After reading Laura's insightful comments (in blue), started thinking about past trends and found this article: "Sudden STratospheric Warming caused the Polar Vortex to Split in two" from last Winter.
Apparently this splitting of the polar vortex was noted last January (2013) as well with some very interesting explanations and graphics. The author calls it "sudden stratospheric warming", despite commenting that the heating comes from below.http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/16/1179397/-Sudden-Stratospheric-Warming-Split-the-Polar-Vortex-in-Two
Sudden stratospheric warming has split the polar vortex in two. The polar vortex, which forms and deepens as the atmosphere loses heat to space in the darkness of the long Arctic winter night, was split in two by massive heating from below. A series of intense storms in the far north Pacific intensified a very long wave in the lower atmosphere. Energy on that planet sized wave went upwards from the lower atmosphere around the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau and broke into the stratosphere, causing major sudden warming. It rapidly reversed the strong cyclonic winds in the stratosphere around the pole, creating a central dome, breaking the vortex into two smaller vortices.
The article incorporates some interesting historical and trend data, as well.
Major stratospheric warmings have taken place, on average, every other year over the past 50 years. The physics of these warmings is very complicated. Since 1998 these warmings have been more frequent and earlier in the winter. Previously, major warmings typically happened in February. Over the past decade they have happened in December and January, but this one is exceptional on all counts. This stratospheric warming is apparently the strongest ever observed in the first half of January according to the NOAA figure. No one knows why the number of major warmings is increasing but a correlation has been with positive sea surface temperature anomalies and the active phase of the solar cycle. [or possibly submarine volcanic activity?] This year the sun is active and there are large positive sea surface temperature anomalies in the north Indian ocean and the north-west Pacific.
THen, in trying to explain what is happening include this which to me defies physics... I always was taught cold air sinks, warm air rises.
Is there some dynamic which would defy this "rule of thumb"? Their explanation doesn't make sense to me, and is contrary to what was stated in the intro of this article.
Major stratospheric warming events like these have a large impact on the weather. The warm air in the stratosphere radiates heat and sinks, then warms as it sinks by compressional heating. [Is there anyone who can verify or explain this?] It causes a mound of relatively warm air and high pressure to develop around the pole. Cold air is pushed away from the pole, in this case under the two vortices. In the Pacific ocean the dynamic interaction of the cold air with abnormally warm water off of the northeast coast of Japan developed one of the strongest north Pacific storm in many years with a central pressure of 932mb, as low as a major hurricane, and modeled wave heights of over 60 feet.
Recently, posted about the SOTT flashback article regarding the massive under sea volcanoes in the Artic http://www.sott.net/article/182702-Global-Warming-in-the-Arctic-Or-Simply-Massive-Under-Sea-Volcanoes-
Sure seems like this could be a heat source for this sort of weather anomaly.
Recent massive volcanoes have risen from the ocean floor deep under the Arctic ice cap, spewing plumes of fragmented magma into the sea, scientists who filmed the aftermath reported Wednesday.
The eruptions [plural!] - as big as the one that buried Pompei - took place in 1999 along the Gakkel Ridge, an underwater mountain chain snaking 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) from the northern tip of Greenland to Siberia.
Scientists suspected even at the time that a simultaneous series of earthquakes were linked to these volcanic spasms.
But when a team led of scientists led by Robert Sohn of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts finally got a first-ever glimpse of the ocean floor 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) beneath the Arctic pack ice, they were astonished.
What they saw was unmistakable evidence of explosive eruptions rather than the gradual secretion of lava bubbling up from Earth's mantle onto the ocean floor.
Folks need to understand that the Arctic Ocean is a fairly closed system because it resides in a large bowl shaped depression with only limited outlets that rise to much shallower depths, as seen in the following picture:
The natural basin that is the Arctic Ocean is possibly the reason why Arctic water temperatures were rising because the warming caused by these massive underwater explosions couldn't really circulate out of the basin. Is this the real culprit for why the ice and glaciers have been receding in the Arctic and ice as been growing in the Antarctic? Seems highly possible.
Update: Is it simply coincidence that the regions of the Arctic Ocean experiencing thin ice (which has so many 'scientists' blowing hot air about Global Warming) is the same region that is right over these massive undersea volcanoes just discovered?
more on the Gakkel Ridge Expedition can be found here: http://www.divediscover.whoi.edu/expedition11/index.html
Some of the "hot topics" (links in left margin) include biogeography of hydrothermal vents, seafloor magnetics and seafloor gravity around undersea volcanoes, the latter two which seem to have a relationship with lava flows. Still checking out those links, but at first glance seems to play into the big picture.
Artic oscillation (AO) (aka Polar Vortex?) was also discussed in 2009: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=36972
and in 2011: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=48882&eocn=image&eoci=related_image
This all seems to be part of a trend that began back in 1998/99 - post Gakkel Ridge eruption. (Interestingly, on a personal/human experiential note, this was a pivotal year of change for myself, my closest friend, and for my husband-to-be at that time and was about the time I found my way to Cassiopeia.org ...shortly after buying my first computer)
Here's a more detailed analysis of the trend remarked upon in the Daily Kos article:
The dynamical activity in recent winters reveals that the frequency of MWs (Major Warmings) in the Arctic is increasing (e.g. Charlton Perez et al., 2008). ...
On average, during 1957/58–1990/91, MWs occurred only once every two Arctic winters (e.g Bancala et al. ´ , 2012; Cohen and Jones, 2011; Andrews et al., 1987). Conversely, no MW occurred in 9 consecutive winters from 1989/90 to 1997/98, except a minor warming in early February 1990 (Manney et al., 2005).
However, there were 7 MWs in 5 out of the 6 winters from 1998/99 to 2003/04. The winter 1999/00 was unusually cold but each other winter was prone to MWs... Furthermore, two MWs were observed in 1998/99 and 2001/02...This warming sequence continued and there were 5 MWs in 5 winters again in 2005/06–2009/10... Many of the MWs in recent years have been atypically early (December/early January) compared to those found before 1990s, which were observed mostly in February.
Big question is, what was happening in 98/99 that could have woke up/opened up Gakkel Ridge?
We know that global warming hysteria soon followed, keeping in mind this Gakkel Ridge eruption wasn't written about until 2007-2008, one year after the release of "An Inconvenient Truth"... a convenient smoke-screen if you ask me.
So was there anything happening astronomically in 1998 of note?
What about the SGR 1900+14 (super gamma ray) burst revealed by NASA? Could that have been an electromagnetic catalyst?
The flash of gamma rays was detected on Aug. 27 by at least seven spacecraft in Earth orbit and in deep space. It capped several months of observations of an object known as SGR 1900+14, a Soft Gamma Repeater located in the constellation Aquila (the eagle) near Sagittarius (the archer). Note to editors: High-resolution and PDF copies of these images are available on a separate Magnetar Image Page.
Left: SGR 1900+14 - observed by the Italian-Dutch Beppo SAX satellite - during a dormant phase in 1997 (left side) and in September 1998 (right side) after it erupted with a series of energetic flares[Actually eruption observed earlier than this and was confirmed and announced on Aug 27]. Links to 720x486-pixel, 34KB JPG. Credit: Chryssa Kouveliotou, USRA, and Peter Woods, UAH.
links to more information about this event:Crusty young star
makes its presence felt
Gamma ray flash zaps satellites, illuminates Earth, and sheds light on several mysterious stellar eventshttp://science1.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1998/ast29sep98_1/Radiation from magnetar offers a look at a mysterious starhttp://www.cnn.com/TECH/space/9809/29/cosmic.blast/