It is somewhat appalling how swiftly the days grow shorter, even way down south here at 42.75° North latitude, in southern New Hampshire. The month before and the month after the equinox see the swiftest shrinkage of daylight, nearly four minutes a day around here. By December days are short, but not getting much shorter, and one can adjust to the status quo, but in October one exists in a sort of trauma.
I spent a year up at latitude 58° north, at the top of Scotland, and was completely unprepared for the swifter decent into darkness. I really think someone should have warned me. Ever since I have had greater respect for people who call such a plunge into darkness “normal.”, because that is their homeland.
Of course, the further north you go the greater and swifter the change gets, until you arrive at the Pole where it is the all-or-nothing of a six-month-day followed by a six-month-night. Up at latitude 84°N, where Faboo (my name for the North Pole Camera) is located, the sun has set until spring, and even if the camera lens wasn’t encrusted with hoarfrost, there would be little to see but darkness and nearly black twilight. As it is you can hardly see any difference between day and night.
It is rather hard to write interesting things with such a black view as a basis. To make matters worse, both Faboo’s GPS and weather buoy haven’t bothered report since October 23. The best I can do is hope to catch one of the reports from co-located Mass Balance Buoy 2015D:, which are sporadic at best. I do know Faboo drifted as far south as 84.11°, and then drifted back to the northwest to 84.16° N, 7.11° W, and now again has floated south to 84.11° N, 6.91° W, with the most recent temperature reported at -22.01°C.
The O-buoys have been equally as frustrating, with the entire site down much of last week. Now that it is operating again you have to be on your toes, and have more free time than I have, to catch the brief times of bright twilight, which is all that the day now amounts to.
The most interesting O-bouy camera has been O-buoy 14, which likely is causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the poor fellows who spent so much time and effort placing it, as it was by sheer chance located on what turned out to be a sort of San Andrea Fault. The odds of this happening are fairly slim, though last year the arctic explorer Thomas Urlich did have a lead open up six feet from his tent as he slept.
These faults in the sea-ice have little to do with whether it is warm or cold, and are brought about by the the colossal stresses put on the ice by the winds. They create brief areas of relative mildness, as the open water steams like a hot cup of tea though it is below the freezing point of fresh water. Then the open water flash freezes. (Notice the layers in the ice exposed by the lead in the picture below, indicating there is more complexity to the growth of ice than some imagine.)
Here are some of O-buoy 14’s recent pictures:
OCTOBER 25 OCTOBER 26 OCTOBER 27 (notice how horizon is tilting.) OCTOBER 31We are actually witnessing the birth of a pressure ridge. This is pretty cool, but likely is bad news for the camera. I think the odds are poor that the camera will be functioning in the spring.
The other O-buoy cameras are picturing darkness or snow-smeared lenses or, in the case of O-buoy 9, not sending any pictures at all. The loss of O-buoy 9 is most sad, though perhaps I should be amazed it survived the battering it experienced in Fram Strait so long. Its final picture, after two years of reporting a journey from the far side of the Pole, was this real beauty on October 20:
It was at that point all the ice began grinding southwest, and perhaps the ice buckled as it crunched towards Greenland and the camera got toppled, or its radar dish got crunched or encrusted in rime. (I suppose an icebreaker may have picked it up as well.)
We still are getting reports from the O-buoy 9 weather station and the GPS, which show a general movement southwest with a few quirks back north as pulses of south winds passed. One such pulse lifted temperatures nearly to freezing Saturday morning:For the most part temperatures have been between -10°C and -15°C, which once again demonstrates melting has little to do with the lessening of ice to the north; the ice is simply flushed south. What is interesting about the process this year is that the ice has been slow to be moved south. In fact a lot of the sea-ice in Fram Strait is not ice transported south, but home-grown “baby-ice”. It shows up as purple in the NRL ice-thickness map below:
The thicker sea-ice, transported down from the north, shows as blue, and is located further out in Fram Strait. (There may be some remnants of an earlier flush right along the coast, though that also may be crunched baby-ice, or ice calved from Greenland’s glaciers, or a mix.) The older ice shows as a sort of spear tip of blue out in Fram Strait, and O-bouy 9 is located near the point, roughly at 78.1° N and 10.8° W. It would be wonderful if they could get the poor, old camera functioning again, as that ice is likely under duress and building odd shapes, and cracking open wide leads.
The various wintertime leads and cracks and gaps are seldom wide enough to show up in the NRL ice-concentration maps. The bright red creates the the illusion ice is solid, when it often is fractured and in motion:To me the above map is interesting because the East Siberian, Laptev and Beaufort Seas have frozen over so swiftly, even as Bearing Strait and The north Atlantic entrance to Barents and Kara Seas are wide open. This creates a sort of imbalance, especially on the Atlantic side. Storms seem to want to cruise up to the Pole or Barents Sea, or south to the Mediterranean, and to avoid Europe, which is making headlines with early snows to the southeast, and in southwest Siberia. (Visit the Iceagenow site for news of early snows.)
In eastern Siberia temperatures may be above normal, but that is still far too cold for rain, and, because milder means moister, they have had early snows right down into China and Mongolia. (Iceagenow has a report of China having trouble transporting oil into occupied Tibet by truck, due to snows.) The areas with early snow (which are usually snow free on this date) are shown in blue in the map below. Unless this snowcover melts back Eurasia will have a larger than normal area “creating cold”. I suppose this is occurring because the cold normally over the Pole has been displaced south by the invasions of Atlantic and occasionally Pacific air we have seen move north. This has resulted in a DMI graph showing it is warmer than normal north of 80°N latitude. (If you want to promote Global Warming I suggest you focus on this graph, and ignore the snows in Bulgeria and Romania falling while the trees still have green leaves.)
Note that “above normal” in the above graph still involves temperatures below -20°C.
Another good way to see the “warmth” at the Pole is to visit the excellent Weatherbell site, and get the week free trial of Ryan Maue’s maps. Among thousands of other maps you can get a map that shows you whether temperatures are above or below normal at the Pole. (Above normal is a cheery red, rusting to white hot, which will please Alarmists.) The map below shows a spear of Atlantic warmth coming in a curve over Svalbard and around towards Canada, past the Pole, while Pacific warmth is over by Bering Strait.
However, before you are fooled by the red, and put on a bathing suit, it is important to compare the above map with the map of actual temperatures, For example, eastern Siberia may look a toasty red above, but check out the actual temperatures [in Fahrenheit], below.To me the most interesting observation overall continues to be the dichotomy between the open water of Barents Sea, suggesting warmth, and the thickening ice over the Pole, suggesting increased cold. The fact it has been so cold south of Barents Sea hints that sea is getting chilled from all sides. Its open water may well lose a lot of its warmth over the course of the winter, and do so at depth, for the water is far less able to stratify when it is open and churned by winter winds. I doubt it will freeze over swiftly like the Laptev Sea did, and as long as it is open it will be being cooled. Also cooled will be the drift of slightly warmer water that ordinarily moves east and influences the sea-ice coverage of the entire Siberian coast. This may be a case of play-today-pay-tomorrow, for the lack of ice now may create colder water and more ice to the east, next summer.
With the loss of our cameras most of my observations from now until spring will involve looking at maps and making wild speculations about what the maps may mean. Simply watching the weather over the ice can be fairly interesting, especially as you can often see an arctic outbreak developing a week before the newspapers further south go berserk with headlines about the “polar vortex,” (which often is just an arctic outbreak).
Below are the past weeks DMI maps. Hopefully I’ll find time to discuss them later, but I’m going to visit my big sister in Boston today, so naming storms and describing their tracks will have to wait. I apologize for slacking off the past week, but I had to get a pig to market, and it weighed three hundred pounds and decided to be a problem. That likely will make a good “Local View” post, but I did get a fat lip out of the tussle, which took a week longer than I expected, and in such situations sea-ice gets bumped down my list of priorities, at least for while.
OK, I’m back, so let me see if I can catch up on these maps before the workweek starts. As we begin the low “Fling5zip” os drifting towards Kara Sea, with a decent and normal north flow behind it in Fram Strait, but the low “Malga” in Baffin Bay has a southerly flow ahead of it, and threatens to creat a “wong way” flow from the south in Fram Strait. Between these two storms a ridge of high pressure is developing from the high pressure “Nunu” on the Pacific side and unnamed Atlantic high pressure I’ll dub “Tick” (which is short for “Atlantic.”) This high pressure will deflect the storm over Iceland southeast towards the Mediterranean, so we can call it “Norit”, because I’ll ignore it.
Here we are seeing Fram5zip reaching the end of the open water, which I believe feeds storms, and reaching the ice-covered waters of the Laptev Sea, which ought fail to feed it. Back in Fram Sreait we see a weak frammerjammer forming, which likely is energy from Malda which survived the morpistication of climbing over Greenland, and is now making a complete confusion of winds in Fram Strait. Therefore call it “Messer”. It is also confusing the establishment of the ridge between Nunu and Tick across the Pole. Malga weakens in Baffin Bay.
On this map (below) we see Fling5zip weakening over the closed waters of the Laprev Sea, but a secondary, (Fling5zipson) forming over the open waters of Barents and Kara Seas. Messer is heading due east, rather than north like earlier frammerjammers. Norit has faded southeast from view , but Norit2 has appeared at the southern tip of Greenland. Nunu is strong on the Pacific side, and Tick is strong over Scandinavia. Malga is being reinforsed by energy from the south in Baffin bay.
In the next map Fling5zip is much weaker and Fling5zipson is taking over as the big storm north of Siberia, over the open waters of Kara Sea. A long cross-polar fetch extends from East Siberia to northern Scandinavia, and weak Messer is getting sucked into that flow and vanishing south. Marlga and Norit2 are exchanging energies obscenely, south of Greenland, as a ridge through Fram Strait has finally formed between Nunu and Tick. Nunu is oulling Pacific air through Bering Strait towards the Pole.
In the map below Fling5zipson is in the Kara Sea, Norit2 is bleeding energy southeast towards the Mediterranean, Malga is mushed along the east coast of Baffin Bay, and the ridge between Nunu and Tick creates complete confusion in Fram Strait.
In the next map Fling5zipson is running out of open water as it slips east. The cross polar flow mixes milder air from the Pacific with cold air from east Siberia. The flow into Scandinavia is from the north. Malga is attempting to cross over Greenland. Confusion continues in Fram Strait. Norit2 is gone southeast, but Norit3 is brewing a gale southwest of oceland, and the east winds north of it are poling snow up onto Greenland. Fling5zipson is starting to weaken but loop-de-looping to avoid leaving the Kara Sea’s open water (I imagine). Norit3 can’t penetrate the ridge of high pressure and is loop-de-looping southwest of Iceland. Malga has undergone morphistication, and is now a weak frammerjammer. Scandinavia is starting to have a southerlky flow to the far west as the northerly flow continues to its east. Greenland is having a record increase in “ice volume, likely due to the strong east winds piling Atlantic moisture up 10,000 feet to its icecap.. Fling4zipson and Norit3 continue their respective icclusion loop-de-loops, as Malga creates a weak southerly flow in Fram Strait. The Pacific inflow has ceased. Both Fling5zipson and Norit3 have weakened, and there is a cross polar ridge between Nunu and Tick, with the west side of the ridge bringing a southerly flow up over much of the north Atlantic, including Feam Strait and western Scandinavia. Malga is moving north to the top of Greenland. The cross polar ridge is shifting towards Eurasia, drawing mild Atlantic air north, and feeding both Malga north of Greenland and weak Norit3 wast of Iceland. Norit3 has exploded into a gale, with Malga an appendage to the north, and the cross polar ridge breaking down. The flow in Fram Strait is again confused. The flow in Fram Strait is northerly again, as Norit3 heads fie Barents Seaa nd Malga stalls over the Pole. Norit4 is apparently going to try to follow Norit3, which should give Scandinavia a southerly flow and Fram Strait a northerly flow for several days, before the models start showing bizarre solutions I don’t much trust for later this week, involving a southerly flow returning to Fram Strait.
So far we haven’t seen big gales in the North Sea or the Baltic.
so far there hasn’t been a major flush of ice south in Fram Strait, though the ice is showing signs of cracking up a bit, with areas of “very close ice” becoming merely “close ice.”
FABOO’S DATA FOR LAST WEEK
On October 24 Faboo drifted slowly northwest, achieving 84.429°N at noon before turning southeast and accelerating to 84.413°N, 7.010°W at the period’s end at 2100Z, which was 3.1 miles SW of where we began. Temperatures fell from -13.8°C to -24.3°C at 1500Z before moderating slightly. Likely south winds became north winds, but the anemometer and wind vane have ceased to function. Probably they are rimed up with hoarfrost.
On October 25 Faboo continued southwest until it reached 7.149°W at 1500Z, after which movement turned southeast to end the period at 84.326°N, 7.110°W, which was 6.04 miles due south of where we began. The high temperature was -19.7°C at 0300Z, and the low was the coldest we’ve seen so far, -26.6°C at the end of the period.
On October 26 Faboo continued southeast 6.37 miles to 84.239°N, 6.797°W. Temperatures remained very cold, with a low of -27.0°C at 0300Z and a high of -22.8°C at 1500Z.
On October 27 Faboo kept chugging southeast to 84.170°N, 6.444°W, which was another 5.35 miles towards Fram Strait. Temperatures moderated slightly, from a low of -25.9°C at the start to -18.5°C at 0900Z before falling back to -23.5° at the end.
On October 28 our southeast progress slowed to 4.09 miles, and we reached 84.117°N, 6.184°W. Temperatures again moderated a little, from -23.5° at the start to -19.0°C at 0600Z before falling back to a low of -26.7°C at the end.
On October 29 we continued slowly southeast until 0300Z, when we achieved 6.139°W and turned southwest, until at noon we’d reached 84.112°N and nudged northwest, concluding the period at 84.123°N, 6.331°W, which was 1.12 miles northwest and 1.12 further away from Fram Strait. Temperatures reached our coldest yet, -29.1°C at 0300Z when the winds apparently shifted, and then slowly rose to a high of -20.1°C at the end of the period.
On October 30 our “wrong way” drift northwest continued all day, winding us up at 84.147°N, 6.997°W, which was 4.97 miles further from Fram Strait. The winds were likely southeast from the distant Atlantic, as temperatures rose from a low of -20.1°C at the start to -9.4°C at the end.
On October 31 our “wrong way” drift curved around to normal, as we reached 7.198°W at 0600Z before curving northeast, and 84.182°N at 0900Z before curving southeast, concluding at 84.126°N, 6.980°W, which was 3.34 miles back southeast towards Fram Strait. Temperatures fell as the wind swung around from the high of -9.4°C at the start to -17.8°C at 1500z, before rebounding slightly to -16.9°C at the end.
All things considered, we’ve made some progress, and might actually cross 84°N latitude this week.
On November 1 Faboo continued southeast 5.48 miles, winding up at 84.054°N, 6.652°W. Temperatures sank from -16.9°C to a low of -25.3°C at 0600Z and then slowly clawed back up to -19.1°C at the end of the period. The anemometer and wind vane continue to be frosted into immobility.
On November 2 Faboo slowed to 2.31 miles, drifting southeast to 84.022°N, 6.555°W. Temperatures remained fairly flat, achieving a high of -18.9°C at 0900Z and then abruptly plunging to -28.3°C at the very end.
Today’s unofficial Mass Balance Buoy report suggests Faboo still hasn’t made is south of 84°N, but temperatures made it below -30°C to -33.77° C.
In the summer a five degree swing in temperature is big news, but once the sun sets the swings seem far larger.
DMI MAPS THROUGH TUESDAY EVENING
I missed this morning’s maps.
Norit3 has weakened greatly in Barents Sea, as has Norit4 down by Iceland, as Malga has remained a weak entity north of Greenland. What is interesting to me is that the influx of mild air, curling up and around the Pole, has seemingly created a center of very cold air; the coldest we’ve seen all autumn. It is like a whirlpool sits atop the earth sucking away heat. It remains a mystery to me, because it doesn’t make sense that when you add heat things get colder.
We may be able to muse upon this phenomenon a while longer, if models are correct and the pattern repeats in various ways. The Canadian JEM model, (available through Weatherbell, via Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps of JEM data), shows a new swirl of mildness sucked north, surrounding the very cold air, and evetually creating a larger pool of very cold air.
CURRENT MAP 48 HOUR MAP 72 HOUR MAP 120 HOUR MAP
If this whirlpool forms as the GEM model suggests, it looks to me as if we could see some more “wrong way” winds in Fram Strait. Unfortunately the O-buoy site is off line again, so we can’t check up on what O-buoy 9 is reporting from the Strait, this evening.
FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE
Sorry for being slow to update. I’ve been busy, with the little time I have to write, reworking an old “Tundra Blunder” post from August into my new “Microcritters Rule” post.
Faboo has made steady but slow progress southeast.
On November 3 Faboo only made it 1.98 miles southeast, finishing at 83.998°N, 6.405°W. Temperatures were extremely cold, only briefly nudging above -30°C to a high of -28.0°C at 0600Z, and reaching a low of -32.2°C at 1800Z,
On November 4 Faboo sped up, moving 3.42 miles and finishing at 83.966°N, 6.044°W. Temperatures warmed slightly from a low of -31.0°C at midnight to a frigid high of -21.9°C at 1500Z, before starting down again.
On November 5 Faboo accelerated further, moving 5.55 miles and arriving at 83.899°N, 5.621°W, as temperatures again fell, from a high at midnight of -24.1°C to a low at 1500Z of -30.2°C.
We have finally made it south of 84°, however on this date two years ago the buoy site I dubbed “Forkasite” had made it south to 80°, and in gale force winds was moving south 30 miles a day. I remember making a big deal about how long that buoy took to get south of 84°, but Faboo has hung back much more. It also seems toi be experiencing colder temperatures. This may only be because it is over 200 miles further north. Trying to compare Faboo with other buoys is a little like comparing apples with oranges. Here’s the report from 2 years ago:
Two years ago the ice that Forkasite was about to be bashed to pieces in the turmoil of Fram Strait, but this year’s acre of ice is still solid and even starting to thicken. (It take’s a while for surface cold to reach the bottom of sea-ice, just as it would take some time for your pipes to freeze if they were buried four feet down.)
What does this mean? I suppose it means that acres and acres of ice that usually would be down in Fram Strait are held back, to the north.
O-BUOY 9’S FRAM STRAIT REPORT
O-buoy 9 has made it down to 78° North, which puts it roughly 100 miles south of where the Forkasite buoy was 2 years ago, though it is closer to the coast of Greenland, at 11°W rather than 4°W. It has yet to see the winds over 40 mph Forkasite saw, (though that may be in the near future). For the most part we have been seeing light winds and very cold temperatures, though there is a hint of warmth in our future at the very end of the temperature graph.
At the very start of the graph you can see the brief warm-up that occurred with the last “wrong-way” flow. For the most part cold air has been bleeding down the east coast of Greenland, even as Arctic Sea ice has been held back. Most of the sea-ice is home grown, which means the water was open and chilled more (unprotected by ice from the north) before the relatively thin ice formed. That chilled water is likely sinking further north than usual. It is remarkable, to me at least, how variable the areas where water is chilled and (in theory) must sink are. Good luck to anyone attempting to devise a computer model that handles such variety.
O-buoy 14 is the only remaining camera with a lens un-obscured enough, and located far enough south, to give us decent daylight pictures. Here are some pictures from the past three days:
The flattened weather-mast to the lower right must be irking someone somewhere, who went through considerable bother to get the mast up there, only to see it flattened. I don’t think it is ours, but the hoarfrost over everything may explain why our anemometer quit a couple days ago . Temperatures have been down touching -30°, but are struggling up to -20°. The ice in the foreground has stopped moving, shifting and grinding, so perhaps we can hope this camera might survive, though I wouldn’t bet on it.
RECENT DMI MAPS, THROUGH FRIDAY EVENING
A whirlpool continues to sit on top of our planet, sucking in warm air and venting it to outer space, and having something to do with a pool of very cold air north of Greenland. The low “Malga” over the Pole seemingly was revived by the inflow of milder (and likely moister) air. Some models show the low pressure south of Iceland heading straight up to the Pole, and causing chaos in Fram Strait.
ICE VOLUME INCREASING
ICE EXTENT COMPARISON WITH 2012
A hat-tip to the blogger “rah” for pointing this out. I’ve been so focused on how open the Barents, Kara and East Siberian Seas are I neglected to reference 2012. How soon we forget.
DMI MAPS, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY
GET THE RADIO COLLAR OFF THIS BEAR
SUNDAY EVENING DMI MAPS
The whirlpool continues over the Pole, with another plume of mild air spearing up that way even though “Malga” is weaker, atop the Pole. Strong high pressure over Europe has blocked North Atlantic lows, and a low I guess I’ll dub “Crawl” is crawling up the east coast of Greenland, which is as far west as a low can track and still be a North Atlantic low. It is so far west I’d call it a frammerjammer, but it too obviously came from the Atlantic, and wasn’t home grown in Fram Strait. Across the Pole a big storm I’ll call “Crept” has come creeping up towards Bering Strait, (but I have neglected to pay attention to that side of the Pole, and can offer no background to that storm, which looks pretty big.)
Despite the big storms on both the Atlantic and Pacific side, it doesn’t seem either will charge the Pole. Wahat is left of Malga looks likely to scoot over to the pacific side, but other than that the various sides seem likely to stall.
Over on his always-illuminating blog at Weatherbell Joseph D’Aleo suggests the high pressure over Europe will back up over the Atlantic, and low pressure now forsed far west to Greenland will gain the power to dig right down into Europe. This will be interesting to watch from our northern view, and should bring more normal northerly winds to Fram Strait. At the moment it looks like the very coast of Greenland is getting north winds, but the eastern part of Fram Strait, and across Svalbard and all the way to Finland are getting south winds. Both Faboo and O-buoy 9 are still getting the north winds, though temperatures at O-buoy 9 have risen to freezing and the winds may be just starting to briefly turn south.
On November 6 Faboo continued to accelerate slightly, covering 6.7 miles to the southeast, and finishing at 83.847°N, 4.851°W. Temperatures moderated only slightly, from a low of -29.8°C at midnight to a high of -20.4°C at 1800Z.
On November 7 Faboo slowed down, crossing 3.49 miles SSE and winding up at 83.803°N, 4.619°W. Temperatures crashed below -30°C again, falling from a high at the start of -22.8°C to -30.7°C at 1800Z.
Most of the current southerly flow seems to passing to the east of Faboo, which remains in a pool of extremely cold air. The ice north of Svalbard and Barents Sea is getting shoved north, but Faboo continues to drift southeast.
NOTE FROM O-BUOY 9
A glance at the temperature graph tells us some Atlantic air has made it north, and though the buoy hasn’t moved north, it has stopped moving south for the moment.. It also has been pushed a little west, closer to Greenland.
ARCTIC TEMPERATURES TOUCH NORMAL
Despite the invasions of mild air the DMI temperatures-north-of-80-degrees-latitude graph has touched normal for the first time in over a month. I expect this normalcy will be short lived, as a new rush of mildness is heading north from the Atlantic. Notice how much colder “normal” is than it was a month ago. Normal is now down around -25°C. So be aware, when you hear of temperatures “above normal”, we are are still talking about temperatures cold enough to freeze your socks off.