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Snow grow situation

Over on unthreaded, Sandy points us to this article at a blog that specialises in monitoring snow patches in the Scottish Highlands. The trend in August snow patches is not what you'd expect.

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Reader Comments (45)

The start of glaciation.

Nov 6, 2015 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

OMG, he's right. It's a hockey stick.

Nov 6, 2015 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlabicyclette

Definitely a hockey stick and it's much worse than we thought. The second Little Ice Age has clearly started.

You wouldn't get me living in Scotland. All that 100% renewable energy will freeze up. I would advise the Bish to get a generator and stock up with a few years supply of logs and candles.

Nov 6, 2015 at 5:14 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

They do say that glaciation is not about how much snow falls in the winter but how little melts in the summer.

Nov 6, 2015 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Children aren't going to know what snow-free hills look like.

Nov 6, 2015 at 5:36 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Thanks Bish!

Of course this must be evidence of run-away global warming but the explanation escapes me!

Nov 6, 2015 at 5:44 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

No doubt Mann will be taking legal action against the owners of the blog for stealing his hockey stick.

Nov 6, 2015 at 5:47 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Sorry to be a party pooper, but could this just reflect an increase in the number of people looking?

Nov 6, 2015 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Nobody stole his hockey stick Salopian. It just keeps reappearing again and again in various other places.

Inconvenient for you all I know.

Nov 6, 2015 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterYouKnowNothingBishHill

This comes from an article I wrote four years ago;

'....This decline in the climate is reinforced by this account from 1610 when John Taylor, talking of the hills around him in Deeside Scotland, remarked that “the oldest men alive never saw but snow on the top of divers of these hills both in summer as in winter.”

(The 1610 quote from the book ‘The Little Ice Age’ by Brian Fagan)

Our apparent modern amnesia regarding previous climatic conditions can be seen to be nothing new by reading the comments from the annals of Dunfermline Scotland from 1733/4, when it was recorded that wheat was first grown in the district in 1733. Lamb wryly observes that was not correct, as enough wheat had been grown further north in the early 1500′s to sustain an export trade.'

So, fluctuating climatic conditions in Scotland are nothing new


Nov 6, 2015 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

Mikky, no I think that survival of patches of snow is genuinely up (not the first time I've heard this) but alas (or hooray) it's almost certainly just a blip and not a trend.

Nov 6, 2015 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

While far to short a period to say anything with confidence about trends, recent August snow patches in Scotland match the last few years concerning the Greenland ice cap and summer Arctic ice, both strong warmunist memes. Greenland essentially lost no ice in 2014, compared to about 200Gt/ for about the previous decade, compared to about 30GT/ year in the 1990s. All indications from DMI and NASA are that Greenland will,have gained at least 200Gt in 2015. We will know mid January when the annual NASA summary comes out. Arctic ice the last three years has recovered in extent, volume, and multiyear ice. It appears there is polar colding rather than warming. Fits a roughly 70 year full cycle as posited by polar expert Akasofu in 2010.

Nov 6, 2015 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

"Of course this must be evidence of run-away global warming but the explanation escapes me!" --mikeh

Any warmunist explanation will involve an ad hominem.

Nov 6, 2015 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

go long on Scottish ski resorts

Nov 6, 2015 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

But, being polite, the graph really should have some units on the axis, otherwise you're getting close to cli-sci.

Nov 6, 2015 at 7:46 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

No need for units as its number of patches.

Nov 6, 2015 at 7:57 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

I note from the article that around 8 percent of these patches last until winter.

I looked at the definition of glacier but these don't fit the criteria so, disappointingly , snow patches seems to be the best description .


Nov 6, 2015 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyb

This is just like the Antarctic. There is more snow, so it must be a signal of a warming climate.

Nov 6, 2015 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Mikky may well be right. People are out looking.
Indeed, if the weather gets better there may well be more people out looking giving an perverse result.

But also I suppose it could be like Antarctica and a sign of the coming Ice Age.

Me? I want to know how big a "patch" is. And if increased development has broken up a former potential patch in to two where once there would have been one.

It's all to subjective for me.
Also Hockeysticks always attract my suspicion these days.

Nov 6, 2015 at 8:28 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

There is a webcam at Fort William pointed toward Ben Nevis. Sow patches have been visible all year. I did not know if it was normal

Nov 6, 2015 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

From Ian Cameron's article :

"We caution that this total [678], though very impressive, is likely to be too low. Given the amount of snow that was present all over the hills it’s almost certain that some were missed"

Nov 6, 2015 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin

The credit should really go to IceAgeNow which is where I saw the link.

Nov 6, 2015 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Is it possible that, as the snow cover reduces due to increased temperatures, there are more (though smaller) patches?

Nov 6, 2015 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

there is only 1 way for our fine establishment media to report this, and that is to NOT report it :)

Where's Roger [snip] Harrabin ? Is he on another entitled sabbatical??

Nov 7, 2015 at 12:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

In a few years, there will be sufficient snow and ice to support polar bears rescued from the impending over population crisis in the Arctic.

The return of swimming bears, may finally bring the Loch Ness Monsters out of their starvation induced hibernation

Nov 7, 2015 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Amazing how many grapes you can grow from glacial runoff.

Meanwhile, back in California......

Nov 7, 2015 at 1:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

vvussell, you are correct about some of Europes glacial meltwaters passing through fine wine areas.

Not many vineyards are located in or irrigated by glacial meltwater, that is basic geography and biology.

Are you worried about Californian vineyards becoming ski resorts? The Met Office, Guardian and others, were forecasting the end of Scotland's skiing industry based on Michael Mann's Hockey Stick. Would you rather rely on Michael Mann, or the observations of people who live and work in Scotland?

Nov 7, 2015 at 2:06 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Still needs to have a legend, BoFA, to say what it is on the axis or underneath. Data/graphs should speak for themselves. Shouldn't have to wade through the text.

People like cli-sci-ists would report anomalies with an undisclosed baseline if they they thought it would help "the cause". They would do it without shame, and possibly without knowledge of why it was wrong to do so without making it clear to the reader.

That is (just) one difference between science and green-politics.

Nov 7, 2015 at 2:32 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

What's the Guardian's man say ? Adam Watson (85) a full on ALARMIST who set out to prove snow patches CONFIRM global warming.
Turns out that he's one of the 2 men behind this research*. The other is guy quoted above in the article Iain Cameron **

#2 This survey only started in 2008 but how does it fit into "an impressive catalogue of observations dating back to the 1930s." compiled by the joint authors ?

*the annual snow-patch paper published by the Royal Meteorological Society in their scientific journal Weather (paywall)

Rule #1 Extraordinary story see if anyone has already debunked it
..what are the alarmists saying ?Dead end ..nothing

The Guardian's Charlie English has used melting snow patches to CONFIRM global warmingat the end of This 2010 article
Yet the year previously in 2009 he asked Dr Adam Watson about the increases and got the excuse :the planet is in a cooling cycle before it retutns to super- warming

How does Watson explain the return of snow? He points to research by Dr Noel Keenlyside at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in Kiel, Germany, which suggests the planet is in a natural cooling cycle caused by ocean currents in the Pacific and Atlantic that may last a decade before warming accelerates again. "Noel Keenlyside's results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade, as natural climate variations in the north Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic warming,"
**Quite a good backgroud story Nov 2014

- Good Blogpost about the surveying
- Wikipedia has a small page on Snow patches in Scotland. It lists Dr Adam Watson as the expert on longevity of snow-patches on Scotland's mountains : his 2011 book)

Nov 7, 2015 at 6:23 AM | Unregistered Commenterstewgreen2

Quotes from the review of their book Cool Britannia explain some things
"The relevance of individual observations of snow patch extent and longevity becomes clear when the smaller pieces are combined as in a jigsaw puzzle. By collating these individual accounts the authors are able to make inferences about the history of our climate and how it has changed."

"Using these accounts, Cool Britannia makes the case that long-lasting snow was much more prevalent in Britain in the centuries before the 20th century, supporting the theory of the existence of the 'Little Ice-Age' climate period that affected north-western Europe between the years 1300 to 1850 (and to which current global warming trends can be dated to the end of)."

Nov 7, 2015 at 6:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterstewgreen2

The Dunstaffnage laboratory (where I used to work) has a real-time camera looking at Ben Cruachan.

I started to make a note of the date when the first time that the summit had snow thereon, but in recent years I have forgotten to do this.

My memory was that it was always in October, but rather variable.

Nov 7, 2015 at 7:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn de Melle

Golf Charlie,

There are many, many vineyards in Switzerland, all are watered by glacial runoff.

If you include the Rhone as glacial runoff there's quite a few in France as well!

Nov 7, 2015 at 7:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

John de Melle
In the 1960s and 70s when I was living in Perthshire and involved in Deer Stalking as a holiday job; the Head Stalker said that there would always be a fall of snow on the high tops (around 3000ft or higher) before October. It normally didn't last long, perhaps only a few hours. I have a photo somewhere of us warming our hands under the pony's manes during a particularly heavy September snow storm.

Nov 7, 2015 at 7:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Snow, what's that? The Today weather reported this morriing that the south of England will be" much warmer than it should be" for the time of year. So the all-powerful BBC know precisely what the temperature should be every day of the year, do they?

Nov 7, 2015 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Amazing how many grapes you can grow from glacial runoff.

Meanwhile, back in California......
Nov 7, 2015 at 1:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

...Scotland’s first bottling of home-grown wine has been classed as “undrinkable” by some critics although others have admitted they quite “enjoyed it in a bizarre, masochistic way”.

Nov 7, 2015 at 8:22 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

In 1980 I went ice climbing in Coire Sputan Dearg on Ben Macdui. It was the second weekend in October, and decent winter condidtions were most unusual that early. Normally if it snowed at all, it was too warm for any ice to form, and it would all just disappear. We didn't normally expect proper winter conditions until January, sometimes December.

Nov 7, 2015 at 8:35 AM | Unregistered Commentermorebeerplease

I think, to be fair, that when a broadcaster uses the phrase "warmer than it ought to be" in this context he means "warmer than we would expect it to be".
My complaint is with the increasingly slipshod use of the English language on the BBC. The Home Service greats like Jack de Manio or even the recently deceased (and much missed) Peter Donaldson would have been much more precise in what they said. Pedantic maybe, but words do have a precise meaning and if you stick to that meaning then no-one can doubt what you are saying.

Nov 7, 2015 at 10:06 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

More info:
This is a regular survey

Last Friday (the 21st of August) I was again up on the North Face of Ben Nevis to do some surveying. This time I was helping with the Ben Nevis part of the annual Scottish snowpatch survey.

The Scottish snowpatch survey occurs each year in mid/late August,and basically involves people wandering around the hills counting and measuring the remaining snowpatches. I have been involved most years since 2008, and it is something I have written about on my blog a few times. This year I was joined by three fellow snowpatch enthusiasts; Iain Cameron, Mark Atkinson and Al Todd.

As expected given the snowy winter and cool spring/summer, there was a lot of snow on the Ben. In fact there was far more than I had seen at this time of the year before...

Scotland was where glaciers formed during the Wisconsin Ice Age and not in Siberia which was a polar desert as were parts of Alaska. The other area where glaciers formed was the eastern part of North America. According to WIKI Hudson Bay was the growth centre for the main ice sheet that covered northern North America during the last Ice Age.

Polar Bear Science reported on August 13, 2015: 2nd highest ice coverage for Hudson Bay since 1971 at mid-August – only 1992 higher

Directly south of Hudson Bay are the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes obliterated all records for springtime ice last year, and this year. The Daily Mail (UK) reported that in mid October 2014 "Water temperature of the Great Lakes is over 6 degrees colder than normal "

I would think, given the shape of the ice sheets during the Wisconsin Ice Age, that meridional jets and not necessarily temperature, are indicative of cooling weather at least at the beginning of the switch. Meridonal jets allow the mixing of polar air with moisture laden tropical air. This allows blizzards to dump massive snow amounts on various areas as we saw in the last few years.

Slow spring melting will then allow the ground and lakes to remain cooler heading into summer. For the last three years here in mid North Carolina it has been so cool my white clover has bloomed all summer. The is the first time I have seen the clover not die in the summer in the over 20 years I have lived here. According to Clemson Univ (S.C.) "White clover (Trifolium repens), also known as Dutch clover, is a cool-season perennial... It grows best when temperatures range from 50 to 85 °F." Normally we see summer temperatures in the 95 to above 100 °F range but not the last few years.

Nov 7, 2015 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterGail Combs

Of course you get more snow patches with global warming - elementary Dear Watson.

Nov 7, 2015 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered Commentertoorightmate

The number of Scottish snow patches this year is high. Not more sampling. There is a corrie between Braeriach and Cairn Toul in the Cairngorms where reputedly the snow only melted a couple of times in the 20th century. But that is a high NE facing corrie that gets very little sun. This year I was on the top of Cairn Toul on 1st October and as well as several patches in the corrie there was a patch at about 4000 feet on a south facing slope. That is unusual. Though as already said too short a period to be a trend. There was a few winters in the early 1980s with heavy snow cover in the Scottish Highlands. In 1984 the village of Bridge of Orchy on the main Glasgow - Fort William A82 was cut off for several days with both the road and the railway blocked by huge snow drifts. 6 days in the case of the railway.That hasn't happened since.

" Heavy snows on January 22nd in places to a depth of two feet blocked both the GSW & CR routes into Scotland, with drifts of fifteen feet being reported. Engineering work on the ECML was quickly postponed, although too late to prevent one ECML passenger train being diverted towards Carlisle, then having to retrace its steps after word of the snow blockages spread. The failure of the 23.40 Edinburgh/Glasgow - Bristol near Crawford was not helped by the rescuing locomotive becoming stuck in a sizeable snowdrift. The gale force winds did nothing to help matters, quickly undoing the arduous work of the snowploughs. The down 'Clansman' became stuck at Dalwhinnie, somehow an ex Glasgow service forced its way alongside taking all the passengers to Inverness. It was several days before the stock of the 'Clansman' was freed from the snow. In later snow clearing operations here 26044 suffered serious fire damage, leading to withdrawal. The most affected train was an overnight Inverness - Euston service that was initially diverted via Aberdeen, suffered a partial locomotive failure, reached Motherwell only to find the way south blocked. A circumnavigation of the Hamilton circle found the train headed for Kilmarnock and the GSW route to Carlisle, having taken fifteen hours to cross the border. The 23rd's 10.15 Euston - Glasgow used 25185 & 25212 between Carlisle & Newcastle, as nothing was available at Newcastle to replace the Type 2's the train was terminated here, with the ecs returning to Carlisle. Many services were cancelled, others running many hours late, to ease the problems all freights north of Carlisle were cancelled.

Further north the 21st's 14.15 Fort William - Glasgow Queen Street ran into a snowdrift near Bridge of Orchy, services not resuming until 27th. Passengers from this train spent several days in local hotels. The lines north of Inverness were closed by snowdrifts, with the 17.55 Inverness - Kyle stuck west of Achnasheen and the 18.00 Wick - Inverness trapped at Scotscalder. RAF helicopters quickly located the ex Wick train rescuing all the passengers despite appalling weather conditions. For the Kyle passengers helicopter rescue took place the next morning. Although the storms had predominantly affected Scotland snow fell as far south as the north Midlands."

Nov 7, 2015 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterTed

Ted, climate experts will blame the cooling on excess water vapour due to burning fossil fuels. Any drop in sea level will be cause for concern, as it will be a clear indication of increased atmospheric water vapour.

Anyone enquiring about CO2, and its possible influence on climate, will be met with incredulous eye rolling, by climate scientists, embarrassed to have their misguided past given the oxygen of publicity.

Nov 7, 2015 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I think the words that people have been searching for to describe this contrary state of affairs is not inconsistent.

Nov 9, 2015 at 7:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterEarle

to really understand the drivers leading to snow patches in the Scottish Highlands, you really need to look at winter precipitation and spring/summer temperatures.
June and July were unseasonably cool and if I remember, July was the wettest month on record. It is quite likely that precipitation fell as snow in July in the higher elevations of the Highlands.
It is interesting that the cold snowy/winters we experienced in 2009/10 or was it 2010/11 are not reflected in that plot.
Relevant climate data can easily be access via KNMI if anyone wants to explore this phenomenon

Nov 9, 2015 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Wilson

It's all very well saying that the number of snow patches is on the rise, but what about the polar bears, eh? Not a single polar bear on any of them! We're all doomed.

Nov 9, 2015 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

But if one big patch melts into 20 smaller patches, it could be a sign of warming.
I'm just saying.

Nov 11, 2015 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterLeo Morgan

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