotential for more storms - a sort of cascade of unprecedented weather events.

It has been postulated that we may eventually have what might be called "Arcticanes," very large summer storms in the Arctic that could prove devastating to coastal communities, ecological niches and structures at sea, such as oil or gas platforms.

Although Shell Oil's plans for test drilling and production drilling off of Alaska's Arctic coasts pay lip service to possible emergencies, no planning has been put forth regarding Arcticanes.  Probably, in part, because they exist more in potential so far, rather than as historical example.

We may not have long to wait, though.


HarpboyAK said...

Could this be the cause of the lousy wet summer we're having here in SE Alaska?

Storm systems keep moving out of Siberia, across the eastern Bering Sea and the Aleutians, and into the Gulf where they pick up water vapor and energy from the (warmer this year) Japan Current, and then dump the moisture in SE Alaska.

Next time I run into one of the Juneau Weather Service meteorologists, I'll ask the question.

Tourists from the Midwest, where temps have been 3 figures all summer, seem to be happy that it's so cool here (60 degF) even if it's raining.

Anonymous said...

In the 1980s I took a float trip on a Brooks Range river. We got dropped off by our pilot at a lake near the headwaters of a river that we planned to float. As we camped at the lake, all hell broke loose-- very high winds, a foot of snow, very cold temperatures for early August (5 degrees fahrenheit) and birds around us were dying and freezing to death.

The winds were remarkable-- we learned later they were measuring winds exceeding 100 mph at Toolik Lake which was at much lower elevation. We wondered if our tents would hold together. That was a huge storm, and we experienced it nearly a quarter century ago.