ARCTIC SEA ICE –Is This Water Warming?–(Updated)

If you are one-who-wants-the-sea-ice-to melt, is somewhat relieving that O-buoy 14 stopped showing a sea of slush where maps said there was open water, and has busted free into an area of open water.Obuoy 14 0824B webcamObuoy 14 0827 webcamObuoy 14 0827B webcam

According to theory, these open waters, being darker than the ice, are absorbing a lot more sunshine.  Hmm. Anyone see a problem with this idea?

The problem is the rascal Ralph, once again roaring away to the north with its pressure again down to 969 mb. The winds are even beginning to pick up a little down here, at O-buoy 14. Maybe they aren’t gale force, like up north, but they are a steady breeze over 10 mph. And are they warm winds?

Obuoy 14 0828 temperature-1week

Hmm. Steadily at freezing or below. Gosh Toto, we’re not in July anymore. But at least it isn’t snowing…

Obuoy 14 0828 webcam

Rats. I’m going to have to think about this. I’ll update after church.

*******

WELL-WELL-WELL?  What have we here?

Obuoy 14 0828B webcam

There’s just enough sunlight to clear the lens, with winds around 15 mph, and temperatures a hair below freezing.

I need to zip over to the Weatherbell site and peruse Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps. (Free week trial available.) Be right back.

*******

I clicked over to the Canadian JEM model because I just like it in the short term. (Back when we had more buoys, and I could double-check, the GFS initial maps seemed a bit too warm). The Canadian model is very interesting to watch, map after map, in six hour installments out to 240 hours from now, because it can make the most wonderful storms. True, they usually don’t happen, but cheap thrills are hard to find these days. And the Jem has been right about Ralph’s reincarnations.

In any case, here is the “initial” map, now a bit outdated, from 00z last night. Ralph is roaring and at his strongest. The winds actually look stronger than the last gale.

Ralph4 1 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1

The next map shows Ralph 6 hours later. This one of Ryan’s cool maps shows how much water fell in the last six hours. Remember, the arctic is basically a desert. Therefore 0.2-0.3 inches is a lot, (and is likely falling as 2-3 inches of snow.)

Ralph4 2 cmc_precip_mslp_arctic_2

This map is actually messing with my head more than you’d imagine. You see, I am trying out a new manner of seeing things, and, as is usually the case when I try to box Infinity and organize chaos, it does not take kindly to being packaged, and the only boxing going on is of my ears.

I’m trying to see everything in terms of blobs of cold air departing the Pole at low levels. When this air departs it leaves low pressure behind. Fronts, frontal low pressures, and jet streams all form in relation to the blob of cold air heading south. It is an elegant idea, and works in a way. For example a big blob of cold air just dove down in Siberia, and in its wake we have Ralph swirling at the Pole. But the problem with the idea of Ralph being a sort of vacuum left by a departing high is that air should not merely swirl in horizontally, but vertically. This would make uplift and clouds and precipitation unlikely, but the above map shows it is happening. Oh well. Back to the old drawing board.

The source region of the moister and milder air was western Siberia, which was actually fairly mild a couple days ago. It likely had a Pacific element. Now it is pulled right around to the Alaskan side. The Jem model’s temperature map, concurrent with the above map, is below:

Ralph4 3 cmc_t2m_arctic_2

I suppose one could suggest that rain might be mixed in with the snow in Ralph. (The freezing line is where the lightest pink turns to lightest blue, with pink  freezing and blue above-freezing). It is a pity we don’t have more cameras. (I keep hoping they will regain contact with O-buoys 8b, 13 and 15, as they melt free from the piles of ice that knocked them off the air, but no luck so far.)

What is quite interesting is the blast of cold air down in Siberia. The days are still longer than the nights, but the nights are quickly getting longer. The above map is from when the sun is high. Check out the 18z map below, when the night is having its effect in Siberia,(actually right about now, but this maps from a  forecast run 00z last night).

Ralph4 4 cmc_t2m_arctic_4

That little spot of white in the middle of the blue in central Siberia represents below zero temperatures. (Fahrenheit. Below -17°C). That makes me shake my head a bit. After all, it is still August.

School starts around here tomorrow, and I have to get cracking to prepare our Farm-childcare for all the changes. I’ll update if and when possible, but I imagine Ralph has really stirred the sea-ice, and there will be another dip in the “extents”.  But I’m also wondering how much colder the water is.

AT LAST SOME SUNSHINE

Obuoy 14 0828C webcam

 Wind 15 mph and Temperature 32°F. (0°C)  Looking south. Notice pieces of ice haven’t changed their position since the last picture, despite winds. Likely they are cemented together by a refreeze, and not a slop of slush.

As an aside, if the above picture shows waters with less than 15% ice, it appears as “ice free” on some maps.

OH BLAST. SUN NEVER LASTS.

Obuoy 14 0828D webcam

Wind 15 mph temperature a hair below freezing. Hopefully just a passing squall.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Persistence Puzzles

The real news, (or at least the news to me), this summer has been the persistence of the general area of low pressure I dubbed “Ralph”, at the Pole. According to the general theory of atmospheric circulation, which has Hadley, Ferrel and Polar Cells neatly arranged between the equator and the poles, the North Pole should be an area of descending air, and air pushing down makes high pressure.

Polar High image_649

It doesn’t make sense to have low pressure ,  indicating rising air, sitting in the middle of a cold, ice-covered sea surrounded by hot, sun-baked tundra. Yet it continues to happen. How can it be?  Shouldn’t the air be rising over the hot places and sinking over the cold?

All I can do is watch and observe, for one thing I have come to understand is that the weather will not bow to me, and is not cowed by the brilliance of my bright ideas.

When I last posted, Ralph was filling in over the Pole, awaiting his next shot of reinforcing juice, which I dubbed “R13”, (which stands for 13th reinforcement).  This impressive glob of energy was pulling mild  air into the Kara Sea, and the good ship Northabout was reporting mild winds with temperatures up over 60 ° F at the western edge of the Laptev Sea. They were hunkering down to wait out a storm that was forecast to brew up, as this mild air mixed with the sub-freezing air to the north.

Indeed on the 14th R13 became a tight little low in the Kara Sea.

Then I missed some maps due to other storms, (in my life), and by 12Z on the 15th Ralph  had gathered in R13 and was turning into the 4th largest summer gale since 1979. The warm air involved had risen and surface temperatures were below freezing in the middle of the storm. There was hope among those-who-want-to-see-ice-melt that this storm would be like the gale of 2012, and huge amounts of ice would melt, but this didn’t seem to happen.

As Ralph whirled at the Pole it seemed to be cut off, and to lack fronts and the intense winds and wind shifts which are near fronts. Ryan Maue mentioned it lacked warm air avection, but it looked like several streamers piped in some energy aloft, the most clear of which shows (in the temperature maps)  as above freezing temperatures funneling around north of Greenland, and getting temperatures above freezing at the Pole at 12z on the 16th.  I might as well call that R14, but it wasn’t enough to fuel Ralph, and he started to fill and fade, and to look around for more reinforcements by the 17th.

Then I had to deal with another personal storm, and missed some more maps. Ralph continued to weaken, but R15 was coming through Bering strait to the rescue.

R15 grew to be quite tight and strong, and in the old days I would have called it a secondary and named it “Ralphson”, but, because I am boss here, I’m allowed to change the rules when I feel like it, and I’m just going to do what I’ve done all summer; and that is to state the Ralph was glad to get the reinforcements, and absorbed them to fuel his next incarnation.  He was a tight and powerful little low now, over the thickest sea-ice in the Arctic Sea, that is piled up against the Canadian Archipelago. Clouds hid what happened to the ice, but I  imagine it got churned, like all the ice has been churned this summer.

By the 21st Ralph was again fading, but a nice juicy surge of energy was being drawn up into Barents Sea and a weak low was rotating around Ralph, crossing over Svalbard. Say hello to R16.

24 hours later R16 and Ralph were joining hands and forming a big and enlongated area of low pressure from the Pole to the Kara Sea.

This quickly becomes the next incarnation of Ralph, moving into the Laptev sea.  The cold over the Pole was intensified, and early on the 23rd we see the first small spot of the minus 5° isotherm appear, this side of summer. However milder air is being pumped north from Siberia to the east, even as Ralph pumps the first frosty blast south into Siberia to the west.

By the 24th Ralph has started to weaken again, and the weak secondary in the west of Kara Sea lacks the juice necessary to really be a reinforcement. It is too cold.

Also a strange thing is appearing off the coast of Alaska, and south of Svalbard. In case you can’t remember, it is called high pressure. Indeed it looks like Ralph is starting to be squeezed. Could this be it? Is Ralph at long last doomed to fade away?

The only hope for a R17 lies in the fact warmth has been drawn up into the East Siberian Sea, and a triangle of low pressure pointing southeast from Ralph over the New Siberian Islands may hint of hope in that direction. But the hope seems slim.

Twelve hours later Ralph is fading fast. But hark! Is that the sound of the cavalry’s bugles, from the East Siberian coast? (In case yuh yungstahz  doan know dis, bugals iz wut our coppers had afore our police cars had sirens. I tink duh sirens wuz too loud, an skared de horses.)

Yes! R17 is riding to the rescue from East Siberia, even as Ralph is going down for the third time. However the sinister forces of anti-Ralphism are building in the Beaufort Sea, north of Canada.

And this evening, as we conclude this highly scientific examination of maps, we see the Ralphist forces lined up on the Eurasian side of the pole, as the anti-Ralphist interlopers rally north of the Canadian Archipelago.

Who will win this epic battle? And will the howling Pacific-to-Atlantic winds between the armies blow all the Pole’s sea-ice into the Atlantic through Fram Strait?

Tune in next week, to the next exciting installment of, “Watching Paint Dry, Ice Melt, And Other Things More Exciting Than Doing The Dishes.”  Either that, or else….

….cheat.  Flip ahead in the book and read the ending. How?  By looking at the computer models.

The current Canadian JEM model (interpreted by Dr. Ryan Maue, with a free week trial of his art available at the Weatherbell site), shows both the unseasonable blast of cold, which Ralph shot down into West Siberia, but also the milder source-region for  R17 in East Siberia, with temperatures between 40°F and 60°F.

Ralph3 2 cmc_t2m_arctic_2

What does the northward surge of R17 do?  Gosh. Big surprise. Ralph is again resurrected, and in three days sits over the Pole as a 978 mb gale.

Ralph3 1 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_13

Is Ralph a warm storm, full of thawing?

Ralph3 3 cmc_t2m_arctic_13

Looks pretty cold to me, but maybe where the wind is strongest in the Beaufort Sea there may be a slot of temperatures a hair above freezing. For the fun of it, let us focus on the arctic waters in that “thawing” slot.

Are those areas of open waters between bergs warmed by winds a hair above freezing?  Probably not. Why? Because those waters are two hairs above freezing, and therefore the winds are cooling them. Furthermore, the waters are likely warming the winds, as heat is robbed from the open seas.

Then there is the matter of “phase changes”. When ice becomes water, or water becomes vapor, the phase changes of ice-to-water or water-to-vapor involves available heat turning into latent heat. (That is why your wet skin feels so cool in a breeze, after a swim.) And this same cooling occurs to arctic waters when the roaring wind induces evaporation.

But how about the phase change from solid to liquid? This occurs when snowflakes fall into salt water. (That is why your icecream-maker works, when you mix ice with salt; the melting sucks up heat.) In other words, when Ralph drops any precipitation as snow (which O-buoy 14 has seen a fair amount of) it has a cooling effect, as flakes melt in open waters.

But what about the sunlight shining into the open waters? Does not that warm things?

What sunshine? Ralph tends to be cloudy.

In other words, using the “extent” of sea-ice, and assuming it is a good metric for how much the polar waters will be warmed, might be a decent tool when high pressure sits over the pole, and there is a lot of sunshine. It is then that the talk about the “albedo” of white snow versus the “albedo” of blue waters makes sense. However Ralph makes a mockery of that logic.

The fact of the matter is that we are facing a new situation here. If you want to live in the past you can look back to 2013 in my notebooks, when the boss of the Pole was in some ways high pressure systems, including one  I dubbed “Igor”. (Those old posts are so full of ignorance they make me cringe, but even when high pressure dominated the Pole I found plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the simplistic “albedo” theory.) Here is the map of August 19, 2013 to show that high pressure played a bigger role back then than it played this August 19.

Ralph3 4 dmi-august-19-pressure-mslp_latest-big

Considering I could spot reasons to doubt the “albedo” theory even when high pressure made a situation conducive to belief, and even when I was a novice, just imagine the levels of my doubt now, when “Ralph” makes a situation which makes such blind belief look like a three-year-old’s, and I am slightly less naive.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who currently believes in the “albedo” theory has failed to pay attention. Like a heroin addict, they have figured out ways to lie their way around facing facts. They live in a bubble.

If you look at the above maps, you will see that the one place, where Ralph’s effects fail to reach, is the Northwest Passage. If you wanted to avoid facing what Ralph demonstrates, all you needed to do was shell out around $20,000.00 for a berth in some fancy liner cruising the Northwest Passage this year. I think floating bubble is called the “Fistula Surgery”. (I could be wrong.)

People aboard that boat haven’t a clue about what is occurring further north, above their heads.

Me? I just observe, and post some charts and maps.

Despite the summer-long churning of the sea-ice, it has refused to melt away to record levels:

Ralph3 5 Sea_Ice_Extent_N_v2

This is a wake-up-call. Back in early May, when the above graph showed the “extent” was extremely low, the people-who-want-ice-to-melt were hoping for just one storm like the storm of 2012, to set a new record. Ralph’s persistence has been like getting what they wished for, timed ten. The various incarnations of Ralph, according to them, should have set a new record.

All the storms should have have created much open water. That in turn should increase temperatures at the Pole. Look how warm the period after the end of the melt season was in 2012.

DMI3 meanT_2012

I would expect the same this year, with the sea-ice pulverized, and crisscrossed by leads of open water from end to end. Is it happening?

DMI3 0825B meanT_2016

No. This is not to say we might not see the open areas make air temperatures above normal later, as all that water freezes over, (for freezing releases the latent heat that thawing sucked up), but even if it happens, it is different this year.

The difference is something that even those-who-want-ice-to-melt should recognize, from within their bubble. The albedo theory is essentially trashed. Time to concoct a new one.

Me? Oh, I’ll concoct some humorous theory, but be well aware Infinity laughs at me, when I box it with my mind.

 

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE -Northabout Can’t Shortcut-(Updated Tuesday)

The good ship Northabout is past the New Siberian Islands and plowing east, using their engines, across the East Siberian Sea. They actually experienced an entire day without seeing sea-ice, for the first time since they left the open waters of the Kara Sea, before they came across a few unmapped bergs. The main threat they have faced, and conquered, has been engine troubles.

Northabout 20k Screen-Shot-2016-08-21-at-20.33.38-1024x680

If you look at the Bremen maps of recent years, you can see they might have formerly hoped to turn northeast and cut a corner, taking a sort of Great Circle route north of Wrangle Island.

Northabout 20a SeaIceMinimum2015-asi-AMSR2_small

No such luck this year:

Northabout 20b Arctic_AMSR2_visual_small

If you hope to see an ice-free arctic, you likely favor the Bremen maps, for they tend to be MIM. (Much Ice Missing.) However if you are a sailor you don’t want to miss ice that is actually there, and are prone to look at the Russian maps, which are prepared for actual seafaring people.  This shows the ice around Wrangle Island looks more formidable than the Bremin map shows. (Wrangle Island to right).

 

Northabout 20c Screen-Shot-2016-08-20-at-17.26.08-1024x751

Rather than able to turn northeast and pass north of Wrangle Island, it looks like Northabout will have to turn southeast and hug the coast. This makes their route considerably longer. Then, once they pass under Wrangle Island, their problems are not over, as the larger Russian map still shows a second barrier of ice extending from Wrangle Island to the southeast, right to the coast.

Northabout 20d Screen-Shot-2016-08-10-at-09.35.55

The green color on the Russian map indicates the ice could vary between 60% and 10%, and you can bet the crew of the Northabout is hoping for 10%. They will likely be scanning the satellite maps for a more northern gap in the ice, for hugging the coast takes them even further south, likely adding an extra day to their sail, and they are running out of time.

(There is no turning back, as it looks like the ice has been blown south in the West Laptev Sea right to the shore. Not that they’d even consider it. Pilots crossing the Atlantic in the early days of flight used to speak of a “point-of-no-return”, (where it took more gas to reach land going back than continuing forward), and the Northabout has passed that point.)

The Bering Strait should be wide open, but towards Barrow yet another protrusion of ice juts down from the north, and the Barrow webcam shows that even the water that is blue on the Russian maps holds scattered bergs.

Barrow 20160821 05_47_24_126_ABCam_20160821_134400

They are planning on spending a couple days in Barrow to re-provision, and exchange crew members. I am wondering if they might reconsider the wisdom of battling on. The Russian map shows ice touching the coast, where the Canadian Ice Service shows open water at the southwest opening to the Northwest Passage. (I would tend to trust the Canadians in their own waters.)

Northabout 20e CMMBCTCA

The satellite has very clear skies over the southern part of the Northwest passage, showing ice-free waters, but blasted clouds hide the areas of interest to the east and west. The satellite view does give us a dim view of where the Canadian Map shows some ice threatening to close the passage where it jogs north.

Northabout 20f 18

For selfish reasons I hope they continue on, so I can get first-hand reporting. However I think the good crew of the Northabout may be getting tired of discovering ice where maps, especially the Bremen map, says it isn’t.

(I’ll try to include some temperature maps in an update, later.)

 USING MY LYING EYES

O-buoy 14 has drifted slowly against the normal flow of the Beaufort Gyre, southeast to 75.9°N, 136°W. Its camera gives us an opportunity to use our eyes, rather than trusting in maps. What does it show us?

Obuoy 14 0821B webcam

As we have been seeing for several days, O-buoy 14, after a brief stint in open water, is midst a mass of pulverized ice, currently with some open water in the upper right distance, and a small patch of open water ruffled by the breeze in the mid-foreground. But what leaps out, to me at least, is the slushy water in the foreground. It is refreezing, and even rounding the sharp edges of some bergs into a formation called “pancake ice.”

This is what I love about these arctic cameras. You can’t get this information from graphs. What do graphs show us?

The temperatures have been below freezing.

Obuoy 14 0821B temperature-1week

It is still breezy, though winds have slacked off some.

Obuoy 14 0821B windspeed-1week

One thing I have witnessed too often is how Alarmists and Skeptics can look at the exact same graphs and come to very different conclusions, and paint very different pictures. The camera frees us from that. The picture is painted by an Artist far greater than any of us. The Truth is there, for eyes that see.

With my weak vision I see the yearly battle between basal melting and surface freezing underway. The surface freezing always wins in the end, but right now we exist in a marvelous equipoise, even as the daylight dwindles and the big chill gains strength. For a time the refreeze makes inroads, and then a thaw fights back and basal melting can eat surprising holes.

If you are the captain of a ship your eyes must be constant assessing the situation. In the old days the whaling ships dared sail far north, seeking the un-hunted whaling grounds, but they had to time their escape south right, or their ship would be trapped. Now the captain of the Northabout sails the same seas, scans the same situation, and wears the same shoes. The responsibility is not small, when you are not sitting in an armchair far away, making excuses for the fact the Pole isn’t as ice-free as you thought it would be. You face a sea that doesn’t care about excuses.

*******

I promiced I’d look at the temperatures the Northabout may face, so I’ve gone to the Weatherbell Site and poured through some of the thousands of maps Ryan Maue makes available. I prefer the Canadian maps in the short term, for they know their business up north, [but I have to shake my head at the “JEM” model’s habit of foreseeing fabulous storms in the long term. I have learned not to panic, for the major hurricanes roaring up the east coast of the USA haven’t happened (so far.)]

The days are still longer than the nights, and one thing the midday maps show in any arctic area is how toasty warm the Tundra gets. Look how nice and warm it is in inland Alaska today.

Northabout 20g cmc_t2m_arctic_3

However look at inland Alaska only 12 hours later. Much colder. This doesn’t happen in high summer, and what it shows is that the nights are swiftly growing longer, and starting to have a definite chilling effect.

Northabout 20h cmc_t2m_arctic_5

The above maps also show that the storm I dubbed “Ralph” is sitting north of Greenland, keeping a lot of cold air wrapped up and trapped in its circulation. It also shows a sort of “feeder band” of juicy air poking north through westernmost Siberia, to fuel further mischief and perhaps keep “Ralph” going. Likely a secondary storm will brew in the Laptev, and the Northabout, being well to the east, will be blessed by southerly winds that push the ice away from shore.

However when I glace at the winds shown by the JEM modle for Tuesday, the south winds look fairly strong at Wrangle Island. Once winds get above 20 mph they can actually slow you down, because you have to reef your sails.

Northabout 20j cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_13

Also I should say the map looks messy. Chaos is rearing its head, and computer models like things nice and neat. So I’m not sure I trust the forecast.

Check out the temperature map for five days from now. Remember, days are still longer than nights, and at noon in Siberia it should be nice and toasty over the Tundra.

Northabout 20l cmc_t2m_arctic_21 (1)

For goodness sake! That ridiculous model is showing an arctic outbreak of freezing temperatures blasting south nearly to China! And it is only August!

This could get me off into a  long digression about a loopy ( or “meridional”) jet stream, but I am fairly certain the good ship Northabout is not overly concerned about the weather in China. They only look ahead to Barrow. And things do look a bit warmer there.

One fun thing to do with these maps is to open them on new tabs, and click between them. When I do this, and compare the 24-hour temperature map with the 120-hour temperature map,  the warming at Barrow is plain, but when you head further east to the Northwest Passage, you see the big chill sneaking south. The outbreak may be far smaller than the one blasting towards China, but it is there.

“Polar Challenge” indeed.  The Northabout has quite the battle ahead.

The thing of it is: Even to complete the Northeast passage is quite an achievement, in a small boat. I won’t mock or shame the Northabout if they haul out at Barrow, and say, “Wait until next year!”

After all, that is what certain “Climate Scientists” do. Year after year they say “this summer the Pole will be ice-free.” Year after year they are dead wrong, yet the government showers them with money. Surely the Northabout deserves the same, if they too say “wait until next year.”

But…..(and forgive me for pouting just a little here)….what about me? Year after year I am dead right. What do I get?

(Sigh)…….nothing but abuse.

MONDAY UPDATE

They continue to slog east-southeast. Making decent time, but the winds are starting to turn against them, and the going may be a bit rough tomorrow, I fear.

Northabout 21 Screen-Shot-2016-08-22-at-23.45.06-1024x824.png

From their blog:

“N71 13 E161 12 Pressure 1007, Water 6, air 0, UTC 20:30, 22 Aug, East Siberian Sea

Wind against us, so choppy seas. We also got the latest sat photo this morning and having to go further south even more to avoid the ice.

BUT slowly going East. Ice tomorrow I think.  The Irish in 2004 had a torrid time around here with the ice, so hoping we get better luck…”

Strong southeast breezes start blowing south of Wrangle Island tomorrow night and persist several days.

Northabout 21b gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_6

TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE

Yesterday the good ship had to assume a heading of due south and even southwest to avoid the southern edge of a tongue of ice. They got all the way down to latitude 70° north before turning east, and successfully negotiating the southern edge. Now they are plugging east at 9-10 kmh.

Finding ice so far south doesn’t further the assertion we are close to having an ice-free Pole this summer, but it does further my statement last spring that the ice had been pushed over to the Russian side. They hope to find smoother sailing on the North American side.

Coming so far south puts them further away from the tail end of the six months of “midnight sun” at the Pole, and they experienced actual night and saw their first stars in months. They also shared a truly marvelous photograph, with northern lights:

Northabout 23 сияние-1024x682

This picture, besides being beautiful, demonstrates how all the arguements about how the low “albedo” of September’s open waters means the water absorbs sunlight are hollow. The waters in the picture are losing heat, and warming the moonlight.

It looks to me as if south winds should push the ice ahead of them north, and clear their path to Barrow, though I’m sure they’ll take extra care at night to be on watch for stray bergs.

“Yesterday was very interesting, we plodded south to avoid the ice. I came up early to get ice on my watch. Oddly, with the sun in the right direction you get a thing called ‘Fata Morgana’ and the ice looks like towering ice cliffs. You can understand why the early explorers saw these cliffs and thought the route barred.

Then Sunset. Poor Constance had a full watch of dodging ice in the dark, thank goodness eating that bird seed has helped her night vision. Then our first star and a dazzling first display of the Aurora Borealis. What a day.

The new ice charts showed we were right to come south, and now just skirting the southern edge. Now hopefully a straight line to Point Barrow. Get those eastings up. Amazingly, the ice charts show how lucky we are, the Laptev sea is now closed behind us.”

ARCTIC SEA ICE —Meanwhile, in New Zealand…—

To keep these sea-ice posts from getting too boring I like to occasionally drift off at a tangent, winding up in the Sahara Desert, or some such place.

This is actually very progressive of me, because I recently read, on an Alarmist site, that sea-ice drifts to the right of the way the wind blows. (I think they accidentally misapplied the way winds blow concerning isobars, but that is just me apologizing; they never confessed their mistake.) In any case, if they can pontificate physical impossibilities, then I can digress far from the reality of the arctic, in a sea-ice post.

I tend to wind up in the Sahara during the northern hemisphere winter, describing some freaky blast from the North Pole that makes it especially far south. This past winter actually made such digression easy. A meridional flow caused some once-in-a-lifetime snows last winter, and I wound up down in Mexico, in Kuwait, and in Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Thailand.

I was curious about the southern hemisphere, where their winter occurs during our summer, because I wanted to see if the flow was meridional during their winter as well.

I didn’t expect it to be very pronounced, for they lack our vast land masses, and have huge amounts of moderating ocean.  In the northern hemisphere there is nothing between Texas and the North Pole but some strands of barbed wire, (as Texans are likely to brag, when a “Blue Norther” is blowing.)  The same can be said for Mongolia and parts of China. There are no moderating oceans, and arctic blasts can roar down to low latitudes, but I expected the tremendous areas of moderating oceans to make things very different in the southern hemisphere. I was wrong. Before winter even started an antarctic blast roared up into Brazil.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/will-brazil-chill-kill-coffee/

To have an Arctic Sea Ice post about Brazil would have set a new record, but when push came to shove, I didn’t dare do it. However that probably proves I’m old fashioned and not a true progressive. When I researched Brazil I discovered they are pretty progressive, and free of the constraints that bind me to my old fashioned ways. For example, they were holding the summer Olympics in the winter. I must be pretty stodgy, because I’d find that difficult to do.

Further research taught me Brazil is also progressive because their spin is utterly backwards. Their low pressure systems spin clockwise and their high pressure systems spin counterclockwise.  Their weather maps cross my eyes. Nothing functions in a sane and sensible manner, and trying to make sense of their weather maps is difficult, though not as difficult as reading the New York Times.

It seemed amazing to me that the cold air crossed all the moderating ocean water and managed to freeze Brazil before winter officially started down there. Unlike progressive ideology, this wasn’t all talk; it was an actual action. I resolved that, if I could find the time, I’d keep an eye on the southern hemisphere, and see if symptoms of meridional flow reoccurred.

But I couldn’t find the time. That is the way of most resolutions. I didn’t even have the time to visit the Ice Age Now Site, where you learn the news about winter events which the mainstream media turns a blind eye to, (as snow doesn’t fit the Global Warming story the media, as parrots, make their copy, until reading their papers is like listening to parrots in an echo chamber.)

https://iceagenow.info/

Rather than continuing my study of the southern hemisphere my focus returned to sea-ice. Dope. I missed a amazing meridional-flow-event, because I was focused on the good ship Northabout. I kick myself. Idiot.

In order to understand how amazing this event is, you have to understand that, in the typical manner of those strange southern folk, everything is backwards down under, and to them the north is warm and the south is cold.

New Zealand consists of two main Islands, and the south one tends to be colder and get some snow, while the north one is closer to the equator and only sees snow up on the peaks. Down in the lowlands they might get a dusting every fifty years. But guess what? They got three feet in places.

Hey! This is news. This is like Miami or Cairo getting a foot of snow. But did the media so much as whisper? No. They are too fixated on Donald Trump, seeking to find a foible they can exaggerate into a war crime, to see anything else is occurring on Planet Earth. So who tells us the true news? Odd people like myself, and odd sites like this one:

What does this have to do with sea-ice? Well, rather than the typical summer pattern at the Pole, we have seen a persistence of low pressure I’ve humorously dubbed “Ralph” at the Pole. The times they are a-changing. Stuff is going on that should be called Reality and should be the News. The media turns a blind eye.

Our star the Sun is doing things it hasn’t done for hundreds of years.  In terms of sunspots, we saw a “maximum” nearly as feeble as 1798’s, which is ending far more swiftly than “experts” expected, or the 1798 cycle saw.

Sun 1 sc5_sc24_1

It makes me very nervous that this sunspot cycle is ending before they expected. At the end of July there was a nearly a two week stretch with no sunspots (and very few sun specks). It seemed way too early for that, to me. Therefore I was glad to see a little swarm appear, and rotate across the face of the sun.

Sun 2 20160814

But now they are rotating out of view, and only a little, loner spot is seen, at center stage.

Sun 3 latest

Now, there are certain Hollywood stars who think they have more to do with keeping the general public warm and cozy than the sun, and for years they have parroted the stuff they don’t understand, but know it is politically correct to echo. They have been told to say the sun doesn’t vary that much. They have been told to say the sun isn’t the variable that matters. They have been told to say the variable that matters is a trace gas called CO2.

OK. Even though I have only a dim idea of how these two variables work, I see what I see.  For year after year the microscopic variable of CO2 went up and up and up, and what happened? Diddleysquat. Then the sun changes just a bit. What happens? Deep snows in New Zealand, for the first time in living memory.

I rest my case.

(However I cannot resist adding this jibe: In terms of brightness, the politically correct, and especially Hollywood stars, are of magnitude 14. Dumb blonds are brighter, at magnitude 13.)

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Volga, I mean, Lena Boat Men–(updated)

The Northabout has been making better time, as it passes the delta of one of the most fantastic rivers on earth.

The Lena River is one of the ten largest in the world. It goes from nearly being frozen solid in winter to amazing floods in the summer. As I recall off the top of my head, 3% of its flow occurs in January, and 40% in August. In places the water level in the Lena River rises 60 feet during the August Floods. During the floods the salinity of the Laptev Sea decreases, so much fresh water pours into it. Along with all the water comes all sorts of Siberian trees and branches, so that is something besides bergs the crew of the Northabout have to be wary about.

My preconception was that the surge of fresh water brought north by the Lena floods created a slightly milder lens of fresh water near the delta. Maps show the area as ice-free. Therefore I was surprised when on the 17th they mentioned having to take care about bergs in fog. This shows the importance of on-the-scene reporters.

Northabout 19a DSC_1142-600x400

FRIDAY UPDATE

They have made decent time east across the Laptev Sea, but complain a bit about meeting areas of ice in waters the maps show as “ice-free”. This occurs because, once the amount of ice dips below a certain percentage of a “grid-cell”, it stops being counted. I’ve seen maps where ice is not counted as “existing” when it is high as 30%, but the saner maps tend to use 10% as the cut-off point. But, when you are in a small boat, 1% can damage your craft if you pull off a Titanic. Also, the ice does not arrange itself in a dispersed manner in the “grid-cell”, but can be a sort of swirl, and form a line of bergs like a ice-bar or ice-reef, which must be navigated.

These sailors want to haul ass and don’t appreciate anything slowing them down, but the above picture shows something else they may have forgotten about:  “Twilight”.

Until you have experienced a winter up at high latitudes, you cannot imagine how depressing the winter darkness is. Conversely, until you have experienced a summer at high latitudes, you can have no idea how intoxicating the endless sunlight is. Dark ceases to enter your calculations, and you enter a sort of state of delusion, until the dark comes creeping back and twilight returns.

As these sailors hurry east they are going to increasingly be confronted by darkness limiting their visibility. Their solar panels on the deck will be less and less effective, and as each twilight grows more dusky they will be less and less able to see the stray bergs they come across in “ice free” waters. Do they have searchlights, and the generators to power such lights? (Also the stray bergs can create mini-fog-banks in calmer weather, which is yet another thing to slow them down, as such fog renders searchlights useless.)

The Northabout is facing increasing challenges, even as they thought they had left sea-ice in their past, and sailing would be clear and easy.  Best wishes to them, as they approach the entrance to the East Siberian Sea.

(EXAMPLE OF HOW QUICKLY ARCTIC SEA CONDITIONS CAN CHANGE, FROM DRIFTING O-BUOY 14 IN THE BEAUFORT SEA.)

YESTERDAY AFTERNOON:

Obuoy 14 0818 webcam

THIS AFTERNOON:

Obuoy 14 0819B webcam

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Storm After Storm) (Concluded)

Usually watching ice melt in the arctic is a serene occupation, but the odyssey of the good ship Northabout has made it unusually  exciting this year. What they began as a lazy cruise, to demonstrate how ice-free the arctic is,  has become an epic struggle against sea-ice that shouldn’t be there, (according to some), and also a battle against storms.

The storms are something I’ve been trying to point out are the real news. They are also something that (according to some) shouldn’t be there. They also involve a delicious irony, for certain people who yearn to see the sea-ice vanish yearn for a storm like we had in 2012. They have had their dream come true, for we have had a whole slew of storms, but the results are not the same as they were in 2012.

Rather than naming all the impulses of low pressure that attacked the Pole I decided to skip the bother, and name the conglomeration “Ralph.” Those who bother to look at this notebook know I have stretched credulity on occasion, to keep Ralph alive as an entity, but I hope my point has been made:  We have seen low pressure whirling at the Pole a lot more often than usual.

In order for Ralph to survive he had to be reinforsed by bundles of juicy air from the south, which I have numbered, starting with R1, (which stands for “Reinforsement One.”) This has spared me the bother of naming individual lows. (I am getting lazy in my old age.)

In my last notebook I described how Ralph, who seemed to be fading away in the Canadian Archipelago, avoided extinction by slipping across the Pole to the combining R11 and R12, who revived Ralph and made him a gale to be reckoned with:

After giving the good ship Northabout a hard time, Ralph once again began to run out of gas and look about for reinforcements. (These temperature maps may be the last summer-warmth we see.)

At this point I missed some maps. Though you may have doubts, I do have a life besides watching ice melt, and midst my personal soap opera I had a marriage, a divorce, and a business to attend to. When I turned my attention back to the Pole I saw Ralph has created subfreezing temperatures, and was looking for a R13. R13 was probing north from Scandinavia.

As R13 pushed north to reinforse Ralph he kicked a zipper-storm, R14, to cross Barents Sea and threaten the good ship Northabout from the west.

As R14 became a nasty little gale plaguing the Northabout in the Kara Sea, Ralph urged it to swing north and reinforce him at the Pole. The Northabout first saw sea-ice moved from the shore by south winds, and then saw sea-ice pushed south by north winds.

Never satisfied, even as Ralph absorbed R14 he called out for further reinforcements, and R15 began to cross Barents Sea, to threaten the Northabout with another gale from the west. Lots of warm air has been dragged into the R15 warm sector, with lots of subfreezing air to the north, so R15 could be a doozey.

In the final temperature map above you can see far more subfreezing air than we started with, and if you have my imagination you can see, in the middle, a mouth, and it is wide open and hollering, “Temperatures at the Pole have dipped below freezing earlier than normal!”

DMI3 0813 meanT_2016

Hopefully I will add to this notebook tomorrow, but I wanted to at least use these maps to make a single point, and make a single difference clear.

In 2012 conditions were much calmer, and the storm that occurred was a loner. This year has seen storm after storm after storm. To try to compare the two years is to compare apples with oranges.

ANOTHER POLAR GALE

Over at the Weatherbell Site, Dr. Ryan Maue’s portrayal of the Canadian Jem model shows R15 growing intence and throwing storm forse winds towards Northabout (and likely driving sea-ice south in the Laptev Sea) by tonight.

Polar2 1 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_5

By tomorrow night the energy is absorbed north and Ralph again stands triumphant, king of the mountain on the Pole.

Polar2 2 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_9

The GFS model (which insists on being upside down) shows the same thing tomorrow night.

Polar2 3 gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_9

I expect there to be a hubbub about this gale at Alarmist sites (where I silently lurk.) All eyes will watch to see if the churned sea-ice will melt like it did in 2012. I myself don’t expect it will.

For some reason I am having trouble accessing the Naval Research Lab maps.  The best I can do is show the DMI modeled thickness map.

DMI3 0813 CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20160813

This model may have some problems, because the fellows at DMI have been messing with their manner of collecting data, tweaking and fiddling with something that wasn’t really broken and didn’t really need fixing, (unless you define “fix” in a negative way.) Also it blends lots of individual bergs into an average which looks like a solid body of ice, when the sea-ice is in fact pulverized, after so many storms. However it may be correctly showing us that the individual bergs are all thicker than last year.

MONDAY MORNING  –RALPH TO EXPLODE INTO POLARCANE

Hunkered down in a safe anchorage on the west side of the Laptev Sea in a gale, the good ship Northabout is reporting temperatures of 63° (17° C), which demonstrates some warm juice is being sucked by R15 into the rebuilding of Ralph.

Polar2 5 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1

In 24 hours the gale will be peaking right over the Pole , with pressures down at 969mb and an eye-like feature at its core.

Polar2 6 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_5

I was curious if warmth would get sucked north. According to the Canadian model, the warmth must all be aloft, for it looks cold at the surface in 24 hours.

Polar2 7 cmc_t2m_arctic_5

(Note that the Northabout will not be getting the balmy winds any more. Temperatureres should be near freezing for them.)

My guess is that some freezing rain may be mixed in, with temperatures milder aloft, but also wet snow will fall from this Polarcane, making the sea-ice situation highly complex. Snow falling and melting in seawater uses up heat, as the heat becomes latent heat as the snowflakes turn into liquid water. The melt-water pools will freeze, as they are fresh water, (which actually releases latent heat, though likely to the air and not the sea,) and the pools will be dusted with snow,  which will allow satellites to “see” more ice. However the issue of the bottom-melt, aided and abetted by the storm’s churning, is the real thing to watch.

In 2012 the summer had baked the ice and turned it into thinner “rotten” ice, and also the water beneath the ice had stratified due to calmer conditions. Colder water managed to float above warmer water, because the colder water was fresh melt-water, and the warmer water was denser because it held more dissolved salt. Therefore the 2012 gale was able to churn up slightly warmer water and mix it with more fragile ice, and a huge area of ice faded from the maps with astonishing speed.

My theory is that this year’s conditions are different. The water is more churned, and though storm after storm has smashed up the ice, the chunks are thicker and not “rotten”, and therefore the melt will not be so astonishing, unless you were expecting it to melt like 2012, in which case you will be astonished….unless I am wrong, which will not be all that astonishing.

I could not  ask for a better test of my ideas.

The melt-season is running out of time, as the days are swiftly growing shorter, and the area of the midnight sun is shrinking up towards the Pole. Barrow, which did enjoy the midnight sun in July, now has its streetlights on during the wee hours, though days are still longer than nights.

Barrow 0815 03_22_26_70_ABCam_20160815_111900

North of there, up at 76.5° north latitude, O-buoy 14 is seeing the sun dip very low:

Obuoy 14 0815 webcam

With the sun getting so low, it is hard to keep temperatures above freezing.

Obuoy 14 0815 temperature-1week

O-buoy 14 is on a large floe drifting in waters that are fairly open, and I still think we may see bottom-melt exploit a weakness in the ice right under our noses, and witness the drama of a lead opening and separating the two buoys. However I have been expecting this for a month now, and am a bit surprised at the resistance of the ice. (Maybe I can hex it, by saying that.)

TUESDAY —I DID HEX THAT BUOY–

Obuoy 14 0816 webcam

The second buoy makes a final appearance in the distance a bit later.

Obuoy 14 0816B webcam

These buoys can float even without ice,  so we’ll continue to get reports.

CraigM350 informed me Ryan Maue tweeted about the Polarcane:

Ryan states the storm is now cut off from warm air avection and is snowy.  It has no clear surface fronts and therefore no strong, ice-bashing  surface winds; just a steady circle of breezes creating an anti-Beaufort Gyre.

Some upper-air streamers may be sort of like pipelines of occlusion, feeding into the storm, but for the most part I think the gale has used up its fuel and now will weaken and fill….(until a R16 appears?)

Over in the Laptev Sea the Northabout should have clear sailing, for the Polarcanes initial inflow created strong southwest winds which pushed the ice offshore.  (Lena River Delta on central right margin.)

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE  –Polarcane’s Hangover–

“Ralph” is starting to weaken. The winds were mostly a strong breeze rather than a gale, so I probably shouldn’t have named it a “Polarcane”, (but I do like to start hubbubs when I can), (and also it did have a sort of “eye” of calm winds, if not clear skies).

Polar2 8 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1

The long range models show Ralph will be in no hurry to leave the Pole, and after wobbling about may even restrengthen a week from now, which seems different from other years (especially 2012). However at the moment I’m interested to see if the sea-ice was decreased, like it was in 2012.

One thing is clear is that the sea-ice was pushed towards the Pole, giving the Northabout clear sailing towards the Lena Delta.

Polar2 10 36

It’s still cloudy further north, but, if the recent past is anything to go by, the Central Arctic Basin will see sea-ice increase, not decrease. It makes sense. Push the coastal ice north, and at the Pole the ice-pack will get more packed. (As was pointed out by “ren” over at Tallbloke’s site.)

Central More 20160817 r11_Central_Arctic_ts_4km

Tony Heller also produced a graphic to show how the ice is more solid at the center, by masking out all ice thinner than 1.5 meters, and comparing the current situation with 2012.

Thickness 20160810 IceThickness-2012-2016

That comparison is a week old, but yesterday’s thickness map shows no huge decrease.

Thickness 20160816 CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20160816

This is not to say the ice isn’t still thinning at the edges. Down at 76° in the Beaufort Sea O-buoy 14 shows our yellow buoy has drifted away.

Obuoy 14 0816C webcam

I assume a bear then visited. I don’t think the winds were strong enough to rip the top off the Mass Balance Buoy.

Obuoy 14 0817 webcam

The edges  haven’t melted enough to cause a decrease in the sea-ice extent anything like 2012. The decrease in 2012 was so impressive I thought some glitch must be involved, or that the ice was piled up in a small area, and it wasn’t until I received an email from a researcher who had actually flown over the open waters that I conceded the ice had vanished so swiftly.

DMI3 0816 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

At this point it seems unlikely we will set a new record for minimum extent this year. Surface melt is basically over.

DMI3 0816 meanT_2016

The 62 hour map of the JEM model is showing the coldest temperatures since last June.

Polar2 9 cmc_t2m_arctic_15

Those who were celebrating an ice-free Pole this year, back in June, now have a hangover I fear.

*******

“TROPICAL TIDBITS” WEBSITE’S 11-DAY-POLAR-ANIMATION SHOWS RALPH DOESN’T QUIT, AND EVEN INTENSIFIES TO RECORD LOW PRESSURE.

Ralph Aug 15-22 6a0133f03a1e37970b01b7c887e097970b-800wi (1)

 I continue to think the persistence of Ralph is the real news. My hunch is that a serious imbalance is involved, and hunching further I’d guess the cause is a “cold signal” clashing with a “warm signal”. Hunching way too far (for a layman), to a point where my head is dangerously close to passing between my knees, I’d say that the “cold signal” is the “Quiet Sun”, and the warm signals are the lagged after-effects of a big El Nino, a “warm blob” spoke in the PDO, and a long running warm AMO (though it may be about to go “cold”).

Compared to this big stuff, the sea-ice is like pedestrians on the crosswalk. (When a bunch of Mac Trucks experience road rage, the pedestrians scatter this way and that, but have little effect on the trucks).

However, as I am a sort of sea-ice junkie, I’ll post the Bremen Concentration map:

Polar2 12 sea-ice-concentration-8.15.16

If I were an Alarmist I might delight to see that the Polarcane’s wrenching of the Transpolar Drift into an antidrift, and wrenching the Beaufort gyral flow to an antigyral flow, has caused some ice to pile up pressure ridges, (which does not show on a concentration map because such maps do not involve thickness), and also has caused leads to open up, (which shows up dramatically on a  concentration map because such maps do involve open water.) A new Laptev Notch has not only appeared, but in a sense extends past the Pole on the Siberian Side. Yowza! Yowza! Yowza!

In my opinion, as an English major and not a scientist, this complex system of opening leads should not be called a polynya. (They likely will, for scientists delight in mangling the English language), but I feel the definition of a polynya is based on Antarctic situations, and involve open water appearing beside something firm, either land or fast ice. Because nothing is firm in the middle of the Arctic Sea, this opening-up deserves a different noun, and I think it should be called a “rift”. In this particular case it should be called “Ralph’s Rift.”

I also should hasten to add that the Bremen maps miss ice, at times. For example, the above map makes the Beaufort Sea look rather empty, yet the Canadian Ice Service sees ice they are blind to. (Upper left of map below).

Polar2 13 CMMBCTCA

Be that as it may, Ralph’s Rift will be a feature to be reckoned with, in coming days, and likely will be the title of my next post.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Northabout Battles Sea-Ice Through Vilkitsky Strait and Laptev Sea (Updated 5 Times)

When temperatures are over ninety (32.22° C) there is nothing like pictures of sea-ice to cool my crazed brain. Cooling is especially nice if one is politically inclined to scoff at Global Warming as a serious threat, and the sea-ice is proof that Global Warming isn’t happening in the manner proscribed by believers in the “Arctic Death Spiral.” But when sailors are taking the pictures, of the sea-ice I enjoy, there comes a point when the importance of politics fades away, because the photographers are facing death.

Not that one cannot die for political things, and die for their country, or their platoon, or their gang, or their wife, but such sacrifice is beyond the scope of ordinary politics. Ordinary politics, especially in recent times, is far more sleazy and selfish, and, rather than sacrifice, tends to focus on “what is in it for me.” People get busy keeping petty accounts that note how many times they scratched another’s back, and how many back-scratchings they have received and are owed, and if accounts do not seem right, they resort to back-stabbing.

To be honest, it disgusts me. Modern politics has all the spirituality of a leech, and all the love and romance of a cheap business transaction involving the purchase of the daily paper. I increasingly feel that it isn’t only me, and that the public is also disgusted, and cynicism is rife. Cynicism rises up as a king,  belittling hope and optimism, until an unlikely redeemer appears,  and our common enemy, Death, rises up and waggles his fingers with a friendly, “Hello”.

The reason people sail the Arctic Ocean or climb Mount Everest, rather than staying in a cozy and safe armchair,  is because risk is a redeemer.

It is amazing how quickly the threat of extermination will cut to the chase, and get people to get over their differences, and work together.  Unfortunately some politicians are adept at misusing this phenomenon, and create false threats to motivate populations to act. For an extreme example, most genocides are based on portraying a minority as a life-threatening threat to a majority, which the majority  must rally together to kill.

I am increasingly certain Global Warming is just such a false threat. It’s creators seemingly aim to exterminate opposition to their political agenda, which is an agenda I find repugnant, as an American, because the agenda loathes the liberty of the individual.  To cut a long discourse short, the agenda loathes private ownership of anything, seeking to enforce brotherhood with a club.

The Agenda dislikes mothers nourishing their babes, because Family Values are charity, which begins at home, because a man’s home is his castle, and even such a little patriotism as that is a threat to internationalism, which loathes patriotism of any sort.  Therefore internationalists twist a mother’s love into being a sort of hate:  If you love the baby God gave you then you are not being equal and fair to some child starving far away, and this makes you a racist.

In like manner internationalists loathe the love a man displays when he goes to the trouble to open a small business. As soon as a man steps from being a person who works for another to being a man hiring workers, he becomes slime. He is a “boss”, as if that is an evil.

In conclusion, internationalists in their ivory towers can become the enemy of love, in any sort of normal and natural form love has, that street-people can relate to.  Rather internationalists profess the love of Stalin, who is said to have subscribed to the idea that, “The death of one is a tragedy; the death of a million is a statistic.”

In other words, “It is the big things that matter; little people can be damned.”

This is fundamentally different from the American idea that, “All men are created equal.”

Americans believe, if they examine themselves, that a mother nursing her babe is equal to a Stalin, with all his might and all his power. Furthermore, she has the same single vote Stalin has, and the same control of our destiny. Stalin can bluster all he wants, muttering, “The ends justify the means” and, “Might makes right” and, (write in here any other justifications for bullying you desire). Still that poor mother has the power of Stalin, if America lives up to Her dream.

Global Warming is an attempt to create a false threat, because its creators know mothers will sacrifice their own well-being for the well-being of their babies. However it is a threat born of the cynical genius of politics, which has outlived its shelf-life.

Where a snake-oil salesman knows when to depart a town in a hurry, and seek a new town where the population is gullible and naive,  the perpetrators of the Global Warming alarm have no place to run; they have sold their snake-oil too widely; it is a case where they have no place to hide and internationalism has become a bad thing even for internationalists, for even remote Eskimos know all about Global Warming. The sheer, grinding nastiness of their cynicism has created a cynical populace, which increasingly doubts everything politicians and the Media claims.

Death is quite another matter. When it waggles its fingers at you, you are not the slightest bit cynical.

This was most especially obvious during the 1800’s in the age of sail. With members of a crew liable to be washed overboard or die of scurvy, captains had to hire new crew-members from alien cultures.  And, within the pages of writings such as “Moby Dick”, it is obvious that crew-members of very different racial, political, cultural and religious backgrounds would drop all their differences, when the alternative, (to working together as a team), was death.

This is something the Sea teaches much better than the Land does.  Stalin tried to teach with bullying death, but his schools always involved barbed wire, gulags and fences. The Sea spits on the very idea of fences. In fact it is the opposite, for it offers freedom.

But freedom isn’t free. It involves risk. It involves going to Sea.

This is what the good ship “Northabout” has done. Gone to Sea. Sure, they left port all puffed with a bloated political agenda about Global Warming, but the Sea slaps your naive preconceptions away with the first storm, when it lays you as low as a dog, with sea-sickness. After that, they could have turned back, but now they are heading into considerable risk, as they attempt to slip through sea-ice.

Northabout 17a DSC_1028

When such ice appears ahead, do you think inanimate ice cares what political party you belong to? If you believe Professor Peter Wadhams, when he makes his yearly headlines stating the Pole will be ice-free this summer, do you think the sea-ice will part like the Red Sea, to let you through?

Northabout 17b DSC_1026

Apparently not. The sea-ice does not read the New York Times or attend Professor Peter’s lectures. Therefore, because the sea does not agree, you are in a pickle, with your way blocked. You must trust the courage of your captain, and your own ability to be a good crew. And perhaps you do find a weakness in the wall of ice:

Northabout 17c DSC_1030

When your captain finds a gap in the ice, it may be like the gap between the teeth of a shark’s open mouth. After all, each berg only represents the “Tip of an iceberg.” The slightest berg, to the upper right, may only extend six inches above the water, but nearly five feet (56 inches) extend downwards. And that is but the smallest chip. How about that bigger berg off the starboard bow? It sticks up four or five feet, which in theory means it should stick down 36 or 45 feet, but these burgs are not always symmetrical with their mass, and sometimes the below-water part can stick sideways 36 or 45 feet.  It could hole your hull. In other words, this is no Sunday sail the crew of the Northabout  are on, over velvet waters, after church. This is for real. What if the shark’s teeth close?

Northabout 17d DSC_0964-600x400

Oh shit. This is no joke, anymore.

Now I am sure some are tempted to sneer, “Where’s your ice-free Pole now, suckers?” However this is no Professor Peter we are dealing with, getting rich by being politically correct in a fat-cat armchair,  and pretending to be a prophet, and announcing the Pole will be ice-free in 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016.

Instead these are very real people. They are not sitting on obese posteriors in some plush. leather Lazyboy, pontificating upon polar conditions from far away places. They are actually in those far away places. They are actually battling the ice that isn’t suppose to be there. They are actually gathering the actual data. In fact, in a worse case scenario, they could be killed by the actual data.

Therefore, rather than sneering, I suggest we do a bit of praying. Let us drop the stupid politics until they cross the Laptev Sea. Once they are safe, then, if they insist upon resuming their political nonsense, we will meet their nonsense blow for blow.

Were it not for individuals who dare test the waters, we’d be all sitting in our armchairs believing the media’s claptrap about how ice-free the arctic is.

Rather than sneering at “Northabout” and calling them a “Ship of Fools”, we should be thanking the crew for facing waters we don ‘t dare face. At the very least, they are showing the “ice-free” waters have icebergs, and they themselves have guts.

Northabout 17e 16693-1

That fellow in red is a “man overboard”, in water that is salty and at, or below. freezing, and can kill a person in five minutes if they fall in. Just who does he think he is, standing on the water? Jesus? No. He is just a working man trying to get to that open water barely visible in the upper right of the picture.

They made it, and crept along the shores, which were ice-free because the southwest winds blew the ice away from shore. This is called a  “Polynya”, and does not mean the ice by the shore is melted, but rather it is moved away. (Northabout located where the white arrow is:)

Northabout 17g 16729-1

However in these “ice free” waters you can come across not only sea-ice, but bergs taller than your highest mast.Northabout 17f DSC_1049.

I find this berg fascinating. It isn’t sea-ice and it isn’t locally grown. I want to take dirt samples. Is it from Greenland’s glaciers? And how did it wind up across the Arctic Sea in the Laptev Sea, when official maps of currents state “you can’t get there from here”? Also why is the geology of the berg’s ice so odd, with horizontal strata and slanting strata?

But the captain doesn’t care a hoot about that. He just sees that open water to the upper left, and also knows big bergs are dangerous. In theory, if they are 40 feet tall, they stick down 360 feet, but as I said earlier they can stick sideways rather than down. Also, because “bottom melt” can exceed “top melt” in August, such bergs can become top-heavy, with their bottoms melted, and can suddenly capsize and what was the bottom can come surging up as the top plunges down. This can be dangerous to a small boat squeezing by.

The good ship Northabout has faced days of dangers, but now a new danger appears. Winds may shift to the north for a brief time. It may be only twelve hours. But all the ice will come grinding south and threaten to crunch a small boat against the shore. So perhaps the captain dodges backwards, to seek a safe place for twelve hours, after which,  perhaps, the south winds will resume and allow sailing east again.

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I will not criticize these gutsy sailors, and instead I will find a private place to whisper a few politically incorrect prayers that they experience safety.

Professor Peter Wadham is another matter. He stated the arctic would be ice free this summer. I will privately pray he meets an iceberg inland, in England.

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE

They made three attempts to get through the ice yesterday, all in vain. Likely they wanted to get east before a storm hit with north winds. The last thing they want is to be stuck in the ice with the ice moving in gale force winds. It is quite hard enough in a calm.

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All their attempts brought them back to where they started.

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The closest thing they could find to a safe anchorage was a so-called “stamukha”, which is a berg that has been pushed onto shallow water by a storm and is grounded. This particular chunk of ice appears to be genuine sea-ice, and not a large chunk calved from a glacier. It looks like multi-year-ice, either piled up to a pressure ridge where it now remains, or piled up to a pressure ridge somewhere else and driven ashore.

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From  the safety of my armchair I want to take samples of the dirt on the berg. It might be from a mountain, which would prove the ice was from a glacier. It might be soot from China’s coa;-fired power plants, or from a volcano, concentrated at the bottom of a melt-water pool and then refrozen into the ice. Or it might be alge that grows on the bottom of the ice, and then is frozen into the ice when the ice gets thicker in the winter, or put at the tip of the ice when the ice is flipped like a pancake.

The captain has other concerns, with winds picking up. Will this berg stay grounded in a storm? Will it shelter them from other bergs moving in the storm?

They likely have endured a long, sleepless night, and I’m awaiting this morning report with a degree of anxiety. All I can say is that there is no  sign of movement yet.

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ON THE MOVE AGAIN.  They got started at around 7:00 AM EST, which I guess is early afternoon for them, and so far they have made it east about half the distance they probed three times yesterday.

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BREAKTHROUGH!  Yesterday they commented that if only could get through the three miles of ice there would be clear sailing all the way to Bristol. I think that may be a bit overly optimistic. But they may find things easier at least to the far side of the Lena River Delta. (The Lena is at peak flood in August, pouring massive amounts of summer-warmed waters into the Laptev Sea.)

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DUCK AND COVER

All day I have found myself sneaking to peek at the “Tracking Map” to see how the Northabout is doing. The skipper is amazing. I can’t see how he hasn’t gone aground, he has sailed so close to shore. I figured they had penetrated the blocking ice, and therefore was surprised to see them abruptly turn back.

Seeking a reason, I checked the forecast. Hmm. Looks like they are in for a bit of a blow. The skipper is wise to seek a safe anchorage.

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