There has been a bit of an uproar about a large melt-water pool which appeared directly in front of North Pole Camera 2. The pool has now drained through a weakness in the ice, and the “lake” has vanished. (Click the pictures to expand and get a much better view.)
BEFORE (July 26)
AFTER (July 28)
If you want to get an idea of the sensationalism made of the temporary meltwater pool, here is an example: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/climate-weather/stories/north-pole-melts-forms-lake-at-top-of-the-world
I registered at the above site so I could make a comment, but it wan’t printed. I’m not sure why. You would think they would at least explain why they snipped your comment. All I did was explain that melt-water pools are not all that uncommon, up where days are 24 hours long and the average temperature is above freezing from late May to early August.
It has actually dipped below freezing at times by the camera, which was drifting south but recently has been blown a little ways back north by strong south winds from a big storm to the east. (You would think south winds would be warm, but I think they curved across the frozen icecap of Greenland before coming back north.) Here’s the recent data:
The view from Camera 1, taken in the other direction, must have been taken twelve hours earlier or after, as the sun has circled all the way around on the horizon. You can see a few melt-water pools in the distance.
All in all, the ice still looks pretty solid. It can get pretty slushy up there, this late in the year, and I expect to see that happening during the next 30 days.
UPDATE: Six hours later, and it looks like they’ve had a dusting of slushy snow:
If you click the image to enlarge it, you can see what may be a crack from the lower right of the picture, in a straight line to behind the buoy. Perhaps a lead could open right beside the camera, which would be a North Pole Camera first. It also likely would shorten the lifetime of the camera. If the lead widenened, salt spray and choppy waves would effect the camera, and perhaps crumble the edge of the floe and drop the camera into the brine. On the other hand, if the sides of the lead clapped together again, the camera could be engulfed in a jumble of ice chunks as a pressure ridge formed. In either case, maybe we could hope for a few spectacular pictures, before the end.
But then what am I going to do with my spare time, if I can’t sit around and watch ice melt?
UPDATE JULY 29
A very nice picture from camera 2 this morning.
Steve Goddard has noted the melt-water pool vanished as well, at his site at Real Science. http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/arctic-swimming-hole-gone/
I notice Eric Simpson left a link on that site to this site, and people are visiting. Hi. This post is a continuation of an earlier post about sitting around watching ice melt, with pictures going back to late June. https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/north-pole-ice-melt-watching-the-summer-thaw/
The comings and goings of this particular melt-water pool is a microcosm of what goes on all over the Arctic Sea. I think such pools cause trouble when they try to measure the extent and area of the ice-cover, because the satellite radar can be “fooled” into thinking such pools, or even slush, is open water. Then, when a summer storm dusts a large area with snow, the satellite is no longer “fooled,” and the extent and area of the ice cover can show an upward blip on the graph. Or at least that is my explanation for such blips, such as today’s. (click to enlarge.)
UPDATE: Another good post about the vanishing lake has appeared on Watts Up With That: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/29/al-gores-reality-minions-think-the-north-pole-is-melting-except-thats-not-a-photo-of-the-north-pole/#comment-1374324
Lunchtime picture from Camera 2; snow squall coming?
Here’s the latest picture. Nothing much has changed, but temperatures have dipped below freezing. It looks like they might be getting some freezing fog.
While nothing much has happened up by camera 2, since the water drained away, my little website has enjoyed a flood of visitors. Usually I get ten or twenty visitors a day, however (for the second time in a week,) I’ve had over three hundred. Obviously I should skip other subjects, for watching ice melt is the way to become famous.
167 viewers came over from “Watts Up With That.” 89 viewers came from Steve Goddard’s site “Real Science.” 47 came from the Huffington Post. A few more came from Accuweather via Facebook. Add in a few others, and a total of 337 people had read this post (or at least looked at the first two pictures) by 9:09 on this Monday evening.
I am not used to having so many join me, as I watch ice melt, but I hope you have enjoyed the experience, and thank you for coming.
UPDATE—JULY 30 It still looks dull and grey up there this morning, while down here in New Hampshire it is sunny and refreshing. I suppose they can manage the melting without me supervising. I’d rather be out mowing the green grass in sunshine. (We’ll see the white stuff soon enough, and summers always seem too short.)
Evening Update—Slightly Interesting
We’ll start with the Camera 2 picture, which is only slightly interesting, for it suggests a change in the weather, and that the dull, grey, featureless fog may lift:
Now, when there is not much to see on Camera 2, the practiced ice-melt-watcher can either sit back and enjoy the serenity, or he can sake his thirst for wild excitement by delving into other data, regarding Camera two. How soon can we hope to see the typical melting resume? Where’s the slush? And that is where it gets a bit interesting, this year.
First, in April the buoy is initially placed as near the ninety-degree-north point, (also called the North Pole,) as possible, and then it typically drifts down to where the ice breaks up, which in September is roughly around the eighty-degrees-north latitude line, in Fram Strait. The further south you get the slushier things get, and even when puddles start to freeze in September you get the sense you are far from the Pole, and the break-up of the ice is nigh. However this year some wrench is in the works, and the progress is halting. If you look at the “drift map” at:
What you see is that Camera 2 (The green line) got hesitant about crossing the 86-degrees-north line, and even retreated slightly back to the north. After it got over this hesitation, it progressed nicely south past 85-degrees-north, but now has become hesitant all over again, again retreating slightly north.
We are not talking huge distances here, but on July 24 the buoy had gotten down to 84.736 degrees, and yesterday it was at 84.848 degrees, north of where it had been. Today it has resumed its southerly drift, and is down to 84.808 degrees, but it will have to hurry to get as far south as was a week ago, tomorrow.
While it is true the buoy has drifted 300 miles from the Pole, I don’t like it dawdling the way it does. How am I to see ice melt if it fritters away the summer like this? The summer is short in the arctic, and if the buoy doesn’t get its rear in gear there’s a chance it won’t get to Fram Strait in time, and will get locked up in the winter freeze.
This brings me to another interesting thing that happened yesterday. Temperatures dropped below freezing, and have now been below freezing by the buoy for 27 hours. How am I to watch ice melt if it is below freezing?
Even more interesting is that for at least twelve hours today temperatures were below minus 1.7 degrees (C), bottoming out at minus 2.7 degrees (C). At these temperatures it is not just the relatively fresh water on top of the ice that refreezes, but also the salt water of the sea beneath that freezes.
Even though the change in the weather has popped temperatures back up to minus 0.5 (C) I have a sense things are colder than expected, up there. I’m not yet willing to say this is more than a blip in the averages, however I’m starting to look at my calender, for we are running out of time before the Big Refreeze typically starts.
Did you ever think that watching ice melt could involve so much suspense?!
UPDATE JULY 31 — Eric Simpson alerted me to the fact the DMI graph just dipped to freezing for the entire area above eighty degrees north. This is very unusual, in the arctic in July. (Click to enlarge)
EARLY LUNCH UPDATE—Just looking at the pictures, and judging by using my northern eyes, the slush looks refrozen today, as do the distant melt-water pools in both camera 1’s view and Camera 2’s view
CORRECTION: If you look at the small print at the top of the of the above pictures you will notice they were taken roughly an hour apart. For the sun to be in the same part of the sky, they must be pointed in the same direction. I incorrectly stated earlier they were pointed in opposite directions. In fact they are located around 900 feet (“three football fields”) apart. “Lake North Pole” was only 100-200 feet wide, which is why it only appeared in the view of Camera 2.
Here is a discussion of “Lake North Pole” by the people who actually operate the camera: http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/WebCams.html
If you really want to study the subject of ice melting, Anthony Watts has compiled a wonderful collection of sites to visit from all over the world, called the “SEA ICE PAGE.” I think it is the best place to go, to see a variety of graphs, views, and measurements, with a minimum of hype, so you can decide things for yourself. http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/
AUGUST 1—LUNCHTIME UPDATE
Gorgeous day up there, 350 miles south of the pole. There were drops on the lens earlier that have dried up. The camera has resumed its southward drift. Still awaiting temperatures, but yesterday the temperature rose above freezing, up to 1.2 (C) before dropping back down to 0.2. Oddly, when the sun is this low on the horizon, clear weather and sunshine doesn’t always make it warmer.
EVENING UPDATE—CAMERA HEADING BACK NORTH
It seems significant that the camera, after getting south to 84.715 earlier today has shifted back north to 84.734. There is some sort of lag, and when winds shifted to the south it moved against the wind, yet now, just as it starts to move with the wind, winds have shifted more to the north and it is moving against the wind again. To have the ice moving north and south the way it is doing, on the ice highway down towards Fram Strait, surely must result in fender benders. Ice is grinding and bumping and banging and crunching and making a peculiar squealing noise you have to have lived by to understand. When the ice going north meets the ice coming south, you wind up with the pressure ridges you see in the background. The sun has moved around, and shadows make the pressure ridge in the right background look like a mountain range. (click picture to enlarge.)
With the sky so clear, we might as well also look down from outer space. Again, click to enlarge.)
Our camera is located towards the upper right corner of this picture. Please notice our pressure ridge no longer looks like a mountain. In fact, you can’t even see it, or any of the other pressure ridges in the ice. I think this may represent a problem. The good men striving to make sense of the arctic look at this picture and see chips of ice, and areas of open water, but not the considerable volume of ice all crunched together to form a narrow and somewhat invisible pressure ridge.
The satellite view shows us the arctic is not a solid sheet. It is made of plates, chips, and crumbs of ice, all colliding and clinking like ice cubes in a giant, swirling glass of ginger ale. However, unlike ice cubes, they don’t just bump together. The size of what looks like little chips in the satellite view is actually enormous, and when they so much as nudge it is like a northbound freight train meeting a southbound freight train.
Look back at the shadowed pressure ridge in the right distance of the most recent picture from camera 2. How tall would you guess it is? It’s smaller than it looks, but I’d say it is a big ridge, maybe fifteen feet tall. Because it is an iceberg, and because nine-tenths of an iceberg is under water, that means there is an unseen 135 feet sticking down.
In other words, all the chips of ice seen from outer space are not created equal. If the Arctic is flushing as it did in 2007, all the so-called “baby ice” remains thin chips, as it is flushed down past Fram Strait. (By “thin,” I mean three to nine feet thick.) However, if there are winter storms, and a summer pattern that plugs Fram Strait, and these “chips” are not flushed out, then the so-called “baby-ice” starts to include pressure ridges. No longer is it only 3-9 feet thick, and instead can be over a hundred feet thick in places where the bergs include pressure ridges.
In conclusion, what we may be seeing is the process wherein “baby-ice” becomes “old ice,” right before our eyes.
I hasten to add this is only a theory. However if this theory is correct the ice is very sneaky, because from outer space the plates, chips and crumbs of ice look the same, but in fact they are like the 98-pound-weakling who has been secretly lifting weights: They have muscles that are not apparent, and if we, (as the “bully” in this analogy,) try to treat the weakling as we once did, (kicking sand in its face,) we may get thrashed.
In any case, it is very interesting, watching the ice melt this summer, even if the danged stuff won’t get around to properly melting. Even though temperatures warmed to 1.2 (C) above freezing by camera 2 today, they then turned right around and sank to 1.2 (C) below. They then crept up to 0.5 above, but are now sinking.
AUG 2 MORNING:
AUG 3 AFTERNOON — I’m just back from a trip out of town, and can’t say it looks any warmer up there.
I just checked the temperatures at camera 2, and they are currently just below freezing. For the last week they have spent more time below freezing than above. Remember, this is 350 miles south of the pole.
A southward drift has resumed, but not until it drifted north to 84.767 degrees north. It is now down to 84.703, which is as far south as it has reached all summer. This sort of hesitation before getting south of 84 degrees north was seen in 2006. (Black line on map below.) (Click to enlarge)
AUGUST 4 UPDATE—brrrrrr
The camera has resumed its southerly movement, sinking from 84.703 degrees north when I last posted to 84.626 north. The ice is not being helped by the wind, which has been from the southeast, south and now southwest for nearly two days. In essence the ice is moving into a headwind, and I’d expect it to be slowed down and even shoved north again, if these winds keep up. Also the southwest winds are off Greenland’s cold icecap, which may explain the fact temperatures have remained below freezing for over a day and a half, and even hit minus 3 (C), which is below the freezing point of salt water. At last report they are still at minus 2.4 (C) so I’m not expecting any melt-water.
ASIDE— Steve Goddard has noted that the “volume” of the ice is up 19% from this time last year. http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/piomas-shows-19-gain-in-arctic-ice-volume-since-july-31-2012/ I confess “volume” is something I doubt “the experts” understand, and know darn well I don’t understand. It seems it would be extraordinarily hard to account for the volume of pressure ridges. I think there are more pressure ridges now than most authorities assume, but have no facts nor figures to prove it. It is just a sense I get, watching the behavior of the ice. However, because I know I don’t know, I’m attempting to educate myself at this site, run by people attempting to measure the “volume” of the arctic ice: http://psc.apl.washington.edu/wordpress/research/projects/arctic-sea-ice-volume-anomaly/
UPDATE AUG 5—MORNING—TWO PICTURES; THIS YEAR AND LAST YEAR.
LAST YEAR—AUG 5
It looked a lot slushier last year, with more melt-water pools. However if you squint at the horizon of this year’s picture, you notice a dark line beyond the peaks of the distant pressure ridge. There may be a lead (open water) forming out there. Hopefully the sun will pop out over in that direction, and we’ll get a chance to see if that dark area shines like open water.
UPDATE—AUGUST 6—SOUTHWARD MOTION SLOWS
The sun popped out just for a while, before a gray overcast returned:MORE THOUGHTS ON VOLUME—One thing I noticed while comparing the pictures of this year and last year, yesterday, was that this year’s picture has more pressure ridges. I assume this suggests that the same area of ice has a greater volume. because in places it is thicker.
Much of what I notice cannot be called “scientific,” because I’m just using my eyes, but I don’t feel my lack of science should cause me to be discredited. After all, who would you rather have playing in the outfield in a baseball game: A non-scientific guy who just uses his eyes, and sprints to where the ball flies, and catches it, or a scientist who uses a slide-rule or computer keyboard, and is so busy calculating that the ball bounces off his head? However it would be nice to have a few numbers at my finger-tips, just so I could look a little bit scientific, even if I’m not.
One thing I’ve been paying attention to is the drift of the ice. It is generally south towards Fram Strait, but this year it keeps pausing and backing up. Try this on the south-bound lane of a freeway, and I bet you’ll gather scientific evidence of a pile up. That is what a pressure ridge is, in my eyes. A pile up.
Recently the ice sped up and for six hours and was moving along at a 0.2 miles per hour. How did I figure that out?
In my youth I sailed, and they measured things in miles, and also a degree of latitude was devided into sixty “minutes,” and, because a degree of latitude is sixty miles, each minute was a mile. Nice and simple, but they they went all decimal on me. Now you need to know a tenth of a degree is six miles and a hundredth of a degree is six tenth of a mile. (You figure out the kilometers, if that is your cup of tea.)
By looking at the data at http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/PAWS819920_atmos_recent.html I can see that between 1200z on August 4 and 300z on August 5 the camera was moving south at a hundreth of a degee latitude every three hours. If you devide that 0.6 by three, you get 0.2 miles per hour. However then it slowed, and the last available data (yesterday’s) shows it is only moving three thousandth of a degree ever three hours, or a thousandth of a degree per hour, or 0.06 miles per hour.
Ice chunks tend to tailgate on the ice highway, and because they do not allow for a proper braking distance, when one brakes then up the highway there has to be some sort of pile up.
Longitude is a real pain, especially up near the pole. For example, if you are standing a stride from the pole, a single stride to the side will cover 90 degrees longitude, but if you are standing two strides from the pole, the exact same stride will cover only 30 degrees. Therefore I’m not even going to try to give measurements in miles. However I feel it is noteworthy that the ice at Camera Two was moving west, came to a screaming halt, and now is heading east. This business of changing lanes without the proper use of turn-signals has got to cause pile ups to either side, on the Ice Highway to Fram Strait.
Besides the figures we have for Camera Two, we have another Buoy located roughly 79 miles to the north northeast, called “PAWS Buoy ID 975420.” Located on a separate plate of ice, it represents another vehicle on the ice highway, and it is interesting to compare its smashing and crashing with the smashing and crashing of Camera Two.
Ignoring the sideways lane-changing of longitude for the moment, it can be seen that both slammed on the breaks and went in reverse between 600z on August 1 and 1200z on August 2. However Camera Two backed up .052 degrees of latitude, while the northern bouy only backed up .039 degrees. In terms of latidude, the distance between the two narrowed by .013 degrees. I make that to be .78 miles.
Now, if we were dealing with latitude alone, you would have a situation where, on the ice highway, PAWS Buoy ID 975420 blared his horn, swore like a Boston driver, there was a crash, and he had a tremendous rumple in the hood of his car. You take .78 miles of ice and crunch it into a pressure ridge, and that is one heck of a pressure ridge.
Of course we need to add in the sideways motion of longitude. PAWS Buoy ID 975420 likely changed lanes like a Boston driver. However there was likely some serious bumping going on, and some pressure ridges were built, (as well as gaps and leads opened up.)
I will leave it to those more scientifically inclined to figure out the distances involved in longitudinal motions. My point is that, as I pointed out in an earlier post, not all plates of ice are created equal. Some plates are “baby ice,” nice and flat and between three and nine feet thick. But other plates include pressure ridges, and can be as much as a hundred feet thick where those pressure ridges are located. If you simply look at a picture from outer space, and use some sort of standard area-based equation to determine the volume of the collected plates, chips and crumbs of ice you can see, you are ignoring the fact that different plates have different histories. If you bang about “baby ice” long enough it starts to include pressure ridges, and is no baby any more, and perhaps deserves a new name, perhaps “Boston driver ice.”
I am aware we have maps that portray the thickness of arctic ice, such as the Navy map at, http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticictnowcast.gif however the problem with such maps is that a pressure ridge is too thin to show up. It would be thinner than a hair on such a map. In fact it would be as thin as the flagellum of a bacteria, and the map would require one heck of a zoom feature to even see the darn thing.
Therefore I just use my eyes, and notice the pressure ridges seen from Camera 2, that were not so common last year.
Before I close, I would like to gloat about something just a bit. You see, last spring I faced some friendly derision for predicting the sea ice extent would only get down to six million square kilometers. I claim to have used no science, and only to have used my eyes. Now, (perhaps only for a brief time,) there seems to be a small chance I could actually be right.
If, against all odds, I turn out to be right, I will be like the outfielder who caught the ball. Some scientists, far better at math than I, will be rubbing their heads because they didn’t use their eyes.
AS THIS POST IS GETTING LONG AND UNWIELDY I PLAN TO CONTINUE MY OBSERVATIONS WITH A NEW THREAD
(Just as this post began with sensationalism, so will my next continuation, as some radical polar bear of unknown politics visited camera one and knocked it over. 49 views in 18 hours, as my “art” gets two or three views, if I am lucky. Hmm. Anyway, the continuation is at https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/north-pole-camera-one-pictures-polar-bear-tracks/