But dang, it’s cold out there! What’s up with the weather?
Evelyn Browning Garriss, author of the Browning Newsletter and well-known “Weather Whisperer” will tell you, it’s because of the volcanic eruptions in the arctic.
Yes, since 2011, there have been 3 large (and several medium) eruptions in the polar region. These eruptions send a considerable amount of ash and debris up into stratosphere where it can float around for years. The ash forms a very thick cloud layer which blocks a lot of sunlight to the Arctic, resulting in cooler than normal weather.
According to history, the winter following significant arctic volcano eruptions is unusually warm (think 2012-2013), followed by two years of cold weather in both North America and Europe (think November 2013 until today, brrrr). Interesting eh? That’s because at first, the polar winds became really strong and trapped the arctic air mass over the land. But in the fall of 2013, those winds started to subside, allowing the arctic air mass to dip down into Eastern Canada and into the US, causing hell to… I mean 92% of the great lakes to freeze over.
Well the same trend is continuing into winter 2014-2015. We had a good dose of this in November, remember that? We we’re all thinking “uh-oh” but then it got more mild again, we started to relax and thought “right-on”. But the polar vortex is back again, and it bites.
There are several other trends happening in global weather but one Evelyn mentioned quite a bit was the PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation). About 30% of the earth’s surface is taken up by the Pacific Ocean so when this puppy changes, it has the potential to cause significant variations in our global weather. The PDO is in a “cool” cycle, it started around 2006, and has caused much drier weather in some parts of the world, including western North America. Where there once was adequate precipitation in some of our western forests now resides much more dry conditions, and this is wreaking havoc on forest ecology. With significantly less rainfall, these once-lush forests are under physiological stress and trees are dying. This makes them the perfect habitat for fire, disease and pests. Bark beetles, like the mountain pine beetle, are thriving in these stressed forest habitats and expanding outwards into healthy ones. Scientists say that this “cool” PDO cycle is expected to last another 15-20 years.
Evelyn is predicting a cold winter and a cooler early spring for Ontario but she anticipates that the impact of the polar volcanoes should fade some time during mid-late spring, 2015. And just think, spring is only 10 weeks away!
The other good news is that the volcanic ash is also cooling off the arctic summers, which has resulted in the expansion of the arctic sea ice since 2012.
(Evelyn Browning Garriss spoke at the LO IPM Symposium and LO Congress earlier this week)