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Concept: Northern Hemisphere


Persistent episodes of extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere summer have been shown to be associated with the presence of high-amplitude quasi-stationary atmospheric Rossby waves within a particular wavelength range (zonal wavenumber 6-8). The underlying mechanistic relationship involves the phenomenon of quasi-resonant amplification (QRA) of synoptic-scale waves with that wavenumber range becoming trapped within an effective mid-latitude atmospheric waveguide. Recent work suggests an increase in recent decades in the occurrence of QRA-favorable conditions and associated extreme weather, possibly linked to amplified Arctic warming and thus a climate change influence. Here, we isolate a specific fingerprint in the zonal mean surface temperature profile that is associated with QRA-favorable conditions. State-of-the-art (“CMIP5”) historical climate model simulations subject to anthropogenic forcing display an increase in the projection of this fingerprint that is mirrored in multiple observational surface temperature datasets. Both the models and observations suggest this signal has only recently emerged from the background noise of natural variability.

Concepts: Climate, Weather, Climate change, Wave, Global warming, Waves, Northern Hemisphere, Extreme weather


A “Christmas holiday effect” showing elevated cardiovascular mortality over the Christmas holidays (December 25 to January 7) was demonstrated previously in study from the United States. To separate the effect of seasonality from any holiday effect, a matching analysis was conducted for New Zealand, where the Christmas holiday period falls within the summer season.

Concepts: United States, Pacific Ocean, Australia, Autumn, New York City, Antarctica, Christmas, Northern Hemisphere


2014 was nominally the warmest year on record for both the globe and northern hemisphere based on historical records spanning the past one and a half centuries(1,2). It was the latest in a recent run of record temperatures spanning the past decade and a half. Press accounts reported odds as low as one-in-650 million that the observed run of global temperature records would be expected to occur in the absence of human-caused global warming. Press reports notwithstanding, the question of how likely observed temperature records may have have been both with and without human influence is interesting in its own right. Here we attempt to address that question using a semi-empirical approach that combines the latest (CMIP5(3)) climate model simulations with observations of global and hemispheric mean temperature. We find that individual record years and the observed runs of record-setting temperatures were extremely unlikely to have occurred in the absence of human-caused climate change, though not nearly as unlikely as press reports have suggested. These same record temperatures were, by contrast, quite likely to have occurred in the presence of anthropogenic climate forcing.

Concepts: Climate, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Heat, Climate change, Solar variation, Global warming, Northern Hemisphere


Arid central Asia (ACA) is one of the most arid regions in the mid-latitudes and one of the main potential dust sources for the northern hemisphere. The lack of in situ early Pleistocene loess/dust records from ACA hinders our comprehensive understanding of the spatio-temporal record of aeolian loess accumulation and long term climatic changes in Asia as a whole. Here, we report the results of sedimentological, chronological and climatic studies of early Pleistocene loess-palaeosol sequences (LPS) from the northeastern Iranian Golestan Province (NIGP) in the western part of ACA. Our results reveal that: 1) Accumulation of loess on the NIGP commenced at ~2.4-1.8 Ma, making it the oldest loess known so far in western ACA; 2) the climate during the early Pleistocene in the NIGP was semi-arid, but wetter, warmer, and less windy than during the late Pleistocene and present interglacial; 3) orbital-scale palaeoclimatic changes in ACA during the early Pleistoceneare in-phase with those of monsoonal Asia, a relationship which was probably related to the growth and decay of northern hemisphere ice sheets.

Concepts: Time, Climate, Asia, Iran, Steppe, Northern Hemisphere, Central Asia, Iranian languages


Solar geoengineering refers to a range of proposed methods for counteracting global warming by artificially reducing sunlight at Earth’s surface. The most widely known solar geoengineering proposal is stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), which has impacts analogous to those from volcanic eruptions. Observations following major volcanic eruptions indicate that aerosol enhancements confined to a single hemisphere effectively modulate North Atlantic tropical cyclone (TC) activity in the following years. Here we investigate the effects of both single-hemisphere and global SAI scenarios on North Atlantic TC activity using the HadGEM2-ES general circulation model and various TC identification methods. We show that a robust result from all of the methods is that SAI applied to the southern hemisphere would enhance TC frequency relative to a global SAI application, and vice versa for SAI in the northern hemisphere. Our results reemphasise concerns regarding regional geoengineering and should motivate policymakers to regulate large-scale unilateral geoengineering deployments.

Concepts: Earth, Atlantic Ocean, Season, Pacific Ocean, Tropical cyclone, Antarctica, Equator, Northern Hemisphere


Recent evidence suggests that changes in atmospheric circulation have altered the probability of extreme climate events in the Northern Hemisphere. We investigate northeastern Pacific atmospheric circulation patterns that have historically (1949-2015) been associated with cool-season (October-May) precipitation and temperature extremes in California. We identify changes in occurrence of atmospheric circulation patterns by measuring the similarity of the cool-season atmospheric configuration that occurred in each year of the 1949-2015 period with the configuration that occurred during each of the five driest, wettest, warmest, and coolest years. Our analysis detects statistically significant changes in the occurrence of atmospheric patterns associated with seasonal precipitation and temperature extremes. We also find a robust increase in the magnitude and subseasonal persistence of the cool-season West Coast ridge, resulting in an amplification of the background state. Changes in both seasonal mean and extreme event configurations appear to be caused by a combination of spatially nonuniform thermal expansion of the atmosphere and reinforcing trends in the pattern of sea level pressure. In particular, both thermal expansion and sea level pressure trends contribute to a notable increase in anomalous northeastern Pacific ridging patterns similar to that observed during the 2012-2015 California drought. Collectively, our empirical findings suggest that the frequency of atmospheric conditions like those during California’s most severely dry and hot years has increased in recent decades, but not necessarily at the expense of patterns associated with extremely wet years.

Concepts: Earth, Precipitation, Climate, Weather, Atmospheric pressure, Atmosphere, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere


There are 52,380 cases of leukemia and 24,090 deaths from it in the US annually. Its causes are unknown and no preventive strategies have been implemented. We hypothesized that leukemia is due mainly to vitamin D deficiency, which is due mainly to low solar ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiance. To test this hypothesis, we estimated age-standardized cloud-cover-adjusted winter UVB irradiance using cloud cover data from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project, latitudes of population centroids, and standard astronomical calculations. Incidence rates for 172 countries, available from the International Agency for Cancer Research, were plotted according to cloud-adjusted UVB irradiance. We used multiple regression to account for national differences in elevation and average life expectancy. Leukemia incidence rates were inversely associated with cloud-adjusted UVB irradiance in males (p ≤ 0.01) and females (p ≤ 0.01) in both hemispheres. There were few departures from the trend line, which was parabolic when plotted with the equator at the center of the display, northern hemisphere countries on the right side and southern hemisphere countries on the left. The bivariate association displayed by the polynomial trend line indicated that populations at higher latitudes had at least two times the risk of leukemia compared to equatorial populations. The association persisted in males (p ≤ 0.05) and females (p ≤ 0.01) after controlling for elevation and life expectancy. Incidence rates of leukemia were inversely associated with solar UVB irradiance. It is plausible that the association is due to vitamin D deficiency. This would be consistent with laboratory studies and a previous epidemiological study. Consideration should be given to prudent use of vitamin D for prevention of leukemia.

Concepts: Vitamin D, Cancer, Ultraviolet, Sun, Life expectancy, Equator, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere


The most recent glacial to interglacial transition constitutes a remarkable natural experiment for learning how Earth’s climate responds to various forcings, including a rise in atmospheric CO2 This transition has left a direct thermal remnant in the polar ice sheets, where the exceptional purity and continual accumulation of ice permit analyses not possible in other settings. For Antarctica, the deglacial warming has previously been constrained only by the water isotopic composition in ice cores, without an absolute thermometric assessment of the isotopes' sensitivity to temperature. To overcome this limitation, we measured temperatures in a deep borehole and analyzed them together with ice-core data to reconstruct the surface temperature history of West Antarctica. The deglacial warming was [Formula: see text]C, approximately two to three times the global average, in agreement with theoretical expectations for Antarctic amplification of planetary temperature changes. Consistent with evidence from glacier retreat in Southern Hemisphere mountain ranges, the Antarctic warming was mostly completed by 15 kyBP, several millennia earlier than in the Northern Hemisphere. These results constrain the role of variable oceanic heat transport between hemispheres during deglaciation and quantitatively bound the direct influence of global climate forcings on Antarctic temperature. Although climate models perform well on average in this context, some recent syntheses of deglacial climate history have underestimated Antarctic warming and the models with lowest sensitivity can be discounted.

Concepts: Climate, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Heat, Climate change, Entropy, Antarctica, Northern Hemisphere


Climate strongly influences global wildfire activity, and recent wildfire surges may signal fire weather-induced pyrogeographic shifts. Here we use three daily global climate data sets and three fire danger indices to develop a simple annual metric of fire weather season length, and map spatio-temporal trends from 1979 to 2013. We show that fire weather seasons have lengthened across 29.6 million km(2) (25.3%) of the Earth’s vegetated surface, resulting in an 18.7% increase in global mean fire weather season length. We also show a doubling (108.1% increase) of global burnable area affected by long fire weather seasons (>1.0 σ above the historical mean) and an increased global frequency of long fire weather seasons across 62.4 million km(2) (53.4%) during the second half of the study period. If these fire weather changes are coupled with ignition sources and available fuel, they could markedly impact global ecosystems, societies, economies and climate.

Concepts: Earth, Sun, Climate, Weather, Climate change, Atmospheric pressure, Season, Northern Hemisphere


During the 2015-16 influenza season (October 4, 2015-May 21, 2016) in the United States, influenza activity* was lower and peaked later compared with the previous three seasons (2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15). Activity remained low from October 2015 until late December 2015 and peaked in mid-March 2016. During the most recent 18 influenza seasons (including this season), only two other seasons have peaked in March (2011-12 and 2005-06). Overall influenza activity was moderate this season, with a lower percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI),(†) lower hospitalization rates, and a lower percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) compared with the preceding three seasons. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses predominated overall, but influenza A(H3N2) viruses were more commonly identified from October to early December, and influenza B viruses were more commonly identified from mid-April through mid-May. The majority of viruses characterized this season were antigenically similar to the reference viruses representing the recommended components of the 2015-16 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine (1). This report summarizes influenza activity in the United States during the 2015-16 influenza season (October 4, 2015-May 21, 2016)(§) and reports the vaccine virus components recommended for the 2016-17 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccines.

Concepts: Pneumonia, Vaccine, Vaccination, Influenza, Season, Influenza vaccine, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere