Ever since last Christmas, when we watched a surge of relatively mild Atlantic air penetrate up to the Pole, (giving birth to maudlin newsprint regarding Santa’s workshop melting), (even though the above freezing temperatures only lasted a couple hours before rapidly plunging, and were not exactly on the Pole,) I have been noting the meridional or loopy nature of the weather patterns, and how not only was warmth brought north but cold was brought remarkably far south, giving, for example, Kuwait its first snow ever recorded.

This past summer I noted how often low pressure developed over the Pole, and as a sort of joke called the generality “Ralph”.   Purists likely could point out that it wasn’t a single storm, and that in a few cases I cheated, for as one storm faded like a sinking ship I moved the Ralph-flag via lifeboat to a new and developing low. However I did this to stress how stormy the Pole was, and fortunately this site is obscure enough to avoid the phenomenon of trolls, who could have easily wasted everyone’s time petulantly insisting it was wrong to give a whole sequence of storms a single name.

Then Ralph became a notable gale, by some accounts the 4th deepest gale since 1979. This made the topic of low pressure at the Pole more newsworthy, for a few days, but then interest faded, yet I have continued right on following Ralph.

In my last notebook the final notes had Ralph fading on August 25th, north of Franz Josef Land, as R17 (which is short for 17th reinforcement), gathered warmth and juice over the New Siberian Islands.

By the 27th Ralph was transferring his flag via lifeboat to R17, which was becoming a tight gale on the East Siberian coast. His circulation was feeding milder Pacific air towards the Pole from Bering Strait

The 28th saw Ralph pulled towards the milder air flooding up over the Pole, and the Pole above freezing. This was a red letter day for those who long for an ice-free Pole, for not only did they get their second ice-smashing gale in a week, but they got an upward spoke in temperatures at the Pole.West winds were roaring along the top of the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland, tearing away at the thickest and toughest ice in the arctic, and likely dispersing a lot eastward. (Around seven years ago, when certain Alarmists awoke to how tough this particular ice is, they abruptly said it didn’t count, when calculating an ice-free Pole, and from that day forward an ice-free Pole included a million  km2 of sea-ice.)

DMI3 0830 meanT_2016

As an aside I should note that when a loopy, meridional flow brings mild air to the Pole one usually sees cold air exported south. In this case it was all the way down to China, as some parts of Russia’s far east saw six inches of snow where the trees still had green leaves.

Russia August Snow 2 88d848cf

August 29th was surprising to me as Ralph, after peaking as a 969 mb gale while crossing the Pole, dug towards the Atlantic, and pumped a ridge towards the Pacific. We haven’t seen this sort of high pressure all that much this summer. The Pacific-to-Atlantic cross-polar-flow of the above map swiftly swings to a Siberia-to-Canada flow in the map below.  Ice moving one way is abruptly torn another, though mild air still flooded the Canadian side of the Pole.


In the above map it is noon in the Pacific. In the map below it is twelve hours later, and you can see the diurnal midnight cold growing on the Pacific side, as Ralph weakens over Svalbard.

Twelve hours later it is noon again on the Pacific side, but colder than it was a day earlier. This demonstrates the few weeks of polar summer, where the Pole is a part of the planet that actually gains heat, are now past. The sun may still be up at the Pole, but it is so low the landscape is chilling, and will continue to lose heat month after month, even after the sun comes up again next March, and even to the first days of next June.

The above map is the closest to a “normal” map we’ve seen in a long time. The high pressure over the Beaufort Sea at least attempts a semblance of a Beaufort Gyre, and the flow between that high and Ralph is a (poor) semblance of a Transpolar Drift. However a sort of R18 is occurring as milder air is tugged north from West Siberia, and Ralph is being swayed back up towards the Pole.

That brings us to today, the last day of August. Ralph is resuming his stance as king-of-the-mountain on the Pole. He is weaker, but so is the high pressure towards Alaska. The cold air is continuing to build over the Pole.

It looks like R19 is coming north from the Atlantic. Some models suggest Ralph will poke down into the Canadian Archipelago to make things interesting for people attempting the Northwest Passage.

Ralph’s continuous battering of the sea-ice has sent the extent graphs down, and it looks like this year may rival 2012 as the lowest extent of ice ever. However there are significant differences. It is interesting to compare the two years. (2012 left; 2016 right)

Around now the ice starts to grow back nearly as fast in some places, even as it melts in other places. On ordinary years the melt tends to be basal (from beneath) and the refreezing tends to be along upper edges exposed to air. However this is no ordinary year. The above map shows the ice as solid in places where it is shattered, and is averaging-out areas with zero thickness with other, nearby areas that have thick bergs. Averaging gives a false impression.

I can never recall seeing ice like this year’s. Usually, from space, you see many “chips” (which can be as big as Mahattan or Rhode Island) with flat edges, and at the edges of the masses of chips, where the ice is battered by waves, the ice forms curves of crushed ice that looks like sand bars, which I call “ice bars”. This year Ralph’s raging has turned entire areas of ice into those ice bars, with no “chips” to be seen.

The above map shows a notch jabbing towards the Pole, with blue on either side indicating sea-ice two or three feet thick. The satellite views below show the actual ice on either side of the notch.

Ralph7 1 28

Ralph7 2 26

It is obvious it is not a flat pan of ice, all 2-3 feet thick. There are areas of open water, which means the ice that is there is likely 4-8 feet thick. (Then the model “averages”.)

This is something I’ve noticed, during the few occasions I’ve been able to get views from boats, buoys or Barrow. The bergs are thick. For example, there have been several occasions winds have blown bergs ashore at Barrow, and even when they are so sparse, (less than 10% of extent), that they register as “ice-free” water on maps, the bergs are thick enough to ground some distance from Barrow’s shore, and remain lodged there for several days, tide after tide, before finally being washed away.

For another example, here is one of today’s views from O-buoy 14, in an area many maps show as “ice-free”.

Obuoy 14 0831C webcam

(See how the water is shining in the distance? As a fisherman, I’d be worried about getting a sunburn under the brim of my hat, by bounced-light. The sun is getting down to where the albedo of open water increases, and finally surpasses that of ice.)

In conclusion, I don’t think our ordinary experience is much use this year. Things are different. We are not talking about basal melt under flat pans of ice. The basal melt will be different because the bergs are big chunks, and also the water has been stirred by Ralph’s cold rages, and even has had snow dumped in it.

Also the surface refreeze will be different. Comparing the ice-edges this year with other years is like comparing the coastline of Maine with California’s. (Maine’s is longer, though California is a much bigger state.) As temperatures drop below the freezing point of salt water, (as they already have at times), the ice will have a greater opportunity to extend itself.

At this point the best chance for significant melting is for R-19 to bring north a huge surge of mild, Atlantic air.

Stay tuned!


ARCTIC SEA ICE –An Alternative Alarm–

I’ve been thinking that, with people so terrified of risk nowadays, and so eager to bubble-wrap childhood into a tedium so dull it could bore a stone, that the best way to get attention in a hurry is to create a counter-alarm. And, because I am in a hurry today, I decide to think up a worry.

Here is the worry:

The climate is trying to achieve a balance, but it is difficult because the planet is tilted and winter keeps switching from the northern hemisphere to the southern, and the sun keeps surging energy, when it is a Noisy Sun. Even so, a balance is sometimes achieved, and then the flow is zonal. It is when things get out of kilter that the flow becomes loopy or meridional.

Things are becoming very loopy, because the Noisy Sun has become a Quiet Sun, and all the balances made for a former warmer situation are now out of balance with a current cooler situation. The loopy situation will continue until the oceans, which “remember” the warmer situation, get on the same page as the Pole, which is much more quick to respond to the coolness of the Quiet Sun.

It is the loopy jet stream that has brought so much storminess to the Pole. The smashed up sea-ice, low sea-ice extents, surges of mild air to the Pole at Christmas, which convince some the Pole is warming, are actually indicative of a dramatic change to cooling in the climate.

The latest loopy event can be seen in the latest incarnation of the polar storm I call “Ralph”, which brought a fresh surge of milder air to the Pole, seen in the DMI graph of mean temperatures north of 80°N .

DMI3 0830 meanT_2016

However besides surging warmth to the Pole a loopy pattern will suck the below-normal cold air, that the graph shows was over the Pole, to the south, and in this case it brought summer snows to the far east of Russia.

Siberia August Snow 2 ims2016241_asiaeurope

Here is a view of the situation in Magadan Oblast a couple days ago.

Siberia August Snow xw_1298331

Please be aware the green leaves are still on the trees in this area. It is not normal. It will dramatically alter the albedo, because green leaves would absorb sun but fresh snow is one of greatest reflectors. Summer snow will increase the Quiet Sun cooling.

In conclusion, I think it high time we all wrap ourselves in bubble wrap and hide under our beds. And the people who should do this most swiftly are the climate scientists who assured everyone the world was warming, because an enraged mob of schoolchildren will soon be coming after them with bats.


The site supplied a link to a August 29 report from Russia on the snows to the west. (You will need to use a translate key.) The cold extended all the way south, down to northernmost China, with -7.8°C reported across the border.

А где бабье лето м...ля😨😱😵🙈#снег #первыйснег#кот #27августа2016#зимапришланежданнонегаданно#погода#Якутия #инстаснег#инстакот#Тайсон#белый#ykt14
Russia August Snow 2 88d848cf

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

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.


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.


Obuoy 14 0828D webcam

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


Obuoy 14 0829 webcam

Don’t worry. Nights are still shorter than days, and the sun soon will be back. Wind has slackened to 10 mph and temperature is -1°C.

The subtle colors in the sky sure are beautiful.


It’s hard to be sure, without the orb of the sun to refer to, but I think the buoy might have swung right around and be looking north.  Wind 11 mph temperature -1°C.

Obuoy 14 0829B webcam


Obuoy 14 0829C webcam


Obuoy 14 0829D webcam

Even as the sun has risen it has chilled slightly to -2°C, with the breeze at 16 mph.


Temperatures slowly rose back up to a hair below freezing, with winds at 10-15 mph, during the afternoon and evening.

Of concern to me is a berg hidden at the left of the camera, by our left shoulder, that is taller than the camera. I was hoping it would drift away and get lost, but you can see it is still there, just peeking in from the left in the third picture below.

 Obuoy 14 0829EwebcamObuoy 14 0829F webcamObuoy 14 0829G webcam


Obscured lens. Now is when we really hope most for sunshine. Temperatures are down to -3°C with winds around 12 mph. I suppose it could even be freezing spray, as temperatures are dipping below the freezing point of salt water, but I’m hoping it is what the fishermen in Maine call “sea smoke”, a particularly thick fog caused by the sea steaming like a soup in the cold.

Obuoy 14 0830 webcam


Obuoy 14 0830C webcam

 Temperature -3°C, wind 5 mph.

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.)


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.


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


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.

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.)

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


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.



Obuoy 14 0818 webcam


Obuoy 14 0819B webcam