It isn’t often that you actually see something that surprises you and makes you really think about what is happening to the climate. I am in Washington, D.C. at the moment and flew here yesterday. We passed over Newfoundland and the southern part of the Gulf of St Lawrence on the way into Washington. I had a right hand side window seat and the all the way from Newfoundland to the Canadian mainland there was blue sky and crystal clear visibility for miles.
As we passed over Newfoundland I was thinking that it didn’t appear quite as white as normal, with very visible features showing. I have passed over this region many times in the winter and on the few cloudless days that there are I can only ever recall it being just a total whiteout. On the south western coast of Newfoundland (St George’s Bay) there are mountains at the shore and these had a very clear snowline at quite a high level, rather than my expectation that it would be white to the coast.
But the real surprise was passing over the Gulf of St Lawrence – there was no pack ice on the water at all as far into the distance as I could see. It was just blue to the horizon. I know that the St Lawrence Seaway ices up in winter and of course this winter, al least in the United States, will be remembered for its severity, but it certainly didn’t appear so severe in this part of North America.
Not being sure if my observation is unusual or not, I have looked on the web and found a NASA link which shows the same area in April 2008. This is later in the year and it seems to show quite a bit of ice. (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=8661).
I won’t jump to any conclusions here, but I did want to share my own observation.
Meanwhile, it was snowing again in Houston!!!