ARCTIC SEA ICE —Hudson Bay’s Slow Thaw—

I focus on Hudson Bay for selfish reasons.  The faster it thaws the better, as far as I’m concerned. As long as it has ice floating around on it there is a chance for some unseasonable cold to come south and spoil my summer, down here in New Hampshire. In fact it happened just last week, when a summer storm swirled up across the great lakes.20150627 rad_ec_640x480Around the backside of that storm came north winds, drawing air down from Hudson Bay, and while the welcome rains began warm and summery, they gradually grew more and more chilly, until we experienced a daylight with temperatures never rising above 53° (12° Celsius) and a driving mist. That doesn’t count as summer, in my book.

Other people look at sea ice for political reasons, and focus on this graph, which shows how swiftly the ice is melting. As you can see, two thirds of the ice melts every year. Almost always all the ice in Hudson Bay melts.DMI2 0704 icecover_current_newIf you are politically aligned with the Global Warming theory, you want the ice to be low, and to beat the lowest green line on the graph. In fact, you need it to, because otherwise your theory is humbug and you have to give all the money you took to combat-Global-Warming-with back to the people you stole taxed it from.

The theory, in case you haven’t heard it, states that white ice at the Pole reflects sunlight and keeps the earth cool, but dark oceans without ice will absorb the sunlight and the earth will heat up, and indeed “get a fever”. If this theory was correct, the low levels of ice in 2012 would have resulted in warmer waters and even less ice in 2013. As you can see, that didn’t happen, nor did it happen in 2014. Rather than conceding their theory is humbug, the Alarmists say, “Just wait until next year!”

So here we are, in July of the next year, and once again the ice is failing to prove the theory. This is getting rather monotonous, but there are still some Alarmists who go “Ah ha! Ah ha!” if the graph ticks down, and cheer wildly if there is a steep fall. It is all much ado about nothing, as far as I’m concerned, as in many cases the ice is going to be gone by September in any case, and then grow back in December, but people seem to regard the graph as a sort of sporting event.

Often I see a major misconception displayed by people who don’t know their ice. They think the north Pole is an icecap, when it is an ocean. It is the Arctic Ocean, and the ice never sits still. In other posts we have followed buoys day by day as they’ve traveled over a thousand miles. One began near the North Pole and wound up on the north Coast of Iceland. One began on the north coast of the Canadian Archipelago, squeezed down into Nares Strait, traveled down the northwest coast of Greenland and then down Baffin Bay and wound up vanishing off the coast of Labrador. O-buoy 9, which we are currently following, began on the Eurasian side of the Pole, crossed near the Pole, and now is scooting along the north coast of Greenland on its way to Fram Strait. Nor is this a new phenomenon. During the Cold War in the 1950’s military bases floated around on “ice islands”,  and in 1893 the arctic explorer Nansen attempted to drift across the Pole in a boat frozen into the ice called the “Fram”.

Hud 5 800px-PSM_V57_D434_Map_showing_the_regions_traversed_by_nansen

Another misconception is that this motion only occurs during the summer, and that things are frozen fast in the winter. Even in the depths of winter the ice is in motion, and areas of open water can appear, many miles across, even when temperatures are -40°. When winds roar off cold tundra, the areas of open water along the shore, formed as the sea-ice is shoved out to sea, are called polynyas, and in places occur with regularity, for example along the shores of the Laptev Sea, or at the top of Baffin Bay. In such places the ice can be quite thin when spring comes, as it has had to reform at the very end of the winter, and it may be swift to melt. In other places, where all the ice has been blown, for example along the coast of the Canadian Archipelago and northern Greenland, the ice can pile up into a towering jumble.

When we look at the ice we see it terms of thickness, and concentration. The map below shows concentration today.Hud 3 arcticicennowcastWhat is notable in the above map is the lack of open water in places where you might expect it on July 4, notably the Laptev Sea, Baffin Bay, and Hudson Bay. I’m focusing on Hudson Bay for the reason I gave earlier.

Hudson Bay started June with less ice than recent years, which made Alarmists happy, but now it has more ice than recent years, which likely has Alarmists glum.

Hud 2  r10_hudson_bay_ts1

It has me glum because, as long as there is ice floating on that bay, it can generate sub-freezing temperatures under clear skies during the short nights. (Pink is below freezing in the map below; ignore the glitch that makes that mess along the left margin). Hud 1 cmc_t2m_arctic_2As soon as Hudson Bay is ice-free, it will stop creating that threat to my north, and my tomato plants will breathe a sigh of relief. In the meantime, I keep an eye on the bay using the Canadian Ice Service map.Hud 4 CMMBCTCA

What is odd to some viewers is that the ice melted in the cold north part of the Bay before it melted in the warm south. This occurred because the wind howled down from the northwest a lot last winter, forming polynyas along the northwest coast, and cramming all the ice down to the southeast. Therefore one can see that not even in an enclosed bay does the ice sit still, in the arctic.

I’ll be watching the ice carefully because on some rare years it fails to melt away completely. That would be a bad start to our winter, as by September the bay is usually warm enough to warm the arctic blasts coming down towards us. If it starts partly frozen and freezes early, we could have January cold waves in December.

So you see, when I watch the ice there is a practical side to it. I’m not trying to make some political point, and not tempted to make things sound more dramatic than they are in order to gain more attention and money.

This brings me to why I prefer the Canadian Ice Service, (within limits.)  Other ways of “seeing” the extent of the ice have some major flaws, and show water as “ice free” when it most definitely isn’t.  A major flaw involves using microwave imagery from space, the problem being a melt-water pool may be seen as open water.

This problem was highlighted in a somewhat humorous way by polar bear researchers who pestered poor bears by drugging them and attaching GPS thingies behind their ears, so they could be tracked. The bears do 67% of their hunting and eating between the time the arctic sun comes up and the time the ice melts away, which in Hudson Bay is between April 1 and July 1, usually. Then they waddle ashore fat and happy, and then do 33% of the rest of their eating in remaining 75% of the year. However, as the bears were tracked, it was noted that they spent a lot of time in areas that some maps showed were “ice-free”. The maps below (From polarbearscience.com ) show the locations of bears last year, with some in “ice-free” waters.Hud 6 hudson-bay-breakup-2014-pb-tracking_30-june-vs-8-july_pbi

This put the scientists in an embarrassing situation. While bears can swim over 700 miles if they have to, they don’t do so for sport, and therefore had to be moving from berg to berg hunting seals in waters the maps showed were ice-free.  Scientists blushed, as they had gained funds by stressing how stressed the bears were by ice-free waters, that made it impossible for them to hunt. Now the scientists were the stressed ones, because the bears were hunting where scientists said they couldn’t. Obviously the bears needed to go back to school. What is funny is how slow the scientists have been to mention this discovery to the people funding them. (I suppose some discoveries are not entirely welcome; who is going to fund the endangered polar bears if you discover they are fat and happy and not endangered?) (Of course, the discovery of hidden ice up there may endanger my tomatoes. Will no one fund those scientists for the sake of my endangered tomatoes? Please do, or we may have endangered scientists.)

As for me, I’m glad I only do this as a hobby, and as a way of making a guess if next winter will start out cold or not.

ARCTIC SEA ICE —Slush The Puck Up—(Updated ten times and concluded.)

One way I managed to stay out of trouble as a teenager was to burn off all my adolescent energy by playing ice-hockey until I was crawling. A neighbor had installed floodlights over a backyard pond, and we could play well into the night. We also played well into the spring, as some of the smoothest ice came when a day’s thaw refroze. However like all teens we tested limits, and this involved playing when the ice became so slushy we were all drenched, and the puck refused to slide. (So we learned to roll it.)

Once we enter July, the sea-ice reminds me of the sloppy ice we used to play hockey upon, with increasing puddles, until even we had to quit ice hockey, and turn instead to appearing in police reports, (usually as “unknown persons”.)

I am going to try to keep fond recollections of being young, and being able to be hot even when drenching wet, in mind as we enter the serious thaw of the Arctic. Talking politics too much just spoils the appreciation of the beauty.

(All pictures in this post can be clicked to enlarge. Better yet, they can be opened to new tabs, which often allows you to click between tabs to compare.)

As we begin, you’ll have to forgive me for naming storms. (I’m not good at Math, and numbering them causes me problems.) In the map below  “Follower” is pushing north from Canada, nosing high pressure off the Pole. That high pressure had weak low pressure systems circling the Pole over the past few days. Northeast of Finland “Baltson” is brewing up and headed for the Kara Sea, in the Laptev Sea. “Balt” is merging with “Folfol”. Over towards Bering Strait “Folfolzip” is coming north and entering the picture.

DMI2 0628B mslp_latest.big (There is a method behind the madness of my storm’s names, but for now I prefer to be a man of mystery.)

More interesting is how the below-freezing temperatures up at the Pole follows the storms.DMI2 0628B temp_latest.big It is interesting to note that most of the subfreezing temperatures are south of Latitude 80°, and therefore not included in the DMI graph of temperatures north of 80°. While that graph shows the thaw, it states temperatures are slightly below normal, for the moment.

DMI2 0628B meanT_2015

In theory the Pole should have a slight increase of energy at this time of year, with the sun up 24 hours a day, and therefore it interests me when temperatures decline. A commentator suggested the chilling might be due to evaporative cooling as rain falls through the arid air, until it drops below freezing and becomes snow.  I increasingly agree this plays a part, but suspect some sort of other stuff involving the tropopause is involved, however I don’t want to go there tonight. Talking that way makes me sound sciency and pretentious. Actually I’m just a guy with fond recollections of slush.

The North Pole Camera, (who I have named “Faboo”,) is showing its first sign of a melt-water pool, to the right in the mid distance. NP3 1 0628B 2015cam1_1

O-buoy 11  has made its own melt-water pool to sit in, by catching and reflecting the sun as the sun travels around and around and never sets,  and other melt-water pools are also forming.( A lead of open water hides behind the pressure ridge in the mid distance.)Obuoy 11 0629 webcam  The most impressive melt-water pools were seen by Mass Balance Buoy 2015A, but it has gone on the fritz, so now we have to turn to O-buoy 12 to see an impressive pool, to the left. Obuoy 12 0629 webcam The edge of the pools are sometimes lighter because they are shallower, and sometimes because blowing snow has slush floating there. The centers of such pools are sometimes darker because they are deeper, and sometimes because particles of windblown dust and soot collect in such low places, in which case they catch sunlight and make the low places lower, in which case the water-filled dent may become a hole to right through to the sea, in which case the water drains down and the ice rises up slightly, which is something I like to witness.

All things considered, the melting atop the ice is only a significant factor close to the land and the hot summer tundra, where much higher temperatures can blow out  over the ice. Away from land most of the melting comes from beneath, or because the ice is transported south into warmer waters.

Such a transport may well be the fate of our oldest camera, at O-Buoy 9,  which is currently grinding eastward along the north coast of Greenland. A glance at it’s view speaks a thousand words. Sunlight may be wilting the snow a little, but the real factor we are witnessing is transport.Obuoy 9 0629 webcamAnyone care to guess what that black object left of center might be?

One interesting factor we have seen so far is the failure of Faboo to be transported south. I’ll continue to report on the progress of Faboo, as well as the progress of the thaw, with updates.

MONDAY UPDATE  

Faboo has continued slowly southwest to 87.051°N, 3.779°W, which is 2.97 miles to the southwest. Winds have slacked off and are nearly calm, and the sun has been shining brightly. Temperatures peaked at +2.0°C at 1500z yesterday, which is the warmest we’ve seen so far this summer, and then fell back a little to +1.1° at 2100z. Temperatures may have dipped, for the last picture seems to show ice-fog forming, with a snow-bow arcing in the distance. NP3 1 0628B 2015cam1_1NP3 1 0629D 2015cam1_3NP3 1 0629F 2015cam1_1What do you find at the end of a snow-bow? (A pot of cold.)

Judging from the time stamp, shadows, and the location of the sun, we are looking a little east of north.  You can’t really go by compass up there, as the Magnetic Pole is near and moves, in relation to where you are. Also the berg you sit on tends to spin, so what was north yesterday may today be west. It pays to learn to tell direction by the shadows, what time it is, and your latitude. Otherwise you can make some embarrassing mistakes, which I won’t bother tell you about.

The Mass Balance Buoy Site still isn’t reporting. I miss it, but maybe the guy needs a week’s vacation. It is summer, after all, and students think you get time off. It is quite a shock to get out of college, and find out you work most of the summer.

O-buoy 9 is coming out of a sharp freeze into a bit of a thaw, with lovely blue skies and sunshine. The lead appears to be widening again, in light winds. Obuoy 9 0629B webcam Obuoy 9 0629C webcam

It is grayer over in The Beaufort Sea, where O-buoy 11 has seen temperatures either side of freezing. Obuoy 11 0629B webcamAnd over towards the Chukchi Sea O-buoy 12 reports temperatures just below freezing  and gray conditions. Obuoy 12 0629B webcam

“Follower” has nudged the high pressure towards Fram Strait, and the other Lows orbit it. Old “Klyuchi” is down in Hudson Bay, “Laggard” just spins its wheels and goes nowhere south of Iceland, “Baltson” enters the Kara Sea, “Balt” and “FolFol” are a weak merger over the Laptev Sea, and “Folfolzip” is crossing Bering Strait. All are weak. Call it a merry-go-round.DMI2 0629B mslp_latest.big I suppose the closest thing to front page news would be Follower heading for the Pole. This time of year the North Pole has to import cold air from the south, and it looks like Follower might be doing that.

DMI2 0629B temp_latest.big

QUICK TUESDAY MORNING REPORT

I have to attend a class today, but wanted to quickly report the Mass Balance Buoy site is up and running. An unofficial report from Faboo holds a surprise. Temperatures have plunged to -2.21° C!  (I thought that last picture looked colder, yesterday.) The more recent pictures show the gray returning.NP3 1 0630A 2015cam1_2NP3 1 0630B 2015cam1_1 The map shows “Fillower” is weak, but still attempting to be king of the mountain and stand on top of the earth.  Likely it is pulling the clouds north over Faboo. (I can’t check out O-buoy 9 down that way, for this morning the O-buoy site is on vacation.)

Follower has knocked the high pressure down to Fram Strait where it seems to be weakening, and therefore Follower, despite weakening himself, is creating a weakness over the Pole which may allow an attacker up from Siberia.

In central Siberia Balt and Folfol have arranged a merger and formed a hybrid I guess I’ll call “Baltfol”, and some models show it wobbling up towards the Pole in a few days. The other lows remain weak and unambitious. Folfolzip stalls over Bering Strait, Klyuchi sits over Hudson Bay, Laggard lags south of Iceland, and Baltson nudges east through Kara Sea, perhaps wanting to join the conglomeration hybrid of Baltfol (To be pronounced much like “Bashful”). Baltfol likely will involve all sorts of parts and pieces which I doubt I’ll have time to do justice to, so instead I’m going generalize in a most shameful manner. I’m pretty sure there is some climate-scientist jargon for doing that. Oh yes, I remember, “Homogenization.” What I call “Baltfol” is the homogenization of something that actually intricate and fascinating, and well worth the study of Siberian students of meteorology.DMI2 0630 mslp_latest.big The cold temperatures hitting Faboo don’t show up much in the DMI temperature map.DMI2 0630 temp_latest.big Let me check the Canadian JEM model, which tends to highlight, if not exaggerate, cold.DMI2 0630 cmc_t2m_arctic_2Yikes! I’m totally distracted by sub-freezing temperatures down over Hudson Bay, which is getting too darn close to my tomato plants. But what do tomato plants have to do with arctic sea ice? I’m off topic….or am I? If sea-ice in Hudson Bay effects New Hampshire, I’m not off topic. But let me get back to other topics.

The cold in Fram Strait is verified by Buoy 2015E: which is reporting -1.44° C, even way down at 79° latitude.

The cold air in central Siberia clashing with warmer air looks capable of supplying Baltfol with some power.

Over on the noontime side of the Pole all the temperatures are just above freezing, ranging from +0.33° to +0.83° C, with the hotspot being Buoy 2015A: , right up against the coast of baked Alaska, which is coming in at a toasty +5.96° C (I wish they’d get that camera up and running; the melt-water pools must be draining by now, and perhaps the ice has begun breaking up as well, right along the coast.)

And that’s the news for now.

MONDAY EVENING UPDATE  —Faboo shivers—

The official update is in. Faboo drifted southwest and then southeast 2.39 miles to 87.018°N, 3.572°W. (The most westward position was at 0300z yesterday at 3.828°W.) However the real news was the plunge in temperatures. At 1500z on Sunday we touched our warmest temperature of the summer at +2.0°C, yet 12 hours later were down to -0.8°C, and 12 hours after that were down to -1.7°C, and the final data from 2100z last night has us at -2.4°C.

This kind of sharp drop, when the pattern looks fairly benign and bland, always causes me to sit back and just scratch my head. This is especially true when the DMI map shows no below freezing air near the Pole or Faboo.DMI2 0630B temp_latest.big

However this morning’s map, which is closer to the final official 2100Z report, did show a little island of sub-freezing air by Faboo. (See morning update above).  So perhaps this was just a small bubble of cold. So I look at the two latest pictures from Faboo.NP3 1 0630c 2015cam1_2NP3 1 0630C 2015cam1_1 It looks to me as if the melt-water pools are lighter and smaller, as if they might be freezing rather than thawing. (This is a good time to open the pictures to new tabs, and then click to and fro between the two pictures, and decide for yourself).

So next I cheat, and go to the unofficial reports (lacking a time stamp) from the co-located Mass Balance Buoy, and discover temperatures have only warmed to -0.82° C. Of course, without time stamps there is always the chance they warmed above freezing and then fell back down again. I’ll have to be patient and wait until tomorrow’s official figures, though I am not known for my patience.

My hunch is that Faboo is experiencing no small pool of sub-freezing air, but rather a great lake. We have seen small pools of cooler and milder air recently, and I have joked how the temperatures bounce from below freezing to above (alarmists cheer) and dip back below (alarmist become dead silent) two or even three times a day. However this time the fall was slow and continuous, lasting at least 18 hours (as of the last official report), and likely longer. I should mention winds gradually rose from nearly calm to around 10 mph, so this isn’t a small pool developing due to radiational cooling in a calm isolation. Lastly, it was not a mere degree of drop, but 4.6°. It seems likely a significant area of cold has been created, yet is unseen by the DMI map. Why?.

The answer is likely that there are few data points. In the old days a meteorologist would draw the isobars and isotherms between isolated weather stations, but now computer models draw the lines for us. However, just as a meteorologist in the old days might draw an isotherm incorrectly, because he had no idea cold air was being created, computer models can only draw as they have been told to draw by some programmer, and that programmer might also not know cold air was being created. In fact, we might be the only ones who know about this event. How about them apples!!?

There are no other pictures, as the O-buoy cameras are still not reporting.

Over towards the Pacific side I assume night has fallen in the Mass Balance reports, for on the coast of Alaska Buoy 2015A: has cooled to +2.82° C, and the only other buoy above freezing is Buoy 2014I: at  +0.24 C. In the Beaufort Sea Buoy 2013F reports -1.15° C, and Buoy 2014F reports -1.60° C, while further west towards the Chukchi Sea Buoy 2015B: reports -0.93° C and just north of it Buoy 2014G: reports -1.60° C.

These colder temperatures may be in part created by the weakening of the flimbsy low “Folfolzip”, but I attribute much of the cold to diurnal variation. Even though the sun may stay up 24 hours a day, once you get down towards 75° the sun dips low at midnight, and midnights are generally colder than noons.  (You’d be surprised how often people fail to calculate for this.) To be sure temperatures are truly cooling or truly warming you need to compare noons with noons, and midnights with midnights. (This makes time-stamps all the more important on the Mass Balance reports.)

And that’s the news for now, though I should add I’m fonder than ever of Faboo. With every other camera on the blink, Faboo keeps reporting. However the July 4th weekend is coming up, and even the slaves and servants of Faboo need a day at the beach after so much time looking at ice, so it would not surprise me if they missed a shift or two this next week.

Oh, I forgot the weather map.DMI2 0630B mslp_latest.big “Follower” may have won the throne on the very top of the Planet, but it looks like it has cost him his life. He will now supply a path for whatever the hybrid Baltfol mutates into. Baltfol will likely absorb the faint recollection of “Folfol” hiding on the New Siberian Islands,  as well as Baltson, just entering the Laptev Sea, and what appears to be Baltthree south of the Laptev.  Laggard continues to lag south of Iceland,  blocked by high pressure to the north that Follower knocked off the Pole.  Klyuchi stagnates just north of Hudson Bay.

WEDNESDAY MORNING MAPS  

(Click on maps to expand.)

DMI2 0701 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0701 temp_latest.big

The main center of activity is central Siberia, where “Baltfol” continues to get his act together.  Things look calm over Faboo, and the unofficial Mass Balance report states the cold spell is over and thawing has resumed, with temperatures at + 0.14° C. While Faboo has drifted south of 87° again, unofficially to 86.99° N, 2.92° W,  down in Fram Strait  Buoy 2015E: has made it back north to 79° at 79.00° N, 2.36° W, and is reporting out coldest temperatures at -1.46° C.

Even though thse coldest temperatures are south of 80° latitude and therefore not included in the DMI graph, the graph shows even when thawing the Pole is a degree below normal.DMI2 0701 meanT_2015 The view from Faboo continues gray and bleak.NP3 1 0701 2015cam1_1

Wednesday Evening Update —Faboo Thaws Out—

The only things consistant about Faboo have been they gray skies, and the motion slowly but steadily south and east, to 86.997°N,  3.002°W, which is 2.51 miles in 24 hours. Temperatures slowly rose, finally breaking freezing around 1400z and cresting at 1800z at +0.7°C, before starting to fall again. The thaw should be helped along by a bit of drizzle.

NP3 1 0701B 2015cam1_1

I’ll go over maps in the morning.

DMI2 0701B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0701B temp_latest.big

THURSDAY MORNING —Gray Thaw—

DMI2 0702 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0702 temp_latest.big

In the above map it is midnight in Fram Strait and noon in Bering Strait. Slight diurnal variation seen, with cooler temperatures around Svalbard, and warmer in Chukchi Sea. Pool of sub-freezing air over East Siberian Sea even as the sun gets high. “Baltfol” is the biggest storm, in Laptev Sea, with pressure at 990mb and breeze at 20 knots. The only othe breeze is a west wind along the coast of Alaska, up to 20 knots, created by the contrast between warm land and cool sea. The weak 1003mb storm “Folfolzip”, now moving east northeast of Bering Strait, is the only other low wirth noting. For the most past summer calm has decended.

Faboo continues to drift slowly south and east, according to the unofficial Mass Balance report, with temperatures just below freezing at -03° C, though the camera lens still shows unfrozen water.NP3 1 0702 2015cam1_1The melt-water pool to the tight is expanding, which is typical for the summer thaw.  It would be interesting to see what the media would do if we got another “Lake North Pole.”

The O-buoy site is up and running, and all cameras show gray skies and conditions near freezing. O-buoy 9 shows the lead in front of it has closed up, and there is melt-water in the crack to the lowest left.  The buoy has drifted back west and south a little, which I didn’t expect.Obuoy 9 0702 webcamO-buoy 11 shows slushy conditions. Co-located Buoy 2014I: reports a very mild + 2.12° C, which is a heat wave for the Beaufort Sea. Obuoy 11 0702 webcamFurther west at O-buoy 12 the co-located Mass Balance thermometer is reporting +0.23° C, but its own thermometer may be more recent and seems to show temperatures have dipped below freezing.Obuoy 12 0702 webcamObuoy 12 0702 temperature-1week 44.1 miles south of there Buoy 2015B: is reporting -0.01 C, and if you go 466.4 miles south-southeast to Buoy 2015A: l right on the coast of Alaska, temperatures are a toasty +5.07° C.

We should be able to sit back and watch the melt-water pools expand for another 45 days. Temperatures up in the arctic seem to have nudged back to normal.DMI2 0702 meanT_2015 What is more unusual are summer snows and freezes, as we had last year. Also I’m on the watch for continued grayness and gloominess, which I tend to blame on cosmic rays, as Svenmark suggested a Quiet Sun might allow more cosmic rays to strike Earth, making more clouds. In fact, whenever it is gray around here, in New Hampshire, I am known for scratching my grizzled jaw, scowling up at the sky, and muttering, “Durn Cosmic Rays”.

THURSDAY EVENING  —Lake Faboo Enlarges—

Faboo continued on its merry way southeast to 86.930°N, 2.547°W, speeding along at an impressive quarter mile an hour, and covering 4.91 miles. (In comparison, during the Autumnal Gales these buoys typically move around 20 miles a day,  and I’ve seen 50.)

Of interest was the fact the official record shows no temperatures below freezing, while the Mass Balance buoy did. Officially we hovered between 0.6°C and 0.4°C, finishing at 2100z at 0.4°C. Winds were steady but light, around 8 mph.

The big headline item is the expansion of the meltwater puddle to the center right. To preserve tradition, I’ve decided to call the puddle a lake. It will be “Lake Faboo”, and I expect it to gobble up the two puddles in the central distance soon. The light rain is very helpful, when it comes to thawing, as often the air aloft is milder and the falling drops are relatively warm.NP3 1 0701C 2015cam1_1 Currently the thaw is more active on the Atlantic side than the Pacific side, which has not been the rule and is not what I expect.

DMI2 0702B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0702B temp_latest.big

It is mild and thawing, and sunny for a change, down at O-buoy 9.Obuoy 9 0702B webcamObuoy 9 0702B temperature-1week

However over towards Bering Strait Buoy 2015B: is coming in at  -1.47° C and O-buoy 12 at  -1.08° C. The view hasn’t changed much from this morning.Obuoy 12 0702B webcamSun finally out at O-buoy 11, with temperatures +0.40° CObuoy 11 0702B webcam FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE  —Durn Cosmic Rays—

Faboo continues its slow drift southeast, with the unofficial thermometer again showing a dip below freezing to -0.57° C.  The gray skies persist, despite an attempt at brightening earlier.NP3 1 0702B 2015cam1_2NP3 1 0703 2015cam1_1 O-buoy 9 had a beautiful view of the lead reopening and widing, which I should have saved, but I put coffee first, and by the time I returned to the view (which updates every 15 minutes or so) the clouds had rolled back in. The lead has likely reopened because our westward movement ceased, and we are progressing east again.  Temperatures have returned to just above freezing, after yesterday’s brief spikes.Obuoy 9 0703 webcamOver in the Beaufort Sea O-buoy 11 is reporting a thaw at +1.67° C, the gray skies have returned, and the yellow trash can fell over with a tremendous crash.Obuoy 11 0703 webcamMeanwhile further west towards the Chuckchi Sea O-buoy 12 os reporting a slighter thaw at + 0.23 C with the Mass Balance buoy, which may be outdated, as the buoy itself looks like its back below freezing. Here too the gray weather persists.Obuoy 12 0703 webcam Obuoy 12 0703 temperature-1week

The mildest temperatures are over on the coast of Alaska, where Buoy 2015A: is peaking at +7.01° C. This one bears watching, as some cold air may be headed their way.

I’ll talk about the maps later, but all these pictures of gray weather have me craving blue skies, so I’m stepping outside, as the cosmic rays aren’t bad ’round here, today.

FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE —Blue Faboo—

Aster all my grousing about gray weather this morning I suppose I’m now being shamed into admitting it always isn’t gray in Faboo’s neighborhood. The clouds rolled away, likely moments after I made my pronouncement. (That seems to be a hazard weather forecasters of all sorts face.) NP3 1 0703B 2015cam1_2The amazing thing is the immediate effect the sunshine had on the sea level. Unprecedented melting brought the grey slush more than half way up the lens of the camera. For the life of me I don’t see why the media isn’t reporting this! I think I have a scoop here!NP3 1 0703C 2015cam1_1In regard to more mundane matters, Faboo continued its slow southerly drift to 86.880°N, 2.577°W, which is another 3.45 miles towards Fram Strait. Our eastward movement stopped at 2.526°W at 0300z, and since then we’ve been nudging back west. At 0300z we also touched our high temperature of +0.7°, and then readings slowly fell, remaining above freezing until our final report at 2100Z, which was -0.3°C. Winds remained light, at around 7 mph.

550 miles south of there in Fram Strait Buoy 2015E: has its warmest reading of the summer, at +2.95° C, and roughly 250 miles northwest of there O-buoy 9 continues east, with temperatures right at freezing and winds dropping to a near calm (after peaking at around 12 mph earlier). Conditions continue gray, and the wide lead makes me nervous about the safety of the camera.Obuoy 9 0703B webcam  A mere 1300 miles further west (as the crow flies) on Beaufort Sea, O-buoy 11 is seeing some blue, but for some reason it is the ice and not the visible sky.Obuoy 11 0703B webcam Perhaps the sky above is blue, but in that case I would expect the puddles to be blue as well. There is only one other possible solution: The water beneath the ice has become Caribbean! Oh, wait. The lead peeking over the ice along the horizon is not so blue: In fact it is the battleship gray of the North Sea in winter. Hmm. Maybe that ice just turned blue because it is feeling sorry for me, after all my grousing about gray skies.  Temperatures are just above freezing, with co-located  Buoy 2014I: reporting +0.46° C.

Things are colder 400 miles further west, where Buoy 2015B: is reporting -1.44° C. Around 40 miles north of it Buoy 2014G: reports  -1.19° C, and co-located O-buoy 12 gives a hint of …..blue!  Ah!  Blue at last!Obuoy 12 0703B webcamWinds have been breezy, around 16 mph, and earlier the melt-water puddle to the left, (which we will henceforth call “Lake Chukchi,”)  had definite ripples on it. Now there are no ripples. Has the wind died, or has Lake Chukchi frozen?

Now here’s a bit of trivia for you. Is lake Chukchi fresh water?  The standard answer is “Yes”, because it is known that when the saltwater freezes the salt is exuded, or rejected, (or whatever the proper word is.)  Often it concentrates as super-cooled brine that bores down through the ice, and which can even form a sort of icicle as it touches the less salty sea-water beneath. In fact there are cool pictures from Antarctica of these brine icicles reaching the bottom and freezing passing starfish in their tracks. Then, because the brine removes the salt, it is assumed the ice above is fresh or nearly fresh, so the melt-water pools must be fresh. (Buzzer) Wrong! Why?

Well, the salt is not always exuded downwards as brine. Sometimes, especially in cases of flash freezing, it is rejected upwards, and can form rather pretty “flowers” of salt crystals on top of the ice. These delicate formations are broken by even modest winds, and then become dust in the wind which, because temperatures are extremely cold, don’t have the power to melt ice that salt ordinarily has. I’ve seen such salt dust blowing across sea-ice with my own eyes, as far south as the coast of Maine, and therefore expect the amounts of salt blowing around with the snow can .become considerable, especially during winters when many leads open and are flash frozen. However, as soon as temperatures rise past a certain point in the spring, the salt loses its ability to be dust in the wind, and starts melting the snow. Therefore, I conclude, if the circumstances are right, the first melt-water pools that form are not fresh water, and may actually be especially salty at first. This may explain the ability some pools have, at first, to stay unfrozen even when temperatures are below freezing, and also their ability, (which seems a bit uncanny at times), to eat downwards through the ice.

Of course eventually, as the salt works through, and as more and more freshwater ice melts, and even some rain falls, the melt-water pools become more fresh water, until explorers can drink it. However  when I scrutinize Lake Chukchi, I wonder if it is still a bit salty.

I still haven’t discussed this morning’s and afternoon’s maps, but I’m in the mood to procrastinate. I’ll just post them for you to scrutinize, as I become a lazy old dog and practice snoring.

DMI2 0703 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0703 temp_latest.big DMI2 0703B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0703B temp_latest.big

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE  —Fabooth of July—DMI2 0704 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0704 temp_latest.big

The maps show high pressure nosing back up to the Pole, as Baltfol spins its wheels in the Laptev Sea, oddly without breaking up the sea-ice much. Weak Folfolzip is tiptoeing about the Beaufort Sea, apparently generating some cold air in Being Strait that isn’t fluctuating in the normal diurnal manner, and is moving along to the coast of Alaska. Lastly  Laggard lags south of Iceland, but apparently is kicking a zipper storm ahead into Europe, to end the heat wave in Paris and perhaps give the dry south some rain, but apparently not managing to get some heat up to Finland, where the summer has been cool and wet.

It is an interesting pattern, with basically three storms in the Northern Hemisphere, but we may be about to get a boot in the backside. The Pacific is going haywire down in El Nino land, with a major SOI crash just concluding, and a MJO spike right off the charts.DMI2 0704 ECMF_phase_MANOM_51m_small(58)The first effect of this will likely be to explode some super typhoons in the West Pacific, but I’m expecting a big stir down there will eventually stirs things up here.

In the meantime Faboo is lollygagging south, with the unofficial temperatures down below freezing at -0.90° C, despite brilliant sunshine raising the sea levels halfway up the lens. (With the sun dead ahead just past midnight, on the meridian, we are looking north towards the Pole.)NP3 1 0704A 2015cam1_3Proof that the gray area at the bottom is due to the rising sea is supplied by the fact that as soon as the temperatures drop below freezing and the clouds return the sea sinks….(either that, or maybe the solar panels can’t handle too much sun, and overcharge or something.) In any case, we are back to our typical drabness, Despite the sub-freezing temperatures Lake Faboo is expanding, flooding the central mid-distance, which makes sense when you consider the freeze is not even a full degree below freezing, and the sunshine was intense and non-stop. (Think of a sunny day in March, when the roads start to melt off long before temperatures get above freezing.)NP3 1 0703B 2015cam1_1 Down in Fram Strait the thaw is over, as Buoy 2015E: is back down to -0.15°, but just north of Greenland O-buoy 9 sees slight thawing continue, as the lead starts to close. Lets hope it closes gently (winds are still light) for too great a crunch might bury our camera in rubble.Obuoy 9 0704 webcamOver in the Beaufort Sea Buoy 2014I: and O-buoy 11 are reporting continuing thaw at +0.40° C, with the lead in its distance looking a little wider.Obuoy 11 0704 webcamFurther west towards the Chukchi Sea it is freezing, as Buoy 2015B: reports -0.13° C and Buoy 2014G: with O-buoy 12 report -0.36° C. Obuoy 12 0704 webcam The Mass Balance reports lack a time stamp, but I think these are from the “warm” part of the slight diurnal swing, which makes their sub-freezing status a little more significant. Down along the coast of Alaska Buoy 2015A: has dropped nearly 4° to +3.49°.

The DMI temperatures are only a hair below normal north of 80° latitude,DMI2 0704 meanT_2015 And for the most part the slush season seems to be progressing in a normal fashion to me, however the extent graph continues to show a reluctance to fall at the normal precipitous rate.DMI2 0704 icecover_current_newIt is still too early to state whether this means anything much, but both the Laptev Sea and Hudson Bay have more ice than last year. In fact I think I’ll conclude this post, and write a brief post about that item, attempting to make it sensational news.

Arctic Sea Ice —Continued Concentration on Quietude’s Quirks (Updated Twice and Concluded)

Faboo (short for “Faithful Buoy”)  continued the slow drift the wrong way, back towards its starting point at the North Pole, though it is difficult to make headway with so much other ice in the way. The official report had us at 87.099°N, 2.566°W at 2100z last night. The eastward drift stopped at 0300z, at 2.334°W. and now we are inching west again. We’d moved 2.76 miles back to the north in the 24 hour period.

When you consider that back at noon on June 14 Faboo was at 87.105°N, 4.652°W, it becomes obvious the ice isn’t making much progress.  In 2 weeks we’ve traveled 7.28 miles, mostly to the east. The Quietude continues.

DMI2 0627B arcticicespddrfnowcast

The speeds in the above map are measured in centimeters per second, and the blue areas are less than 0.2 mph. The ice isn’t going anywhere, except just north of Greenland and over along the East Siberian coast. This is one reason the ice-extent graph has stopped declining.DMI2 0627B icecover_current_new If the current flat-lining graph continues much longer you can expect a hubbub about it, as Skeptics can never resist taunting Alarmists, when the Death Spiral doesn’t manifest. However I bite my tongue, as often flat-lining is followed by a sharp dip.

Another reason may be the lack of sunshine at the Pole. Bright sunshine is a great slush-creator, even when temperatures are below freezing, but gray days don’t make much slush, (unless there’s fog), even when temperatures are a bit above freezing, as they have been. Faboo edged above freezing at 0600z yesterday and peaked at +0.3°C at 2100z. However picture after picture shows a gray scene, and the closest I could get to any blue sky was from 1933z yesterday.  I don’t see what the use of 24 hour daylight is when the sun never shines.NP3 1 0627 2015cam1_4

I’m hoping those footprints were made by the scientists setting up the site, and have simply been exposed by the thaw. If they are signs of a snooping bear there could be trouble, as the bears tend to scientifically investigate the cameras, to see if they are edible.

The gray weather is also occurring at our other cameras. (Four of the cameras we started the season with are now not functioning) O-buoy 9 is showing the lead in front of it crunching shutObuoy 9 0627 webcamO-buoy 11 is showing a lead starting to open up, to middle right.Obuoy 11 0627 webcamAnd O-buoy 12 shows the melt-water pool to the left finally getting back to the size it was two weeks ago. Obuoy 12 0627 webcamHowever the primary observation I make is how gray it is. Of course, these only represent 4 microcosms in a vast arctic, but the past summers have simply seemed far grayer than I recall earlier summers being. If some scientist did the careful calculations and determined they actually were cloudier, I imagine that could explain differences in the surface melting.

The maps show weak lows circling a high that his hogging the Pole. You might think high pressure would bring sunshine, but I haven’t seen much. “Balt” is drifting east across the Kara Sea, “Folfol” is retrograding to perhaps merge with Balt, in the Laptev Sea, And “Follower” has crossed and looked like it was going to sink into Alaska, but now some models show it doing a U-turn and trying to bump the High Pressure off the Pole, which I doubt will make it much sunnier.

The models are having a hard time handling this sluggish pattern, because there is so little definition between the high pressure and low pressure they don’t have much to work with. The fun thing is that they produce interesting events (which never happen) around seven days into the future.

DMI2 0627 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0627B mslp_latest.big SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE  —The Laptev Mystery—

The Mass Balance Buoys haven’t updated. I suppose the fellow in charge deserves a weekend, like everyone else, but it means I have no real news to report. However that never stops the mainstream media, so why it should stop me?  The trick is to search and observe something interesting, and to make that the news. The arctic is always full of interesting stuff.

One thing I have observed is the failure of the Laptev Notch to reappear, so far. There is only a skim of ice remaining on the Laptev Sea, but in terms of concentration, it doesn’t yet have any “ice-free” areas. Ice Concentration 20150628 arcticicennowcastLast year at this time the Laptev Sea was already starting to show areas of open water, which expanded impressively through the summer until the open water extended like a shark’s tooth towards the pole, north of 82° latitude and giving Alarmists reasons to cheer.

I myself called the shark’s tooth “the Laptev Notch” and figured it was due to  the fact the Laptev Sea had exported impressive amounts of ice northward, the winter before. The ice moved across the North Pole to jumble up against the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland.

The Laptev Sea commonly exports more ice than any other arctic sea, even though it sometimes exports triple the amount it exports other years. The winter of 2013-2014 seemed a good year for exports, and it meant that the sea kept having to form a new skin of ice, which was quite thin when the sun came up for the summer and began melting things.

That open water was still there after the sun went down, and can be clearly seen jabbing north of 80° as late as October 22. Laptev 1 extent-20141022-arcticicennowcast

One interesting thing to note in the above map is that it is freezing along the Laptev Sea’s shore first. This is in part because of enormous amounts of fresh water the Lena River’s floods poured out. The flow of that river fluctuates wildly; 40% of its yearly flow occurs in August. (Then it freezes up and 3% of its yearly flow occurs in January) The inshore waters, especially at the surface, are much fresher than off shore parts of the Arctic Sea, especially in the early autumn.

Another reason for the early inshore-freeze was that Siberia had early and extensive snowcover last year, and already the land had switched from being far warmer than the Arctic Sea to far colder. This tends to shift the winds from sea-breezes to land-breezes, as the relatively milder ocean causes air to rise, and the colder, heavier air flows out to sea to replace it. Initially this freezes the inshore waters, but as the difference becomes larger bone-chilling gales can roar from Siberia out towards the Pole, and this pushes the ice itself out to sea, forming a polynya of open water by the coast even when the winds are at -40° or even lower (-70° has been seen). This is the dynamic that allows the Laptev Sea to export so much ice.

Something different happened last winter. I neglected to keep records and document the difference, as I was busy documenting the ferociously cold and snowy winter in my own neighborhood here in New Hampshire. But looking at the Laptev Sea’s actions over last winter might make a good paper for a college student who could get praise for poking through old records. (If I spent time doing that my wife would likely notice all the time I was spending at the computer, and I doubt I’d get praise.)

The best I can do at this late date is look at the animation of the past 365 days’ ice-thickness, which I will attempt to reproduce below. (If you are reading this a year from now, the animation may have updated and may not show what I intend.)

What the current animation shows is not only the Laptev Notch forming and jabbing towards the Pole, but that it persisted even after the ice refroze, as a shark-tooth-shaped area of thinner “baby ice.” If you watch carefully you’ll see the ice got thicker, and the “notch” rode the Transpolar Drift right across the Pole, and indeed the five-foot-thick ice Faboo now rides and sends us pictures from might well have been ice-free water of the Laptev Notch last summer. (It should also give you an idea of how mobile the ice is up there; the Arctic Sea is truly a surging, moving ocean, and nothing like a frozen icecap.)

Also, as you look at the animation, you can see some export of ice and polynya-formation in the Laptev Sea last winter, but the real activity was over in the Kara Sea, which may have even rivaled its neighbor, in terms of exports. This may be a reason the Kara Sea is more ice-free this summer than last summer, and part of the reason the Laptev Sea has more ice; (it simply exported less).

However my mind is toying with other ideas as well. I’m wondering if having so much open water at the end of last summer might not have allowed the Laptev Sea to be churned more and cooled more, and it might just be colder now, and therefore less likely to melt ice from the underside.

Wondering about water temperatures makes me turn to Bob Tisdale’s site “Climate Observations”. He has done some really great work simply observing, without deciding what he wants to see before he starts, and also putting data down in graphs and maps, which turns incoherent strings of numbers into something I can get my mind around. One data set he put into a graph involved the readings from Argo floats in the Arctic Ocean, which seemed to be cooling (as of last fall)Arctic Sea Cooling figure-2-comparison-w-arctic This of course makes me ponder all the more deeply, especially as other sites tell me the arctic is warming faster than the rest of the earth. (The above chart comes from Bob Tisdale’s post: https://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/there-is-a-wide-range-in-the-argo-era-warming-and-cooling-rates-of-the-oceans-to-depths-of-2000-meters/ )

In any case I am going to watching the Laptev Sea very carefully the next 45 days, for if it does not thaw to the degree it thawed last year, it could make a big difference in the sea-ice extent graphs.

Also this should show you that even when no new data comes in, I can still find things to write about. However I likely should include at least a picture from Faboo. Faboo did glimpse a bit of glimpse a bit of, if not midnight sun, then midnight blue sky, though things swiftly became dull and gray again afterwards,NP3 1 0627C 2015cam1_2

I checked out the O-buoy cameras, but they just show gray sky, and I can see that if I look out my window. It’s a gray Sunday in New Hampshire, with a sweeping summer rain and air coming down from the waters of Hudson Bay, which still have ice.  Brr. Maybe I’ll write a “Local View” post, for there is no way I’m heading out to weed in the garden, that’s for sure.

I’ll update in the evening, when Faboo’s official data comes in.

EVENING UPDATE AND CONCLUSION

I am going to have to cut this post short, for the animation above overwhelms the rather low IQ of my ancient computer, and forces me to wait longer than I like to add anything.

Faboo reported in, and told us he made it as far north as 87.102°N, before succumbing to peer pressure and heading south again. His contrary nature had to find satisfaction in continuing west, finishing the 24-hour-period at 87.087°N, 3.318°W, which is 2.76 statute miles to the southwest of where we were.

Temperatures bounded about, as peer pressures opposed. Temperatures crashed to -0.5°C at 0300z (Skeptics pouted serious approval), and rebounded to +0.4°C at 0900z (Alarmists now nodded with their approving and dignified frowns,) but then fell to -0.3°C at 1500z (Skeptics nodded more vigorously) but then rose to +0.1°C at 1800z (Alarmist nodded even more vigorously) at which point Faboo did the only safe thing, which was to arrive at exactly 0.0°C at 2100z. Unfortunately this precipitated a ferocious battle between Skeptics and Alarmists about whether 0.0°C constituted thawing or not, at which point Faboo wisely tiptoed from the room.

Immediately the gloom was gone and blue skies appeared.

NP3 1 0628A 2015cam1_2NP3 1 0628B 2015cam1_1This should be a reminder (to me, if no one else), that the real reason to study Truth is that Truth is Beauty.  Speaking of which, I’ll conclude this post with a truly lovely picture that comes from O-buoy 9 this evening.Obuoy 9 0629 webcam

Barely Bearable —Media silliness regarding Polar Bears—

I have pretty much avoided the topic of polar bears, in my discussions about arctic sea ice, because right from the start I saw them as a sort of media icon, even a false god, and simply didn’t think they had much to do with the weather at the North Pole. And they don’t. When I’ve mentioned polar bears it is primarily because they are opportunistic feeders, and when scientists place the cameras and buoys I like so much out on the sea-ice, such scientists run the risk of becoming a bear’s snack. So actually it is only to emphasize the guts of those scientists that I bring up the topic of bears.

Bears do mess up my observations. Initially they just tracked up the snow, adding a new variable to the plethora of variables that influence the melt. I was even tempted to call their footprints “unnatural”, back on October 15, 2012. Bear 1 np-last-year-bear-tracks-oct-npeo_cam2_20121015124807 And if that wasn’t bad enough, sometimes they got in the way of my viewing the ice.Bear 2 polarbearframe_zpsb90ba2d3And another time they not only left tracks, but some sort of booger on the camera lens,Bear 3 np-aug-6-8-footprints And from there it was a short step to just plain flattening the cameraBear 4 np-aug-6-9-camera-tipped And therefore it should be obvious that, as much as I might like to avoid the entire subject of bears, they refuse to be ignored.

Not that the media will let you ignore them. Bears seem part of their plan to get people behaving in a manner they think is politically correct, concerning the topic of Global Warming.

Bears are sort of cute, when viewed from afar, and if you can touch a person’s heart by showing a cute bear stranded on a dwindling iceberg, and suggest the cute bears are facing extinction due to the callous use of fossil fuels, then you don’t have to bother prove the ice is actually dwindling. The sentimental suckers are sobbing, and having so much fun blubbering and blowing phlegm into Kleenex, that science comes second.

Of course seals are also cute. Some might even argue they are cuter. And it just so happens that polar bears lurk by the holes in the sea-ice where seals surface to breathe, and brain them with a single swipe of a massive paw, and hook the unconscious seal up onto the ice with their huge claws, and then proceed to get their white fur red, gorging on the seal. But the media doesn’t show those pictures, because it fails to further the “cause”,  which is dependent on bears being “cute”.

People who live in the north are under no illusions about how bears get so fat in the spring, and how many seals they eat, and how bears also might eat a neighbor, if the opportunity arose. However Northerners are not in a hurry to tell tourists who come north to see bears that the bears aren’t so cute, or to scorn the media’s “cause”. After all, “the customer is always correct”, and you don’t want to offend the tourists. You need to quell the urge to roll your eyes, and instead nod and look sympathetic, as tourists speak blathering nonsense.

In like manner, scientists also don’t want to offend the customer, who is forking out the money that allows them to tramp about the arctic rather than working a Real Job at a Burger King. Some scientists have even taken it a step further, and do more than nod sympathetically. They produce ridiculous “studies” that further the “cause”.

For example, most bears are complete gluttons, when it comes to chowing down on cute seals, and by the time the ice melts away and they come ashore they are downright pudgy.Bear 7 polar-bear-nanortalik-05_henrik-hansen However that will not alarm the public.  It is better to find some elderly bear, who has trouble hunting and who is often robbed by young, punk bears, when he does catch a seal.Bear 5 stirling-and-van-meurs_2015-in-press-fig-1 This bear is not scrawny due to Global Warming. He is old, and guess what? When we get old we die. It may not be cute, but it happens to every human, and also to bears.

However if you are a scientist in need of funding, it may keep you alive a bit longer if you can make up some sort if link between old bears being skinny and fossil fuels. It will please the customer by supporting the “cause”.

Now it just so happens that a bear, waiting by a hole in the ice for a seal, may see a porpoise pop up, because porpoises are occasionally trapped by shifting ice into small areas they cannot escape, as escape would involve travelling too far under water without breathing. And, as I said earlier, bears are opportunistic feeders, especially if they are old and hungry. They do not become fussy, and say, “Sorry, I don’t eat porpoises.” They go ker-slam with a giant paw, and hook the flesh from the water.  doi:10.3402/polar.v34.26612 Now, scientists are also opportunistic feeders, when it comes to linking everything under the sun to Global Warming, and therefore there will eventually be a headline in the Washington Post, “Thanks Global Warming; Now Polar Bears Are Eating Dolphins.”

Of course, it helps if you can get a picture of an elderly, skinny bear by a porpoise carcass.doi:10.3402/polar.v34.26612 Perhaps it should be mentioned at this point (because the media won’t) that polar bears are at the top of the food chain, and therefore don’t die because of another animal, unless a man hunts them. So what do they die of?  What is the death-by-natural-causes for a polar bear?  It is starvation. Not cute, but a fundamental fact every polar bear scientist knows. Also a good many people who live in the north know it as well.

Therefore, when a scientist goes off the deep end and throws his integrity to the wind, producing a “study” that suggests old bears are starving due to Global Warming, all the other scientists know he has sold his soul. All the local people know he has sold his soul. And, even when they don’t want to offend the customer, or disrupt the gravy-train of funds for the “cause”, a sort of contempt leaks into the banter one hears, if one frequents arctic sites seeking information about sea-ice, as I do.

Perhaps people do recognize the difference between fiction for a “cause”, and truth. Perhaps there is even hope for the human race. For I keep seeing signs that the fiction created for the “cause” has passed some sort of limit, and credulity has been stressed beyond its bounds, and people can’t help themselves. They have started to burst out laughing.

Another example involves mother bears, and where they chose to have their cubs, which are definitely cute.Bear 9 svalbard-female-with-cubs_roy-mangersnes-wildphoto_june-23-2015 It turns out that a mother bear requires a solid foundation of sea-ice upon which to dig her den, within which she gives birth to her cubs and nurses them until they are big and strong enough to follow her about. Mother bears will not stand for shoddy ice, and if conditions are not suitable along the coast of Svalbard, they will head several hundred miles in seek of the proper ice, and perhaps build a den along the coast of Franz Josef Land. Then, if conditions improve by Svalbard the following year, they will head back.

However such simple truth does not feed the cravings of the “cause”. The “cause” demands a tragic tale of no baby bears being born on Svalbard one year, and a pointing finger jabbing at nasty, nasty fossil fuels as the culprit.  However who will be the scientist who will utter such nonsense?

You need someone to make a Jon Aars of themselves, who will prove his compassion with a touchingly tender picture of compassion for a baby bear. Bear 10 svalbard-cub-w-jon-aars_norsk-polarinstitutt_june-2015-article Ordinarily such nuzzling of a baby polar bear would be a quick way to get yourself killed. Where is the mother bear? Oh, I get it. She is laying drugged on the ice.

In any case, when the mother bears came back to Svalbard this year, Jon Aars had the decency to report the facts. Never mind that he got a lot of mileage, and caused all sorts of sobbing and a great increase in the consumption of Kleenex, a year earlier.

However the people who live up there do notice.  And they do care about their bears, even if it is only to usher a bear out of town.Bear 13 polar-bear-nanortalik-04_henrik-hansenBear 11 polar-bear-nanortalik-07_henrik-hansenBear 15 polar-bear-nanortalik-06_henrik-hansenBear 12 polar-bear-nanortalik-09_henrik-hansen

Such people know their own children are much cuter than polar bears.  When it comes to the “cause”, their children come first.

However the most delicious irony I chanced upon was in an article from up in Svalbard, where they were thrilled to have a mother bear raising rare triplets.  The local people were worrying about whether snowmobiles might upset the mother bear. During the discussion, the reporter produced the following wonderful observations

“Experience for example from Tempelfjord in 2013 shows that polar bears, including families with young offspring, do not necessarily suffer from frequent traffic. In that spring, a mother with 2 first year cubs spent several months in Tempelfjord, which was frequently visited by large numbers of groups. Respectful behaviour contributed to the well-being of the bear family, which was generally not visibly affected by traffic, but seemed to enjoy a good and healthy period, with regular hunting success.

Unfortunately, both cubs from 2013 are most likely dead by now. One died in Billefjord a short time after tranquilization for scientific reasons. There is no evidence for the tranquilization being the cause of the death, but the assumption is not far away.

The second one of those 2 cubs was most likely the one that was shot near Fredheim in late March 2015 by tourists in their camp. The bear had injured one person in a tent and was then injured with several bullets from a revolver. It was later shot by the police.

These observations indicate that a larger number of well-controlled tourists, with respectful behaviour, is less of a problem than a smaller number of visitors (including scientists) with more unusual activities, involving a higher risk. An interesting impression, as the public reception of tourists is generally much worse than that of scientists.”

In conclusion, I have decided that back when I avoided the topic of polar bears, I had no idea of all the fun I was missing.

A wonderful site, if you are interested in the topic of polar bears, and reality versus the “cause”, is:  http://polarbearscience.com/

ARCTIC SEA ICE —Quirks Of The Quietude—(Updated seven times and concluded)

With sun arctic sun at its highest, and shining 24 hours a day, we are actually at a point where the Pole gains energy, albeit only a small amount. Therefore, in theory at least, the Pole could even be seen as a “source region” of warming, rather than cooling.

In actual fact the Pole remains a source region of cool air, as there happens to be an ocean covered with bergs in the way of warming. Things might be different if there was a low, flat island (not 10,000 feet tall like Greenland or Antarctica’s icecaps) at the Pole, baking under the 24 hour sun, however that belongs to the realm of fantasy, and the reality is reality.

Besides the icebound ocean there are some other factors creating cold, or at least cool, air. A lot of heat gets gobbled up simply melting the ice into summer slush, as the available heat becomes latent heat in the phase change from solid ice to liquid water.  Also any time it tries to snow or rain evaporative cooling may occur as the precipitation falls through the often-arid arctic air. Lastly, there may be heat lost from the tops of clouds through the tropopause to the stratosphere, as the tropopause is lower in the arctic,.

There is actually a lot of debate about whether or not storms lose heat. It might seem to be common sense, for when one thinks of a thunderstorm on a hot day it seems the storm obviously cools things down, but when it comes to doing the math it doesn’t add up. I myself have never been all  that good at math, and have to take it on faith that it doesn’t add up, but I also keep scrutinizing the situation, thinking an yet-unobserved factor might be involved. (For example, a cloud has a flat bottom but a triangular top, so perhaps it has more upward-facing area with which to lose heat than downward-facing area to reflect heat downwards).

All that being said, it does get quiet up in the arctic in June and July, as there are not the cold air-masses needed to clash with warm ones,  to brew up big storms. While this may make things boring, it may also offer us a chance to observe subtle effects that are usually hidden or swept away by the powers of larger and more wintry storms during the ten months the arctic is definitely a cold-creator (or actually a heat-loser).

I like to carefully watch the weak storms that drift about the arctic, and to watch the below-freezing temperatures they seem to create. Officially there should be no created cold with the sun so high and powerful, but over and over one sees the cold appear out of the blue. It is something to ponder.

Currently a weakening storm I dubbed Klyuchi (after a small Siberian city) has drifted across the Pacific side of the Pole to the Canadian Archipelago, and the storm trailing it, dubbed quite logically “Trailor”, is being deflected south to a crossing route down near Being Strait. On the Atlantic side things are quiet, though something is brewing in the Baltic Sea and may come north later in the week.

DMI2 0622 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0622B mslp_latest.big

DMI2 0623 mslp_latest.big

It seems to me Klyuchi did create some cold, as a few small patches of sub-freezing air have appeared even in the afternoon heat, on the Canadian side.

DMI2 0623 temp_latest.big

Although the sun never sets on the sun-baked Alaskan coast, it does get quite low at midnight, and temperatures at Buoy 2015A, which have been as high as +7.0° C, have recently dropped to -0.13° C.

Buoy 2015A 0623 camera1

Far out to sea to the north and west, Buoy 2015B was also reporting thaw, but has dipped below freezing to -0.18° C

Buoy 2015B 0623 camera2

North of there O-buoy 12 is exactly at freezing, with the melt-water pool at the left starting to erode at its edges.

Obuoy 12 0623 webcam

Back to the east across the Beaufort Sea O-buoy 11 is also exactly at freezing.

Obuoy 11 0623 webcam

It is interesting that these cold temperatures are all south of 80 degrees north latitude, and not included in the DMI graph of polar temperatures.

DMI2 0623 meanT_2015

As you move towards the Pole you are actually moving into high pressure, with fewer clouds and milder temperatures, and our North Pole Camera getting above freezing again. By 2100z on the 21st the camera had progressed 4.1 miles southeast, riding a steady wind of around 10 mph, to 87.006°N, 3.093°W, and its temperatures had yo-yoed from  -1.4°C at midnight to +0.7°C at noon and back down to -0.3°C at 2100z. (Today’s unofficial report has us down south of 87 degrees latitude at long last, with temperatures up to +0.13° C.)

NP3 1 0623 2015cam1_1

Down off the north coast of Greenland O-buoy 9 is drifting east again, nearing 15 degrees longitude, and temperatures have briefly spiked above freezing.

Obuoy 9 0623 temperature-1week

Obouy 9 0623 webcam

TUESDAY EVENING UPDATE  —Faboo slows—

In case you are wondering what the word “Faboo” means, I just coined it, because I’m tired of writing “Faithful North Pole Camera Buoy.” It will be our little secret, and knowing what “Faboo” means will mean you are among the select. We elite few who know what “Faboo” means will be able to adopt a pitying, condescending tone, and say things such as, “The poor fellow doesn’t even know what, ‘Faboo’, means.”

I am fond of Faboo, because it was the first camera I knew about. Years ago it introduced me into the mind-boggling reality of using my own eyes, rather than trusting the mainstream media, when it came to understanding the arctic icecap. I am grateful to the people who created the idea of the drifting arctic camera, because when they created Faboo they created something unlike the media, unlike politicians, and unlike all too many scientists. When they created Faboo they created honest views.

In any case, I tend to focus on Faboo even though he is now just one camera among a seeming throng of Johnie-come-lately-copy-cats. I figure Faboo has earned my loyalty,  (unless-and-until some politician demands it start portraying palm trees on the ice.)

Faboo’s official reports tend to be delayed a day, but are neatly recorded at three-hour-intervals here: http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/PAWS923840_atmos_recent.html

You can get more up-to-date reports at the Mass Balance-Buoy home page at http://imb.erdc.dren.mil/newdata.htm  where Faboo is called “Buoy 2015D”. (The problem with this site is that they don’t bother with time-stamps.)

Faboo has continued to slowly drift southeast, but its speed has slowed as the wind slowed from a steady breeze around 10 mph to a near calm. It ended the last report (2100z June 22) at 86.961°N, 2.783°W, which is 3.3 miles further to the southeast, but still roughly 150 miles north-northeast of where we were at this time last year.

Faboo’s temperature antics are a bit amusing, when you consider the fact temperatures basically stayed the same, varying barely more than a degree. Where I live there would be little fuss if temperatures varied between 74° and 75° Fahrenheit, but when that degree moves across the freezing point it makes a huge difference, especially if you are an Alarmist and feel a thaw is proof the North Pole is melting and the End Of The World is coming, but a refreeze means you are plunged into abject despair because the world isn’t going to end and you have to get a Real Job. In fact, each time Faboo quirks above freezing I imagine Alarmists wildly cheering, and then when it dips below freezing I imagine the cheering abruptly cut off.

Mother Nature was toying with the poor Alarmists on June 22, for at 0300z temperatures were at -0.3°C, and at 0500z rose to +0.2°C, (wild cheering), but then at 0900z fell to -0.7°C (dead silence). Later, at 1500z temperatures were at  -0.5°C, and at 1800z rose to +0.3°C, (wild cheering), but at 2100z had fallen to -0.6°C (dead silence).

Of course, Skeptics can cheer in an equal but opposite way, and be just as silly. The way to avoid being emotionally jerked around by Faboo’s thermometer is to remember that temperatures are suppose to be above freezing at this time of year. In this way you don’t get all depressed about thawing, but every freeze is an unexpected benefit.

The unofficial report gives us a reading for Faboo of  +0.73° C,  which might make the Alarmists happy, were it not for the fact every other Mass Balance Buoy is currently reporting freezing or below.  (Likely this is just a fluke of the record-keeping, but when it comes to Alarmists and Skeptics, all is fair in love and war.)

On a more scientific note, it does seem the fading-away of Klyuchi on the Pacific side has made temperatures colder over there than they were.

DMI2 0623B temp_latest.big

WEDNESDAY UPDATE  —Faboo reverses—

Faboo made it as far south as 86.960°N at midnight yesterday, but then edged back north and west, winding up at 86.964°N, 2.911°W at 2100z, which is 0.51 miles back the way we came. In the light southeast winds the temperatures nudged up to +1.0°C at 0900, before sliding back slightly to +0.6°C at 2100z.

The light southerly flow exists due to a ridge of high pressure developing between the remains of Klyuchi and Trailor on the Pacific side, and a storm brewing up in the Baltic in the Atlantic side, which I suppose I’ll call “Balt.”  Balt looks like it will weakly roam east along the arctic coast of Eurasia, and the high pressure will persist over the Pole, likely keeping Faboo from moving much for a while.

DMI2 0624B mslp_latest.big It seems the persistent gray weather at the Pole is at long last giving way to a more sunny spell.

NP3 1 0624 2015cam1_3 NP3 1 0624B 2015cam1_1

The low midnight sun is not warming much in the Beaufort Sea, likely because of clouds and possibly because of snow. DMI2 0624B temp_latest.bigIt has warmed up on the coast of Alaska, with Buoy 2015A reporting +4.09° C, but once you head out to sea it gets colder. The only other above-freezing temperature is at Buoy 2014I: which is co-located with O-buoy 11, and shows it is just barely thawing at +0.03° C. The melt-water puddles are holding their own.Obuoy 11 0624B webcamAt other buoys it is colder. Buoy 2015B: is reporting -0.09° C, Buoy 2014G is reporting  -0.79° C, and Buoy 2014F: is coldest at -1.33° C. O-buoy 12 looks like it might be experiencing some snow, with temperatures right at freezing.Obuoy 12 0624 webcam Considering we are well into the season of thaw, conditions seem a bit cold up on the ice. Perhaps once the low pressures die away on the Pacific side we can get back to sunshine and thawing, but at Buoy 2015E: , way down at 79.53° N, 0.84° E, at the edge of the ice in Fram Strait, it is -0.44° C, which seems to hint at a colder Atlantic.

THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE  —Faboo back north of 87° latitude—

The morning map shows Klyuchi drifting down towards Hudson Bay, as Trailor stalls north of Bering Strait.  Balt is slowly drifting up through Scandinavia. Between the lows is a ridge of High Pressure to the Eurasian side of the Pole,  giving Faboo south winds and nudging the ice it sits upon back north. DMI2 0625 mslp_latest.big

In these 0000z maps it is midnight down in Fram Strait, so you expect a bit of chill as the midnight sun sinks down to the horizon at 78° south latitude. but it is noon at the top of the maps, so you don’t expect the cold, sub-freezing  temperatures towards the top, but there they are.DMI2 0625 temp_latest.big When the wind shifts up at the Pole, and a huge area of ice stops moving one way and starts back the other way, you can expect pile ups and cracks and the formation of wide leads. The ice still looks fairly solid in Faboo’s view, but there may be a thread-like line of sun shining on water in a lead on the farthest verge of the central horizon.NP3 1 0625 2015cam1_1The view from o-buoy 9 is far more dramatic, as a wide lead opened up. Apparently some the ice has continued on to the south as the ice our camera sits upon put on the brakes. Obuoy 9 0625 webcam Our camera here may be in danger when the lead closes and the ice slams back together again. Keep your fingers crossed.

O-buoy 9 is still to the northwest of the final north-thrusting peninsula that Station Nord is situated on. Once we are past Station Nord we’ll likely head south. Currently the camera seems to have swung around and be looking more to the west than we were. When we were looking due south we could see the mountains of Greenland passing in the distance.

QUICK EVENING UPDATE

The Faboo official records have been updated, and show that as oif 2100z last night Faboo had moved 2.48 miles back to the north-northwest, and was at 87.000°N, 2.934°W. (It made it as far west as 2.992°W at noon yesterday, but has begun creeping back to the east.) Temperatures have remained above freezing throughout the past 24 hours, achieving a high of +0.9°C at 1800z.  ( The unofficial updates from the Mass Balance Buoy show we remained above 87° latitude today and temperatures fell below freezing.)

QUICK FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE

The unofficial update from the co-located Mass Balance Buoy tells us Faboo has continued to crunch north, and has reached 87.08° north. This is no easy task, when you consider how concentrated the ice is to the north. It is not a single berg drifting, but an enormous mass of ice that all has to be budged northward for any of it to shift.

Temperatures have just nudged back above freezing, to +0.05° C, after spending roughly a day below freezing. The ice beneath Faboo remains 2 meters thick, and hasn’t yet started to show melting from beneath, though the snow has thawed atop the ice.

Klyuchi is down over Hudson Bay, with Trailer finally starting to fade into Alaska. Balt is drifting east across Barents Sea. High pressure still rules the Pole. A decent summer storm will prowl around south of Iceland, without going anywhere, for a while. With things fairly stagnant, the model runs vary wildly in what they see the future holding, because a small thing can make a big difference. If someone sneezes in Sweden the models total change their predictions.

DMI2 0626 mslp_latest.big.

Temperatures seem to be starting to warm back up on the Pacific side. Of course, it is noon over there in the map below, and midnight down in Fram Strait.

DMI2 0626 temp_latest.big

Things grew all gray again for the past 24 hours at Faboo, but a gray sun is now peeking through.

NP3 1 0626 2015cam1_1

Down at O-buoy 9 off the north coast of Greenland temperatures have spiked up and a thaw is occurring. The lead seems to be closing. I’m nervous the ice may crack right at the cameras feetObuoy 9 0626 webcam

Over in the Beaufort Sea O-buoy 11 is showing temperatures at +0.10° C, but the melt-water pools aren’t expanding much. The yellow trash can seems to catch sun and create its own pool, and is starting to tilt more.Obuoy 11 0626 webcam Furthest west, O-buoy 12 is resuming its thaw, but its melt-water pools hold slush from recent snow.Obuoy 12  0626 webcam I’ll likely conclude this post with Faboo’s official report, tonight. Likely it will show we made very little progress at all, towards Fram Strait, the past week.

EVENING REPORT  —Faboo’s failure—

The evening report is in, and it shows that as of 2100z last night Faboo had regressed to 87.060°N, 2.391°W, or 4.57 miles to the northeast. In fact, when you consider that back on June 18 at 1200z Faboo was at 87.056°N, 4.765°W,  it becomes apparent we are dealing with a serious backslider here. In an entire week we have not made a bit of progress south, and are in fact .004° north of where we began.

Now I’m sure some of you well tell me to be gentle, and will point out that over the past week we did progress 8.4 miles, but it is to the east. Others will hasten to point out we did make it down to 86.960°N at midnight on the 23rd, but that makes the backsliding look all the worse. And while I hate to sound harsh, the unofficial Mass Balance Buoy report suggests we are continuing in the wrong direction, and are up past 87.090°.

This is a serious situation, and I think it is high time to have a talk with that sea-ice. The reputations of highly something Climate Scientists are at stake, and both a Pope and a President could wind up looking like they both have fudge for brains. We simply can’t have the sea-ice gallivanting about and compressing and refusing to spread out and dissolve. It is even starting to effect the “extent” graph, which is refusing to plunge in the alarming manner it should.DMI2 0626B icecover_current_new If this keeps up people will start to wonder if the NWS/NCEP/CPC model might be correct, and we could see above average ice extent by mid July. (Click to enlarge and clarify)Sea Ice Exrent Anomaly June 26 sieMon I doubt this model will prove true. For one thing, if you compare it to how it looked at this time last year, it is nearly identical. It fooled me last year, but once burned twice shy. Last year it kept delaying when the extent would be above normal to a later and later point in the summer, and finally, in September, said, “Never mind.”

At this point it seems Faboo will lose the race to Fram Strait, and will suffer the humiliation of being beat by O-buoy 9, which actually began its journey on the other side of the Pole. It currently has slowed, but still seems to be grinding east along the north coast of Greenland. The lead that had opened and was wide seems to now be crunching shut.

Obuoy 9 0626B webcam

On the Pacific side “Follower continues to weaken, as a follower of Follower, hence “Folfol,” appears in the Laptev Sea. “Balt” continues to nudge west towards the Kara Sea, but the lows are rather lazy, and none seems to want to budge the high pressure from the Pole at this point.DMI2 0626B mslp_latest.bigAs the sun dipped down to a midnight sun low on the Pacific side, some sub-freezing temperatures did appear over that way,DMI2 0626B temp_latest.big All in all it seems the Quietude will continue, unless someone gets up there and gives that sea-ice a good talking to. As I am a bit busy this weekend, I elect you for the job.

LOCAL VIEW —NO PLACE TO HIDE—

It’s the longest day of the year, and even with the remnants of tropical storm Bill passing over this morning, with a lovely drenching the parched soil craved, there was a sort of thirst in the moist air. The sun beat down on even the purple morning from the highest the sun ever gets, and even the rainy day was bright and warm like winter never is, and yet the thirst still thirsted. When I thought about it, I was uncertain if the thirst was for even more light, or for less.

In one sense there is never enough summer, and never enough light, and it creates a sort of anguish to know that starting tomorrow the days get shorter. It is like seeing the first fine wrinkle on the face of a young beauty, and knowing of mortality.

On the other hand, when the Light is at its most intense one seeks the shade. One gets shy, and hangs back in the shadows. Winter makes it easy to yearn for the Light, for all is dark. In a sense winter is like singing in the shower, far from the spotlight. It is quite a different thing to step out into the Light on the longest day, when the Sun King is ruling.

The longest day has ended now, and a muggy night has fallen, but even in the starry dark there are still flashes of heat lightning on the horizon, and a moth battles against the screen, continuing the theme of an attraction towards, and a repulsion from, brilliance.

The lightning has faded away to the south, but now there are new flashes far to the north in the night.

20150621A rad_ne_640x480_01 20150621B rad_ne_640x480_08 20150621C rad_ne_640x480_12

 

I feel surrounded by the Light, even at night, with this lightning creeping around the edges of the sky. It isn’t entirely comforting. The sweet shadows of sleep have fled, and brilliant insomnia stalks the hallways of my mind, restless, thirsty, relentlessly dissatisfied.

I think when I was younger I could simply bury myself in work, and delay the issue into some distant future, when either I would see the Light or I wouldn’t, but heck if it was something I had time to worry about today. Today was the work, the job, the project, the Great American Novel, Chapter One Page One.

But now I’m sixty-two, and my truck is twenty-one, and my rider mower is twenty-five, and during the past ten days all three of us had problems, and it was hard to get anything done. It was hard to bury myself in work when I couldn’t even start to work.

First the clutch pedal of my truck abruptly went to the floor, and I couldn’t shift. Or I could shift, if the engine wasn’t on. I couldn’t shift when the engine was running. So I could shift to neutral, and start the truck, but then I couldn’t shift to first gear. So I turned off the truck, shifted to first gear, and turned the key with the truck in gear, and with a lurch and sputter the truck started down the road. I couldn’t shift to second, so top speed was around 12 mph. Nor could I shift back to neutral, so I would only slow to around 3 mph at stop signs. It was an interesting drive, and I found myself thinking that this was the speed people went, back in the horse and buggy days. And I did make it to the country garage, where I stalled the truck. Then they had to fix it to get it out of the way. (It was the master cylinder for the clutch pedal, and not the clutch itself, which meant they didn’t have to take the engine out.  They actually like working on my truck, as it from the pre-computer days, and hardly has any wires.)

However they had to order the parts, so I was without a truck. However at least I could bury myself in the work of mowing the grass at the farm-childcare, however I hit a huge, round cobble a child had decided to secret in a clump of grass about three minutes into the job. I didn’t wreck the blade or the pulley or belt, but the spindle and bearing, where it goes through the deck, which is beyond my capacity to fix, so all I needed to do is load the mower onto my truck and bring it to…but wait…I don’t have a truck.

So I had to get the guy to come and pick the mower up, but at least I could bury myself in the work of hoeing and tilling and planting in the garden.  However I’m sixty-two, and stuff I once could do in a flash now gets done as slow as molasses.  Rather than a sense of weary satisfaction I wind up wanting to fire myself, and aggravated as hell. I was working as hard as I could, but falling farther and farther behind in my planting.

What I need to do is to sell a hit song, and become a one-hit-wonder. Then I can afford to hire some strong young man, and to wear a white suit like Mark Twain, and sip mint juleps in the shade. However I’m so far behind in my planting I have no time for writing.

I don’t much want to face the real writing, which is on the wall, quite yet, as I fear the writing on the wall will say I “have been measured and found wanting”. So I usually avoid the entire subject by withdrawing into the cooler world of blogging about sea-ice. However June tends to be a particularly boring month at the Pole, so eventually I have to stand and stare into the darkness.

Sooner or later all that this world has to offer fails to distract us any longer, and even if we lack the wisdom, wealth and many wives of Solomon, we wind up seeing the emptiness of Creation, and saying, as he did, “Vanity, Vanity, Vanity.”  And then we either seek a prescription for lots of antidepressants, or we turn from the shadows of creation to the Light of the Creator.

This is actually what religion is suppose to be about, though most modify it to a degree where it is more less unrecognizable, and people become engrossed in blowing each other up, and other loving crusades. If people actually think about the Creator, it is like singing in the shower, and is timid and private, and never steps out into the spotlight and belts out The Song.

The fact of the matter is that most of us know next to nothing about the Light. We know much, much more about the shadows. Yet people talk with great authority about the Light.

For example Christians insist the One Life consists of a single lifetime, and Hindus insist the One life consists of many lifetimes, yet when you cross-examine both, neither can remember much about this lifetime, before age two. In other words, they are talking through their hats. They have no first-hand-experience they can access.

As far as I’m concerned, maybe the Hindus are right, and maybe when we Christians talk about “everlasting death” we are talking about reincarnation, for wouldn’t that involve dying over and over and over and over again? And who the heck wants that? Dying once seems enough for me, so I’ll look for a way to avoid dying twice, if it is a door to Light I dare open.

However we have little first-hand experience of what happens after death, either. When you talk heart-to-heart with believers you discover they may have faint glimpses, glimmers in the dark, that may have occurred to them when people they were very close to passed away, however these experiences are so tenuous most are reluctant to even bring them up, because they are delicate, private, intimate, and a little bit frail, and likely couldn’t withstand the cruel batterings of a ruthless psychiatrist, who would belittle treasured belief away with contrary thought into a mere hallucination.

But death is not a hallucination. It happens, not only to people I love, but to my own body in slow stages and degrees. I may be tough for an old coot, and still have stomach muscles where by pals have flab, but there is no getting around the growing weakness in my efforts. Where I used to carry grain bags two at a time, I now carry them one by one, and huff and puff like I never did before. Even on the longest day of the year there is a lengthening shadow.

Perhaps that is a gift given to the old: The ability to see the things of this world are shadows. For example, even if my writing brought me fame and fortune at this late date in my life, I doubt it would flatter me into making a complete fool of myself, in the manner Hollywood stars and starlets get fooled. It is simply too late. Some things lose their appeal as the drafts of death waft the curtains. One does not brush their teeth on the steps to the noose.

The unnerving thing about shadows becoming more obviously shadows is that the Light becomes more obviously Light. All my life I’ve preferred singing in the shower, and been shy about stepping out into the Light, but as the end approaches there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

PSALM OF BRIEF ROSES

O Lord, must life be all thorns
Without a rose thrown in
Now and again for comfort
And as a reminder?

Surely some good must someday
Come of all this toiling.
Surely we do not sweat
Long in the fields
For no harvest.

Remind me again, my Lord,
Of the Why and the bright promise.
Astound me like Doubting Thomas.
Send a bright bluebird to a nearby limb
For all work and no play
Has this Jack getting grim.

And I’ve too often seen harvests
Are not guaranteed.
Plundering bandits sweep sabers of greed.
Crops can be blighted,
And life throws a curve
When hard working smokers
Earn but coughs they deserve.

The roses are brief
But the thorns last all year.
Treasure the moments
When God’s love is near.

The roses are brief
But their scent in the air
Can uplift the crushed
And skewer despair.

The roses are brief
So down on my knees
I thank God for June
And the sun on the leaves
Though the roses are brief.