As Climate Watch predicted, the autumn of 2014 presented dangerous weather extremes, especially in the central United States, which was affected by severe storms and one of the earliest and coldest winter onsets ever recorded.
While the mid-latitudes in the northern hemisphere became cooler, arctic temperatures continued to break heat records, and there was evidence that methane escaping from permafrost due to unprecedented melt had ignited in the air over Siberia, causing bright flashes seen over thousands of miles. Additionally, an undersea glow off the Pacific coast of Siberia is believed to have been caused by methane being outgassed by hydrate melt coming into contact with underwater volcanic plumes. As winter has arrived in Siberia, these effects will not be seen again until next summer, when they are likely to return in a more aggressive manner.
Due to a prolonged drought in Greenland, the Greenland Ice Sheet has been darkened by pollutants, with the result that its albedo has declined. As a result, it is now absorbing more solar heat and is likely to destabilize more quickly than previously anticipated.
At the same time, solar output is continuing a slow decline, suggesting that we could be entering a new solar minimum similar to the one that caused the 'little ice age' between the 14th and 19th centuries.
These are all dramatic and, to some extent, contradictory effects, and it is difficult to predict what their outcomes may be. It is clear, though, that the arctic and the central Pacific ocean are heating up very rapidly. It is not clear what solar changes may do, because our only parallel is to a time when carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere were much lower than they are now.
Continued warming of the Gulf of Mexico combined with dramatic cold across the US midcontinent sets the stage for intense and widespread storm activity this spring.
READING THE CLIMATE WATCH INDEX: The index is oriented toward the Northern Hemisphere. It checks ice, sea water warmth and current flow, and weather conditions at key points in the arctic. There is also a reading of solar activity, as there is some indication of a relationship between solar storms and weather changes on earth. In general, abnormally high arctic temperatures and low Gulf Stream flow in the winter will mean that the jet stream will be looping far north and south, causing violent weather in the middle latitudes. Extreme summer heat in the arctic will result in more heat further south, and a radical temperature differential between north and south will bring heavy weather across continental areas of Europe and North America. But weather and climate are very complex, and these are never more than probabilities. Movement of the jet stream into the high arctic due to abnormally warm North Atlantic water temperatures during the September--April period indicates probable violent weather in Europe and eastern North America.