The Arctic Sea-ice Minimum; A September Surprise (Aug 31- Sept 17, 2013)


The Arctic Sea-ice Minimum; A September Surprise

These observations are a continuation of the often-updated observations I’ve made all summer about the views seen from the “North Pole Camera,” and what such views may be showing us. The most recent thread of such observations was at

(Click on all pictures, maps and graphs in this post to enlarge them.)

What is the surprise?  Well let us look at the situation a year ago, viewed from a different “North Pole Camera.”

NP Sept 1 2012 npeo_cam1_20120831134327

And let us compare it with this year at the same time, if not the same place:

NP Aug31H 17

And let us remember we were told the arctic would soon be “ice free.”

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t look exactly “ice free” to me.  In fact, if I was anything other than politically correct, I could swear it looks colder.

The next picture, six hours later, doesn’t look much warmer, with ice freezing on our lens:

NP Sep 1A 15

Surprised?  Not me, for I’ve been watching the views offered by such wonderful cameras for years.  However when I first began watching, yes, I was surprised, for the newspapers made the arctic sound much warmer than it actually has been, and never mentioned when it became colder, as the observations of this post may, perhaps, display.

The latest “army” data from this camera state the temperature is down to -6.46 C, (20.4 Fahrenheit,) and, as that is well below the freezing point of the salt water under the ice, let alone the fresh water the ice is made of, I don’t expect to see any melt-water pools, such as last year’s view shows, any time too soon.


A great collection of sources, without any political “spin,” has been compiled by Anthony Watts at his “Sea Ice Page” at

As you look at various sources you start to notice they are not in complete agreement.  It is important to notice the disagreements, and to try to figure out what causes them.  Causes tend to be things as simple as the use of different thermometers at the same site, or a chart which automatically updated using data which is old or (worse) missing.  In some cases the data is “modeled” rather than actual, or includes “adjustments” which you may or may not agree with.

Due to the variance in data I faced a choice at some point, and decided to use DMI data, (because I figured the Danes have vested interests in being accurate due to having fishermen in arctic seas and business with Greenland.) (Not that Danes don’t take sides in the “politics” of weather, but their data seems down-to-earth.) Much current information can be found in the “The Arctic Today” box, in the upper left of this page:

I like to glance at temperatures at nine buoys, (including the buoy at our camera,) at . I call this data “the army data,” and this data tends to be more current than the other camera data, issued once a day at , which I simply call “the data.” For reasons I’m unsure of the two data can vary slightly.

For a quick glance at the weather map of the north pole I visit , but you have to be careful because they, in their hurry to crank out not only the current map but the ten-day model-forecast, often mislabel highs as lows and lows as highs.

There are many  other sources of data, including the actual satellite pictures from outer space, which I sift through when I  have time, and I will try to give links as I go.


The frost ought sublimate off the lens as the sun works around, though temperatures seem likely to remain below freezing. The “army” data shows our camera at -6.46 C. The “companion buoy” Buoy 2013B: , located roughly 100 miles north of our buoy, has dropped sharply from a hair above freezing yesterday to -4.94 C.

NP Sep 1B 15


DMI Sep 1 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 1 temp_latest.big

I am going to be busy today helping my youngest move into his college dorm down in Boston, but will briefly note the temperature map shows the sub-freezing isotherm creeping south east of Greenland towards the north coast of Svalbard.


Lord, am I ever glad to get back to the quiet of the North Pole Camera. You’d think there wouldn’t be much traffic in Boston on a Sunday, but it was at a standstill on Storrow Drive along the Charles River.  There was some sort of parade involving the BU home opener, and mobs of college students driving U-hauls and pushing large hampers on wheels on sidewalks, as Boston has a plethora of colleges all opening at once.  Took a wrong turn at the exit and found myself passing through a mob of fans streaming towards a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.  Then had to do a lot of unloading my son’s belongings into one of those hampers-on-wheels thingies, and rattle along sidewalks in steaming summer heat, all the while secretly yearning for the cool of the Pole.  So here I am.  I click on to the picture, and what do I see? NP Sep 1C 17 What the heck has been going on around here?  I left things neat and tidy and more than six below, and come home to find drops of water on the lens?  Can’t people manage things around here without my constant attention? Even our camera has been loafing, as soon as my back is turned.  For some strange reason there was no 12z picture taken today.  There is just the 6z picture with frost on the lens, and the 18z picture with drops of water and fog. Obviously I’m going to have to study a bit to figure out what the heck has been going on. EVENING DMI MAPS  (click to enlarge) DMI Sep 1B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 1 B temp_latest.big The pressure map shows an unusual symmetry that breaks certain rules.  There is suppose to be either a low dominating the pole, or a high with lows dancing around it, but tonight we see two lows and two highs doing some sort of bumpkin square dance.  Someone needs to have to talk with those weather systems.  They may be quaint but they are out of style, and likely politically incorrect. The high I dubbed “Igor” and low I dubbed “Ronald” continue their battle on the far side of the Pole, with the winds between them thrusting a relative mildness north, which has cut the sub-minus-five isotherm into two blobs.  (The upper one is the “chicken,” and the one laid atop Greenland is the “egg.”)  Meanwhile the extention of Igor that blurbed off Greenland, was seperated from Igor by a definate col, and now deserves its own name, a high pressure area named “Greenie.” Greenie built such magnitude it pretty much squashed the Icelandic low Thidwick under it flatter than a pancake, but keep an eye on Thidwick, for he is getting squished east as an impulse, and something is brewing in the Baltic. Behind Thidwick his son, “Junior,” is strengthening west of Iceland, and rather than following in his father’s footprints Junior may creep up the east coast of Greenland as Ronald did, and we may again see Atlantic air try to invade the Arctic, as a flow between Junior and Greenie. Each time these flows become cross-polar, you can expect the DMI graph-of-temperatures-above-80-degrees to go positive, as the really cold air is driven to the side and south of 80 degrees.  The fact that graph is “above normal” does not necessisarily slow the refreeze, because the colder air may be driven to the edges of the ice where it can actually hasten refreeze. While the Pole can export cold air, it can never really import it until the tundra becomes snow-covered and dark.  At this point all the cold air is home-grown, in areas that are clear, calm, and undisturbed by southern invasions.  To a certain extent we have seen Igor be such a cold-generator, away from his conflict with Ronald, as is shown by the large area of sub-five-degree air away from Ronald. The low pressure north of Greenland is “Baffy,” (after Baffin Island,) and tends to be a semi-permanent feature west of Greenland, partly because the water there is relatively warm compared to Greenland’s icecap, which forms a semi-permanent area of cold and usually-descending air, due to being permanently over 10,000 feet tall. When Baffy bulges north against a high like Igor, cold air gets exported down to Canada and Alaska, and that is the area I’d expect to see the greatest refreeze, in the near future, as some truly cold air gets nudged down that way. The sneak attack of thaw at our camera was likely imported from Siberia between Igor and Ronald, and was something I suspected might happen, and even predicted, but when temperatures plunged yesterday I figured I was wrong.  As usual, as soon as I stop expecting something, it happens. Now I need to study the data from the camera.

SUNDAY’S CAMERA DATA  —LO AND BEHOLD! HEADED NORTH AGAIN!— On August 13 at 1500Z our camera made it down to 83.780°N. I was thinking we might be on our way back down there, but our camera only made it to 83.824°N at 1800z, when the wind shifted, and since then the camera has been rocketing north, to 83.889°N at 1500z today. I should point out our camera is down in a bit of a hollow, and winds seldom get over ten miles an hour,  I’ve seen them touch 15 mph a few times.  Now they are over 22 mph.  Unless those winds have changed dramatically, our buoy likely has already crossed 84 degrees for the seventh time since they first brought it across 84 degrees last April. This actually is big news.  If an ordinary heat wave in Kansas deserves a bottom-of-the-fold headline in the New York Times,  this deserves a banner, blaring headline. Why?  Because the ice our camera is on should be 200 miles south, entering Fram Strait, by now.  The fact it is held back is a sign something quite different is going on.  It is being checked, hoarded, perhaps even crushed and piled up. Rather than the ice at the Pole becoming less, it is becoming more. This has certain political implications, but if you can’t catch my drift, I’ll let the ice do my drifting for me. The ice has continued its movement east, from 1.134°W at 1500z yesterday to 0.484°W  at 1500z today. But here’s some puzzling data:  If you saw a wind shift from one direction to another, and a camera and buoy stopped moving south and started moving north, while continuing to move east, what would you expect the wind shift to be?  (I’ll sit here and patiently drum my fingers as you figure it out.) According to our data, the camera only moved slowly south when the winds were FROM THE SOUTH at 5 to 9 mph.  As soon as winds became FROM THE EAST at 20 to 25 miles an hour did the camera and buoy stop moving south, but not stop moving east.  In fact it moved more swiftly to the east, despite the stiff headwind. (I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but it sounds like either wires are crossed at the physical site, or else someone put in a plus sign where they should have put in a minus sign, in a computer program.  If someone could drop a word-to-the-wise to those-in-the-know, it might be a good thing.)  (We don’t want the wrong sort to know about this malfunction.  We want our camera fixed, not de-funded.) In terms of temperature, the dramatic wind shift didn’t have an immediate effect.  Though the wind began shifting at 1500z the temperatures kept dropping to -6.2°C at 2100z yesterday, and then only slowly rose to -4.4°C at 0600z today, whereupon they rose more swiftly to -0.2°C at 1200z, where (perhaps because available heat gets used up and turns to latent heat when you start to actually melt ice,) they stalled, remaining at -0.2°C at 1500z. These ups and downs of temperature show how incomplete the mixing of air is, even up in the arctic where you seldom see warm fronts and cold fronts inked onto maps.  It is like a cup of coffee just after you add the cream; the back makes a contrast with the white, before they assume a shade of tan. (There is a reason the word “stir” is similar to “storm.”) As a final thought before I retire, the fact our buoy is heading north rather than south tends to torpedo my thought that “extent graphs” might show an uptick, as condensed ice was dispersed into the open waters north of Svalbard.  If anything, such graphs may show a down-tick, as a packed ice-pack is packed further.  The “Navy” map of ice drift suggests ice should be condensed more than dispersed: (Click to enlarge, and click again to enlarge further.) Navy Sep 1 arcticicespddrfnowcast


“Army” data shows our bouy at plus 0.40. It hasn’t crossed 44 degrees but has again crossed the meridian, at 83.91 N, 0.13 E. Our “companion buoy,” Buoy 2013B: is a bit colder at  -0.48 C, and the next buoy towards the Pole, Buoy 2012J: is at  -1.23 C. All these temperatures are above normal for this late in the summer, and the DMI graph shows the “warmth” with an uptick above normal:DMI Sep 2 meanT_2013 (1)  

The picture shows thaw as well.  It’s difficult to see much, but there may even be some melt-water pooling in the distance if much rain is falling. It would be that grey area, likely a thin layer of water atop the frozen surface of a melt-water pool from earlier in the summer.  NP Sep 2 18

DMI Sep 2 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 2 temp_latest.big

Air is being injected to the Pole from two directions: From the flow between Igor and Ronald, (IE from Siberia) and the flow between Greenie and Baffy, (IE from Greenland)  The flow from Siberia has been dominate but is weakening, and a new and interesting flow from the Atlantic is developing. Computer models keep arriving at the solution of a storm over the Pole, but keep changing the manner in which it comes about.  Originally “Thidwick” was suppose to travel to Siberia and take a sharp left turn, however now models say what is left of poor Thidwick is squashed to the Baltic and then southeast out of our view, as Thidwick Junior travels up the east coast of Greenland, curves over north of Svalbard while weakening, and then restrengthens and moves right over the Pole next weekend.  The fuel for restrengthening will be supplied by the fact Greenie will hook over Scandinavia and latch up with expanding high pressure bulging up from the Azores, perhaps giving Swedes a final chance to tan, but also creating a corridor of Atlantic fuel for the storm, a long fetch of southwest winds up the west side of the high pressure ridge. Of course, the next run of the model may have a totally different solution, but this last one is interesting. Such a storm could shift a lot of the jammed-up ice back into the open waters north of Svalbard, and also transport a lot of heat away from the surface to lose latent heat in the upper atmosphere and create cold.  That’s what the last storm seemed to do, over the long run. It seemed to create the cold that gave us such cold temperatures, (down to -8,) in mid August. Back here in reality, the flow between Ronald and Igor has spit the area bounded by the minus-five-degree isotherm into the “chicken” and the “egg.”  The chicken is flapping about and getting a bit spindly, as its air bleeds south into Canada, however the egg over northern Greenland is larger, and may hatch something, as it is closest to our camera.


Although the location of our camera is hidden by clouds, there is a good view of the northeast corner of Greenland in this morning’s map. You can see the ice blown away from the shore if you zoom in, and tides slushing ice in and out of fjords, and a great ice-jam to the north.  I think some plates broke and then were “healed,” the barely visible seams representing pressure ridges that must be of considerable size to be seen from space. Don’t click on this site if you have chores to do, because you’ll lose an hour easy.


The “army” data states the temperature has edged barely below freezing, at -0.18 C.  I hope the lens doesn’t freeze over and spoil our view. (Not that the view is too good right now.)

NP Sep 2B 18


Penjuin waking bear image-712

Sometimes I’m a glutton for punishment, and visit sites that have a very low opinion of anyone who thinks the arctic may not soon become ice-free. There I see myself derided and mocked, even though I seldom venture a word.  Not that the people who comment know me or about this site, but they have no mercy towards any who beg to differ. Most such sites won’t even allow you to post a skeptical idea. I’ve tried, and seen the ideas are snipped.  It is not worth the effort of putting an idea into words if it is going to be disregarded in that manner, so they miss my excellent wit and fabulous humor. Their loss. Besides visiting to see insults of various and interesting forms, some sites actually have good data.  Of course, the data is interpreted very differently than I interpret it, however the data itself is sound and often very interesting. I thought I’d go back in time and see what was said last March about the ice all melting away this summer, and wound up at an Alarmist site run by Joe Romm called Climate Progress, back on March 23. The post contains some excellent pictures and film of midwinter leads forming in the Beaufort Sea, which they were seeing as a sure sign there would be less ice this summer.  My own view is that any water exposed to polar night cools the Arctic Ocean, and if cooler water is exposed when the ice melts, it makes for a cooler summer.  However the cooler summer hadn’t happened yet, so I was reading through the comments when I came across the following: tallbloke says:

A recent paleo modelling paper concluded the temperature of the upper arctic ocean was about 2C warmer than present near the last glacial maximum. Presumably this would be because the ice cap prevented the heat being lost to space. So less summer ice will mean more heat loss to space from the Arctic ocean. This seems like a natural negative feedback to me. The increased ocean heat content of the last 80 years has to find a way out of the system. It does that by melting Arctic ice and gaining direct access to radiate into the troposphere. Once the ocean has cooled down, the Arctic ice will increase again. The world ocean started cooling around 2007, and given the momentum of the circulation systems, I would expect the Arctic ocean to lag by a decade or so. I predict signs of Arctic ice recovery starting around 2015, and becoming stronger around 2017-2019. Plenty of time for hollering and hooting meanwhile. Many of the other people were disgusted at Joe Romm for allowing Tallbloke a chance to speak, but Joe Romm went up in my opinion. Tallbloke is a known skeptic who has his own fascinating site at where he displays a scientific mind which intimidates me slightly, as I am all too keenly aware of my weaknesses in Math. Encouraged by the idea Tallbloke agreed with my ideas to some degree, I grew absurdly over-confident and ventured a sort of prediction over at the Real Science site.  Already I regret opening my big mouth, (and I’m glad I used words like “might” and “could,”) but for what it’s worth, here it is: Looks like there is a chance of a storm moving right over the pole at the end of this week. (At least the models are seeing it, but we all know about models.) I think such a gale might actually increase ice extent, as the ice is packed tightly towards Alaska and a storm might spread it out like butter, and a “extent graph” doesn’t care if the ice that was 100% is spread out to 30%. That would create a slightly false impression, but might create a “bottom” to the extent graph two weeks early. Also even a cold storm like that has a lot of uplift, and turns latent heat into available heat as vapor condenses into water and water freezes to snow, and that heat gets radiated out into space at the edge of the Stratosphere (low in the arctic,) and a colder snow falls. I think a storm in early August was a reason the “North Pole Camera” had temperatures down to minus 8 in mid-August.

DID I DO THAT? Apparently “Tallbloke” was surprised Joe Romm printed his comment.  It resulted in a post over at “Tallbloke’s Talkshop.”


In case you are wondering, this is how a fly sees, through its compound eye.  It is not the way we want to be seeing, especially as it looks like a lovely sunset-sky is out beyond the ice on the lens.  However we can deduce it has dipped below freezing, at least. NP Sep 2C 15


The temperature went from -0.2°C at 1500z yesterday to -0.2°C at 1500z today.  No change, right?  Ok, I’ll confess:  It did spend all the time between above freezing, peaking at 0.7°C  at 0000z, but we don’t care about little things like that do we? (I do.  Look what that darn thaw did to the lens of our camera!) After rushing north to 83.889°N at 1500z yesterday the bouy has slowed, progressing north by fits and starts to  83.958°N at 1500z today. It might not quite make 84 degrees north, which will be a blown opportunity for a really good headline. Meanwhile it has sailed steadily east, again crossing the meridian, moving from 0.484°W to 0.966°E. To our north our “companion buoy” is also moving east, but has just started south.  (Crunch time.) Temperatures there barely nudged above freezing to 0.1°C at 0000z, before dropping back down to -4.4°C at 1500z.

DMI EVENING MAPS  —THE EXPLODING CHICKEN— DMI Sep 2B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 2B temp_latest.big

It’s been a long, hot, muggy day, where the whole world smells of mildew.  I’ve had to go out in it, to the delight of swarms of mosquitoes, and repair a rail fence the children at our Childcare demolished, and also to feed goats and so on and so forth.  However I’ve also had plenty of time to OD on the internet, gazing at the screen so much my eyes are getting square.  So forgive me if I seem dour; the holiday is over and it’s back-to-work in only nine hours. The pressure map looks basically the same to me. There’s probably something going on that will catch me by surprise in the morning, but my intellect is too dead to see it.  However my exhausted brain does perk up a bit, looking at the temperature map, as the “chicken” has exploded. Now I am sure that, if my imagination was less tired, I’d see the expansion of the sub-minus-five-degree isotherms towards the top of the map from one area to two as something more pleasant;  I’d tell you the chicken has merely turned, to converse to a squirrel. (See it?) However my mind is tired, and I hang around with small children who thirst for gore too much, and therefore I see an exploded chicken.  It really is revolting. I don’t know why they allow such things on the internet. Not only has the upper cold expanded, but the “egg” that sat on top of Greenland has hatched into a full grown hen, which now is sitting on a new egg made by the sub-minus-ten-degree isotherm.  We’ll start to see minus-ten more often from now on, so I guess you could say that’s an egg that soon will hatch. In any case, for the time being the cold is over towards Canada, and the above-freezing stuff is over towards Siberia.  However that too will soon change.  Snow will soon fall on parts of Siberia, and the moment that land is snow-covered it turns into a cold-generator. Take a look at this map of snowfall-over-the-next-week I stole from Joseph D’Aleo’s blog over at WeatherBELL.  It shows snow falling on Siberia. (Greenland is up and Alaska is down.) (Click to enlarge.) WB Sep 2 gfs_6hr_snow_acc_arctic_33(1) You have to admit that is a cool map.  I have to pay the price of a cup of coffee per day to get it, and probably shouldn’t give it to you for free.  However I figure WeatherBELL won’t sue me if I provide them with a free ADVERTIZEMENT. Actually you can get a lot of these cool maps for free if you check out Ryan Maue’s twitter-feed. He is suppose to charge the price of a cup of coffee for these maps, but he gets so enthusiastic when interesting weather is on the horizon he can’t resist showing off his maps for free. To get an idea of how cool his maps are, compare the above DMI arctic temperature map with Ryan’s:  (Click to enlarge.) (Click it again to enlarge more.) WB Sep 2 gfs_t2m_arctic_1 Cool, aye? However you need to understand Ryan actually doesn’t have 20,000 thermometers dotted all over the arctic.  In fact there are relatively few, and he and DMI “model” the areas between.  (IE:  Fudge factor.) However I can’t say how much I appreciate the creation of these maps.  I dislike numbers, and computer code makes me break out in hives.  (In fact one reason I decided to be poor is because I hate accounting.) However, a map? A map is an utterly different matter.  And the simple fact Ryan Maue can deal with numbers and computer code and produce hundreds of maps like the above map makes WeatherBELL well worth the price of a cup of coffee, as long as it is not your first cup of coffee. Thirty years ago I was a bum sleeping in my car, and knew what it was like to chose, first thing in the morning, between buying a paper for the weather map, or buying a coffee.  The coffee always comes first.  (Anyway, you can usually find a newspaper laying about.)  So I won’t blame anyone if they don’t subscribe to WeatherBELL. However, once you have enough money for two cups of coffee, subscribe.  Not only do you get a whole selection of Ryan’s great maps, but you get Joseph D’Aleo and Joe Bastardi, who are very good meteorologists, of the old school, (and, by “of the old school,” I mean they can forecast the weather even if all the computer models are all off-line. ) END OF COMMERCIAL SEPTEMBER 2  —FINAL EVENING PICTURE—ABSTRACT MESS This is a picture of:  A.) The view through ice into thick fog from the “North Pole Camera,”  or B.) A painting from a plush art studio priced 1.4 million dollars, or C.) a rough approximation of the state of my mind after a three day weekend. I’m facing a busy week, so forgive me if my updates become fewer and farther between. NP Sep 2D 17 SEPTEMBER 3  —MORNING UPDATE—  LENS STILL FROZEN Looks like it is still foggy.  “Army” data says temperature is at  -0.90 C, but 90 miles north at our “companion buoy” it is colder, at -5.90 C.  It also looks a bit brighter, hopefully because the fog is clearing and the sun may melt off our lens, and not merely because the sun is higher in the sky. We are far enough away from the Pole to cause the sun to dip lower at midnight and rise higher at noon, though it still doesn’t set.  The first sunset in many months comes tomorrow at 77 degrees north, and each day it creeps a bit further north. NP Sep 3 16 SEPTEMBER 3 —DMI MORNING MAPS— DMI Sep 3 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 3 temp_latest.big The flow between “Igor” and “Ronald” persists, which surprises me a little.  Computer models no longer show “Thidwick Junior” reaching the Pole next weekend, but rather following a track like Ronald’s. The decrease in minus-five-temperatures is partly do to daylight swinging around and warming the Bering Straits side of the Pole, and also because a lot of cold is draining down into Canada.  The Northwest Passage is freezing up. MIDDAY PICTURE —COME ON, SUNSHINE.  MELT THE LENS CLEAN! Latest “army” temperature for our camera: -1.32 C NP Sep 3B 17 AFTERNOON PICTURE —IF YOU CAN’T EVEN MELT THE ICE OFF A CAMERA… NP Sep 3C 18…HOW CAN YOU MELT AN ICECAP? SEPTEMBER 3 —DAILY CAMERA DATA—THE FLIRT Our camera has sailed east steadily, from 0.966°E at 1500z yesterday, to 1.839°E at 1500z today.  However it seems determined to drive me nuts and frustrate my desire for a perfectly good headline by flirting with 84 degrees, but never quite crossing.  It moved from 83.958°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.975°N at 0300z today, and then stopped, and even moved south a ten-thousandth of a degree over the next six hours. (What is a ten-thousandth of a degree?  Probably more than a par three, but is it a par five?) Then, just when you’d be thinking it was going to start south again, it headed north between 0900z and 1500z to 83.982°N.  That particular northward trend makes no sense to me, not only because winds have dropped to a calm, and I assumed the current of water under the ice is to the south, but also our companion buoy to the north, while sailing east with our buoy, has come south from 85.550°N at 1200z yesterday to 85.500°N at 1500z today.  Very roughly, it has come 3 miles south as our camera has headed slightly north.  It would seem crunch-time would push our ice south, however it insists on tantalizing me by edging ever closer to 84 degrees. (Well, I know how to handle a flirt.  I am not going to pay it the slightest bit of attention.) Temperatures have slowly fallen to a degree below zero, but are basically boring, and slightly above average for the time of year.  It has warmed a couple degrees at our companion buoy 90 miles north, but remains two degrees colder than we are at -3.3°C. SEPTEMBER 3 —EVENING DMI MAPS— THE NEW CHALLANGER DMI Sep 3B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 1B temp_latest.big The low I called “Ronald” looks to be fading away, hitting the mat after fifteen rounds with the high I called “Igor.” Igor looks stronger than any computer model predicted, though he is not standing on the Pole as they predicted.  He is leering at Ronald, who lies flat on his back smiling at circling clouds of tweeting birdies. Igor’s the new champ, however, even if the fight is over the two have done quite a job of pumping relatively mild air up to the Pole, and temperatures are generally milder up there than you’d expect.  The “exploded chicken” didn’t get itself together and resurrect to a single body, despite night swinging around to that side of the pole, and the “hatched hen” atop Greenland looks humbled.  However a lot of colder than normal air is freezing up the Northwest passage, and also, somewhat surprisingly, cold anomalies are appearing in Siberia. The big news now is Thidwick Junior, who I’ve decided to rename “Thickwickson.” While his father has had the good sense to bail on the arctic, and is aiming off to take a nice, warm, Black-Sea-holiday, his son is creeping up the coast of Greenland, and is talking about how he can beat Igor with one hand tied behind his back.  (Igor doesn’t look too happy about the prospect.) Greenie, (the high between Thidwickson and what is left of Ronald,) wants nothing to so with the melee, and is backing up, over Sacandinavia and then running to link up with his protective buddy, the Azores High. On a slightly more serious note, the warm AMO’s creation of so much open sea north of Europe does seem to attract the storm track up that way.  Just as you have more ice on the Canadian side and more open water on the Siberian side, you see high pressure over the ice and low pressure over the open water.  Not always, of course, but someone ought study  pressure anomalies maps comparing warm AMO’s with cold AMO’s, and compare them with ice-cover.  (Not me, of course, but “someone.”) SEPTEMBER 4   —-MORNING PICTURE—- SUNRISE ROSES This 0z picture is from midnight on the meridian, with the midnight sun as low as it goes, and you can see from the pink tint that out beyond the ice on the lens the landscape is tinted by roses.  Someone ought install a defroster. The “Army” data has our camera colder, at -3.54 C NP Sep 4 13 THE POLE’S COOL POOL Glancing at the “army” data towards the Pole from our camera this morning, I noticed it gets colder as you move north, at -5.75 C at Buoy 2013B: and -10.09 C at  Buoy 2012J: Now,  -10.09 C is pretty darn cold, (13.8 fahrenheit,) so I got curious, and went to check out Ryan Maue’s WeatherBELL map. It didn’t show the area by Buoy 2012J: as being quite so cold, but over towards Canada around a hundred miles is a pocket of cold down to 5 Fahrenheit. (Being old fashioned I print the map out in Fahrenheit; that would be -15 Celsius.) Then I printed out Ryan’s wind-speed-and-direction map to see where that cold air might be headed.  Canada, and even down to Hudson’s Bay.  We’ll have to watch how early the Bay freezes up.  That actually means a lot, down here in New Hampshire.  Until it freezes it acts as a sort of buffer against direct shots of arctic air from the north, (and the Great Lakes protect us from the west.)  Once it freezes over…..look out. (Click these maps to enlarge, and then click again to enlarge further.) WB Sep 4 gfs_t2m_arctic_1WB Sep 4 wind gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1 GOOD SATELLITE VIEW OF ICE AROUND OUR CAMERA Zoom in to maximum and observe seas northeast of Greenland.  The larger chips have been crunched about so much the edges are rounded.  The sea is a soup of ice.  Remember the surfaces are not as flat as they appear; pressure ridges are largely invisible from this high up. Anyone know how to zoom in closer? SEPTEMBER 4 —DMI MORNING MAPS—THIDWICKSON MARCHES NORTH DMI Sep 4 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 4 temp_latest.big Thidwickson’s warm sector is completely occluded, and the occuded front is only up to Svalbard. Not very far north of there winds are light and from the east, however a good south flow is forming between Thidwickson and a high pressure ridge extending up from Azores over Europe, and a weak low west of Scotland (Thidwick The Third?) may ride that flow up the west coast of Scandinavia  over the next few days to join the fray.  Igor is waiting across the ring, over towards the Bering Strait, wearing what looks to me like a tired expression. Cold is building north of Greenland, but likely will be pushed away from our camera by Thidwickson. CAMERA STILL BLIND   However the grayness of the light leaking through, and the fact the reported “army” temperature has risen to  -1.11 C, suggests clouds and perhaps even fog has rolled in. A brief thaw would be nice, to clean the lens. NP Sep 4B 18 CAMERA DRIFTS NORTH OF 84 DEGREES AGAIN  —DAILY DATA— At 1500z our buoy had drifted up to 83.982°N, and today at 1500z it has continued on to 84.003°N. This slight movement, only two hundredth of a degree and roughly six tenths of a mile, is especially interesting because there was no wind.  It suggests that the current under the ice is not moving towards Fram Strait, but northwest towards Canada. (The ice has stopped moving east, and has drifted back west, from  1.867°E at 1800z yesterday to 1.638°E at 1500z today.) The temperature seems less significant, compared to the drift’s message.  (For the record, the temperature bottomed out  at -3.3°C at 0300z this morning, before rising back to -0.6°C at 1500z. )  The message is that the extent of ice may not be as important as the motion, when it comes to rebuilding the Pole’s icecap. It seems to be a two-part process. On one side of the Pole the ice is packed up thicker, which leaves the other side with more open water.  The open water loses heat more effectively, cooling the entire water column down to the pycnocline, until the insulating “baby ice” forms.  When that ice melts away the following spring, the exposed sea is still cooler right down to the pycnocline, and storms can’t stir up warmer water from down below, because such water has been cooled. Ice melt is therefore less, and the increase in ice is packed away in the Beaufort Gyre. Eventually, when it becomes impossible to pack any more ice into the packed gyre, the formerly ice-free side of the pole becomes choked with floating ice, and ice extent graphs returns to higher levels. The only way to stop this process is for the AMO to spike warm again, and for a surge of warm Atlantic water again to invade the Arctic.  (The AMO was much warmer last year than this year, though it still in the warm phase of its 60-year-cycle.) IS “DEATH SPIRAL” OF ARCTIC ICE ACTUALLY A “REBIRTH CYCLE?” At “Real Science” there is a post pointing out where the ice is less, and where it is actually more, and somewhat wryly suggesting the situation represents a “nightmare” for Alarmists, because it indicates the ice is setting up for an increase, which will make them look silly for all their verbal antics about doom and disaster befalling mankind if the Pole becomes ice-free. Personally I think that would be a benign situation, much like the situation the Vikings enjoyed when they colonized Greenland, but Alarmist are prepared to have a complete tizzy if it occurs, and it may be a bit depressing to be all set to throw a tizzy, and have the tizzy canceled. The post, has this nice map comparing ice extent in 2009 to our current situation.  I agree with some of the ideas about how the differences are indicative of regrowing ice, but added a few of my own. Nightmare Just Beginning screenhunter_205-sep-04-14-17 The ideas expressed at Real Science ideas go: “…The ice is failing to flush south and exit through Fram Strait. All the ice is instead being pushed towards Alaska and Canada, which tends to replenish the Beaufort Gyre. The ice-extent maps show ice-cover is actually bulging towards the Canadian coast at one place in a manner that is “above normal.” The place where ice is “below normal” is Fram Strait, (which represents missing ice that isn’t being flushed out, and therefore isn’t being lost to the arctic,) and also warm-AMO-melted-ice north of Scandinavia and Siberia. Rather than “absorbing more sunlight,” as some suggest, this ice-free-water is losing heat very efficiently. When water is free of chips of ice to act as seeds for ice to grow on, the chilled water sinks and is replaced by rising warm water from below, and the water stays ice free until the entire column of water from the surface to the pycnocline is near freezing. The pycnocline is 300-400 feet down, so we are talking about the creation of a very thick layer of cold water, rather than a thin layer of ice with warmer currents beneath. Therefore the open water towards the north coast of Eurasia may actually be an important part of regrowing ice, during what seems to be a sixty-or-so year cycle. The thick layer of colder water, created by ice-free-seas exposed to bitter winds, will reverse the effect of the warm AMO, and allow ice to regrow more swiftly during the winter and melt more slowly during the summer. (That thick layer of cold water may explain colder arctic temperatures last summer.) The ice-free parts of the Arctic Ocean will turn out to have the exact opposite effect than the effect that Alarmists expected. If an increase in sea-ice is truly an Alarmist nightmare, then the nightmare will truly only get worse.” CAMERA LENS STILL COVERED WITH ICENP Sep 4C 15  Just guessing, I guess it was foggy.  No recent “army” temperature update. SEPTEMBER 4 —EVENING DMI MAPS—  DMI Sept 4B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 4B temp_latest.big It seems that, with Ronald out cold, and the southerly flow between Ronald and Igor no longer a feature on the map, the cold has had a chance to recover, especially on the Canadian side of the Arctic.  I imagine long shadows stretch out from Greenland and the high Peaks of Queen Elizabeth Islands, and the chill in those shadows allows the minus -ten isotherm to ooze out onto the ice.  The minus-five isotherm is larger than I expected, divided in two by what I imagine is a faint memory of Ronald and Igor’s southerly flow toward the pole. Thidwickson is still marching up the east coast of Greenland, but has yet to effect our camera.  The latest “army” data has our camera at -1.79 C, but it hasn’t moved much at all: Still sitting on 84.00 N, 1.40 E. The battle between Igor and Ronald shows as a brief peak into above normal temperatures in the DMI temperature graph, but things have now sunk back to normal. (Click to enlarge.) DMI Sep 3 meanT_2013 (1) SEPTEMBER 5 —-STILL NO PICTURE, BUT NEW PATTERN— NP Sep 5 18 Crisp, cool, dry air poured over us yesterday.  It was interesting to consider it was air over the arctic last week.  In September such air has me glancing south and thinking I ought focus on hurricanes.  I also ought focus on my worldly responcibilities, so it is probably a good thing there’s nothing to see in our camera’s view. An interesting new onrush of air up into the arctic seems to be sneaking up through Baffin Bay along the west coast of Greenland.  Something new and interesting to contemplate, amidst doing my chores. SEPTEMBER 5 —DMI MAPS—    DMI Sep 5 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 5 temp_latest.big Will comment later. BIT OF A THAW — LENS MELTING OFF— FOGGY MESSNP Sep 5B 18 Our camera is still north of 84 degrees, at 84.03 N, 1.30 E, according to the “Army” data, with temperatures a hair above freezing at 0.02 C.  Companion buoy to north has risen to -0.19 C, and the next buoy north, which was down around minus 7, is up to -2.61 C.  This influx of mildness is not so much due to Thidwickson coming up as it is Baffy, (The semi-perminant low in Baffin’s Bay, on the west side of Greenland,) sticking his nose up where it doesn’t belong in the Arctic Sea.  (I’m going to have to have a talk with him.) A strong storm moved from north Hudson Bay towards Baffin Bay, allowing an arctic outbreak to surge polar air way down here to New Hampshire, but, on its south-wind eastern side, mild winds went charging up Baffin Bay, so of course Baffy got fueled and nudged north.  I suppose the Queen Elizabeth Islands supplied uplift, by getting in the way. All I can say is, “Ferrel Cells be damned!”  They look so neat and tidy in schematic illustrations, but in reality it is a cotton-picking mess! (I wish I had more time to study this stuff;  it is fascinating, when it isn’t driving you nuts.)  Gotta go. HadleyCell SEPTEMBER 4 —EVENING PICTURE—  SOUTHEAST FLOW NP Sep 5C 15 Just a tantalizing glimpse, I suspect, before the lens freezes over again.  However with Baffy to the northwest, and Thidwickson so weak, this flow could continue a while. DAILY DATA — ATLANTIC AIR NUDGES NORTH Our camera continued its very slow drift to the northwest, moving from 84.003°N to 84.052°N in the past 24 hours, speeding up slightly at the end, and edging west from 1.638°E to 1.305°E at 1200z, before backing east ever so slightly to 1.306°E at 1500z. There was no wind at all reported until 0900z, which suggests the buoy was drifting with the current for another 18 hours. ( I wondered if the anemometer might have frozen up like the lens did, but it recorded wind a day after the lens froze up, so I doubt that theory of mine has merit.) (My theory of our wind vane having “crossed wires” seems to have merit, as the ice again moved against the wind, according to the data.  You would think, if the camera drifted north faster, the wind must be from the south, and you think, if westward movement was nudged back to the east, the wind must have a westward component.  You’d conclude it was a south-southwest wind.  The data?  North-northeast. ) Temperatures have risen and are pretty “balmy” for this late in the summer.  They were actually drifting downwards yesterday, plunging me into a despair that our lens would ever melt off, but after bottoming out at -1.2°C at midnight it rose to 0.3°C at 0600z, while it was still calm, and to 0.6°C at o900z as the wind first picked up, and remained at 0.5°C at the final data at 1500z. While it is perplexing to me the above-freezing air made it north to our buoy with such apparent ease, I am more fascinated by the fact our bouy drifted the wrong way during a day and a half of calm.  This suggests something which, if at all true, deserves blaring headlines: The transpolar drift is in reverse. Here is the typical flow of polar currents: Beaufort Gyre BrnBld_ArcticCurrents.svg I sometimes talk of the “army” data for Buoy 2012J: , which is the next buoy north of our “companion buoy, ( Buoy 2013B: )  If you look at the drift track of 2012J, you’ll see it crossed nearly over the pole, riding the Transpolar Drift, before it too, like our camera, decided Fram Strait was not the destination of cool bergs. (Click to enlarge.) 2012J_track Sep 4 In all my years of camera-watching, I can’t recall such a hold-up of ice on its way to Fram Strait.  Perhaps it is just one of those extremes that happens in day-to-day weather, like a hot spell in summer or a cold snap in winter.  However “Climate Scientists” always discuss the Transpolar Flow as if it was an inflexible reality, written on stone, and therefore it is news to me that it can flow backwards. By the way, I noticed a three new buoys have been planted, (or at least abruptly appeared in the “army” data.)  Buoy 2013F: and Buoy 2013G: are in the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska, but Buoy 2013H: is starting out at the very edge of the ice over towards East Siberia, close to where 2012J started.  It will be very interesting to see if it follows 2012J’s wake, crossing the pole.  If it takes some new route, then perhaps the Transpolar Flow is only a semi-permanent feature of the pole. That happens a lot with me, as I study the weather and climate. No sooner do a learn about a thing, (such as the Azores High,) when it completely vanishes from the map for a while. DMI EVENING MAPS   —NOTHING I EXPECTED IS HAPPENING— DMI Sep 5B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 5B temp_latest.big It is wonderful how weather keeps you humble.  Nothing on these maps is what I expected, even 48 hours ago. The Azores High is in some ways extending all the way to Alaska.  It incorporates the high pressure I called Greenie over Scandinavia, and extends to the high pressure I called Igor towards the Bering Strait.  This elongated ridge of mostly fair weather is exactly where I’d expect the storm track to be.  O well…..back to the drawing board. Neither Thidwick nor Thidwickson is anywhere to be seen on this particular DMI view of data. (In the UK Met map, Thickwick has made a respectable come-back, just north of the Black Sea, while Thidwickson exists in the northwest corner as a nest of occlusions, but only because that map doesn’t let you see the real boss, north of Greenland, who has reduced Thidwickson to a mere appendage. Computer models gave me no hint of this situation, three days ago.  Just about the only thing they got right, oddly, is that little low north of Scotland and west of Scandinavia.  That low is “Thirdy;” (Short for Thidwick the Third,) and is attached to a cold front Thidwick can’t even remember being associated with, but once was. The storm really messing everything up at our camera is “Hudson,” a low that blew up in Hudson Bay and now is approaching the southern tip of Greenland from the west.  Hudson may look like he is out of the picture, (or at the edge,) but he has a lot to answer for, (and will likely face an Inquisition of Climate Scientists, shortly.)  He blew such a blast of summer-time air up Baffin Bay it encouraged Baffy, the low that usually hangs out there and minds his own business, to misbehave.  Hudson was a bad influence, (I’ve known a lot of those sorts in my time, and, though I rue the trouble they landed me in, after I had paid my dues to society and been bailed out, I’ll admit they were good fun getting into trouble with.) The trouble with this map is Baffy, up above Greenland.  I am baffled by Baffy, and will tell you what effect Baffy will have after it is all over, and I have a chance to analyze the data. (If that forecast seems slow and late to you, please understand that besides surging warmth north up Baffin’s Bay, “Hudson’s” other side surged cold right down here, where I sit at this keyboard.  We might get frost in low places in New Hampshire, tonight.  (We don’t usually see a frost until around the solstice on September 22.)  I’m being forced to hustle around attending to stuff like firewood and tender plants, rather than sitting back and enjoying my way of staying cool in hot weather, which is to watch the ice melt at the North Pole.) I likely should start planning the end to my habit of posting about things I notice while watching ice melt, but I’ve become addicted, and until the ice-extent graphs actually start rising I’ll post when I can. (The dark will descend on our camera fairly soon, in any case, and that will end all observations for certain.) Despite the surge of warmth coming north, first up Baffin Bay, and now up the other side of Greenland, away from this action, over toward the Bering Strait, the minus-five-isotherm has made its first appearance on the Asian side, where Igor still stands tall. The strength of the high pressure sitting atop Greenland itself is noteworthy, as well. MORNING PICTURES  —-WATER TO ICE, WITH POSSIBLE SNOW—- Drat. Things are frozen up again. with possible snow on the lens. However with “army” data showing the temperature only a half degree below freezing, we can hope a brief bit of sunshine might melt everything clean. First picture is from 0000z and the second from 0600z. NP Sep 6A 14NP Sep 6B 15 MORNING DMI MAPS    DMI Sep 6 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 6 temp_latest.big The two main features are the low “Baffy” north of Greenland, and the banana-shaped high “Igor” across the Pole towards Bering Strait.  The very long ridge of high pressure extending from the Azores all the way to Alaska is getting cut in two by Baffy extending across the pole to a reinvigorated low, inland from Severnaya Zemlya.  (I guess I should call this “Ronaldson,” as I think the impulse that was “Ronald” is further east, on his way to adding something to the next Aleutian Low.)  A cloud shot shows that a weak impulse of Thidwickson may be part of what is cutting the very long ridge, and seperating the cold flows of Igor from the warm flow bathing Europe.  In fact I have a feeling that warm flow may be deflected east into a general west-to-east flow across Eurasia,  cutting the Pole off from invasion for a while. Baffy continues to baffle me. You can see he has sucked a narrow slot of above-freezing temperature in, between Greenland and the Pole, but at the same time his south-side west winds must be blowing cold air off Greenland’s ice cap into the Atlantic.  So the south winds curving up towards our camera won’t be that warm, I suspect.  South winds ought shove our camera yet farther north of 40 degrees. LUNCH TIME PICTURE —NOTHING TO SEE HERE—PLEASE MOVE ALONG— NP Sep 6C 18 The “army data” shows temperatures at our camera have crashed to -5.18 C. Companion Buoy 90 miles north is warmer, at -1.36 C, and Buoy 2012J even further northeast is up to -0.35 C.  Things are all mixed up, up there. CURIOSITY KILLS CAT — HAD TO CONSULT RYAN MAUE WeatherBELL MAPS— I’m actually suppose to be fixing a broken door, but I got too curious about how our camera could be so much colder than the buoys to the north. Ryan Maue’s excellent maps seem to indicate the storm “Baffy” north of Greenland is blowing a cold east wind from Greenland onto our camera, while sucking a plume of Atlantic fuel up from Svalbard, keeping more northern buoys milder. (Click to enlarge, and click again for even larger.) WB Sep 6 gfs_t2m_arctic_1 WB Sep 6 gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1 My wife just said, “You’d better fix that door.”  After a pause she added, “Please.”  So maybe this curious cat won’t get killed after all. NO REGULAR DATA TONIGHT I don’t know why.  Maybe a computer glitch; maybe some hard worker needed a day off; maybe the ice cracked in half.  The “army” data is coming in at -5.27 C for the temperature and 84.05 N, 1.51 E for the position, with no specific time given. Maybe I ought to take a break on Friday night as well. EVENING DMI MAPS I’m just popping these in the post for the record.  It’s interesting how the low pressure is walling off Atlantic moisture, rather than sucking it into the Arctic. DMI Sep 6B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 6B temp_latest.big NO PICTURE — NO DATA — WHAT TO DO? Well, I shouldn’t say we have no data. We have the “Army” data, which is dated today but has no time stamp.  The latest temperature at our camera is -5.27 C. and the position is 84.05 N, 1.51 E. The “companion buoy” to the north (Pos: 85.64 N, 3.81 E) has taken a real dive to -7.91 C, while the next buoy northeast of there (Pos: 87.57 N, 13.00 E) is still “mild,” at  -0.92 C. The picture is discouraging.  An old pirate ship could be drifting by, frozen to an iceberg, and we’d see nothing.  Or the carcass of a woolly mammoth.  We should send up a helicopter immediately. I think what I’ll do, after posting the picture of an iced-over lens, is dig up the DMI maps and play “follow the isobars.” NP Sep 7 18 SEPTEMBER 7 —DMI MORNING MAPS—  FOLLOW THE ISOBARS DMI Sep 7 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 7 temp_latest.big It is pretty interesting how the Atlantic has been walled off from the Arctic by our marching string of lows.  “Hudson” is southeast of Greenland, and still quite strong.  Baffy is over our camera, a rejuvenated Thidwickson is over the Siberian coast, nudging against Ronald Junior to its west.  The high pressure “Igor” over towards the Bering Strait side of the Arctic Sea must be feeling ganged-up-against. One very rough way of guessing where the air is flowing is simply to follow the isobars. If you follow the isobar that passes over Iceland, and the two north of it, you see they curve over northern Scandinavia, cut down through Siberia, and then basically head for China.  They don’t enter the Arctic. You have to keep a memory of past maps in the back of your mind.  For example, just because today’s map shows no air from the Atlantic entering the Arctic, doesn’t mean the air just crossing the Pole didn’t leak north from the Atlantic a couple days ago.  However if you trace the isobars of the current cross-polar-flow back to its sources, you see it curves around Igor, and a large part of the “source region” is now the arctic coast of Russia, (not the warmest place for air to originate.) The question then becomes, why isn’t the air over the arctic colder?  The answer is that it exported a blast of cold down the west side of “Hudson.”  In fact if you look at a map of North America’s weather, you can see the blast continueing and pushing a second cold front south of Hudson Bay, even as the cold front from the first blast gets all the way to Florida, and polar high pressure cools the eastern USA. (click to enlarge) AAA  satsfc (3) (Incidentally, this is my ordinary view of weather. It is very mind-expanding to see things from the top of the world, with our polar maps.) The export of all the cold air has left it milder up at the pole, though the passage of all the cold air has sped the freeze-up the Northwest Passage, and even of some of the northernmost harbors of Hudson Bay. With all that air leaving the Pole, some air must replace it.  And here is where you have to start thinking in three dimensions, for sometimes the air doesn’t come from places on the surface.  Sometimes it descend from above. I certainly can’t claim to understand such ups and downs of air.  However that string of low pressure areas represent rising air, and the high pressure area Igor represents descending air.  Then you need to think of upper altitude winds, perhaps peeking at Ryan Maue’s 500 mb WeatherBELL map: WB Sep 7 gfs_z500_sig_arctic_1 Again we see air rushing around the arctic without entering, (the cross-polar-flow north of Baffy’s upper air reflection, if you follow isobars backwards, can be seen to largely home-grown, either originating in the heights of Greenland’s icecap, or along the coastline of Russia.) What goes up must come down.  With that string of lows pumping air up, and that air losing a lot of heat to edge of the stratosphere, I imagine the air that comes settling back down over the Pole, (during the time-period the Pole is cut off from outside invasions,) will make a nice pool of home-grown cold. Am I correct?  Time will tell, but right now I’ve got a long list of Saturday chores to attend to. SEPTEMBER 7 —EVENING DATA— TWO DAYS WORTH In terms of longitude our camera has moved west, then east and now west again, and the sum total accomplishment is four thousandth of a degree westward.  (1.306°E at 1500z on Thursday to 1.302°E at 1500z today.) Of course, like a bad driver parking a car, you can be sure there are plenty of dented fenders among the bergs in the great parking lot of the northern sea-ice.  Farthest west was 1.252°E  at  2100z Thursday and farthest east was  1.578°E at 1500z yesterday. In terms of latitude the same nothing-much sum total of  movement has occurred.  We’ve moved from 84.052°N at 1500z Thursday to 84.056°N today.  Again we are talking about four thousandth of a degree. If a degree is roughly sixty miles, then a thousandth is a 6 hundredth of a mile.  We are approximately 316.8 feet further north than where we started, in terms of latitude. Of course we only achieved this by denting fenders and bumpers all around us, on the ice-highway towards Fram Strait. At first the camera made an impressive lurch away from Fram Strait, up to  84.100°N at 0600z yesterday, but then the wind swung right around to the north, (I guess, as the wind vane is screwed up,) and the camera was pushed south to 84.064°N.  At that point the wind slackened from around 13 mph to around 4 mph, and wandered down to the south-southeast (I guess) which pushed our camera back north to 84.071°N, and since then the wind swung around to northeast and stiffened back to a breeze of 13 mph, pushing us south. However I must say we have been lollygagging around 84 degrees latitude long enough.  It is high time we made progress south! We are way behind schedule! As a self-appointed authority on drifting cameras, I must sadly inform you this camera is a shirk.  We should be drifting ten miles a day towards Fram Strait, but this camera has the audacity to disobey the finest computer models! Shame! Shame! Shame! Temperatures have been interesting. They were quite mild, giving me hopes the lens of our camera might dry clean and give us clear views.  (FAIL.)  In the south winds that pushed our camera north, temperatures peaked at 0.6°C at 1800z Thursday, and then. perhaps merely due to the chill of the evening as the midnight sunk low before the chill of its sunrise (without touching the horizon,) temperatures slumped to 0.0°C at 0300z Friday.  Then as winds started backing around and our buoy shifted south, temperatures fell steadily to -5.5°C at 1500z Friday. They perked up briefly to -3.8°C at 1800z, but then again slumped downwards, bottoming out at -6.5°C (20 degrees Fahrenheit,) and since then they have gradually risen with the rising sun and the wind veering to northeast, to 3.7°C at our last report at 1500z. I’m still hoping one of the remaining pockets of above freezing temperatures might get pushed to our camera and melt the lens clean, but I am sad to report the latest unofficial report from the “Army” data suggests temperatures have fallen back down to -5.24 C. But this is what you get, when you lollygag up north.  I’ll bet our camera is real sorry it didn’t listen to me. LATEST CAMERA 0000Z VIEW  —SAME OLD SAME OLD, BUT WORSE— Judging from the hue of grey, freezing fog is adding more ice to our lens. I am ashamed to confess I sometimes bother the Lord with inconsequential matters, even though I am well aware the children in Syria are more important than ice on a lens. However it is said the Lord can deal with minute details even while dealing with earthshaking importance.  Therefore, if a small pocket of above freezing temperatures should pass over our camera at the exact time a brilliant beam of sunshine aims directly into the lens, and the scab of frost falls off the lens with clunk, as a single chunk, well, then you will know the prayer of an extremely selfish individual was answered, in an extremely remote part of the globe. My answered prayer will not matter a hill of beans to the children in Syria, (who the men of both sides seem to care little for.)  Nor, I suppose, will it matter much to the politics of Global Warming. However the view from the camera matters to the microcosm which is me. Last year at this time I was griping to the Almighty because our camera was down towards Fram Strait, and you hardly ever got a good view because the Atlantic fog was so thick, and the lens was often misted over. Poor God.  Here he motivates humanity to produce amazing views from remote places, and I sit here and gripe the views are not good enough. However the fact of the matter is I want to see more clearly, and I might as well as be honest about what I want. I want to see more clearly concerning arctic ice, and I want to see more clearly concerning Syria. What I get is pictured below: NP Sep 7D 17 EVENING DMI MAPS    DMI Sep 7B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 7B temp_latest.big These maps deserve more thought than I can devote to them, as I’ve done well in terms of getting chores done today, but have few brain cells left to do justice, when it comes to properly studying these maps. Considering the storms across the north Atlantic, they are depressing depressions, for they make a fool of me. Not one is where I expected it to be, and a couple are entities I didn’t even expect to exist, the chief of which is “Baffy,” now crossing over our camera.  You would think I could at least expect a storm overhead, wouldn’t you?  Look backwards in this post, and you’ll see Baffy blind-sided me. As I recall, I was talking about Thidwick taking a left turn after skirting the arctic coat of Scandinavia, and approaching the Pole. FAIL. Thidwick is sitting north of the Black Sea. I think I spoke of Thidwickson approaching the pole via a different route. FAIL. Thickwickson and Ronald Junior are absorbed together as a blob south of Siberia’s coast. “Thirdy” (Thidwick the Third,) is that small storm north of Scandinavia.  Not likely to stand on the Pole. Now it just so happens that Baffy, (and the little low east, who I now dub Baffison,) are close to standing on the Pole.  If I was a complete shark, I could try to shuffle cards, and come up with some dishonest statement, such as, “I said a low would stand on the pole.  I was right! Bow down and worship me!” However when I am wrong I prefer to confess it. The entire Thidwick, Thidwickson, and Thirdy family disobeyed my logic, and Baffy should not even exist, let alone approach the pole, according to my magnificent  logic. However, after all this ego demolishing failure, I do retain a single reason to be a fat head.  According to computor models, the high pressure “Igor” should have vanished from the map several days ago. Igor not only still exists, but is associated with an expansion of sub-five-degree isotherms I dub, “The angry alligator.” “Igor’s”  persistence affirms an idea I had.  However, with 95% of my ideas in error, it is hard to see the 5% as a reason for puffing up with righteousness. SEPTEMBER 8  —MORNING NON-PICTURE— The “army” data has our camera’s temperature at -5.24 C, as it has drifted south to a position of 84.00 N, 1.61 E.  Today it may cross 84 degrees latitude for the eighth time since April. NP Sep 8 18 DMI MORNING MAPS DMI Sep 8 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 8 temp_latest.big Temperatures aren’t as cold as I expected. “Baffy” is moving away from to the east of our camera, and winds shifting to the north may push ice down towards Svalbard.  “Extent” graphs may show an up-tick. It will also be interesting to see if the below-zero isotherm can get down to the north coast of Svalbard for the first time this thaw-season. SEPTEMBER 8   —DAILY DATA—   ACROSS 84 DEGREES YET AGAIN As “Baffy” moved away to the east, the winds grew to a stiff breeze of 18 mph, (which likely means there were gusts over 20 mph,) and our camera made good time to the south, moving from 84.056°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.962°N at 1500z today.  At the same time the longitudinal motion to the west ceased, and it has moved back east, from 1.302°E at 1500z yesterday to 1.723°E at 1500z today. For our camera to move south and east one would assume a northwest wind was blowing, however the wind vane states the wind was just the opposite.  Because of this I have hunch the intern putting the gizmo up put the arrow on backwards, so the pointy thing jabs in the direction the wind is going, rather in the direction the wind is from.  However before anyone gets all haughty about this piffling error, I’d like to point out it is no easy thing to put such gizmos up. To get an idea, take a gander at this picture: mckenziefunk_buoyinstall Now I figure this picture was likely taken as the sun set, due to the melt-water pools, but if it was taken in April, when our camera was set up, then the melt-water pools are frozen rock solid (and are not covered in snow because of a drought.) The air temperature is around twenty below.  The guy doing all the work, lugging the sled, is the intern, and the guy pretending to be helpful because he sees the picture being taken is the professor. But who are the two other fellows?  The guy in the lead has a gun, and he is there to shoot polar bears if they try to eat the intern. The second guy is in a wet suit and has a lifeguard stick, and he is there to save the intern when he plunges into salt water that is below the freezing point of blood. All in all, I’d say the intern is under a lot of stress, the worst of which is likely the professor breathing down his neck.  So if he put the pointy thing on backwards, with fingers so numb he couldn’t feel what he handled, I forgive him. Anyway, it never made sense to me that wind vanes pointed to where wind was coming from.  Does it really matter where we are from, or does it matter where we are going? I think where we are going matters more, however I suppose we are always interested in what made us the way we are, and source regions do matter, which makes story-telling interesting, even though the past is dead and we can’t change it.  Which brings me to the subject of the temperature of the air surrounding our camera, which is influenced by its source region. To some degree our camera’s temperature exhibited signs of diurnal variation, dropping as the midnight sun sunk close to the horizon, from -3.7°C at 1500z yesterday (mid-afternoon) to -4.7°C at 0000z (midnight.) Then, as the sun rose, temperatures rose to -2.8°C at 0900z (mid-morning.)  Then “Baffy” must have circulated a pocket of colder air in, for even though the sun kept creeping higher in the sky, temperatures dropped to -5.4°C at 1500z today. I hasten to add even the warmest temperatures by our camera are below the freezing point of salt water.  Even though our camera is at long last starting down towards Fram Strait, it may be a case of too-little-too-late, for between all the bergs the water to starting to get that oily look it gets before it freezes, and every splash against every berg solidifies, and the flow south is in a sense coagulating, and becoming increasingly rigid and immobile. EVENING PICTURE   (THANKS FOR DROPPING BY TO SEE NOTHING) Considering the reason for this post is basically to contemplate the view seen through the eye of the “North Pole Camera,” and considering the view has basically been blinded, I am surprised people still visit, but they do, so I will continue my commentary until darkness falls. Our main hope for a better view at this point is sublimation.  Air that descends from heights over 10,000 feet on Greenland’s icecap is wrung free from water to begin with, and becomes drier as it descends and warms, gaining a degree every three hundred feet, and therefore warming from around ten below to a balmy thirty degrees (Fahrenheit.)  This air may be below freezing, but it is so bone dry it is a sort of cold “Chinook,” and under the massaging of such air water can go from solid to gas hardly bothering with petty details, such as turning to water. (IE: Sublimate.) Of course, sublimation uses up heat, (just as melting and evaporation do,) but I don’t care if it gets colder, as long as the ice vanishes from our camera’s lens. NP Sept 8B 18 SEPTEMBER 8  —EVENING DMI MAPS—  CUT OFF FROM CIVILIZATION  DMI Sep 8B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 8B temp_latest.big According to some scriptures, we are suppose to take a break once in a while, and this map is a break from stuff going on south of the artificial boundary created by the circle of 60 degrees latitude. For example, judging from this map all that is happening in Europe is that people up in Lapland are enjoying some sunshine.  There is no sign of an Atlantic storm-track south of sixty degrees, now bringing low pressure to England.  There is also no sign of problems in Syria.  That is off in some other world, which some call civilized, (though I have my doubts.) Here at the “North Pole camera” we are cut off from that world, and enjoy a break from that world’s concerns. Now, some meteorologists may now scowl, and (quite understandably) call me narrow minded.  They may state I need to broaden my view.  They may argue I must incorporate all the weather maps of the entire world into this blog.  But heck, it is Sunday.  This is suppose to be “A Day Of Rest.”  I’ll incorporate the maps of the entire planet “Manyanna, manyanna.”  For it does sound like a Monday sort of thing to do.  However today is Sunday, and I’m going to give being-perfect a rest, and instead kick back and enjoy a narrow view of someone else being perfect, (namely, the Creator of the North Pole.) In our narrow microcosm of a view bounded by 60 degrees latitude, the most striking feature is the high pressure I dubbed “Igor.”  Igor should be long gone, and indeed most computer models had him vanish like a balloon losing air as much as a week ago.  Instead Igor stands in the ring as the heavyweight champion.  No opponent has been able to knock him out.  His original opponent, “Ronald,” is some vauge entity in the Bering Strait, absorbing  into an Aleutian Low ducking out of the arena in a most cowardly manner. Ronald Junior and Thidwickson are flattened in east-central Siberia. Baffy and Baffison and Thirdy are all combined (in some manner I chose to neglect to analyze) north of Scandinavia. Even Hudson, who survived a transit over the heights of Greenland’s southern tip in fine fashion, has circled back and is hiding in those heights.  No one dares challange the champ, Igor. Interestingly there was a solution arrived at, among the hundreds which computer models arrive at, which did suggest Igor would become powerful.  The problem is that, with computers able to create so many solutions so fast, it is hard to give them much credit when one solution out of a hundred is right.  Even a bumpkin layman like me can be right that often, if not oftener. However I do remember noticing that particular solution, and thinking it had merit, which tends to suggest a bumpkin has some sort of discretion a computer lacks. That’s my profound thought for the day. Moving on to banality,  Igor’s influence may not last long, but will be interesting to watch.  With no invasions, the arctic is bound to build cold air.  Then an invasion will come, but from where?  It will bump the arctic air one way or another, and there will be an arctic outbreak, but in what direction? (If the current pattern holds, invasions will come my way. Europe will get a nicer winter than last winter, but here where I am, in Eastern North America, we will get creamed.) (But patterns do change.) Lastly, in terms of the DMI temperature map, I should point out that, though the “angry alligator” formed by the minus-five-degree isotherm in the Beaufort Sea may look like he has lost his upper jaw, that is only due to foreshortening. He has turned that jaw towards you, and is smiling, and his eye is twinkling the minus-ten-degree isotherm. It is interesting to see how below freezing temperatures can’t penetrate south to Svalbard, even as they advance elsewhere. If you compare the temperatures of the above map with the first map at the start of this post, you see the Big Chill building.  However, with so much open water towards Eurasia, it cannot advance far in that direction.  I imagine that, as was the case last year,  that open water is spending a lot of heat, and consequently getting colder. I imagine that, because that open water is colder, it depressed the DMI above-80-degree-latitude temperature graph during the summer, but because that water remains open, it will have the same effect it had last year, and will “uplift” temperatures north of 80 degrees.  I imagine the DMI graph will show temperatures “above normal” for a while, (though not to the extent of last year, because the water is somewhat colder.)  This does not actually represent our planet warming, but rather our warm-AMO-warmed Arctic waters losing heat to to the atmosphere. Darn.  By saying that I made a prediction.  Foolish thing to do, but I’ve gone and put my foot in it, and won’t get fired if I’m wrong.  If I’m right then the more the DMI graph is above normal this autumn, the less heat the Arctic Ocean will have left to keep things warm next summer. Compare last year’s graph with this year’s so far, noticing how the temperatures didn’t fall last year, during the end of the summer and start of autumn, when they usually do.  I think they didn’t fall because the open water was giving up its heat. Will it happen again? STAY TUNED!!! DMI 2012 DMI Sep 2012 meanT_2012 DMI 2013 DNI sEP 8 meanT_2013 (1) SEPTEMBER 9 —INSOMNIA REPORT—  CHEATING ON OUR CAMERA I awoke at three AM and was so wide awake that laying in bed seemed ridiculous, so I came down to the computer to see what the view was.  The same frosted lens looked back at me.  “Army” data reported a temperature of -6.59 C, and that it has continued to drift south to 83.93 N, 1.58 E.  But I want more than numbers.  I want to see something other than this frosty look: NP Sep 9 10 I therefore displayed a disgraceful and disloyal example of moral failure, and went creeping off to another camera.  Yes, I confess, I cheated on our camera, for across the Pole the shiny new Buoy 2013H: was winking seductively at me, with even more impressive numbers. (Temperature of -7.07 C)  So I peeked. OBuoy 9 Sep 9 webcam Now I feel as guilty as heck. SEPTEMBER 9  —MORNING DMI MAPS—  I need to get back to bed and catch forty winks before a busy Monday starts, but over in Europe it is long past dawn, and the DMI maps are posted. DMI Sep 9 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 9 temp_latest.big The wind is still north over our camera, as “Baffy” fades into Siberia, but the wall of low pressure sealing off the arctic looks like it is breaking down. Scandinavia looks to be in a nice southerly flow, but that flow doesn’t penetrate north, so far.  “Hudson” is sulking between Iceland and Greenland, much weaker than expected, and therefore without much of a southerly flow on his east side.  The high pressure Igor remains king of the hill, for the time being.  On the far side of the Pole all the patches of sub-five-degree isotherms represent noontime temperatures, the “heat of the day,” and I expect them to expand back into “the angry alligator” when we get a peek at the 1200z map this afternoon, for by then it will be midnight across the Pole. EVENING PICTURE   —CHEATING AGAIN— The first picture shows a tiny flake of clear lens at the center, and might make me hope, but the second picture, taken only seven minutes later, shows that area already snowed over.  As with a mysterious woman, there is no way of knowing what exactly is happening on the other side of the eye.  I assume the lens was moist enough to have drifting snow stick to it . The third picture, from six hours later, shows I am still getting that icy look. NP  Sep 9B 11 NP Sep 9C 13NP Sep 9D 17 I suppose I have been spoiled by my real wife, for when I dote on her I get a warm look in return.  I’m not used to doting on a camera like I’ve doted on this one, and getting nothing but an icy glare as a reward.  Not that I’m thinking of divorce.  I’m just indulging in a bit of harmless voyeurism, peeking where I should perhaps not peek.  (That’s how it starts.) But just check out the view from  Buoy 2012L: over in the Beaufort Sea! Hubba! Hubba! Woo Woo! That averted, downcast look, so seemingly modest, just gets me!  (Sure wish our camera looked that way…) Actually it is downcast because it is one of those cameras on a floating buoy that gets rammed this way and that in the sea ice.  Sometimes the ice crunches in a way that makes the camera look down, and for a while this particular view has been of open water between cakes of ice.  But now the cold is starting to make things look more slushy, even with temperatures warming up to -2.43 C in bright sunshine. woo woo webcam (I hope admiring another camera gets our camera jealous, and the heat of jealousy melts the ice off the lens.) SEPTEMBER 9  —EVENING DATA— SOUTHWARD PROGRESS CONTINUES Using my highly unscientific assumption that the wind-vane by our camera has the arrow put on backwards, data shows that the winds behind “Baffy” have continued from the north, but have swung from northeast to northwest and then back to northeast in a manner that shows an impulse passed, and also made our camera’s steady progress south back east briefly before veering west again. In terms of latitude, we are southward bound, from 83.962°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.882°N at 1500z today. However our longitudinal motion shows a wobble, west from  1.723°E at 1500z yesterday to 1.610°E at 0000z, and then back east to 1.623°E at 0600z, and then further west to 1.571°E at 1500z.  The fact this wobble can shows up even in a light (but steady) breeze of six to nine mph reaffirms my hunch that what shifts the ice is surface winds, and not the currents beneath. The wobble also accents a rise in temperature, from below normal to above normal, as temperatures of the first air mass dropped to a low of -6.9°C at 2100z yesterday, and despite the rising midnight sun and the approach of clouds and shifting winds and lens obscuring snow, had only risen to  -5.0°C at 0300 today, but three hours later they were up to -2.3°C, and since then have risen to -1.6°C at 1500z today. I hasten to add that, while this temperature is not enough to melt the ice from the lens of our camera, it is too high to freeze the salt water our camera is bobbing upon. My assumption is that the air we are amidst is a leftover pocket of Atlantic air injected towards the pole four days ago.  It comes from the north.  It is not an onrush of new air from the south. SEPTEMBER 9  —DMI EVENING MAPS—  WHERE IS THE ICELANDIC LOW? DMI Sep 9B mslp pressure latest.bigDMO Spr 9B temp_latest.big All the various lows we have been watching, (their names don’t really matter any more,) have coalesced into two sitting on the Arctic coast of Eurasia, as our slightly punch-drunk champion high pressure “Igor” sits over towards Canada.  This, albeit briefly, is how it should be, according to theory.  Canada has the Arctic Sea ice and Eurasia has the Arctic Sea open water, so Canada should have the cold air sinking as Eurasia has the warmer air rising. Between Igor’s and Eurasian low pressure, the isobars suggest that air is taking the longest possible cross-polar route, towards our camera.  We might even soon see our coldest temperatures of the late summer arrive, (despite the current patch of slightly-milder Atlantic-remnant-air.) It is still summer, and the map shows Laplanders in northern Scandinavia may be enjoying the benevolence of late-summer warmth, however the isobars indicate all that heat curves around and head southeast towards China.  The Pole is left alone to mind its own business. The business of the Pole is to make air polar, and the temperature map shows the “angry alligator” of sub-minus-five isotherms, with his snout turned towards you, positively leering with wicked intent. (What once was his snout is now a sepreate pocket of sub-minus-five isotherms, being wheeled around Igor and toward our camera, and if I stimulated my imagination I suppose I could see a face there too.)  (Call that cold patch,”ASK,” (which is short for “Alligator Side Kick.”)) However, though this current map fits well with various theories, if there is one thing I have learned it is that theory is more often wrong than right.  (For example, judging from sea-surface temperatures, this should be one heck of a season for big east coast hurricanes, yet we haven’t seen a single hurricane form so far, anywhere in the Atlantic.) One theory I am fond of involves “the Icelandic low.”  It is a semi-permanent feature that often influences the weather at our camera.  Yet it simply is not there, in the above maps, however computer models know it should be there, and actually had a big Icelandic low on the September 9 map, as recently two days ago.  It involved the low pressure area I dubbed “Hudson,” and suggested Hudson would now be the biggest low on our map.  The reality?  Hudson is a blip on the isobars, vaguely seen as it drifts up the east coast of Greenland. In other words, computer models are based on theory, but reality is different. The models are so certain the Icelandic low has got to be there that they are currently blowing up a storm over Newfoundland and insisting it has to be over Iceland in a day or two, and some models make it a very big gale.  For example, look at the UK Met map for tomorrow, and you’ll see this modest Newfound storm already blowing up as it approaches the southern tip of Greenland, on its way to assuming the politically correct position over Iceland. Newfee UK Met Sep 9 FSXX00T_24 The storm needs a name, so I dub it “Newfee,” (for Newfoundland,) but I am wondering if it might ignore political correctness, and instead follow “Hudson’s” path, and send a surge up the west side of Greenland, and create a new “Baffy.” Probably not. This is likely just an example of how farmers can worry.  You see, the air I have so blithely talked about, when it was over the Beaufort Sea north of Canada, has had a strange habit, over the past ten days, of winding up over my garden.  True, it has warmed thirty or so degrees as it traveled south from midnight sun through tundra and spruce landscapes where summer is waning, but days are still much longer than night.  And true, my garden hasn’t seen frost yet. But the batch of air now north of Canada is colder than the prior batches.  And if this batch comes south, I might kiss my tomatoes good bye. And my peppers, and eggplants, and cucumbers, and even my pumpkins, long before Halloween. You see, a farmer’s worry creates a worst-case-scenario all its own, usually based on what has happened recently, which is something called “a pattern.”  The recent pattern has been for air north of Canada to make a beeline for my garden in New Hampshire. My worry looks ridiculous, when you consider the fact everyone in my town is talking about the last cold snap giving way to a surge of heat.  Tomorrow I may sweat with temperatures up to eighty, and Wednesday we may touch ninety. However my worry looks further than that. What should I put my faith in?  The pattern? Or the models? (In actual fact I trust neither, and put my faith in something higher.) I can only conclude this: If my entries become few and far between, as the weekend arrives, I hope you will forgive me.  However there are times a blog and the North Pole camera come second to green tomatoes. SEPTEMBER 10 —-MORNING PICTURE—- —STILL NO VIEW— The “Army” data from our camera reports the temperature is at  -4.34 C and we are located at 83.83 N, 1.32 E.  I am hoping I am not imagining a clear spot at the center of the lens, but it will take blue sky and sunshine to be sure.NP Sep 10 18 Heading over to the downcast camera in the Beaufort Sea, where temperatures are still a relatively mild -2.36 C,  the water looks a little less shushy.Obouy7 sep 10 webcam Roughly 130 miles northeast it is far colder, -14.18 C, and Buoy 2013F: also has a camera.  However it has been talking with our camera, for it is giving me the frosty look as well.  However at least, if you can squint a little, you can vaguely see the horizon and a perhaps imagine the blur of a yellow buoy. Obuoy10 Sep 10 webcam And lastly we cross the Pole to the new buoy on the Asian side, and see the midnight sun turning to midnight twilight, and a view that is rather dull.  We need bright sun to cast sharp shadows and increase the contrast. Temperature in this view is -5.33 C. Obuoy9 Sept 10 webcam MORNING DMI MAPS DMI Sep 10 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sept 10 temp_latest.big Cold is building as the high pressure “Igor” still stands atop Canada, creating a cross-polar flow from Bering Strait to Svalbard, and then curving down into Eurasia in the flow between Scandinavian high pressure and Siberian low pressure.  That drain sucks in the Atlantic air coming up the east side of a weak “Hudson” limping across the Atlantic.  It seems the Arctic will remain walled off from the Atlantic until we see what effect “Newfee,” just entering the fray at the southern tip of Greenland, has.  Newfee may be strong enough to change the pattern, or may simply dance to the pattern. The only warmth invading the pole seems to show as a slight dent in the isotherms at the entrance region of the the cross polar flow, where air from the Bering Strait is coming north.  In general the cold is building. This is the first map where the below freezing isotherm touches the north coast of Svalbard, and it is also appearing in the northern waters of Hudson Bay. I’m surprised there is no uptick in the extent graphs. SEPTEMBER 10 —DAILY DATA— SAILING SOUTH Our bouy continued to the south and west as the northeast wind slowly died to a calm in the final report.  It moved from 83.882°N south to 83.835°N, and west from 1.571°E to 1.309°E, in the 24 hours between 1500z yesterday and 1500z today. Temperatures seemed to follow a diurnal fall and rise, sinking from -1.6°C at 1500z yesterday to -6.8°C  at 0600z today, and then rising back to -3.5°C at 1500z. We got above the freezing point for salt water yesterday, but not today. SEPTEMBER 10  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS— DMI Sep 10B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 10B temp_latest.big We continue to see the high pressure “Igor” seeming to direct traffic, as a series of low circle around him.  On the Arctic coast is what I suppose remains of Thidwickson, as Baffy gathers some strength on the Siberian coast. Hudson has strengthened a little in the North Atlantic, and last but definately not least, Newfee is crashing into the south tip of Greenland.  Newfee is starting to create a new exit for Arctic air down the length of Baffin Bay, to go along with the exit between high pressure lingering over Scandinavia  and the Siberian memory of Baffy.  The cross-polar flow persists, but the source region seems less from Bering Strait and more from the north coast of Canada.  The area bounded by the minus five isotherm seems larger than its been so far this late-summer. My sense is more air is going out than coming in, which I suppose means air uplifted by the storms must be decending on the Pole.  To think a little more about the idea of source regions and entrances and exits, I think I’ll look at winds and temperatures, using Ryan Maue’s WeatherBELL maps. The first map of temperatures shows that it is getting colder in northeast Asia.  No longer does the tundra bake under a sun that never sets, and though the days are still longer than the nights, the swarms of mosquitoes have gone to sleep, as temperatures are below freezing by dawn, (which is dawning at the time this 1800z map was drawn, six hours after the DMI map.)  Therefore it not a source region of warm air, as it was only a month ago. (This map also shows it has gotten cold even during the day, in the landscape north of Hudson Bay.) (Click twice to fully enlarge.) WB Sep 10 gfs_t2m_arctic_1 The next Maue Map is of air pressure and winds, and shows the strongest winds are east along the coast of Siberia, without penetrating the core of the Pole. Also it shows Newfee is generating quite a ruckus around Greenland. To my mind the situation looks, for the moment, strangely self contained, without all that much air coming in or going out.  However it does seem to such a large amount of Atlantic air in and up along the entire spine of Greenland.  That must wring the moist oceanic air of every drop of moisture, and then drop it back down from over ten-thousand feet to sea level bone dry. But is it warmer, due to all the latent heat released as vapor becomes cloud and cloud becomes snow?  Or is so much heat lost to outer space, during its trip along the ridge of Greenland with the Stratosphere low, and excellent conditions for radiational-cooling created by the drying of the air and the white ice cap, that it descends colder?  Double click the map, and decide for yourself. WB Sep 10 gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1 PICTURES FROM OTHER CAMERAS, BECAUSE OURS REMAINS BLIND First the view from our poor camera. Army data states temperatures have dropped to -6.02 C.  Not much to see. NP Sep 10B npeo_cam2_20130910175445 Next the view from the “downcast” Buoy 2012L: , ( which is also called “O-Buoy 7.”) Temperatures there have risen above the freezing point of salt water,  to -1.36 C, and the water looks less slushy. Obuoy 7 Sep 10B webcam Next 120 miles northeast, to  Buoy 2013F: , (also called “O-Buoy 10,”)  where a core of cruel cold had temperatures down around -13 C, but temperatures have risen today to a “balmy” -6.90 C.  (Its lens was frosted earlier, now we have a view.) Obouy 10 Sep 10B webcam And if you like that shot, check out this one, not all that much later. Obuoy 10 Sep 10C webcam A man could waste some serious time, especially as the newer cameras update more often than the old ones.  I have to be careful, but really like to use my eyes and experience to judge things.  I may not be good with Math, but even at age sixty I still can catch a football flung by a four-year-old at our farm-Childcare,  and that takes eyes and experience.  You don’t have time to tabulate data or even to use an old-fashioned slide-rule.  Also I marvel a lot about how quickly four-year-olds use eyes, and eye-to-hand-coordination, and develop experience, gaining powers we take so for granted we sometimes fail to give credit where credit is due. We fail to recognize that each time we so much as glance out upon Creation we are doing all sorts of calculating, faster than any computer, and arriving at all sorts of judgments.  There is ancient wisdom in the old saw, “Seeing is believing.”  When we use our eyes and experience we become educated voters.  And there is also wisdom in the fact the vote of a farmer has as much weight as the vote of a brilliant scientist with an IQ of 162, or a billionaire. For our last view we cross the pole to Buoy 2013H:, (also called “O-buoy 9,”) situated over towards Asia at, 80.54 N, 155.38 E, and reporting a relatively mild -1.99 C. (That may not be below the freezing point of saltier parts of the ocean, but so much ice, which is mostly fresh water, melts during the summer that the freezing point of the salt water is increased to around 1.7 C.  It is still too salty to drink, and early arctic explorers would melt the ice and drink that, but sometimes you may read of “a lens of fresh water” atop the arctic ocean.  What they mean to say is, “a lens of relatively fresh water.”) Obouy 9 Sep 10B webcam They likely place these cameras on ice that looks sturdy and like it will last, so perhaps you get a bit of a false impression that all the ice in this area is sturdy and looks like it will last.  However, if you look at ice-concentration maps, you can get a different false impression, for you may see this longitude and latitude is an area of 60% coverage. Of course this gives you the idea we should be seeing a view of 60% icebergs and 40% open water, (like the view from Buoy 2012L: ,) In debates with Alarmists they have held up ice-coverage maps as a sort of holy gospel, and insisted this area is 40% open water, because “the map says so.”  I tell them to look at what the camera sees, and use their own eyes. I’m enjoying looking at these pictures, because even though we just missed our first frost a couple nights ago, a blast of summer has come rushing even as far north as these hills of New Hampshire, and after thunder and heavy showers this morning it has abruptly gotten warm and muggy. They say we might hit ninety tomorrow.  When it gets this hot, looking at a view of ice floating in the water is wonderfully refreshing. However, even though I began mostly liking the refreshment of the view, my knowlege has increased until I’m thinking in utterly different terms.  I’m thinking this blast of hot air is heading up north, and that it will be like gasoline onto a fire, and explode some huge storm far north of here, in some place that, back when I was innocent, I neither knew nor cared about. Those carefree days are gone, for now my brow is furrowed by deep and pressing concerns.  For example, what should I name the storm? (Maybe my concerns are not so deep and pressing after all.  And maybe the “North Pole Camera” is a still a place I can flee to to when I don’t want to think of stuff like Syria.) SEPTEMBER 11   — STILL NO PICTURE, BUT CHANGES BREWING— “Army” data shows our camera is at a cold -6.11 C. Southward motion has halted at 83.83 N.  Wind changing? Pressures have fallen at camera from above 1000 mb to 989.86 mb.  I need to check the DMI maps, because I sure can’t learn much looking at this: NP Sep 11 18 SEPTEMBER 11 —MORNING DMI MAPS—  BAFFIN BAY BATTERING DMI Sep 11 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 11 temp_latest.big Too bad I have to work today, as something interesting is going on.  The ridge of the high pressure “Igor” has swung east of our camera, so winds are likely light from the southeast. “Hudson” has moved up to the southeast of Svalbard, but hasn’t quite pushed the freezing-point isotherm from their north coast.  But Newfee is the big news.  He is sort of splitting into two, with part moving up Baffin Bay and in a sense creating a new “Baffy,” while part tries to kick around the south tip of Greenland and form a new Icelandic Low. For what its worth, models show the Icelandic low forming north of Iceland tomorrow, and then moving north up the east coast of Greenland into the weekend.  I wonder if our camera will get pushed back north? Gotta Go. SEPTEMBER 11   —DAILY DATA—   CAMERA DRIFTING NORTH AGAIN With a ridge of high pressure extending out from the high pressure area “Igor” passing over, winds have been very light.  We are in the calm between two storms, the departing “Hudson” and the advancing “Newfee.”  Only two of the past nine reports listed any wind at all, (data is taken every three hours.)  The 0000z and 0600z reports had a light air of only 1 meter per second, (roughly 2 mph,) and all the rest reported calm. Not that there might not have been puffs of wind now and again, as the temperature did slowly fall, from  -3.5°C at 1500z yesterday, and failing to rise as the sun did, continuing down to -5.8°C at 1200z, and only then rising a bit to -4.5°C at 1500z. However it was the motion of our camera that seemed most interesting to me. I actually expected the ice to continue south even after the wind died, imagining that the vast weight off all the ice would have momentum, and continue to coast on like a boat after you cut the engine.  Instead it seemed to pause, and then started north, from 83.835°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.855°N at 1500z today. Meanwhile the longitudinal drift to the west has continued, from 1.309°E yesterday to 0.938°E today. This is the second time we’ve seen the camera drift northwest when the wind dies.  It suggests that when there is no wind to push the ice about, the current beneath is to the northwest, at this time and in this season. Meanwhile here in the hills of New Hampshire it is over ninety.  Nice to think about ice. SEPTEMBER 12 — AFTERNOON DMI MAPS— THE GREENLAND DOUGHNUT  DMI Sep11B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 11B temp_latest.big Something rather neat is occurring, as the low I called “Newfee” smashes into Greenland, splitting into a west-coast Baffy, (who I will call “Baffles,” to distinguish it from the earlier Baffy,) and an east coast shred of the original Newfee, (who I will call “Newfee,”) What is neat is that, as Newfee splatted into Greenland like a big bug into a small windshield, it has in effect surrounded Greenland with low pressure.  (It isn’t so obvious in this map as it is in Ryan Maue’s 1800z WeatherBELL map, from six hours later.) If you trace the 1000mb isobar, it draws an oval right around Greenland, in a wiggly sort of way. Inside that isobar the winds are all going counter-clockwise, and in some places roaring.  However as you move to the middle of Greenland the pressures stop falling and start rising, until you come upon the 1000mb isobar again.  Those winds go clockwise.  In essence you have a strange doughnut, with clockwise winds rotating within a counterclockwise periphery. If that isn’t cool enough, you have the high pressure I dubbed “Igor” rotating clockwise to the north.  Igors clockwise motion fits nicely with the Greenland counterclockwise periphery, like meshing gears, but also like a figure-eight. There is something very self-contained about these systems.  It must be that they are independent of the Hadley Cells of the tropics, and the Ferrel Cells of the subtropics.  They have something to do with the lonesome Polar Cells nobody cares much for or studies much, because who lives in northern Greenland and is going to pay a fellow  to write the weather reports? In any case, the Ferrel Cell storms seem to be moving due east across the Atlantic to Scotland and south of Scandinavia.  Perhaps some of Newfee’s energy is being squished away into that more southerly route.   However it is the energy going north that fascinates me. Although I originally only visited the North Pole Camera to watch ice melt, I seem to be getting drawn deeper and deeper into a most interesting quicksand. The “Polar Cell” involves all sorts of puzzling doughnuts and figure eights, blocking highs and cross-polar-flows, which only matter to people down south when Polar Cells match up with Ferrel Cells which on rare occations match up with Hadley Cells.  It’s then you have snow in Cuba, and people briefly think maybe they should pay more attention to the north.  However it doesn’t snow in Cuba often enough, and how soon they forget. I’d do the work myself, but I have other worldly responsibilities. I’m in enough trouble with my wife, even studying the little bit I have time for. She thinks I should study her more than the North Pole, (and she does have a point, as she is far warmer.) However if by some fluke I won a quarter billion on a lottery, I’d spend a couple million on paying young scientists to study the stuff I have no time for.  I am fairly certain Greenland  is a huge player in the polar scene.  As I watch I see all sorts of intriguing stuff happen,  however in isn’t odd; it is perfectly natural; it only seems odd because it is imperfectly understood. The minus-five-isotherm is embracing a lot of the pole now, and there is even a dot of minus ten right beside the Pole, at eleven o’clock. If Newfee manages to bring a flood of above-freezing air as far north as our camera, it will likely be the last above-freezing spell we see until the other side of next winter. OUR BLINDED CAMERA SEEING STARS I thought this was a cute picture from our camera, of the ice on its lens.  Brilliant and blinding sunshine must be shining straight into the lens, finding pin holes in the ice to shine through.  This gives me hope.  Even pinholes can heat the lens, and any heat in the arctic speeds the process of sublimation. The pinholes may get larger, and allow so much heat to pool inside the lens that the glass can get warm enough for sublimation to give way to evaporation.  Have hope. We may get a few more good views from our faithful camera, before the darkness descends. NP Sep 11B 13 SEPTEMBER 12  —MORNING PICTURE—  GLIMPSE OF HORIZON For the first time since September 4 we can actually see some of the view, as the ice is gone from the lens in the upper left.  It looks like the lead is open. “Army” data states temperature is  -6.28 C, and the position is 83.84 N, 1.00 E.  This is “midnight” for the camera, and you can see the sun has actually set, and the sky is bright twilight. The sun set for the first time in many months on Monday, and already the nights have lengthened to five and a quarter hours long.  That have to lengthen quickly to be twelve hours long at the equinox, which is the only time days and nights are the same length over the entire planet. Using my handy calculator, today at our camera sunrise is at 2:50 AM, and sunset is at 9:15 PM, and by tomorrow sunrise will be at 2:50 AM, and sunset at 8:53. A long, cold night is coming. NP Sep 12 17 SEPTEMBER 12  —MORNING DMI MAPS— DMI Sep 12 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 12 temp_latest.big Not much change overnight, except the pressure is less low on the Baffin Bay side of Greenland, and deeper on the Atlantic side.  “Newfee” is modeled to become an Icelandic gale and head up towards our camera. “Hudson”, moving east away from Svalbard, seems to have pushed the freezing temperatures away from Svalbard’s north coast. It is interesting how we are now seeing the minus-five isotherm pushed off the pole when Atlantic air bulges north, rather than the freezing isotherm.  Temperatures have generally dripped five degrees in ten days. NOONTIME PICTURE  —LENS PARTLY CLEAR—  ALSO GLIMPSE OF BEAR  NP Sep 12B 18 Did the word “bear” get your attention? Actually to see that, you have to go to the Beufort Sea camera, Buoy 2012L: , and click onto the film option to watch ice melt for the past year.  I was doing that, out of desperation because I’m addicted, and can’t get my fix of watching ice melt from our camera any more. The film is a good way to to relax, if you have eight minutes to blow, but if you are in a hurry slide forward to the 5:15 point in the film, and you abruptly see the view blotted out by white fur.  (Maybe it was a bear that tilted camera in the first place, and gave that camera its downcast look.) The specific frame is O-Buoy 7 2013-08-04   04:41:14  (I couldn’t figure out how to copy a single frame from the video, or I would have stolen it.) Another interesting thing you see in that film is that the ice right by the camera didn’t break up until around a week ago, during a time it was actually refreezing. It suggests what smashes up the ice isn’t so much warm temperatures as it is mechanical forces of crushing and dispersing. Here’s a link to the film: UPDATE: The blogger “Max™” sent me a copy of the above-mentioned frame from a polar camera, showing the white fur.  Thanks, Max. polarbearframe_zpsb90ba2d3 EVENING PICTURE  —WE ARE BACK IN BUSINESS!—(CLICK TO ENLARGE) NP Sep 12C 14 NP Sep 12D 18 The main change that leap out at me are the snow at the base of the snow stake, and hiding the grey hue  of the frozen melt-water pools in the distance.  The pressure ridges seem in the same places, though they seem slightly lower.  Remember they have roots; nine tenths of their bulk is under water. I’ve been wondering if those roots wash away, and with less to hold the tops up, the tops sag slightly. The lead in the distance seems open, as it seems to be when the ice is moving north, but the ice at the far side is visible. Now the question is, will the lens stay clean, or immediately get misted by the next storm? SEPTEMBER 12  —DAILY DATA—  STILL HEADING NORTH The camera has continued north, from 83.855°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.928°N at 1500z today.  It’s also continued west nearly back to the meridian, from 0.938°E to 0.071°E. It remains farther north than it was on August 13. Temperatures rose from -4.5°C at 1500z yesterday to -2.4°C at 0600z, then fell to -3.7°C at 0900z (which raises my eyebrows,) stayed low at -3.5°C at 1200z, but perked up to -1.9°C at 1500z. I’d say some Atlantic air is coming north. SEPTEMBER 12  —EVENING DMI MAPS— DMI Sep 12B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 12B temp_latest.big Icelandic low “Newfee” now apparent. Hope to find time to study more later. SEPTEMBER 13 —MORNING PICTURE—  DULL AND GREY NP Sep 13 15 You don’t get sharp contrast in grey weather without shadows, but I’m not complaining. Any picture is better than no picture at all. “Army” data shows the camera is at 83.94 N, 0.52 W, which suggests a slow drift to the northwest has continued.  I’m not sure the camera can cross 84 degrees latitude yet again, and I’m expecting the winds to shift to the northeast with the approach of the storm “Newfee” from the south. Temperatures are hovering just below the freezing point of arctic salt water at -1.91 C.  Neither a temperature of thawing nor refreeze, however the bergs can melt from beneath, especially as I have a hunch the current beneath the ice is a wrong-way anomaly,  drifting up from the south. A BUOY BITES THE DUST? The “Army” data no longer shows “Bouy 2012B,” which was located just off the the coast, on an ice shelf just south of the northeast tip of Greenland. The buoy never moved, which suggested to me it was attached to an ice shelf frozen to the coast.  My hunch is that, because the ice our camera is on never came south to fill Fram Strait, the shelf was exposed to more erosion from the North Atlantic, and crumbled away.  The temperatures were around -1.7 yesterday, and Cryosphere Today was mapping a hole in the ice in that general area. cryo_latest_sep 13 small VERY COLD ACROSS THE NORTH POLE FROM OUR CAMERA The “army” data shows temperatures have crashed to -9.88 C at the new Buoy 2013H: located at the asian side of the Beuafort Sea, across the pole from our camera.  The above Cryosphere Today map shows that area as 60% ice, but I imagine it is refreezing fairly rapidly at these temperatures.  The picture from that buoy is lovely this morning: Obuoy9 Sep 13 webcam Sunset is occurring at 80 degrees latitude, on the far side of the pole.  If you go to the site there is an option under the picture which allows you to to see a film of all the pictures, (and these newer cameras take pictures fairly often.) The film is only 40 seconds long, as the camera is so new. Mostly it is grey and gloomy, but there is a wonderful scene of the sun just dipping below the horizon 33 seconds into the film. SEPTEMBER 13  —MORNING DMI MAPS— DMI sept 13 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 13 temp_latest.big SEPTEMBER 13  —DAILY DATA—  BACK TO 84 DEGREES NORTH, YET AGAIN Winds from the southeast have picked up to over 20 mph today at our camera, and it has been driven north and west. It has moved from  83.928°N at 1500z yesterday to exactly 84.000°N at 1500z today, (so I can’t yet say it has “crossed” 84 degrees.) However it has crossed the meridian yet again, moving from 0.071°E to 1.666°W in the same time period.  (Hmm. “666” is the devil’s number, and it is Friday the thirteenth.  Wonder what the likelihood of our camera being stabbed by a deranged narwhal is?) I expected milder air to come up with the oncoming storm “Newfee,” but have been surprised.  There was a quick drop from -1.9°C to -1.1°C between 1500z and 1800z yesterday, but then they slowly fell back to -1.9°C at 0300z today. I suppose you could explain that away as being due to diurnal variation, as temperatures rose to -1.6°C at 0600z, but I can’t explain why they’d then again fall to -2.4°C at 1500z.  It is a sheer guess on my part to suggest maybe the high pressure Igor has swung cold air all the way around the pole. EVENING PICTURES  Two pictures from noon  —  five minutes apart. NP Sep 13C 15NP Sep 13D 17 Two pictures from evening — seven minutes apart. NP Sep 13E 14NP Sep 13F 17 EVENING DMI MAPS DMI Sep 13B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 13B temp_latest.big

Finally it is Friday!  I really haven’t had time this week to goof off study the ice melt to my heart’s content in manner befitting a true goof ball Climate Scientist.  My imagination is all used up by other matters, I can hardly remember what I have named various lows and highs, and I see isotherms as mere isotherms, rather than as “alligators” and “elephants.”  But that is just how it goes, when you work a real job.  I’m proud to say that I haven’t neglected my worldly responsibilities too badly, and made it through another week. Now it is time to play, but I can see I have some catching-up to do. “Time and tide wait for no man,” and neither do weather maps.  A true meteorologist must have to be on his toes at all times, for things can change amazingly if you so much as get eight hours of sleep. (Those fellows must drive their wives nuts during vacations.) The surprise of the past week has been the refusal of the high pressure I dubbed “Igor” to quit the Pole.  Perhaps part of him did drain down into Canada, but he grew an apendage back over the Pole, and the appendage grew into a new and different high pressure, and some could argue it deserves a new name.  However I’m sticking with “Igor,” because that movement towards Canada was just the move of a highly trained professional boxer, a feint.  It sure did fool all the computer models!  However if you look back through all the DMI maps you will see general area of high pressure has never fully abdicated the Pole, despite facing some mighty tough foes who landed some mighty big blows. Now the surprising foe of Igor isn’t the low that reformed after smashing to bits against southern Greenland, that I call “Newfee.” Instead it is that innocuous low just to the Asian side of the Pole.  Where the heck did that come from?  It is denting both isobars and isotherms, and Igor’s arm facing Newfee is turned into a noodle.  It’s a surprise attack from the side, and I’ll dub it “Azo,” for it is a dim reflection of air from the Azores that delighted parts of Scandivavia last week.  Most of that air got shunted southeast through Siberia and on to China, but a hint, a faint memory, got swirled back and caught up in the flow-from-the-east ahead of Newfee, and now exists as an entity in its own right. However it largely exists as uplift.  Air even remotely associated with the Azores is like a hot air balloon as the chill builds over the Pole.  It is somewhat astonishing to watch the Big Chill build.  Not so long ago the zero-degree isotherm had a hard time holding even half the Arctic Sea, and the minus-five-degree isotherm was absent.  Now the “angry alligator” of minus-five-degree isotherms is not over by Canada, bit has a big snout right over the Pole, with a menacing (and slightly cross-eyed) glare made of minus-ten-degree isotherms to the Bering Strait side of the Pole.  (Further toward the Bering Strait, at Buoy 2013H: , the “Army” data reports it’s now -13.29 C, but perhaps temperatures have dropped there since the DMI map was prepared.) When temperatures get that cold, the refreeze has started.  Ice and water could care less what “extent graphs” say.  They respond to “current conditions.”  Right now in places the freeze is winning, while in others advances which the freeze briefly made turn to brief retreats.  However over all the cooling is triumphing, for even where the freeze retreats the water is cooling.  (The sun is getting so low that open water reflects more incoming radiation than ice does, so even when the water wins, it loses.  If it drives the ice away, it cools more quickly.) You can see this at “Army” buoy  Buoy 2012L: This the buoy with the “downcast look,” with its camera aimed down at seawater that swirls with chunks of ice and masses of slush that look like they are freezing and then thawing, freezing and then thawing, at times clotted and at times ice-free. As I watched the film available at that site I could see that when the ice was forming it made a skim of ice that was later bashed and crushed and became the slush in later scenes. There is more and more of this slush amidst older and whiter chips of ice, making it harder and harder for wind to push it all aside and expose open water. Just recently the temperatures have been below the freezing point of salt water, but rising in the afternoon sunshine from around -6 to around -4. The picture filled with ice and slush next to the solid ice the camera is on, but the wind shifted and the ice nudged away, giving us a view of older ice, new ice, and water.

Obuoy 7 sep 13 webcam

However an hour later it looked like this:

Obuoy 7 Sep 13B webcam

This is happening all over, so that areas which from space looked like white chips on blue water during the summer now look like this:

Goddard screenhunter_498-sep-12-12-47

If new ice is forming between old ice, you may ask yourself why the “extent graph” shows no increase, and instead looks like this:

Sep 13 Sea_Ice_Extent_L

The reason that graph doesn’t tick up is because it measures 15% or more ice coverage.  It doesn’t give a hoot if the water between ice freezes, and 15% coverage becomes, by stages and degrees, 100% coverage.  It makes no distinction between 15% coverage and 100% coverage, for what it measures is in essence the outer edge of the ice pack, where the bergs are scattered but not absent. During a year like this one, where our camera heads north rather than south, the outer edge of the ice is not going to spread out and therefore increase the “extent” of 15% coverage.  Rather the ice is going to be pushed against the other ice,  and decrease the “extent” of 15%  coverage.  In terms of area and volume,  things may be the same, but extent will show a decrease.  If the winds start to howl and really push that ice together with other ice, the extent may even continue to decrease even as cold temperature start to freeze the mass of jostling sea ice into a single, coagulated mass of 100% ice. I think that is what we are seeing this year.  The irony is that having less “extent” means you have open sea water which loses heat more effectively than water covered by ice, as I have explained earlier, An even greater irony is that some do not actually watch ice melt as I do, but rather depend on “extent” graphs to tell them if there is more ice or less ice.  (Some seem very pleased if there is less ice, and some seem very pleased if there is more.)  I hate to tell them this, but this year is making extent graphs look a little bit…(dare I say it?)…stupid. Let me state things in plain and simple terms:  I may not be a Climate Scientist, but I have watched ice melt.  I’ve done so for years.  And this year it isn’t.  Not like it used to do. In fact it is piling up.


There was no midnight picture from our camera. Too dark to see, with the clouds? The morning pictures are grey, and show the snow blown away from the base of the buoy and snow stake by the recent strong winds. I wonder if a patch of clearing has been swept in, for the most recent “army” temperatures, (more recent than these pictures,)  show a drop to -6.60 C, and clearing often makes it colder, especially now that the sun is low. The position is given as  84.00 N, 2.57 W, which suggests our camera is headed due west, though I hope the daily data shows it reached 84.001, so we can say it crossed 84 degrees latitude yet again.  The lead in the distance seems wide open; I can’t see the ice on the far side in this murky weather.  (The two pictures below are taken ten minutes apart.)

NP Sep 14 14NP Sep 14B 18


DMI Sep 14 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 14 temp_latest.big

The low pressure “Newfee” is weaker and has stalled, on the east coast of Greenland, while the high pressure “Igor” is stronger. The weak feature “Azo” still is drawing a tongue of slightly warmer air towards the pole, faintly seen in the temperature map as lighter green just-below-freezing hues, and a dent in the minus-five isotherm. New features are a new low entering Hudson Bay, (“Hudtwo,”) and a weak low that crawled out of the Bering Strait along the north coast of Alaska. (“Coaster.”)  Coaster’s south winds seem to be warming the western coast of the Canadian Arctic, while the coast further east are chilled by Hudtwo’s north winds. Where these two winds clash I imagine pressures will fall, drawing Coaster east. The temperature map seems to show the very cold readings from new Buoy 2013H: on the far side of the pole.  “Army” data shows it is -13.29 C, and the small circle of minus-ten isotherms on that DMI map seems to be from that buoy, located at 80.68 N, 154.73 E. That dot forms the eye of “the angry alligator,” which to me now looks more like “the indignant duck.”  Under its chin you can see an interesting slot of below-freezing-but above-minus-five temperatures Igor has sucked over the top of Greenland and along the coast of Queen Elizabeth Islands. The midnight sun dips below the horizon now even as far north as eighty degrees, and perhaps should now be called the “midnight twilight.”  Here a picture of midnight twilight, from Bouy 2013H on the far side of the pole. I hope our camera gets a few pictures like this, before the darkness descends. (click to enlarge)


I was just trying to get a grasp of the conditions at the above bouy in the above picture, and chose to look at the 0Z initial runs of the GFS and the Canadian models.  Why did I look at two?  Because the GFS didn’t seem cold enough at the above picture, and I was curious as to whether the Canadians had a better comprehension of cold.

The maps drove me a little crazy at first, as one has Greenland at the top and the other has Greenland at the bottom, however the Canadian map did make it look colder in the area of the above picture, and I seemed to notice other differences in the two maps as well. That puzzles me.

After all, this is the initial data, the numbers they put in to the computer model before they hit the “on” switch, (to get an answer which is increasingly wrong, and often complete nonsense, after as few as five days.) Shouldn’t this data be the same from model to model?  Or do they have different thermometers and hoard data, refusing to share it? Or is it something else? Anyway, here are the two maps, by Dr. Ryan Maue from the WeatherBELL “professional” site (7 day free-trial available.) (Click to enlarge.)

GFS MAPComp gfs_t2m_arctic_1

CANADIAN MAPComp cmc_t2m_arctic_1


At 1500z yesterday our camera had touched 84.000°N. but not officially crossed it. At 0000z today it officially reached  84.012°N, which means it had crossed 84 degrees for the ninth time, and then the strong winds shifted from east-southeast to east-northeast, and the bouy drifted back south and crossed 84 degrees for the tenth time, reaching 83.963°N at 1500z.

The stiff breeze blew between 15 and 23 miles per hour, (likely with higher gusts,) and the westward movement was pronounced, from 1.666°W at 1500z yesterday to 3.914°W at 1500z today.  Just think of it! Yesterday we were in a whole different hemisphere! The meridian is now far behind.

So far no milder air has come up from the Atlantic Gale “Newfee” to the south, and instead temperatures dropped from -2.4°C at 1500z to -6.7°C at 2100z yesterday, and stayed cold all night, rising slightly to -6.1°C at 0600z and then rising more with the dim daylight to -4.0°C at 1500z.  If it fails to fall as the sun goes down we can assume some Atlantic air is seeping up, but with the wind backing to the northeast we might get colder air from “Igor,” or perhaps some of that stripe of slightly milder air from “Azo.” Time will tell.

We might not know the future, but we do know the present, and the wind has never died down all day.  They seemed far more benign in the summer, seldom getting over 10 mph, but today they never got below 15 mph even when they slackened a bit, and by 1500z they were back to a stead blow of 22 mph.  Think of that wind blowing across the open leads between the jostling bergs.  That’s a wind strong enough to raise whitecaps, so the water is definitely being cooled wherever it is exposed. (Don’t ask me to figure out the exchanges of latent heat and available heat, for even at six below evaporation occurs, which uses up heat, even as some freezing occurs, which releases heat. I’ll stick with: “The water gets colder.”)

However the real surprise to me is that we are still up around 84 degrees latitude.  I’ve honestly been expecting us to start a slide south, and we still may, but I think the length of our stall deserves a headline all its own, in red:

ON AUGUST 13 AT 1500Z—83.780°N — ON SEPT. 13 AT 1500Z — 84.000°N 


It looks pretty gloomy for lunchtime. Our camera needs a flash attachment. We also need sound effects.  There should be the sound of wind blowing, and perhaps the ice groaning every now and again.

The wind at 1200z is steady at 20 mph, and the temperature is 23 Fahrenheit.  (For you Europeans, that’s a wind of 10 m/second, and a temperature of -5 Celsius.)  Either side of the Atlantic, it makes for a wind chill few would want to stand about in.  All the snow is blown away, and we see the polished ice of the bottom of “Lake North Pole.”  Only a month and a half ago that lake lay shining in the sun, nearly deep enough to float our buoy. Sing with me, “Where has all the water gone? Long time passes. Where has all the water gone? Long time ago.” Actually, you can see it off in that lead in the distance.  I think I faintly see ice on the far side, but could be imagining it.


DMI Sep 14B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 14B temp_latest.big

I don’t have time to write. Excuse? A sick rabbit at our Farm-Childcare. (Add “rabbit-doctor” to the string of peculiar jobs I’ve done in my life.)  Main feature on map is that Newfee is weaker and a secondary low, “Newfeeson,” is forecast to blow up over Iceland and move more towards Scotland than the Pole.  Gloomy Sunday shaping up, across the pond.

1800z and 0000z pictures   —The Fog Of War—   (Between Atlantic and Arctic)

Temperatures are up to -2.31 C

1800z pictureNP Sep 14D 13

0000z pictureNP Sep 14E 17


UK Met Sep 15 FSXX00T_00

DMI Sept 15 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sept 15 temp_latest.big

While the storm “Newfeeson” over Iceland confronts Scottish golfers with hooks turning into slices, and English schoolchildren with a dark and gloomy Monday-reminder that summer’s ending, its main concern to us Devotees Of the Camera (DOC’s?) is its surge of Atlantic moisture, and also the fact it robs Newfee of energy. Newfee is weakening, but has backed the high pressure Igor off, and put a sizable dent in the coldest air over the Pole.  What is left of Newfee is expected to wobble away north of Svalbard, and may get a bit of a second wind north of Franz Josef Land, becoming the closest we’ve seen to a polar storm in a while, by Tuesday, and then fading down into Siberia by Wednesday. (After that I have no trust in the models, though I do like to watch the peculiar solutions they come up with: Last week one had a storm developing north of Greenland and traveling the arctic coast backwards, all the way to Alaska, late this week. No sign of that solution any more, of course.)

By Tuesday building high pressure over Greenland could be blowing our camera north again, so if we are going to make any headway south to Fram Strait we’d better do it now. While the zero-degree isotherm has been pushed well north of Svalbard, and the minus-five isotherm has been dented away from the pole, the minus-ten isotherm is becoming more common. There is a large pool lurking, nestled up against the coast of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, and the spot around out across-the-pole camera is larger.

The view at the across-the-pole camera is better, as they are under Igor’s high pressure as our camera endures Newfee’s fog.  The sun is setting on that side as it rises on our camera’s side. Here is their view of sunset:

Obuoy 9 Sep 15 webcam


Look at the drifts at the base of the buoy and the snow-stake, and the way the wind leaves “shadows” of snowless ice downwind.  Specks of snow are on the lens, not in the air.  Hopefully the lens won’t get covered. The pictures are ten minutes apart, and the snow on the lens seems a little less on the second picture. Keep your fingers crossed. “Army” data has temperature up to  -1.42 C, and the position at 83.86 N, 4.67 W.

NP Sep 15 15 NP Sep 15B 18


Seeming it pays to sail south. Temperatures warmed from -4.0°C at 1500z to -0.9°C at 0600z. However the strong winds have faded away to light airs, and perhaps that is letting the cold carch up. (I’m joking.) In any case, temperatures dipped back down despite the daylight, to -1.8°C by 1500z.  This is still above normal for this far north, this late in the summer.

The buoy has headed steadily south 83.963°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.862°N at 1500z today, though the speed of this drift has slowed as the wind has dropped.  The drift west has continued, from 3.914°W at 1500z yesterday to 4.681°W at 0600z, and then there was an inexplicable jog back east to 4.665°W at 1200z, followed by a slight motion back west to 4.673°W  at 1500z.  No wind shift explains this jog back east, though it did occur as the wind dropped.  Perhaps the wind hadn’t yet dropped someplace relatively near by, and a different mass of ice rammed our mass of ice with greater momentum. Or cut in line, squeezing in front of ours.  (Can ice cut in line?)  Who knows? Someday we will have a computer program that uses satellite glimpses to give every berg a number, and charts them individually.  Then we will be mystified in a far more precise and detailed manner.


DMI Sep 15B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Spr 15B temp_latest.big

The big boy on the block is Newfeeson, a 962 mb gale who has the good sense not to take on Igor, and instead is heading east to take on Great Briton.  Looks like a miserable Monday for those folk. Southern Norway could be worse. Iceland has already had steady winds over 55 knots (63mph) on its southeast coast, so nearly anything tomorrow will be an improvement.

However that is all far away from our camera, where the wind has died and Newfee has weakened to a 1008 mb hint of low pressure just northwest of Svalbard.  Just northeast of Svalbard pressures are a bit lower, 1006 mb, and, if you want to push your luck, you could call that a secondary low. I’ll just call it a blurb and part of Newfee, and say he is “reforming” or “translating” east,  for I’m not in the mood to name new storms.

It almost is as if Newfee coming north was like a wave coming up a beach, and now the undertow has dragged a lot of that energy back down the beach into Newfeeson.  (If I was going to name the 1008 mb and 1006 mb lows I suppose I’d name them “Flotsam” and “Jetsam.”) As weak as they are, they represent mild air, and there could be decent uplift, especially with such cold air to the north to slide underneath. They may form a small storm.

The build-up of cold under Igor is impressive.  The two areas of minus 10 isotherms are much larger than this morning’s maps.  It shows you sunshine has little effect, when the sun is so low, and clear skies can allow radiational cooling in broad daylight.  Because actual night, or at least twilight, has now progressed north of 80 degrees latitude, for at least a few hours a day, the times of extreme radiational cooling are increasing, on white sea-ice under clear skies.

The little storm “Coaster” has rippled along the arctic coast of Alaska to the Canadian coast.  Ahead of it south winds bring a bit of mercy, but behind it the north winds draw Igor’s cold south, hastening the freeze-up of open parts of the Beaufort Sea.

“Hudtwo” has crossed Hudson Bay, and is at the very edge of our map. He is of interest to me because his west side is pumping an outbreak of arctic air down my way.  I wish the arctic would pay attention to freezing the Arctic Sea more, and pay less attention to trying to freeze my garden.

Notice how different the world looks when you use the map I use. “Hudtwo” is the big low at the very top right of the map. (click to enlarge) (Also note the rare event of Mexico getting hit by a tropical storm from the Pacific side and a Hurricane from the Atlantic side, at the same time.) (Mexico will be in the news this week.)

Mexico Bicected satsfc (3)



There was no lunchtime picture today. I guess they were out to lunch. If you compare this picture with the picture from noontime yesterday, I think you will notice that the black line made by the lead in the distance is ever so slightly thinner. (I get the two pictures on adjoining tabs, and then click rapidly back and forth between the two.)  I even think I can see the ice of the other side, though that may just be old eyes and a young imagination. In any case, I have the sense the lead is narrowing. (Sounds like a sporting event.) (Click to enlarge.)

NP Sep 15C 14


I figured I’d use a catchy headline to get your attention. (It’s sort of like standing on a table at a restaurant.)  In actual fact, with warm air invading from the warm side of the pole, the melt may continue on that side, as the DMI graph of temperatures-north-of-80-degrees-latitude shows an uptick.

DMI Sep 15 meanT_2013 (1)

However it is an uptick from  around minus five to minus four, below the melting point of salt water. Furthermore a lot of very cold air has been nudged south of 80 degrees, towards Canada and Alaska, hastening the freeze-up of the Beaufort Sea, which may explain the uptick in the extent graph.  (Even if this is not the bottom, we are very close now.) (Click to enlarge.)

Melt over Sep 15 Sea_Ice_Extent_L


0000z Picture NP Sep 16 10

0600z PictureNP Sep 16B 18 “Army” data has our camera’s temperature at  -2.41 C.  Location is 83.81 N, 4.66 W.  Frost increasing on lens indicates there is some moisture in the air, though the fog is light. SEPTEMBER 16   —DMI MORNING MAPS— CROSS POLAR FLOW

DMI Sep 16 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 16 temp_latest.big

We have the Siberia-to-Canada cross polar flow we saw earlier in the summer, and it is interesting to see how much colder the air is.  A month ago it would include above-freezing air, while now it largely involves sub-freezing and minus-five and even minus ten isotherms.  Back then Siberia was still a summer-baked landscape with swarms of mosquitoes, but now it is freezing up, and satellite views shows parts are snow-dusted. It is becoming a completely different “source region.” Baffee is redeveloping northwest of Svalbard, but is cut off from much Atlantic air due to Baffeeson hogging it all. It is swirling cold and very cold air. The high pressure Igor looks like he is fed up and going home to East Siberia, where he started weeks ago, however is still strong and cold. Hudtwo has entered Baffin Bay, but looks like he will get sucked into the circulation of Baffeeson and rip straight across the Atlantic to England, and not come north to bother us. Coaster is an interesting little feature on the Canadian arctic coast, but is running out of warm air to fuel it.  It is sucking very cold air in behind and very cold air lies ahead.  It likely will fade away into an impulse. It will be interesting to see how the arctic handles Baffee’s injection of moisture. Even under Igor (where you see the minus ten isotherms swirling) at Buoy 2013H: across the pole, with temperatures a toasty -13.35 C, where there was beautiful sunshine for days, there now is fog.

Obuoy 9 Sept 16 webcam

I have a very busy week ahead. Lots of maintenance to do at the farm-Childcare before winter sets in.  I’ll try to post maps, but commentary may dwindle.


NP Sep 16B 14

1200Z POSITION: 83.758°N   4.500°W , which means we have finally drifted farther south than we were on August 13.  Wind has picked up, roughly north at 10mph. Temperature has dropped to  -3.2°C.  The buoy has started drifting back east. Hmm.


DMI Sept 16B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 16B temp_latest.big 

Have a meeting to go to.  Good discussion over at Hope to comment further after meeting.


As is too often the case, the meeting last night went on and on and on.  Hopefully I’ll have time to catch up during a mid-morning coffee break.  Current “Army” data has temperatures down to -7.34 C. The camera has drifted down to a position of 83.70 N, 4.33 W. Here are the last three pictures from our camera, as the temperatures drop and frost grows on the lens.

1800z picture NP Sep 17A 13 

0000z picture NP Sep 17B 15 

0600z picture NO Sep 17C 16


DMI Sep 17 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 17 temp_latest.big


Temperatures fell slowly from -1.2°C at 1800z on Sunday to -3.5°C at 1800z yesterday, and then plunged to -10.8°C at 0300z today, whereupon the wind died to a calm, and temperatures have risen with the sun to -6.7°C at 1500z today.

The buoy progressed steadily south until the wind died, from 83.839°N at 1500z Sunday to 83.710°N at 0000z.  Interestingly it continued south after the wind died, but more and more slowly, as if carried by momentum but slowing to a halt at 83.702°N at 0900z. Since then it has drifted back north, to 83.708°N at 1500z.

Longitudinal motion continued east, from 4.673°W at 1500z Sunday to  4.274°W at 1200z today, but the finally report has the camera moving west again, back to 4.302°W. This makes the third time I have observed that, when the wind has become calm, the buoy has drifted northwest.  Can it be the Transpolar Drift is moving the wrong way this year?  Or is the Transpolar Drift a wind-driven phenomenon, and the currents under the ice are independent?


I don’t know what happened to the 1200z picture. Out to lunch again? The 1800z picture shows, if you squint through the frost, that the lead in the distance clearly shows a far bank.  From the low point the camera views from, that means the lead is fairly narrow. I have seemed to notice the lead is narrow more when the camera is southboaund than northbound. The latest “Army” data shows temperatures again dropping, to  -8.87 C. The buoy is again drifting south, to 83.69 N, 4.28 W. NP Sep 17D 18


DMI Sep 17B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 17B temp_latest.big Some fascinating changes may be occurring right before our eyes tonight, revolving around the gutsy attempt of Newfee to challange Igor for domination of the Pole. (Igor is the high pressure towards the Bering Strait side, and Newfee is the low pressure just to the right of the Pole.) Between the two is the “old” cross-polar flow, from Canada to Siberia, and coming around behind Newfee is the northerly flow which has blown our camera more than ten miles south, the past few days. Ordinarily behind a low there would be a high pressure, adding to the northerly flow behind Newfee. However in the above map no such addition occurs, and instead a blub of low pressure is appearing on the northeast corner of Greenland, creating a southeast flow that opposes Newfee’s flow.  Rather than behind Newfee, the high pressure is a big arm of Igor reaching around in front of Newfee. It has him in a headlock, and is in the process of flinging him aside down into Siberia. Igor is the champ, and he doesn’t bother with small potatoes like Newfee, when there is a true threat like Newfeeson, just west of Norway, to be faced.  It is the flow from Newfeeson that extends from southeast to northwest, from Scandinavia to the northeast tip of Greenland. In fact, even as I now type, the 1016 mb isobar forms a small circle around Newfee, while another 1016 mb isobar comes around the vast Newfeeson to the northwest past Greenland’s northeast tip into northern Canada and then back around Igor to the Bering Strait. As Newfee is squeezed out of the ring the “old” cross-polar flow will vanish, replaced by a “new” flow following this 1016 mb isobar.  Rather than from Siberia to Canada the flow will cross the pole from Scandinavia to the Bering Straits. Igor will advance west along the Siberian coast, and there are already signs that Newfeeson is gutless, (or perhaps merely occluded.) In any case he will become weaker, and of two minds. Partly he will want to retreat southeast under the powerful forearm of Ivan now over Lapland and western Siberia, and partly he will want to run back to Iceland for reinforcements. If you can trust computer models, (which you shouldn’t,) the reinforcements will arrive over Iceland in time, and a new Icelandic low will form as Igor parks himself on the Siberian coast.  The flow between these two entities will be from southeast to northwest, right over our camera, and cross the Pole to Bering Strait.. If the models are correct, and this flow develops, the result will be that our camera, which has tried so long and so hard to get south of 84 degrees on its way to Fram Strait, will get blown right back to 84 degrees north latitude all over again. This would be marvelous, strange, and deserve headlines, (and therefore probably won’t happen.)  This would also create a wonderful example of how a cross-polar flow can switch by ninty dgrees in 72 hours. The DMI temperature map shows that, even when a storm like Newfee punches the minus-five isotherm away from the Pole, it cannot keep the minus ten isotherm from expanding across the Pole, both over the unfrozen parts of the Beaufort Sea, and also over the edge of the ice towards unfrozen waters towards Bering Strait. (Also a small pocket of minus-ten isotherms appeared right by our camera. If the “new” cross-polar flow develops, this small pocket will be driven away, and temperatures at our camera might even approach or touch freezing for the last time this summer, but temperatures over towards the Siberian coast will plunge.)  (“If”)


Two things I was expecting, and was fool enough to publicly state I was expecting, have failed to come to pass.  Therefore it behooves me to be humble and state I was wrong. I expected the extent-graphs, which measure how arctic sea-ice shrank this summer, to level off early, and to surprise people by starting to rise early as well.  It didn’t happen. Because I expected the above, I expected the extent to bottom out at 6 million km squared. Even using the NORSEX graph, you can see I was wrong:  (Click to enlarge.)

Extent sep 17 ssmi1_ice_ext

I am better than many at admitting mistakes, but I can’t claim to prefer being wrong. To top it off, I was wrong about a couple of other things today, and it makes a bit of an amusing sidetrack to confess them as well.

First, we had a frost this morning, which I didn’t think would happen. Added to a late frost last May, this is one of the shortest frost-free growing seasons I can remember. (Usually we get our first frost around September 25.) True, it didn’t kill my peppers in May and didn’t kill them last night, but my squash plants are history.  However it did make me gripe, privately in my truck, as I drove to get grain for my goats, that if the damn air had stayed up in the arctic doing what it should do, which is to freeze sea ice, I might have been right about the sea ice and might have been right about my squashes.

Second, I have an old, tiny pickup truck with bad brakes, but figured I need not fix the brakes until after I got the grain. There was a leak in a rear brake line, but I figured if I dumped in some extra brake fluid I could pump the brakes and things would be OK. However the pressure of pumping the brakes blew a front brake line, and then I had hundreds of pounds of grain in the rear, and a tall range of hills to climb and then descend from, and no brakes at all.

For the third time in a single day I was being confronted with how wrong I can be. Wimpy guys pull over in such situations, and call their Moms.  However my sweet mother died fifteen years ago, so I had to drive nearly twenty miles with no way to really stop.

For an old coot like me, it was an absolute blast! Talk about pulse-pounding excitement! Best was when a big road-bully in a lumber truck full of tree-trunks pulled out in front of me as I came screaming down a steep hill with my emergency flashers blinking, in third gear. My tires screeched as I down-shifted to second, and screeched again as I downshifted to first, and I could see a hint of concern in the bully’s face, in his side mirror, as I swung out to pass him and saw the on-coming dump truck.  As I swung back and considered the breakdown lane, I could hear the road-bully was shifting up through sixteen gears with remarkable haste. Not that my tiny truck represented a threat, but it would be a bother for him if I went under his chassis and I got smushed.  After I got a good view of his licence plate, around the level of my rear view mirror, he pulled away.

By the time I pulled into a country garage, I was flushed, sweating, and grinning ear to ear, and also I had arrived at a scientific conclusion: “People who are right all the time are missing all the fun.” The fellow who ran the garage was delighted to see an old pre-computer truck, and had both brake lines replaced with amazing swiftness. Then I drove off, three hours behind schedule, (which I hope explains why I haven’t responded to all comments on this blog.)

To return to the subject of being wrong about the-levels-which-arctic-sea-ice-would-decrease-to, this summer; being wrong in that way has also been a blast.  Perhaps I haven’t sweated or felt my pulse pound, but it has been a fun difficult to describe. I suppose the greatest fun involves the fact I get to do what a know-it-all can’t.  I get to learn, which a know-it-all can’t do because he thinks he already knows. What I’ve learned involves an interesting view of ice-extent shown by the following map: (click to enlarge.)

eXTENT sEP 17 N_bm_extent_hires

In this map they don’t bother attempting to measure the extent of the extent. They don’t try to measure the difference between solid 100% ice and mostly-water 15% ice.  They just measure the outer edge of the sea-ice.  Extent is extent, and that is that.

Due to my observations from my microcosm of a camera, I know the ice has not moved down towards Fram Strait, and instead has been wrong-way ice. moving toward the Beaufort Gyre.  Therefore it makes perfect sense to me that one of the few places the ice extends outside the “norm” is at the Canadian edge of that Beaufort Gyre.

Although it is far from our camera, it makes a certain sense to me that the second place the ice extends beyond the orange line of the “norm” is over in far-east Siberia, because the PDO is cool.  (It makes less sense that is the only place over on that side “above normal,” however I quietly tell myself other areas have seen a huge increase from last year, though still “below normal,” and furthermore last summer the PDO spiked to a nearly-neutral side of its cooler phase, before recently dropping.)

It may seem to make no sense for the only other place ice extends to to the edge of the “norm” is west of Svalbard, smack dab in Fram Strait.  In fact last week the ice actually extended over the orange line.  How can that be, considering the ice our camera sits on hasn’t headed down there to add to the Fram Strait edge?

Well, that ice just happens to be the only ice behaving the way I expected. What did I expect?  I expected that water to be colder, and form sea ice quicker.  Why? In a nut shell, water with any sort of ice on top grows new ice at the surface, as soon as temperatures drop below the freezing point of salt water.  The floating ice, even if it is small as a falling snowflakes, forms seed crystals for expanding ice-cover at the surface.  However, without those seed crystals, open water does not freeze.  The cold water sinks, and is replaced by warmer water that rises up.  (This is different from fresh water lakes, for any fresh water below 36 degrees Fahrenheit rises just like ice rises,  whereas if you add salt the same water sinks.)  In other words, open stretches of arctic water would need to chill to near the freezing point of salt water clear down to the bottom, were it not for the existence of the pycnocline, 300-450 feet down, which means the water only needs to chill around a ninth of a mile down before the top freezes.

In other words, without any ice cover, water gets colder much more deeply. There was so much area without ice, as last winter set in, I figured much more water was chilled much more deeply.  It made perfect sense to me temperatures were colder up towards the pole last summer, for even if a storm stirred up water from the deeps, the waters were colder.  However this influence only occurred when you were talking about temperatures a degree above freezing, in July. As soon as temperatures dipped lower than that, the water wasn’t “colder,” but was relatively “warmer.”  And that sent my theory down in flames.

Now, although arctic air temperatures were below normal last summer, we are still seeing a vast area of water north of the Eurasian coast remain ice-free.  Even if this water is slightly colder than last year, it is behaving as last year’s did, and the water down to 300-450 feet is getting colder and colder, like it did last year. Because of this vast area of deeply chilled water, I imagine the warm AMO can no longer send currents north under ice, to melt the ice from beneath, for the ice is gone.  Instead such currents are forced up over the cold water, and then are chilled by both cold water below and cold air above.  By melting the ice that once protected it, the AMO has become, I imagine, an instrument of its own demise. And I think that is what we are witnessing: The demise of a warm AMO.

We are witnessing something never seen before, in the ways we now see. It did occur some sixty years ago, but back then we had neither satellites nor “North Pole Cameras.”

In terms of how we see now, we are virgins about to lose our virginity. Before we lose our virginity we are naive, and have erroneous expectations.  However we discover it can be fun to be wrong.  Not that it solves our problems.  It can make problems much more complex.  However to have a know-it-all attitude is absurd, and can lead one into a state of mind where they, in effect, never lose their virginity, yet still think they know-it-all. I am definitely long past that. I confess shortcomings, but virginity is no longer one of them.


Cache of historical Arctic sea ice maps discovered

Although this article is from May, 2012, I think the old maps are important data, which are willfully ignored or altered by people attempting to show that current low levels of arctic ice are a reason to increase taxes and take away rights.

Watts Up With That?

Arctic Sea ice data collected by DMI 1893-1961

Guest post by Frank Lansner

I came across a number of maps showing Arctic ice extend from 1893 to 1961 collected by DMI in “Nautisk Meteorologisk Aarbog”. Each year DMI have collected information on sea ice extend so that normally each of the months April, May, June, July and August ice extend was published.

There is much more to be said about these, but this is my summary for now.

Fig 1. 1901-1910 Arctic sea ice data collected by DMI. Click to enlarge!

Sadly, just for a few years we also have March or September available, and thus we normally can’t read the Arctic ice minimum (medio September) from these maps. The August trends will have the main focus in this writing.

First of all I would like to thank “Brunnur” in Iceland for making these maps available on the net beautifully…

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Hurricane Warning; McKibben Alert

I wrote this essay a year ago. It applies as much today as it did back then. No one seems wiser, and in fact the reaction to non-hurricane Sandy was just what this essay predicted. It likely will happen again, with the next hurricane. If that hurricane is as bad as the “1938 Hurricane,” it will just be what has happened before, however it will be spun as caused-by-carbon.

Watts Up With That?

With Joe Bastardi stating an opening for an east coast hurricane is possible the next three weeks, it might be timely to submit this semi-humorous look at the dangers of an east coast hurricane versus the dangers of heeding Bill McKibben’s Alarmism, from the view of a writer criticizing a writer, rather than a scientist criticizing a scientist.

Guest post by Caleb Shaw

I would like to venture two predictions which I believe have a, (as they say,) “high degree of probability” of proving true.

The first is that a terrible hurricane, as bad as the ferocious 1938 “Long Island Express,” will roar north and bisect New England. True, it might not happen for over a hundred years, but it also might happen this September. The fact is, 1938 showed us what could happen. 1938 set the precedent.

My second prediction is that if such a storm happens this September…

View original post 5,619 more words









Nice to think about, as summer returns and it gets hot and sticky, here in New Hampshire. (See poem at end of prior post.)

Hat tip to “Ice Age Now” Blog.

UPDATE—AUGUST 21—-First snow dusts rooftops in Barrow

Barrow Aug 21 06_32_02_221_ABCam_20130821_0620



cHINA sNUMMER sNOW 00114320db411376ae9b3e

(Pictures from


It has been a hot summer in China. Even today (August 17) it got up to 97 degrees Fahrenheit in Beijing. (36 Celsius.) Therefore, when a vigorous cold front hit the north, and someone posted pictures of the snow, the pictures went viral:

How soon we forget.  People were grumbling when it snowed in China on June 21.

It reminds me of the old ryhme:

When it is hot
We wish it were not
But when it is not
We wish it were hot.

THE BIG CHILL—SEA-ICE VERSION (August 15-31, 2013)


(This is a continuation of observations, which the interested can backtrack through, starting with the most recent at )

At this point it is interesting to compare our current state at the “North Pole Camera” with the situation a year ago.

Last year we had two cameras, which had the following views:

(Click all images, maps and graphs in this post, and its updates, to enlarge them.)

2012 npeo_cam1_201208131406302012 npeo_cam2_20120813003958

This year we only have one camera, as our second camera had an unfortunate date with a polar bear, and it’s view is quite different:

NP August 15B 18

You can see how much colder it is, if you have ever lived in the north and seen the difference between a thaw and a freeze.  Last year was far more slushy. Last year there were melt-water pools.  This year it isn’t thawing when it is suppose to thaw.  In fact yesterday at our camera it got down to minus 8.6 degrees Celsius.  (16.5 Fahrenheit.)

In and of itself, a local cold snap, with temperatures 15 degrees below normal, is just one of those things that happen all over the world.  Most of us have experienced record lows in our own towns, and also experienced record highs.  In most places records have only been kept a hundred years, and therefore there’s a one-in-a-hundred chance you will see a record high, and a one-in-a-hundred chance you’ll see a record low, and a two-in-a-hundred chance you’ll see a record, each day you wake and sip your coffee.  (Records sell newspapers, but in the ebb and flow of life don’t usually mean all that much.)

The only reason temperatures at this camera are a big deal is because some said the North Pole was melting, and that meant we should change our behavior.  Because it seems to be failing to melt, it may be that we don’t have to change our behavior (unless we want to.)

And that is enough to begin with.  You’ll learn more as I update this post.


Usually the winds shifts to the southeast and temperatures rise, when fog blows in, but the DMI map still shows sub-freezing temperatures.  We’ll have to wait for the temperatures from the Camera Two thermometer, but it looks like this may be ice fog, associated with low pressure forming to the west.

Across the pole there are more sub-freezing temperatures than yesterday.

First picture shows fog forming just after midnight in the midnight sun, (and a faint fog-bow,) and the second shows the fog clamping down just before 7:00 AM.

NP Aug 16 13NP Aug 16B 18

DMI maps show cross-polar-flow moving air from Siberia towards the Northwest Passage, where it had been nice and warm for voyagers but now is likely getting colder. Also it shows the air in that flow contains an increasing area of sub-freezing temperatures, which I can’t explain. I assumed the air coming off Siberia would hold summer warmth and warm the sea-ice on the far side of the pole, but so far I am wrong.

DMI Aug 16 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 16 temp_latest.big

Lastly, the DMI graph of temperatures north of 80 degrees latitude shows yet another downward tick, which will raise eyebrows in groups that are watching the Big Chill influence the ice-melt. This has been the coldest polar summer since this DMI graph was started in 1958. Since the end of July the melting that is occurring to the sea-ice is largely from waters beneath the ice, and not the air.

DMI Aug 16 meanT_2013 (1)


Temperatures “rose” to minus 4.5 Celsius yesterday, but then sank down to minus 8.0 today. (23.9 down to 17.6 Fahrenheit.) Since then it has risen and then held steady a few tenths below minus 6.0.  (21 Fahrenheit)

North winds continue, yet the buoy continues to buck the wind, moving roughly two tenths of a mile north from where it stood yesterday.  (From latitude 83.807°N to  83.827°N)  After another brief move to the west it again has resumed its drift to the east, to longitude 2.183°E. It’s heading the wrong way, if it intended to get flushed out through Fram Strait.

The ice fog has lifted, but left hoarfrost around the camera lens.  The lead in the left distance looks a different color. It may merely be due to the veiled sunlight, but I’m wondering if it might possibly have a skim of ice over it.  Brrr. It sure looks cold up there.

NP Aug 16C 17


It’s a Friday night, and I really ought be out whooping it up, however for some reason I’m hooked on watching the arctic this summer, and just had to peek at my computer. Right away I noticed the DMI graph of mean temperatures north of 80 degrees latitude ticked down yet again. (Click to enlarge.)

DMI Aug 12B meanT_2013 (1)

I don’t even see how such a downturn in temperatures is possible.

The first part of the slump was caused, I thought, by that big gale over the pole last week.  That storm was suppose to smash up the ice and expose open water, and both the melting of the ice and evaporation of the water would turn available heat into latent heat, through the twin phase-changes of ice-to-water and water-to-vapor. That might cause temperatures to dip.

Furthermore, the uplift of the storm itself would suck a lot of vapor to high parts of the atmosphere, where the phase-changes would be reversed, but because the latent heat was released and made available out nearer our borders with outer space, the heat would escape to warm the arctic stars, as cold snow swept downwards to the ice.  So cooling last week was OK. I could accept it as normal.  However, this week?

This week the storm is gone, and all that storm-exposed water should be warming the air.  There should be some sort of uptick in the graph.  At the very least the graph should flatten out, but instead it is plunging steeply.

I clicked onto the DMI map of temperatures for the polar regions, and concluded…. Well, compare these two maps:

DMI Aug 15 temp_latest.bigDMI Aug 16B temp_latest.big

     Yesterday 00z                                  Today 12z

The below-freezing areas are those in green, inside the boundary made by the dashed black line, and, even without clicking the images to expand them, it is obvious that more than half the Arctic Sea has switched from being above-freezing to being below-freezing, in just 18 hours.  The only place freezing temperatures have retreated northwards is from the coast of Franz Josef Land, at 60 degrees east longitude, and that retreat is puny compared to the blitzkrieg advance freezing temperatures have made towards the Bering Strait at 180 degrees longitude.

My immediate explanation is to say it was noon in that direction, during time the first map portrays, and midnight, during the time the second map portrays, so of course it will be colder at 12z towards the Bering Straits.  The problem is: We are talking about the land of the midnight sun, and even as far south as 75 degrees north latitude the sun is just now touching the horizon at midnight. The midnight sun hasn’t yet set, north of 80 degrees.

Furthermore, other maps show that area is the area with the most open water peeking between slabs of floating sea ice.  It should have the most power to moderate surface temperatures to above freezing.  The fact the seas along 180 degrees longitude are failing to do so, even in the summer month of August, demands an explanation. And here is where I must be humble, because I can’t explain it.

Nor can the people who assured us that Global Warming would be “amplified” at the poles, and that the Arctic Ocean could be ice free as early as 2012.  (Using words like “could” or “might” or “as early as” doesn’t get a forecaster off the hook when, rather than “amplified warming,” we are seeing record-setting cold.) However I see no signs of them becoming humble.

Perhaps this is why people are so interested in the obscure topic of ice-melt:  Because it has the power to reduce the theory of Global Warming to absurdity.  It has political implications.  No politician likes being reduced to absurdity.

Me? I abhor much that politics seems to embrace.  All I want to do is watch the ice melt.  The more it melts the happier I am, because I embrace summer. I’d be perfectly happy to see Greenland so warm the Scandinavians could return, and grow barley and brew beer as the Vikings once did, a millennium ago.

Apparently it is politically incorrect to want Greenland to be warm again.  I’m suppose to be alarmed if ice melts.  But, if that is so, why are some politicians seemingly alarmed that the ice isn’t melting? Why are they worried that rather than “amplified heat” the arctic is seeing record-setting  cold? Why aren’t they joyful Global Warming has been exposed by Mother Nature to be a falsified concept?

First politicians are alarmed ice is melting, and now they are alarmed it isn’t.  You just can’t please some folk.  That is why I avoid politics.  I just hope they don’t tread on me, and leave me alone to watch the ice melt. Good night.


It seems there has to be an uptick in the unprecedented plunge in temperatures sooner or later, so that is what I’m scanning the horizon for.  In this morning’s view from camera 2 the clouds look less icy, and above the pressure ridge in the right distance there appears to be a fog bank.  However without data I’m just guessing.

NP Aug 18 18

The DMI pressure map shows the cross-polar flow breaking down, and a possible inflow of milder air brought north via the east-side, south-wind of a decent gale south of Iceland,  with south winds encouraged up towards Scandinavia and then north towards the pole via Svalbard. However a crimp in the isobars seems to indicate a front may be blocking any free flow of warmer air, and the isotherms on the DMI temperature map show no warmth reaching our camera.  In fact, for the first time the minus five isotherm has appeared, showing our camera in a pool of colder cold.

DMI Aug 17 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 17 temp_latest.big

At least the map shows a little less sub-freezing temperatures across the pole towards the Bering Strait, although I suppose that may only be a reflection of the fact the 0z map shows noontime, on that side of the pole.

I crave more information, and a search finds this map, which seems to show no major south winds up towards the pole, but rather east winds and west winds around the pole.

Polar winds Aug 17 Arctic.pressure_arrows.6.cc23

That map is from a nice set of polar view maps at

However I don’t want to fritter away my Saturday getting a bad case of square eyes gazing at the computer.  The Arctic will manage fine without me, I suspect.


After reaching the coldest temperatures of this August, -8.9 at 0000z, temperatures at our buoy have risen to -1.1 at 1500z. (16 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.) If temperatures do get above freezing it will be the first time since 1800z on August 9.  This same moderation of the bitter cold has been seen at the companion buoy roughly 100 miles northeast, where their temperatures rose from minus 8.5c to minus 1.0c in the same period.   These temperatures are more reasonable for late summer.

The backwards ice continues to head away from Fram Strait, moving from 83.827 to 83.908 north latitude, or roughly five miles north.  It has continued its drift east to 2.390°E longitude, but there was one odd jog west at 0600z.  There doesn’t seem to be any dramatic wind shifts that go along with  these shifts in longitudinal motion, so I surmise they may represent the large, flat berg our camera sits upon jostling and colliding with other large bergs in the Arctic Sea.  However the companion buoy is also creeping back towards the pole, so the movement of the ice is, at the moment, not dispersing the ice into open waters but rather cramming it all together at the pole.

The picture from our faithful camera does seem to show an invasion of milder air.

NP Aug 17 18

The DMI Pressure map seems to suggest a flow of milder air up over Svalbard, and the temperature map suggests above-freezing temperatures are making inroads on the Atlantic side of the pole, even as midnight again brings sub-freezing temperatures to the far side of the pole, (which is a larger area of the Arctic Sea.)

It must be strange to live north of the Arctic Circle, and have a time when there are no sunsets give way to times when the midnight sun dips just below the horizon before swiftly re-rising.  Looking down from outer space, it must be like a tilted line of shadow is rotating around and around the pole, ever advancing north.

DMI Aug 17B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 17B temp_latest.big

Of especial interest is the DMI graph of ice extent.  It shows the extent actually increasing slightly.  Likely it is just an upward blip in the downward line of melt, but if it continues then it would be an unexpectedly early end to the summer melt, and make headlines. (Click graph to enlarge.)

DMI Aug 17 icecover_current_new


This NOAA map of the mean temperatures of polar regions for the entire 1 day period of Aug 17 smooths out the ups and downs.  It shows the below-freezing temperatures exist in all four quadrants around the pole, but that the most severe cold is off the Northwest Greenland coast, and Canada’s most northern islands. It has been backed off, but will it return?  The camera shows fog.  Watch the stick in the foreground to see if it is freezing fog or not.  A milder fog will be a “snow eater,” and more black will show at the bottom of the stick.

Polar Temps NOAA Aug 17 sfctmp_01.fnlNP Aug 17B 18


It looks like the crisp packed powder snow has softened and is sagging by the snow stake. (Remember our camera  has drifted 350 miles south of the north pole itself, since April.)

Aug 18B 10Aug 18C 18DMI Aug 18icecover_current_new


A steady flow of air up from Scandinavia over Svalbard has pushed above freezing air nearly to the pole, as can be seen in the DMI pressure and temperature maps.

DMI Aug 18 pressure mslp_latest.bigSMI Aug 18 temp_latest.big

A lovely high pressure area is forecast to move up from the Azores into Europe, so the gale southeast of Iceland will be nudged north and then west, until it is back north of Iceland and back towards Greenland, as it falls apart and fills in.  My guess is that will weaken the southwest  injection of milder air into the Arctic Sea, and our camera will get winds more from the east and northeast.

The southwest flow seems to be pushing the ice back into the arctic, and if it keeps up our bouy will move back past 84 degrees latitude.  Since I last positioned it, it has moved from  83.908°N to 83.972°N, or roughly another four miles further away from Fram Strait.  (Maybe this ice has decided it want’s to exit the arctic by a Bering Strait back door.)

Subjectively the view from the camera seems colder. The data shows the temperature rose above freezing between 1500z and 1800z yesterday, peaked at  1.7 celsius (35 degrees Fahrenheit) at 0600z today, and had backed to 0.9 celsius at 1200z.

It is still very cold not far to the east, north of Greenland. The far side of the pole is largely below freezing, with a few patches of thaw well away from the pole at high noon.

My guess would be that even if the extent of the ice is less at the edges, towards the center of the Arctic Sea the ice is getting crunched together and is consolidating.


A quick glance at the 12z DMI maps show that the Scandinavians are not going to put up with any of this nonsense involving an early start to winter.  Not only are they booting the North Atlantic low back over the top of Iceland towards Greenland, and trying to talk a warm high pressure all the way up from the Azores to keep their beaches sunny, but they are arranging isobars to whoosh the Big Chill away from their northernmost shores.

So far they have succeeded, and the zero isotherm has been pushed past the pole, but lurking, with obvious sinister intent, just to the northeast of Greenland and north of Canada is a big, mean, dour-faced bully, shown by the face described by the five-below-zero isotherm.  Will it counterattack the counterattack?  Wait for the next exciting installment of “Watching Ice Melt.” (Click maps and graph to enlarge.)

DMI August 18B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI August 18B temp_latest.big

By the way, the DMI graph is showing the Scandinavian Invasion with an uptick.  However notice it still is only halfway back to normal, and normal is now dropping below the freezing point.  Across the pole a large area of the Arctic Sea towards the Bearing Strait is below freezing as midnight sun turns to midnight twilight. (12z is midnight on the far side of the pole.)

DMI August 18 meanT_2013


One reason I find watching ice melt intriguing is because I am constantly having my preconceptions shattered, and being surprised. This morning is no different.

The view from our camera is a bit slushy for the first time in a long time. I am wondering if what I assumed was a “lead” in the left background is actually a melt-water pool. I still assume it is a lead, as a melt-water pool would have refrozen and become snow-covered during the prolonged freeze of last week, however I am questioning my preconceptions.

(I am also questioning whether the wind-indicator at our buoy might be giving readings that are roughly 100 to 180  degrees off.  All summer the buoy has seemed to move into the wind rather than with the wind, and now that I am looking at more maps the indicated wind never seems to match the isobars.)

NP August 19 10

The big surprise this morning is not so much the charge of milder air right across the pole, but instead colder air which is swirling in behind that charge.  I didn’t notice this sneaky swirl last night, but 20-20 hindsight now sees it.  This morning’s 12z map makes the chill most obvious in a feature between  Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land: A pocket of sub-freezing air exists where the sea is ice-free and the water temperature is between 4 and 8 Celsius.  (Less surprising are other pockets of sub-freezing air to the east over Severnaya Zemlya, as that area has retained ice-cover even to the coast.)

Another surprise is a pocket of very cold air shown by the minus-five isotherm on the DMI map.  I don’t think this is associated with the very cold air that  was northeast of Greenland on the 0z map, as the winds suggest that air was largely swept inland over the islands of northernmost Canada. Rather I assume this new pocket of sub-five-degree air was “home grown” over the thick ice on the far side of the pole, which surprises me because it is high noon at 0z over there, and also the cold seems close to, if not actually over, the edge of the ice and the start of the open water.

Lastly, the high pressure sitting atop Greenland is pouring air off the icecap as an east wind at the north of Greenland, and that must be a cold injection into the warm flow.

In conclusion, the Big Chill is still out there, even as the thaw attacks. It will be interesting to watch what happens as the two swirl together like dancers.

DMI August 19 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI August 19 temp_latest.big


At 6:00 AM BCT (Bouy Camera Time) The thaw was continuing, with temperatures as high as 1.4 C at 2100z yesterday.  The buoy was proceeding merrily the wrong way, north to   84.029°N by 0900z today, when a major change was taking place.  Here is the wet 6:00 AM picture:

NP August 19B 14

At 1200z, as our camera was minding its own business and just sitting down to a nice, quiet lunch of electronics and toner, all hell broke lose.  The wind shifted right around, temperatures plunged to just below freezing, and the ice came to a screeching halt and started back south.  The poor camera broke into a sweat, which you can see dribbling over the lens at noon:

NP August 19C 18

By 1500z temperatures were back down to -1.9C, and the ice down to 84.008 north latitude.

Meanwhile, roughly 100 miles northeast at the companion buoy, at 1500z it was still thawing, but the wind had just started to shift.  Also that buoy had only just then stopped its northward drift, and hadn’t started south, which suggests a lead would have had to open in the ice somewhere between that buoy and “our” buoy, for the two buoys were for a time going in roughly opposite directions.


I found a link to a Navy map. which has the drift chart that appears below:

Buoys Sugust 19 Active_track

However if you click the link, then below the map you see boxes which show what data each buoy has recently collected, and in some cases whether the ice is getting thinner.  In most cases it isn’t. (“Our” buoy is “Buoy 2013E” on this page.)

It is a real treasure trove for a person who likes to watch ice melt.  How am I to get anything else done? (Hat tip to the blogger “Brian D.”)


(Hat tip to the blogger “SAMURAI.”)  Here is a link to a DMI site that allows you to compare the ice cover, and click backward and forward to compare the ice-cover on one day with another day.  It will prove a invaluable tool, in terms of seeing where ice-cover is growing and where it is shrinking, over the next three or four weeks.


Sometimes a 1800z picture can speak a thousand words:

NP August 19 D 18


Our camera is cold this morning; down to -3.85 according to the army link, (which gives the date but not the time.) An interesting new feature in the the picture is the enlargement of what I assume is a “lead” in the distance.  Formerly it was only seen to the left, but now it extends past the middle, and even can be seen peeking through the peaks of pressure ridges to the right.  (Click picture to enlarge)

NP August 20 18

The DMI temperature and pressure maps show the cold that charged past the camera yesterday has reconquered the pole, but just past the pole the above-freezing flow up from Scandinavia continues,  and has penetrated to the heart of the Arctic Ocean.  Sea ice is shrinking where it first enters the Arctic, north of Franz Josef Land, and a “ice free” hole has appeared in the sea ice in that area.  Meanwhile ice on the the Alaskan coast and towards Bering Strait is growing in places.  It is especially cold off the coast of Canada.

DMI Aug 20 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 20 temp_latest.big

My sense is that the current surge of warmth has past its peak, and the above-freezing and below-freezing air will now swirl, mingling together like cream into  clear tea.  (The word “stir” has the same root as the word “storm.”)  They will waltz together and merge into something new, as the low pressure north of Iceland fills in.  The current pattern, which amounts to a cross-polar-flow from Finland to Alaska, will be snapped in two as everything reorganizes.  It will be fun to watch the next pattern evolve.

Beautiful weather is bathing Europe, and one question is whether it will extend north towards the Pole, or chose to pour its benevolence eastwards towards Eastern Europe.

A question more interesting to me concerns what happens to the mingled air now mixing over the pole.  I am going to stick my neck out and say it will chill more rapidly than seems possible, for that is what has been happening to air up there all summer. The cause is open to debate, but perhaps the seawater between the icebergs is slightly colder.  In any case, for the moment the air temperatures north of 80 degrees latitude are at long last back to normal, and this warm surge may briefly put them above normal (though still below freezing,) but my hunch is that we will then see the Big Chill return.

DMI Aug 20 meanT_2013 (1)


The cross-polar flow continues, and the pulse of above-freezing temperatures are spearing nearly across the Arctic sea, even as sub-freezing temperatures counter across the Pole at the Greenland side of the thaw.  I am reminded of old military maps of “The Battle Of The Bulge,” with the Germans striving ahead as the Allies strive to pinch in from either side at the bottom sides of the bulge. Therefore I find a certain irony in the way the above-freezing temperatures resemble a spear-point.

DMI August 20 pressure  mslp_latest.bigDMI August 19B temp_latest.big

Actually it is a bit absurd to use the analogy of two armies battling.  Yesterday I described the two air masses as “waltzing,”  and for all I know the two air-masses may be the best of friends, with their rivalry like a friendly round of golf, and I am like the sportscaster screaming into a microphone at the sidelines, when they’re trying to concentrate and putt.

I’m just trying to liven things up a bit, during a lull. That low north of Iceland isn’t going to turn into a dramatic super-storm, but rather is  just going to fade away, and in 48 hours there will be a boring ridge of boring high pressure in its place, extending down to glorious weather in Europe.  People will be laying around on towels and soaking up the sun, and where is the drama in that?  Therefore I look elsewhere, and notice how the minus-five isotherm over Canada’s northernmost islands is expanding, and looks a little like an elephant.  Now, that makes a good, blaring headline: “Elephant Of Cold Grows In Arctic!”

Or I could be more subtle, and point out that even with the spear of warmth right through the heart of the Arctic Ocean, temperatures are again sinking below what we’d normally expect on August 20. (A bit of ominous background music would be helpful, as well.) (Click to enlarge and make the tiny down-tick visible.)

DMI Aug 20B meanT_2013 (1)

Of course, while such antics may be entertaining, they are basically balderdash. The truth is that a lull is a lull is a lull.  We are in wait-and-see mode.

During such an interlude it does no good to restlessly pace to and fro waiting for something to happen.  You might as well restore yourself with some rest and relaxation.  In fact that was my original reason for watching ice melt.  It is a tranquil thing to do. Therefore, as it is hot and humid here in New Hampshire, I think I’ll just gaze at the pictures of cold fog and ice for a while:

NP Aug 20B 13NP Aug 20C 18

Those are the 1200z and 1800z pictures.  While enjoying how cool they made me feel, and the peace and serenity of having not much change, I abruptly did notice a change. (Before I tell you what it is, click and enlarge the pictures and see if you can spot the change for yourself.)

I assume the low clouds we see are due to the cold air north of Greenland meeting up with the flow of warm air coming up from Scandinavia. The data shows temperatures sunk to below the freezing point of salt water for 20 hours, bottoming out at minus 3.2 Celsius at 2100z yesterday and still at minus 3.2 Celsius at 0600z today, before they began rising. (The army data reported -3.85 Celsius at one point, but that may have been between the every-three-hour increments of the North Pole Environmental Observatory data.) By  1500z today the temperature had nearly risen above freezing, to minus 0.3.

This was likely due to a wind shift which also effected the east-west movement of the ice. As soon as the wind shifted the ice reversed direction, no longer moving east and instead moving west.  Back on the 17th at 1500Z  the buoy reached  2.390°E longitude, but since then it has been banged, bumped, and wind driven back and forth, and recently has moved from 2.321°E at 1500z yesterday to 1.748°E at 1500z today. Meanwhile the southward movement that started yesterday has continued, the buoy crossed 44 degrees north latitude yet again, and it moved from 84.008°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.930°N  at 1500z today.

The odd thing is that the movement of our companion buoy, roughly 100 miles to the northeast, is not at all the same.  As our buoy has moved steadily south, it moved south, then north, then again south, and at last report was headed north again.  Furthermore, as our bouy moved steady west, it started by moving east, and only later decided to go west.

The fact these big, flat bergs of ice are independent spirits who go their seperate ways makes mincemeat out of extent and area maps, and volume calculations. It makes me think. (A sort of rough draft of my thought, including a few embarrassing errors, can be seen at: )

However now let us return to the two above pictures from our camera.  Did you spot the difference I did?  It involves the dash of darkness in the background distance just above the central buoy.  It is a bit larger in the 1800z picture than it was in the 1200z picture. In fact in the 1200z picture, (if you click it to enlarge it,) you’ll see a dash with a dot to the right, but by 1800 it is a single larger area, like a shallow crescent.  What creates the difference?

My theory is that in the first picture the far side of the lead is near, and in the second the far side is much farther away.  In other words, the lead is widening.  The two chunks of flat ice are independent spirits with minds of their own, and are currently moving in opposite directions.

That lead is closer than it looks.  Having open water so close may not only raise our temperature readings, but also may threaten the life of our intrepid North Pole Camera itself. STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT EXCITING EPIDODE!!!


This morning’s 00z DMI maps still show the cross-polar-flow quite strong over the Pole itself, but it is no longer fed by isobars showing a flow up through Scandinavia, and in fact the inflow is falling apart. A high pressure ridge is building over Iceland as the old low to its north fills in.  The “elephant” of cold shown by sub-minus-five isotherms remains just north of Canada.  The above-freezing isotherm has again conquered the pole, just barely.DMI Auf 21 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 21 temp_latest.big

The map does not show the very cold air pouring off the northeastern part of Greenland’s icecap and heading east. The army data states temperatures at “Buoy 2012M,” located just off that coast at  81.54 N, 120.48 W, are down to minus 7.58 Celsius; (18.38 Fahrenheit.) It is milder to the northeast at “our” buoy, barely below freezing at minus 0.07 Celsius.

I suppose the clash between the two air masses are keeping it grey at our buoy, however it looks a brighter shade of grey this morning, and there is clearing not too far to the west, north of Greenland.  I hope it clears up, so I can get a better view of what is going of in the background of our picture.

NP August 21 16


The DMI 12z maps show that the cross-polar-flow is increasingly ingesting air from colder source regions. While above-freezing air retains its conquest of the Pole, it is beset on both sides by below-freezing air.

Of special interest is the expansion of the area bounded by the minus-five isotherm.  The elephant is growing. Just look at the size of its trunk!

DMI Aug 21B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 21B temp_latest.big

Despite the proximity of the cold, our camera has basked in the balmy breezes of temperatures a hair above freezing.  (0.4 Celsius; 32.72 Fahrenheit.) A light mist of rain may be falling, shown by drops on the lens of our camera, during the most-recent picture.

Also our camera is rocketing south at roughly six miles a day,  (covering nearly a full tenth of a degree in a single day, and a handy approximation is to call a degree of latitude 60 miles. )  It moved from 83.930°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.829°N at 1500z today. At this dizzying pace it soon will be as far south as it was a week ago.

Interestingly it stopped edging west and started edging back east, without a wind change.  I assume this means that the berg our faithful camera is on bumped into some other berg, or got bumped.  (Traffic gets heavy in the rush hour.)

The 12z and 18z pictures may look like the same, old same-old, but once again subtle changes can be seen if you play, “Can you see the differences between these two pictures?”

(Don’t be fooled into thinking the difference is that a flock of odd, black, crescent -shaped birds are flying about. Those are drops of water.) (One time the dark, curved line of a single drop fooled me by being perfectly positioned on the horizon; I mistook it as smoke from the funnel of a distant icebreaker.)

NP Aug 21B 13NP Aug 21C 18

Ignoring the drops of water, focus on the dark line on the horizon, which I take to be the open water of a lead. To the left in the 12z picture there is a single gap in the dark line, but in the 18z picture the dark line has three breaks.  The barely discernible break to the left of the original break is most interesting to me, because I take it to mean the ice across the lead is swiveling closer.

However if you switch to and fro between the two pictures, focusing on the dark line directly above the buoy, it actually seems to increase in the second picture, which tends to suggest either that that part of the lead is widening, as the far side swivels away, or that there is a break in the far side.

I make the second suggestion because if you allow your eyes to traverse to the right to a single dash of darkness peeking between the pressure ridge, it gets smaller in the second picture, which means the far side of the lead would be closer there, which could only happen if it was an independent piece of ice.

(Life sure would be a lot easier if this camera had a zoom lens.  Also it should be able to pivot left and right.  After all, they have robots driving around Mars, and cameras watching pedestrians amble down English streets, swiveling if need be to follow the progress of a beautiful women. They ought to be able to do better with a camera at the North Pole. In fact I think I’ll buy them a better camera myself, if I win the lottery.)

However we are stuck with what we’ve got. And actually you can deduce a lot, if you play, “Can you see the difference between these two pictures.”

Not all that you deduce is correct. For example, the time I thought I saw the smoke from the funnel of an icebreaker I rushed to be the first to spread the news, and felt foolish when I found out the dark curve on the horizon was a drop of water on the lens.  But that is how you learn.  You have to be cheerful about making an ass out of yourself, because it is better to stand corrected than to preserve pride before the fall.


Looks misty up at our camera this morning, which is probably a good thing, as I’m busy today and shouldn’t be ice-gazing.

NP Aug 22 18

The DMI pressure and temperature maps show the Atlantic low filled in and replaced by a ridge to high pressure over Europe.  The new pattern has continued the cross-polar-flow, but with completely different source regions, as the high over Siberia and the low over Northernmost Canada grow in predominance.

DMI Aug 22 pressure mslp_latest.bigAMI Aug 22 temp_latest.big

While the above map shows the North Pole still thawing, the most recent “army data” shows “our” buoy has slipped from just above freezing to just below,  at minus 0.22 Celsius.

The Big Chill has not reestablished itself, at this point. However any time the temperature dips below freezing the rainwater atop the ice freezes, and turns from a substance that weakens the floe to a substance that hardens it.


My over-active imagination tends to see faces in clouds, and also in isotherms.  The “elephant” I first saw two days ago, made out of the minus-five-degree isotherm north of northernmost Canada, seemed to have fallen apart this morning, but the 12z DMI map has the elephant back, bigger, and frowning.  I think the expansion of the colder air is newsworthy.  Despite the cross-polar-flow sucking in a lot of moist air from the Atlantic, roughly three quarters of the Arctic is now below freezing.  The Big Chill is growing.

DMI Aug 22B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 22B temp_latest.big

Our camera’s view is lousy, due to water on the lens. However the water is apparently starting to freeze on the lens, in the second, 18z view. (Click views to enlarge.)

NP Aug 22B 13NP Aug 22C 17

The temperature has remained just above freezing all day, only sinking to exactly zero in the final 1500z report. Of more interest to me is that our camera stopped heading south, reaching 83.784°N at 0600z, and started north again, reaching latitude 83.795°N at 1500z.

One reason ice extent graphs are not higher is that there is so little ice in Fram Strait.  This is not because it is warmer in Fram Strait, but rather because ice, such as the berg our camera is on, refuses to head south.

Gotta go, but I hope to ruminate on this subject more later.


I came home after a long day’s work yesterday and sat down to amuse myself watching ice melt, and was somewhat surprised to see that, (using a WordPress feature,) that this little site had seen 138 visitors in the past hour.  I wondered, “What the heck ????” That’s more views than I used to get in a week.

I wasn’t expecting so much company. After hurrying into the bathroom to comb my hair and put on a clean shirt, I returned to see if I could figure out what in the world was going on. All the traffic was coming from Anthony Watt’s site, and a bit of back-tracking spotted a nice comment by Eric Simpson at 1:56 PM.

In any case, by the end of the day this little site had 536 views, which set a local record.  (I guess I’ll have to start wearing a suit as I type.)


If you click on this site and run the animation feature, you can see a gale that is currently blowing up south if Iceland is forecast to head north right over Iceland and crawl up the east coast of Greenland, arriving at our camera next Tuesday.

The storm is expected to weaken before it gets to our camera, but I suppose we could see the ice stressed.  Also it will be interesting to see if the camera gets blown north of 84 degrees again.


I am a little confused by differences in the data between this site: which shares the same pictures as this site .  I call the first site “our” site and the second site the “army” site. The first site refers to our bouy as IABP PAWS Buoy 819920 while the “army” site refers to it as Buoy 2013E. Perhaps they share the same camera but have different thermometers, but in any case the “army” readings seem roughly three quarters of a degree lower.  This morning the “army” reading is minus 2.69; (27.2 Fahrenheit.) “Our” data gets released around lunchtime.

The DMI maps suggest to me the Pole shouldn’t change that much, as the inflow to the cross-polar-flow continues to be maritime air from the North Atlantic.  The cold north of Canada is still strong but a little less intense, as noontime swings around past that part of the arctic.  (I can still see the “elephant” in those blobs made by the minus-five isotherms, but then my imagination is particularly dreamy in the morning:  The blob of sub-zero air towards Europe is a frog, and the elongated area of sub-zero air towards Siberia is an old lady with a big nose and a basket in her lap.)  (Looking back, I pity my science teachers in high school, who had to deal with my imagination.)

DMI Aug 23 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 23 temp_latest.big

It is quite normal for temperatures to plunge this time of year, as the DMI graph shows:

DMI Aug 23 meanT_2013 (1)

As there was a lot of open water after last years polar gale, the DMI graph was slow to fall and remained above normal for quite a while.  However I imagined that storm heaped up the ice where ice remained, and significantly chilled the water between the surface and the “pycnocline” where water was exposed, and finally that the record-setting arctic snowcover last spring retarded the warm-up.  Therefore I actually was expecting the arctic ice to be tougher this summer, and for us to see “the Big Chill.”  However I have been wrong about how early I expected to see the refreeze start.  In am on record as saying I expected everyone to be surprised by how early the “extent” graph flattened out, and it hasn’t done so: (Click to enlarge.)

Aug 23 Extent ssmi1_ice_ext_small

Oh well, I suppose one can’t be right about everything.  At least I can admit I’m wrong when I’m wrong, which proves I’m not a true Climate Scientist.

The view from our camera looks much colder.  I hope that ice sublimates and falls off the lens, so we can get a better view of what’s happening in the distance. (Click to enlarge.)

NP Aug 13 17


Temperatures dropped from zero at 1500z yesterday to -2.7 Celsius (27.1 Fahrenheit) at 0600z, before bouncing back up to zero at 1500z.  In the same time period our Wrong-way Camera continued to edge away from Fram Strait, moving from 83.795°N to 83.833°N.

Temperatures continue quite cold in the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska and Canada. The two bouys there are reporting minus 5.88 and minus 4.76, while the buoy north of Canada’s northernmost Elizabeth Islands is even colder, reporting minus 7.35.  Its been cold for some time over that way, and I’m keeping an eye cocked for an increase in the ice.

Our camera’s lens is finally clear, but now the sun’s in my eyes.

NP Aug 23B 18


(As always, click all maps, pictures and graphs to enlarge.)

The DMI 12z maps show the sub-minus-five cold north of Canada is still strong, and now the “elephant” has an “eye.”  The above-freezing Atlantic air is pumped by the cross-polar-flow right across the pole, as a gale lurks south of Iceland.

DMI Aug 23B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 23B temp_latest.big

The sub-freezing air curls right around the above-freezing air, which creates a false impression if you think only of the area above 80 degrees north latitude.  The DMI graph of that area shows temperatures “above normal” for the first time since last spring, but much of the below-normal cold now lies south of 80 degrees latitude.

DMI Aug 23B meanT_2013 (1)

The 80 degrees north area is inside the smallest circle of the following “ice concentration” map.

Aug 23 Concentration arcticicennowcast (1)

It is interesting how the really cold air is all out at the edge of the ice, where it could possibly hasten the refreeze. I’ll be watching the “ice extent” graphs with keen interest over the weekend.

At our camera the fog is back.

NP Aug 23C 14


It is a nice sunny morning at our camera, (if any time can be called morning where the sun doesn’t set.)  Three hundred fifty miles south of the pole, the sun has dipped past its midnight low and, without setting, now rises towards its noontime high.  However the shadows are getting longer, and there is no sign of thawing.  The sun simply isn’t getting high enough to heat much, anymore, and clear weather often indicates drier air that makes it colder. The “army” data states it is just below freezing, at minus 0.2.

NP Aug 24 17

The DMI 0Z Temperature Map still shows the remnant of the cross-polar-flow’s effect, even as it breaks down.  A horseshoe of sub-freezing air surrounds the above-freezing influx from the Atlantic.  The Pole has been reconquered by subfreezing air, but it is not very far below freezing.  The “army” data at our “companion buoy” is at minus 0.21, while “Buoy 2012J:,” up at 87.1 north latitude, is coming in at minus 1.04. To the south, at the buoy just off the coast of Greenland in Fram Strait, it is very cold as air flows off the icecap, at minus 7.29.

The “elephant” of sub-minus-five degree isotherms towards Canada is smaller, but that is largely due to noontime swinging through that part of the pole, and the fact they now are experiencing actual nights.  While the sun still is up for 24 hours a day at eighty degrees north latitude, at seventy-five degrees north the nights are already four hours long, and the two buoys in the Beaufort Sea are both south of 75 degrees. The “army” data reports them at minus 5.18 and minus 4.38 in the “warmth” of the afternoon.  Meanwhile, north of Queen Elizabeth Island where the sun still doesn’t set, the buoy is coming in at minus 5.60.  The final buoy of the eight “army” buoys, tucked in between northwest Greenland and Queen Elizabeth Island, is at minus 2.61.

Despite the fact not a single “army” buoy reports above freezing temperatures, across the pole the residue of the invasion remains, however the DMI pressure maps shows it is now cut off from reinforcements. A weak low over Svalbard and another down towards Siberia are plugging the channel, and bending Atlantic winds eastwards over Scandinavia.  I think this is a hint of things to come.

The big gale over Iceland represents the final chance for Altlantic air to invade.  The weakening gale will come north towards our camera, and the rush of south winds up its east side may give our camera another foggy thaw at the start of next week, however as that low weakens it will turn east and become but one of a string of low pressure areas extending from south of Greenland, past Iceland, north of Scandinavia, and along the Siberian coast. Winds to the south of these lows will be generally west, and to the north they will be generally east over the arctic, and the necklace of lows will form a sort of wall keeping the mixing of Arctic and Atlantic air at a minimum.

I imagine that the east winds that will then develop around the Pole will completely reverse the cross-polar flow we now see.  Rather than the ice being jammed over towards Canada and packed on that side of the pole, ice will be dispersed out into the seas north of Svalbard.  Even though those seas melt ice more effectively, the extent is likely to show an uptick, and those seas are likely to be chilled. If ice also forms on the coast of Alaska, the extent graph could flatten out or even rise. Or so I imagine.

DMI Aug 24 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 24 temp_latest.big


NP Aug 24B 16

(Click to enlarge)

Once the sun gets this low at noon, clear weather can involve more radiational cooling than radiation. The only thawing you get comes from imported warm air, or from the seawater beneath the ice.

Last year at this time the camera had moved much farther down towards Fram Strait, and any sort of southeast wind brought warmer air from a closer Atlantic.  It is no longer fair to compare the pictures from this year with last year, as they represent different latitudes.

It looks to me as if the line in the distance that I took to be a “lead” of open water early in the week has closed up.  There is what may be a small area of sun shining on open water in the far distance, on the horizon just right of center, and also what may be a narrow non-reflectlive line of lead below the horizon to the left. My guess is that the ice is crunched together again.

ON AUGUST 13 AT 1500Z—83.780°N — ON AUGUST 24 AT 1500Z — 83.803°N 

Our camera started drifting south again today.  It still isn’t as far south as it was eleven days ago.

Last night’s foggy spell saw temperatures rise to 0.4°C at 1800z, but since then the sun popped out, and temperatures fell to minus 3.5 (25.7 Fahrenheit) at 1200z. By 1500z they had risen slightly to minus 3.0, perhaps due to a gradual wind shift.

The view from the camera is still sunny, but with high clouds hinting at a change. The lead in the left distance has reappeared.

NP Aug 24C 17


There are two main currents in the arctic, shown below:

Beaufort Gyre BrnBld_ArcticCurrents.svg

The cross-polar-flow of the past week has opposed the “Transpolar Drift,” and I imagine ice traveling that railway line were switched over into the Beaufort Gyre turntable.  We have seen our camera fail to take the usual line down to Fram Strait, and its ice blocks all other ice to the north.

Where would such a switch cause ice extent to increase, and where would it cause a decrease?  It would seem you should see a decrease in Fram Strait, and an increase in the Beaufort Gyre.  I was wondering how to find data about such a change, when I chanced upon a map at which compares this year’s ice cover with last year’s, on this particular date. (Greenland is on the top:)

Icecover Aug 24 screenhunter_353-aug-24-08-52

Green shows the increase in ice over the Asian side of the Beaufort Gyre, and also the “headwaters” of the Transpolar Drift.  Red shows the lack of ice “downstream” in the Transpolar Drift.

Other reasons have been given for the regrowth of ice shown by green.  For example, it has been suggested that, by having that area ice-free and exposed to cold winds at the start of last winter caused the water to chill more, the entire column of water from the surface to the pycnocline, roughly 400 feet down, when ordinarily that water would be insulated by ice, and the entire column wouldn’t cool to the same extent. That might explain the cooler summer, as the seawater would be cooler, and it might explain the reluctance of ice to melt or to break up in storms, but it doesn’t explain the Transpolar Drift failing to move the ice.

In any case, it makes watching ice melt all the more interesting.


Glancing at the DMI maps it occurred to me that the western part of the “elephant” of sub-five-degree air over Canada is smaller, and, when I wondered where that air went, I noticed the storm by the Northwest Passage.  It well could be sucking that very cold air (for August) south into its circulation.

DMI Aug 24B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 24B temp_latest.big

There are a fair number of people who are attempting the Northwest passage this year, and who have been frustrated by more ice than usual. It seems to me this storm could increase their frustration, especially if really cold air gets drawn south.  (The minus ten isotherm has appeared for the first time this summer, northwest of Queen Elizabeth Island.)

The cross-polar flow seems on the verge of a complete breakdown, as the low over western Siberia, combined with the ridge of high pressure extending north from Scandinavia to east of Svalbard, are not merely hindering the flow, but sucking air south from the flow’s source regions.

The map looks very unstable to me, in that it has the Northwest Passage low, the Icelandic low, and the Siberian low all on one side of the Pole.  Teleconnections would suggest the harmony of a fourth low over towards Bering Strait.  Instead there is high pressure predominate, with a center in East Siberia.  It just seems something is off kilter, and things need to change to get “in balance.”

There is significantly less of the arctic above freezing than there was this morning.  The only advance of above-freezing temperatures I see is in the western Kara Sea, which surprises me, as that is the one place where sea-ice lingers on the Russian coast.


This mornings pictures are quite beautiful, and remind me what I originally came to the “North Pole Camera” to see:  Beauty.

The scene continues to look cold, quite different from the more slushy views of recent years. Of interest to me this morning is a  berg on the ice across the lead, to the left about a quarter of the way across the horizon.  It the doesn’t appear in last night’s picture, and is brilliant white in today’s first picture and more of a silhouette in the second. Compared to a rise on the closer side of  the lead, it can be seen that this berg is moving from left to right.  It also looks like the lead has closed up in the second picture.

NP Aug 25 13NP Aug 25B 16

I contend that such bergs are formed by crashes between flatter plates.  Judging from what I’ve seen this summer, leads form and then close repetitively, and the edges can become a jumble of piled up chunks.

The front associated with the occluded storm over Iceland is still well to the south, but it looks like the high clouds are coming north.  I’m not sure how long this beautiful weather can last.  Most recent “army” data states it is -4.5C at our camera (23.9 Fahrenheit.)


DNI Aug 25 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 25 temp_latest.big

Last night I was griping that the concept of “teleconnections” stated you couldn’t have three lows at three points of the compass without having a fourth at the fourth point, and that the map seemed out of balance.  This morning you can see an Aleutian Low at the top of the map.  So everything is OK. Sorry for griping.

The high pressure in the Arctic Ocean north of eastern Siberia will drift out over the Pole, and lows will rotate around the Pole, which is a nice and harmonious pattern.  For a while the Pole will be, in a sense, sealed off, with east winds circulating around the high and over the tops of the lows, and that may see a pool of colder temperatures develop over the Pole.  However eventually the top will wobble, and things will get out of whack, and arctic air will break out somewhere.

Right now things are a bit backwards, with west winds spiraling out of the Pole.  The spiral begins close to the Pole, on the far side from our camera, curves south and east out into the Beaufort Sea and then the Northwest Passage, and finally curves southeast over Baffin Island and into the Atlantic at Greenland’s southern tip.  The relatively mild air that was over the Pole is being drawn over the Beaufort Sea, where temperatures are roughly five degrees warmer, and the cold “elephant” of air that was there is gone, shifted southeast as an arctic outbreak that is making life miserable for people attempting the Northwest Passage.  Most of those intrepid sailors seem to be abandoning the attempt, and the chief concern seems to be getting boats out before winter ice traps them.

It is much safer to stay at home and watch ice melt from the comfort of a computer, and then step outside to the beauty of a late summer day.  The green seems much greener.


As the wind shifted temperatures hit a low of -4.9°C at 2100z yesterday, rose to -0.8°C at 1200z, and then dipped back to -1.5°C at 1500z.  The wind also reversed our wrong way buoy, which made it as far south as 83.801°N at 1800z yesterday before screeching on the brakes and heading back north to 83.882°N. At this rate we’ll never make it to Fram Strait.

The view from the camera is gorgeous.  The berg in the background is a bit further to the right.

NP Aug 25C 16


I was afraid of this, with that low crawling up the east coast of Greenland towards our camera.  Hopefully the bits of sleet and frozen fog on the lens will melt off soon.

Last year it was like this day after day, and you only got occasional tantalizing glimpses of murky shapes in the growing dark, until night fell, at first involving only one out of four pictures, and then three out of four, and then all the pictures were black, until the last one showed a picture of the searchlight of an icebreaker coming to pick the camera up.  However this year we are much farther north, and can hope for less Atlantic fog and more clear, dry, arctic air.

I think that darker smudge in the center of the picture is our buoy, seen through thick fog and a messed-up lens.

NP Aug 25D 17

However it is what we can’t see that exasperates me.  Off in the distance a huge pressure ridge might be piling up as our ice floe is pushed north, and smashes into others, or is smashed into, and…..I’d see nothing.

The “army” data states that at our buoy is still below freezing, at -1.39 Celsius, (29.5 Fahrenheit,) and also that the buoy is still crunching north, at 83.86 degrees north latitude.  If it crosses 84 degrees again I imagine there will be some fuss, on some websites.


DNI Aug 25 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 25B temp_latest.big

The pressure map shows a low over Baffin Island bringing a cold northwest flow over the intrepid sailors braving the Northwest Passage this summer. (Time to turn around, fellows.)

The map also shows a warm flow aimed directly at our buoy between a low north of Iceland and a strong ridge of high pressure extending north from Scandinavia to Svalbard.  (The high pressure is what is forsing the Icelandic low north.)  This flow of moist and reletively mild Atlantic air seems unstoppable, however (there is always a “however,”) marching across the Arctic Sea is a high pressure area coming from Siberia.  That high is rolling up its sleeves, and looks like it is thinking of popping the Southerly flow right in the snoot.  Quite a fight is shaping up. Who would believe watching ice melt could be so suspenseful!

In an attempt to be scientific and objective I turn to the UK Met map, to have a better look at the Icelandic low:

UK Met Map Aug 25 FSXX00T_00

This map shows the storm north of Iceland is already occluded. A lot of its warm air is hoisted up high by the occlusion, and the storm is also sucking in cold air from Greenland’s icecap, and lastly, the waters north of Iceland are not warm like the Gulf Stream. The storm’s warm sector is pinching shut, and most of its warmth will be squeezed over towards Scandinavia. In other words, that low isn’t as tough as it looks.  I’m putting my money on the Siberian High, who I will henceforth refer to as Igor.

Not that this low won’t mess up our camera’s pictures for a while, and not that the southerly flow won’t mash our buoy’s foundation of ice north against other ice, however I doubt the mild air will spear into the heart of the arctic, like the last one did.

The DMI temperature map shows nearly the entire arctic is below freezing, which is to be expected this late in the summer.  Some really cold air lies just northwest of Greenland, but I expect it will be pushed west and away from our camera, as the Atlantic Low and Igor do battle.


“Army” data reports camera up to 0.81 C degrees (33.4 Fahrenheit) temperature; and up to 83.90 north latitude.

Lens washed free of ice, viewing grey day.

NP Aug 26 17

Have to run to work. New school year starting here.

DMI Aug 26 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 26 temp_latest.big


It looks like we are in for a prolonged spell of gray weather, as the Atlantic low looks likely to stall south of our camera and just meanders about there for a couple days.

After dipping to -1.5°C yesterday our camera experience a passing pulse of warmer air, peaking at 1.2°C at 0000z today, and since then temperatures have eased back nearly to freezing, at 0.2°C at 1500z. The “army” temperature report from the same camera, which seems to read a bit lower, is currently at -0.19 C.

Strong winds pushed the camera north from 83.882°N to 83.952°N in the past 24 hours.  That is roughly four miles north.  The motion nearly stopped, even as the winds continued, which makes me wonder if the ice runs out of room. Up to a point it can compress like an accordian, simply closing up cracks between the sides of open leads, but at some point it would seem the ice has to start crumpling.  At that point northward progress would be harder.

It is hard to see well in the gloom our camera gazes across, but visibility is a bit better, and it looks like the lead in the distance is open, however the berg that was on the far side has shifted out of the picture.

NP Aug 26B 18


Yesterday I decided to name the Siberian High Pressure advancing towards the Pole “Igor.”  Today I’ve decided to name the storm north of Iceland, “Ronald,”  as it advances towards the same Pole.  At our camera we have ringside seats on a battle, and this evening’s picture makes it quite clear that the fog of war has descended.

NP Aug 26C 18

Actually I don’t see the value of a ringside seat, if all you see is fog, but I actually can see a little, if I squint. Of course, there is a danger with fog that you are imagining things.

For many years my experiences with low visibility, (fog, and also heavy snow,) were a land lubber’s.  Often I’d be walking across an open field, able to see nothing in any direction, and the first thing I would see as I neared the edge of a field would be the faint, looming shape of a tree.  Then when, at age eighteen, I first experienced being at sea in a fog, (back before there was such a thing as a GPS,) and could see nothing in any direction, and was miles from shore, my brains kept seeing ghostly trees, at the very edge of the fog, where no tree could possibly be.

Nonetheless, and well aware of the danger of seeing things, I’d say the lead in the distance is closing up again.


DMI Aug 26B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 26B temp_latest.big

In my eternal quest to be an artist and no tedious, fact-driven scientist, I’ll cast all objectivity to the wind and anthropomorphize the heck out of these maps.

The Icelandic low Ronald has brought the crowd to its feet by refusing to be timid (and occluded) at the start of round one, and by delivering a devastating right cross of above-freezing temperatures nearly to the Pole.  This vast right arm endears Ronald to European fans, as it brings them the embrace of high pressure up from the Azores.  Meanwhile Ronald has delivered a mysterious left jab sucker-punch right to Igor’s midsection, crumpling Igor’s rotund shape to a crescent. (Obviously Igor should have spent more time training, and less time hanging around the coast of Siberia the past week.)

Igor’s initial surprise at Ronald’s onslaught has given way to a look of sheer enmity colder than ice. Right where Ronald sucker-punched, the “elephant” of sub-five-degree cold has ballooned like a bicep to its largest area of the summer, and Igor’s Big-Chill-Cold is as close to the pole as Ronald’s thaw.  But Igor is staggered. Can he counter-punch from such an angle? Stay tuned for round two!!!

Meanwhile, back at our camera, winds are backing from south to east in the fog, and the ice our camera is on may stop crunching north and begin grinding west. After achieving 2.245°E longitude at 0000z, it has been shoved back to 1.648°E at 1500z.


I am very busy, but a quick glance at our camera’s view shows me things are thawing again.

NP Aug 27 17

A quick check of the “army” data shows temperatures are up to 0.06, or just a hair above freezing. Our “companion” buoy roughly 100 miles northeast, Buoy 2013B: is just a hair below freezing, at  -0.05 C, and north of there but not to the pole, Buoy 2012J: is colder, at -1.02.  To the south in Fram Strait, on the ice just off the coast of Greenland, Buoy 2012M: stands at -0.66 C in “Ronald’s” northeast winds.

I wish I had more time to study the DMI morning maps.  There is something fishy about that weak low denting “Igor’s” gut from the Canadian side, but Igor is definately charging acoss the ring towards Ronald, and nearly to the Pole.

DMI Aug 27 pressure mslp_latest.big DMI Aug 27 temp_latest.big

The isobars suggest southeast winds pushing our camera northwest, and “army” data shows our camera is nearly back to 84 degrees north, at 83.96 N, 1.22 E.


The “army” buoy’s latest report is temperature up to 0.22 C, (32.4 Fahrenheit,) with the camera blown back to 83.99 N, 0.64 E. Lead in background looks wider.

NP Aug 27B 18


Our camera has now moved over the 84 degrees latitude line for the fifth time since they shipped it over that line back in April to park it by the pole.  It has moved from 83.952°N at 1500z yesterday to 84.009°N at 1500z today.  It is also heading west towards the meridian, moving from 1.648°E to 0.494°E.  In essence we have spent two weeks going nowhere.

Temperatures have remained just above freezing all day, due to the influx of “Ronald’s” Atlantic air. They have risen from a low of 0.1°C at 1800z yesterday to a high of 0.8°C at 0900z and since then fallen back slightly to 0.6°C at 1500z.

Here are the DMI evening maps. I hope to have time to discuss them later, but need to work until dark.

DMI Aug 27B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 27B temp_latest.big


“Ronald” looks a bit flattened in the above maps. Not only are his isobars squished out into an appendage to the east,  but the brave thrust of above-freezing temperatures towards the Pole has been brushed aside into a narrow slot of isotherms north of Greenland.

I have the impression Igor is taking control.  The dent, ( or “sucker-punch,” or “something-fishy,”) feature on Igor’s Canada-side is being swirled around and shrugged off into the Aleutian Low. (If it was a fish it is now a fish standing on its head.) Rather than attacks from the south making Igor weaker, Igor is stronger. Rather than Igor dancing to tune of outside influences, outside influences are dancing to Igor’s tune.

Round two goes to Igor.  

It will be interesting to watch the temperatures at the center of Igor.  Although the sun never sets up there, the polar sun is getting low in the sky.  And even in southern lands, temperatures start to drop from the heat of the day before the sun actually sets.

Back at our camera, the “army” buoy is reporting an abrupt drop in temperature to  -1.88 C, and up at the companion buoy to the northeast, which fell from 0.7°C at the 2100z report yesterday to -1.4°C at the 1500z report today, the most recent “army” data reports temperatures have dipped to, (I could say “crashed to,” or “plunged to,” but I’m not the mainstream media, even if I do call weather systems by first names,)  -4.06 C!

Brrr! That doesn’t sound like Ronald’s air, so I shift to our camera to catch a glimpse of what is going on:

NP Aug 27C 18

To be blunt, that 1800z picture still looks pretty “warm” to me.  The drops of water are still water, on the lens.  The only difference I can see is that the dark line in the distance, which I take to be a “lead,” is still wide to the the far left, but appears to be crushing together again to the center.  I await the next picture with bared breath. Stay tuned!!!


I have sought advise from other sites, but no one has explained to me why, here at the site where true artists gather to watch ice melt, when the wind vane at the “North Pole Camera” is from 180 degrees, the buoy moves towards 180 degrees, and when the wind vane states the wind is coming from zero degrees, the camera moves towards zero.

I may be making some obvious mistake, but I use an old-fashioned idea that 180 degrees is another way of saying, “south.”  (Click to enlarge.)

Compass Points. L1-Pic5-2

I get huge pleasure from our camera, and would be the last to criticize the fellows who set it up.  As they do the set-up, in sub-freezing temperatures in April, a guy has to stand by with a gun, in case a polar bear decides to be something other than cute, and make a lunch out of a guy with a huge IQ but a body-weight a tenth as large as a bear’s.

However I think they got two wires crossed as they set up the wind vane.  This is an assumption, but when I was a young teenager back in the 1960’s I got an electronic wind vane for Christmas, with wires and a genuine indoor display, and a great deal of assembly was required, and when I was done a north wind registered as south, and an east wind registered as west.  Therefore I know mistakes are possible.

(Hopefully the mistake is not in the physical vane, but rather in a computer program.)

However the funny thing is that I was so sure I myself must be making some mistake that I came up with some somewhat elegant reasons for ice to go upwind, (if I do say so myself.)  Check back in my site, if you want to see me making an elegant ass of myself.

(I decided at one point that the magnetic pole must be south of our camera, and that the compass readings were towards the magnetic pole rather than the actual pole.  The camera itself states, “Wind Direction (Magnetic degrees From).” and that made me hunt down the location of the magnetic pole.  Unfortunately it was not south of our camera, and rather is northwest.)

I don’t want to get some intern in trouble for failing to do what the professor demanded, nor do I want to get some professor in trouble for delegating work to an inept intern. As I said, I am thankful those guys gave us the view our camera gives.  However I will confess to a bit of unscientific behavior on my part, from now on.

From now on, when our camera states the wind is north, I will assume it is south, and when our camera states the wind is west, I will assume it is east.  (I’ve been trying this out secretly for some time now, and it is amazing how the ice moves the way the wind blows, when I do so.)


The “army data, which refers to our camera as Buoy 2013E: , reports we have moved west to 84.02 N, 0.00 W, and the temperature is -1.88 C, (but that temperature may not be updated.)  The two buoys towards the Pole were colder at last report, however the DMI 0z temperature map shows a narrow slot of above-freezing temperatures have squirted into the generally easterly flow around Igor, north of Greenland. The sub-five-degrees air that formerly was there has been rotated around north of Canada.

DMI Aug 28 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 28 temp_latest.big

The low I call “Ronald” is now describing one of those counter-clockwise loops that these northern lows tend to go through when they occlude. It’s warm sector is basically detached and way over in Scandinavia, and Ronald is just spinning well-mixed air, with most of the features aloft.  However the impulse of Atlantic air it injected north did push the DMI graph of temperatures north of 80 degrees back to normal. (Notice how cold “normal” is starting to be.)

DMI Aug 28 meanT_2013 (1)

The two 0z pictures from our camera this morning are taken ten minutes apart. Notice how much darker the sky gets to the right in that short time.  The snow stake in the foreground now clearly shows white at the bottom, indicating the ice there has diminished. The lead in the background seems wider, especially to the left.

NP Aug 28 14NP Aug 28B 18


The “army” data reports the camera is now at 84.01 N, 0.48 W and temperature is -2.71 C. The lead in left background looks wide open as the ice that our camera stands on shifts due west.

NP Aug 28C 18


Buoy data out:  Farthest north was 84.033°N at 0900z. Back down to 84.025°N at 1500z. Most movement is to the west, from 0.494°E at 1500z yesterday to 0.638°W at 1500z today.  Meanwhile temperatures have dropped from above the freezing point, at 0.6°C at 1500z yesterday to below the freezing point of salt water, bottoming out at  -2.9°C at 0900z and then rising slightly to -2.0°C at 1500z.

For the moment the Big Chill is back.


A bit of wan sunshine has broken out, and there may even be a bit of an ice-bow arcing up in the sky to the left.  You can see the ice at the far side of the lead in the center, and at the far left, but I can’t see any about a quarter of the way across the screen, which would make it a very wide lead.  (The camera is actually  quite low, and not all that good at giving us a bird’s eye view,  (no penguins at the north pole.) A seal’s eye view is more like it.

NP Aug 28D 18

I hankered to see further, so started using the camera from outer space, and trying to locate our camera in views such as this one: True Color Arctic Satellite Image  It has been too cloudy lately to get a precise view of our camera’s ice, and in any case I couldn’t find a map that would allow me to zoom in very far.  However it was a wonderful way to waste an hour.

If I was a scientist I’d likely wind up naming individual cakes of ice, and program a computer to recognize them even if they drifted to a different location, and to reconstruct them if they broke in half.  I’d become an authority on what happens to them when they bump other bergs, and the conditions that erode their edges and also the conditions that heap up ice on their edges, as we see to the right of our camera’s view.  In the process I’d waste more than an hour, and my wife would likely divorce me.  So it turn out I’m actually lucky to have only an hour to waste.

One fascinating feature I noticed to the northeast of Svalbard, where the open ocean gives way to sea ice, was an elongated shape I took to be ice, at the very edge of the broken slabs of sea ice and open water.  It was as if the wind and waves had created a sort of ice barrier-island out of bashed up chunks of ice that all congealed together. The edges were smoothe and curving, where the slabs beyond the “barrier island” were angular and straight-sided.  I wondered if I was seeing the start of ice expansion.


DMI Aug 28B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 28B temp_latest.big

This is as close as we’ve seen in a while to a nice, neat zonal pattern, with a high centered on the Pole and lows parading around it as the Pole was a maypole. Admittedly things are a bit staggered, but the high I dubbed “Igor” is swinging east winds around the pole, with the east winds over the tops of a necklace of low pressure areas.  (Igor is extremely offended I used the analogy of a necklace, and has asked me to return to the analogy of a boxing ring.)

Looking over satellite pictures earlier made me aware that what I described as a “sucker punch to Igor’s rotund belly” was actually a rather neat and tight swirl of low pressure. No wonder it “looked fishy.” As it joins forces with the Aleutian Low, and a Siberian Low attacks from Igor’s homeland, and Ronald persists east of Greenland, Igor may decide to exist stage left, and beat a hasty retreat for Canada.  Computer models no longer show him standing triumphantly atop the Pole Next week.

Meanwhile Ronald is no longer delivering the punch from the south he once did.  While the memory of that punch still exists as a sliver of above-freezing air like a feather in Greenland’s hat, northeast winds are sucking below-freezing air past the northeast corner of Greenland and down its east coast. Ronald is looking like he plans to exit stage right, and to wander punch-drunk along the north coast of Eurasia, reaching Bering Strait in around ten to twelve days.

The sub-five-below isotherm has swung west on east winds around the pole, and now is more of a threat to the Alaskan coast than to our camera.

Ronald failed to drive warmth to the heart of the arctic, and now nearly the entire Arctic Sea is below freezing.


NP Aug 29 13


DMI Aug 29 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 29 temp_latest.big

The maps show “Norman” wobbling away across the Atlantic, and “Igor” reluctant to step to center stage atop the Pole, though his winds are circling the pole.  A new gale is forming west of Iceland, but this one is likely to cross the Atlantic further south, and its surge of warmth is unlikely to do more than nudge temperatures up above freezing briefly up the east coast of Greenland.  “Ronald’s” speak of above freezing temperature still exists north of Greenland, (though sometimes I’ve noticed such pockets are artifacts of non-updated data; I think this map is automatically generated.)  The “army” data shows temperatures in the -3.5 C range in that area, and the Arctic Ocean is quite cold over all.


NP Aug 29B 15NP Aug 29C 16

These two views, five minutes apart, demonstrate how a change of lighting, caused by a cloud passing over the sun, can make playing the game of “can you spot the differences between these two pictures” dangerous, especially if you are squinting at the lead in the left distance trying to observe sea ice, (and also if bits of frost are on the lens.)

They are cold pictures.  “Army” data shows the camera is mostly headed west, and just creeping a hair south of 84 degrees again.  Temperature was down to -3.85 C but is back up to -3.47 C (the “army” data I look at fails to give a specific time.) Those temperatures, down nearly to 25 Fahrenheit, will freeze any splashed water to the sides of bergs, and chill the ocean itself towards freezing.


Glacing at the DMI maps I became curious about what looked (judging from isobars) like a land breeze from the southeast bringing warm air from the land up from the southeast towards the northwest, and warm, orange isotherms right along the arctic coast at the border of Alaska and Canada further that impression. However a quick check of the Beaufort Sea bouys shows it is actually colder than it’s been, perhaps due to “Igor’s” east winds cycling the cold air north of Greenland over that way.

“Army” data shows Buoy 2012H at -3.28 C; to its northwest Buoy 2012L: is at -3.67, and a new buoy to the northeast, Buoy 2013F:, is at -4.26 C.  Look back to the start of this post and you can see it wasn’t long ago that a lot of this region was above-freezing, and barely below freezing when it wasn’t actually thawing.  Now temperatures are solidly below freezing, and it won’t be long before the minus-five and even minus-ten isotherms become all but permanent residents.  The Big Chill has arrived.

Now the question is: When will the sea-ice extent graphs stop trending down and start trending up. (This involves my big, fat ego, because I’ve failed to keep my mouth shut, and said the freeze would start early.) (Click to enlarge.)

Aug 29 Extent ssmi1_ice_ext


The regular data (as opposed to the “army data”) is in, and shows our camera once again starting south, passing 84 degrees for the sixth time, moving from 84.025°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.982°N at 1500z today.  Longitudinal motion has been steadily to the west, to 1.521°W at 1500z today. 

(One thing I don’t understand is how we can see movement to the west-southwest, but the Navy “drift” maps show movement to the north-northeast. ) (Maybe they are using our screwed-up wind vane.)

The temperatures fell to -3.7°C at 0600z and have risen back to -1.9°C at 1500z.


Clouds back; lead in distance closing up.  DMI map shows winds likely backing to north with “Ronald” moving away. New area of minus-five cold across the Pole.

NP Aug 29D 18

DMI Aug 29B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 29B temp_latest.big


Roughly 180 miles south of our camera, (at 80° 48′ N,) the sun will set for the first time in months today, and two minutes later it will rise again.  Only a two minute night, but a night all the same, and the the nights get longer very swiftly, that far north. The following night, (August 31,) will be an hour and 58 minutes long, and the next night, (September 1,) will be two hours and 53 minutes long. On the equinox, (September 22,) the night will be twelve hours long all over planet Earth, but at the Pole it is the end of a six month day and start of a six month night.  At our camera the change is not quite so abrupt and complete, however the lengthening of the nights is dramatic by our standards.

Assuming our camera hangs around at 84 degrees north, and doesn’t drift too far south over the next week, we will see our first sunset on September 8, and our first “night,” (actually a period of twilight,) will be one hour and 35 minutes long.  It will be a moment of melancholia, for it will mean the beginning of an end for views from our camera.  If there are clouds twilight can be very dark, and all too soon the views from our camera will be black rectangles.

As we have seen, even before the sun sets it starts to get colder.  The Big Chill is already growing.  But this is no reason to get all bummed out.  When the weather is clear there will be gorgeous views of a sunset which, in the arctic, goes on for weeks.

These two views, taken roughly five minutes apart, give a hint of that sunset, and also show a decent ice floe on the far side of the lead in the left distance. The most recent “army” data states our camera is at 83.95 N, 1.58 W, and the temperature is -1.75 C.

NP Aug 30 15NP Aug 30B 17


Today’s maps show two things.  First, the low I call “Ronald” and the high I call “Igor” have moved away from our camera and are sparring on the Siberian side of the ring.  Between them a flow of air is injecting some above-freezing air towards the pole, but also some sub-minus-five air has been rotated around (and home-grown) and will enter the fray.

Second, the area of low pressure systems extending from the southern tip of Greenland northeast to north of Scandinavia and Siberia matches the boundary between colder and warmer waters, or the border between ice-covered and ice-free waters to the north.  With the AMO warm this battle-line is displaced northward,  and with the PDO cold and ice building on the Canadian side, we temporarily have a lop-sided pole, especially this time of year. Only when the Atlantic side freezes can you have conditions on the ground conducive to the theoretical ideal, which would have a high pressure atop the Pole and a merry-go-round of low pressure systems wheeling around it.

DMI Aug 30 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 30 temp_latest.big


The first surprise is a nice, silhouetted view of saw-toothed pressure ridge on a floe, about a quarter of the way across the horizon, to the left, passing on the other side of the lead.  It has moved slightly to the left in the next picture, taken three minutes later, and is further left and vanishing in the gloom in the third picture, taken ten minutes after the first.

This shows how mobile these floes are, how independent they are of each other, (the last passing neighbor was moving the opposite way,) and lastly the pressure ridges support, I suggest, my contention that these plates don’t just pulverize to powder that melts, as they collide with each other, but crumple and build up depth even as they decrease in area.

NP Aug 30 B 14NP Aug 30C 15NP Aug 30D 18

Two other surprises involve temperatures warmer and colder than I expected, in the “army” data.  While “our” buoy is reporting -3.10 C,  Buoy 2012J: is a hair above freezing at 0.02. As this buoy is closere to the Pole to the northeast, it may be that tounge of above-freezing air extending up from Siberia in the DMI morning map, and may suggest a sneak attack of milder air from the north at our buoy, later today.

Meanwhile Buoy 2012G: is reporting a frigid -11.95 C air (10.5 Fahrenheit) at a location north of the Queen Elizabeth Islands where the most recent DMI map doesn’t even show sub-five-degree air.


The ice across the distant lead is no longer moving independently of our camera’s ice, which I suppose means they have locked fenders someplace.

NP Aug 29E 14NP Aug 30F 18


With only a slight shift in the direction of the wind, our camera stopped moving west after reaching 1.595°W at 2100z yesterday, and has since moved back to 1.500°W at 1500z today. I assume ice ran into ice to change directions without the wind helping. The southward drift has remained fairly steady, from 83.982°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.908°N at 1500z today.

I was waiting for a sneak attack of slightly milder air, but temperatures only rose around a degree to -1.1°C at 1600z yesterday, and after staying at that general level to 0600z today, they abruptly surprised me by dropping to -2.6°C at 0900z. They have since recovered to -1.7°C at 1600z, but I have no idea where that pocket of cold came from.

The camera shows some ice grinding by with the lead nearly closed, but there may be some open water beyond that passing ice.  It’s hard to see in the gloom.

The second picture is 8 minutes after the first and the third is 2 minutes later.

Np Aug 30G 16NP Aug 30H 17NP Aug 30I 18

DMI August 30B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 30B temp_latest.big

Quick glance at DMI maps shows much more sub-five-degree air, and the only south winds invading the arctic coming from not-so-warm Siberia.  I may comment more later, but then again I may not. After all, it is Friday night.


I’m glad I went out last night, but I did miss the large pressure ridge, which has been to the right of the camera’s view all summer, splitting off. It likely slid off to the left. The two pictures below are taken seven minutes apart.

NP Aug 31A 10Aug 31B 13 


In the area our camera watches the world from, the “Navy ice-speed-and-drift map” shows quicker ice (red) ramming into slower ice, (blue,) which would pile ice up, but also it shows some divergence, (ice moving west-northwest next to ice moving southwest,) which would create a lead of open water.

These Navy maps don’t always match the motion we get from the camera’s GPS. For example the latest “Army” data from our camera states it’s at 83.82 N, 1.19 W, which would be a southeast drift. (However the Army and Navy are not known for agreeing about things.) (Click to enlarge, and click again to large more.)

Drift Aug 31 arcticicespddrfnowcast


Clearing skies reveals the new, low horizon to the right, with what seems to be the open water of a lead on the horizon. This camera is placed in a low place, with less ability to see over the horizon than camera one, (which is now face down in the snow,) once had.  Therefore the edge of the ice is closer than  it looks, and the situation has an element of excitement, because we could see some nearby action before the arctic night falls. The pictures are taken ten minutes apart. (click to enlarge.)

Aug 31D 14

NP Aug 31C 18


DMI Aug 31 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 31 temp_latest.big

Actually the pressure map makes me think I should be paying more attention to things at home, because when you get the big lows stalling east and west of southern Greenland you can sometimes get a wall of high pressure building south of them (off the above maps,) and that wall can sometimes steer hurricanes in to New England.  So…if such a situation starts to develop to the south this post may abruptly get fewer updates.

On a whole the pressure map is out of balance. The Aleutian low needs to come north and be stronger, and the lows either side of Greenland need to spread apart.  Then the map will be more balanced and symmetrical and proper and well-behaved.  (Not that weather ever behaves itself.)  I am going to dub the storm just north of Iceland Thidwick, and keep an eye on it, as some models have it take an interesting left turn over Scandivavia in ten days and become a storm right over the North Pole. (Not that long-range models are ever correct.)

The battle between the low “Ronald” and the high “Igor” is ongoing even as they weaken, and the flow between them has led to an imbalance in temperatures much like the imbalance in ice-cover, over the pole.  In a sense it exacerbates a situation, even as the situation perpetuates their existence.  The Asian side of the pole continues milder as the Canadian side continues cold.  Ice is growing and piling up on the Canadian side as it continues the summer shrinkage on the Asian side.

The Northwest passage is closing up and a number of ships are seemingly trapped until next summer.  The quote below is from :

“…Our ice router Victor has been very clear in what lies ahead. He writes, “Just to give you the danger of ice situation at the eastern Arctic, Eef Willems of “Tooluka” (NED) pulled out of the game and returning to Greenland. At many Eastern places of NWP locals have not seen this type ice conditions. Residents of Resolute say 20 years have not seen anything like. Its, ice, ice and more ice. Larsen, Peel, Bellot, Regent and Barrow Strait are all choked. That is the only route to East. Already West Lancaster received -2C temperature expecting -7C on Tuesday with the snow.”

Richard Weber, my teammate to the South Pole in 2009 and without doubt the most accomplished polar skier alive today, is owner and operator of Arctic Watch on Cunningham Inlet at the northern end of Somerset Island. Arctic Watch faces out onto our proposed eastern route. Richard dropped me a note the other day advising: “This has been the coldest season with the most ice since we started Arctic Watch in 2000. Almost no whales. The NWPassage is still blocked with ice. Some of the bays still have not melted!”…”

At the “army” Buoy 2012G: north of Queen Elizabeth’s Islands it was -12.49 C at last report, a depth of chill not exactly replicated by the tiny circle of minus-five-isotherm on the DMI map.  Meanwhile above-freezing areas lie across the pole north of eighty degrees. According to the DMI graph of average-temperatures-north-of-80 degrees, the average usually is down to minus three.

Although perhaps it is always warmer on the Asian side and colder on the Canadian side, it seems our camera is at a good spot to watch the conflict between the two.


This is somewhat embarrassing, but I can only suppose the contrast was so bad the pressure ridges to the right became invisible this morning.  Either that or they moved and then moved back, which I doubt. In any case, I’ll study these pictures more carefully before opening my big mouth. The second picture was taken five minutes after the first, and the third ten minutes after the first.

NP Aug 31E 14NP Aug 31F 16NP Aug 31G 18


DMI Aug 31B pressure mslp_latest.big DMI Aug 31B temp_latest.big

The isobars between the low “Ronald” (and its northern appendage,) and the High “Igor” continue to have significance, but now it is not only due to a southerly flow bringing above-freezing temperatures from Siberia towards the pole, but also because the air curving around “Ronald” is running into an appendage of “Igor,” which is a high spilling off Greenland and building north of the low I call “Thidwick,” north of Iceland.  This new High is quite cold, as is “home grown” cold at “Igors” core, but between the two is a sliver of above freezing temperatures on the DMI map which even shows up as a curve of cloud in the satellite pictures. Our “companion buoy” roughly 100 miles north is 4 degrees warmer than “our buoy.” North of the “companion buoy” temperatures are likely colder again, (though the “army” buoy which could report such cold is not reporting, for some reason.)

Of greater interest to me is that the air swinging around “Ronald,” plus the air swinging around the small Greenland High, are reversing the trend that jammed ice from the Asian side of the Pole towards the Canadian side.  Ice may be dispersed out towards the open seas north of Svalbard, exposing a weakness in the concept of “ice extent graphs.”

The weakness is as follows: If you take an area of 100% ice, break it into pieces, and spread the pieces out, the area of ice will remain the same, but the “extent” will increase, especially if you use a figure such as “15% ice coverage” as a a minimum cut-off point.  In theory you could quadruple extent, by taking a square mile of “100% ice” and turning it into 4 square miles of “25% ice.”

I have a hunch we have seen the opposite so far this year, with spread out ice, of a large extent, being crammed together into a more solid mass, but with a “lesser” extent.  This creates the false impression the ice has melted more than it actually has.  It also leads to an interesting variance in the slopes of the “area” and “extent” graphs, as seen below.


NORSEX Aug31ssmi1_ice_area_small


NORSEX Aug 31ssmi1_ice_ext_small

If my hunch is correct, and if “Ronald” starts dispersing ice out towards Svalbard, then I’d expect to see an uptick in the “extent” graph without any such uptick appearing in the “area” graph.



NP June 29 npeo_cam2_20130629141045


NP Aug31H 17

We are now at the end of the melt-season, and there are indeed signs some melt has occurred. The snow is gone, and the pressure ridges in the right distance are reduced.  Likely their reduction is partly from below, as nine tenths of an iceburg is underwater, and those pressure ridges have spent three months floating through “summer warmed” waters.  As their keels shrunk they had less buoyant ice beneath to shove their peaks up, so they slumped a little.  (I think one reason I thought they were gone this morning was because their peaks didn’t stick up over the horizon as much, and a very low bank of clouds was able to fool me into thinking the cloud-line was the actual horizon of the ocean.)

In actual fact the ocean looks more clogged with bergs, at the moment, than it did in June.  There is also a lack of melt-water pools which (if you refer to the start of this post) were so apparent last year, (although of course that was in part to the fact the camera had drifted roughly 200 miles further south.)

Now it seems the Big Chill is starting to set in, though when I named this post I expected it to be more severe.  We have not seen temperatures at our camera return to the -8.0 levels they reached early-on, nor have we seen the ice-extent graph bottom out early, as I expected.  Indeed the only thing that has happened as I expected is that I have been wrong a lot.  However that is how I learn.

I was expecting a pool of balmy air to sneak-attack from the north, and indeed our “companion camera” made it up to  0.1°C at 1500z.  However here 100 miles south we got a different sneak-attack, and after rising to -1.7°C at 1500z yesterday, and then settling slightly and again rising again to -1.7°C today at 0300z, rather than balmy air I think we got air delivered by that high bulging off Greenland, and temperatures sank to -4.8°C. So it looks like I was wrong about the sneak-attack of mildness as well.

No sooner did I start to focus on how our camera was not heading south, when it started south.  It has progressed from 83.908°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.827°N at 1500z today, while continuing east from 1.500°W to 1.134°W.  Interestingly, our companion bouy to the north was moving the opposite way, and doing so with haste, moving from 0.428°E across the meridian to 0.196°W. I do not suppose that bergs drive as well as we humans do, and there may have been some collisions between lanes of oncoming traffic, which may explain why our companion buoy stopped heading south at 85.249°N at 0000z, and got nudged back north to 85.271°N at 1500z. (And if such collisions nudged it north, we might have been nudged south as well.)

In any case, though my learning process involves being wrong about many things, I am not as wrong as some so-called “experts” who claimed the “science was settled” and the arctic would be ice-free this summer.  Though I have been wrong, they have been wronger. Therefore, as I am humble, they should be humbler, yet they are not.

I think it was the sheer arrogance of such so-called “experts” that started my process of searching in the first place.  I seemly am not alone, as is shown by the fact that this obscure post on an obscure blog where 20 “views” a day was a big deal has now had, according to WordPress, 2,360 “views.”

I am not sure how to use the various WordPress view-counters to figure out if a viewer is a “repeat-customer,” (and if my mother was alive I’d assume all 2,360 “views” were hers,) however a few kind comments have made me aware some do return to this small site for news, and therefore I’ll continue my layman’s-commentary until the camera goes dark in October.

However this post has grown so long, and contains so many pictures, that my tired, old computer is starting to have trouble loading it, when I post updates.  Therefore I’ll have to reluctantly terminate this post, with a link to to a new one.

The question then becomes: What to name the new post?  I think I will name it, “The Arctic Sea-ice Minimum; A September Surprise.”

What will the surprise be?  Well, it won’t surprise anyone if I am wrong, but I think the surprise will be seen on the “extent” graph.  With all the ice crowded over to the Canadian side of the Pole, all it would take is a decent cross-polar-flow for a week the opposite way, and all that ice would be spread out like butter on toast, and the “extent” graphs would leap upwards in a manner that would surprise people.

Even if that doesn’t occur, I think I have shown evidence that the arctic is not on its way to becoming “ice-free” any time soon.

These observations will continue at

Sorry for any inconvenience the switch-over may cause.


rad_ne_AUG 9 640x480 (1)


(humorous details to be added, if I don’t drown.  There are flash flood warnings.)

Aug 11 Update—Rain pushed far out to sea. Sunny and dry, but chilly.satsfc (3).gif Aug 11 


Firewood alastairheseltine


I will have to keep this post short, as I have three cord of firewood arriving this morning.  The cost will be $540.00, which in my past was more than I could afford, so for years I cut my own.  This year I decided I’m getting old and ought to splurge.

Eighteen months ago I splurged by getting a new propane heater to replace the giant, broken, rusty “spider” in my cellar.  I decided I was getting old then, as well, and after nearly a quarter century of putting off fixing the old heater, (because I couldn’t afford it,) I advanced, in one fell swoop, from the stone age of a roaring device that worked at 50% efficiency to a purring modern object a third as large that worked at nearly 90% efficiency.  It didn’t even require a chimney, and simply had a small vent.

I thought my wife and I would be happy.  No more ashes, no more bugs, no more worry about whether the house would be warm if we were gone for longer than twelve hours.  We weren’t happy.  In fact we turned out to be stuck in our ways.  Not that it wasn’t fun to get away for more than twelve hours, however something was definitely missing.

I missed being outside and cutting and splitting, so I went right back to doing it, enjoying the briskness of fall and winter, and the pauses to study the sky.  I missed the tiny heating bill, and went right back to that as well.  But what my wife missed was the radiance.

There is something about a heating register in the floor that simply lacks romance.  We have four wood stoves in our small, drafty, 250-year-old house, and I’ve always noticed how they attracted humans like moths are attracted to a light.  With the new heater, I usually only use one stove now, but even if the house is warm the stove still attracts visitors. My wife and I decided what attracted was the invisible radiance. She even decided she didn’t mind the bugs and ashes as much as she thought she did; she wanted that woodstove warm in her favorite room, rather than standing as a cold and very clean object.

I liked burning wood because it, in a sense, thumbs my nose towards Big Oil and Arab nations.  One reason I was able to raise five kids with very little money was that I often paid zero, I repeat zero, to heat my home in New Hampshire, where below zero temperatures occur nearly every winter, and the weather can stay below freezing for weeks on end, during a hard winter.

When we were first looking at our house I took one look at the nails sticking through the un-insulated attic roof, knew they’d be white with frost in the winter, and moved on to look at other houses. My wife would not accompany me.  She had been charmed, and knew what she wanted.  Therefore we lived in a house that stayed cool even with four stoves roaring, when it got down to twenty-seven below zero, and we raised children who developed, like cats,  the uncanny ability to find the warmest spot. Until I put the fourth stove in the cellar my kids avoided the floor during cold waves, and one of my favorite pictures is of a toddler sitting atop our upright piano.

It was a battle, to stay warm for free.  I was able to do it because I worked as a handyman and landscaper, and this involved clearing dead trees from back yards. My chainsaw was actually a business expense and deduction.  My favorite job was when a lady moved up from Massachusetts and wanted an ugly pile of firewood removed from her yard.  That time I got well over a cord of cut and split hardwood, and rather than paying for it I made a hundred dollars removing it.

Back around 1987 the economy went sour, and the “Massachusetts Miracle” turned into the Massachusetts Mess, and this area, where many men worked construction, suffered not “an economic downturn” but a true depression.  By 1991 three of the four houses I could see from my front porch had “For Sale” signs, and the population of the town was shrinking.  The woods became surprisingly clean and tidy, as those who stayed turned to burning wood.

Regarding the question, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one sees it, does it make a sound?”  The answer was, “Yes, ‘Ka-ching.’” Also it was a silly question, because if a tree fell in the woods, everyone heard it, and it vanished in a twinkling.

Now a quarter century has passed, and I sometimes wonder if people are losing that self-reliance.  Rather than hustling to get wood, people sit around and complain more, it seems to me.  (However I am an old grouch, now.)

What really gets to me is when people call the smell of a wood fire, “pollution,” and want to ban it.  But that is a subject for another post.  (I’ve gone on too long, and the wood will be arriving soon.)

What I most enjoy is the attitude of the following post, which was on a site largely devoted to fashion, of all things.  (What I know about fashion you could fit in a thimble.)  It holds humor’s ability to take a situation that might make others growl, and instead to break the dawn of laughter. (Next to love, humor is the most redeeming quality of mankind.) (And singing in the rain ought not be the exclusive property of young lovers.)


(click pictures to enlarge)

(This post will be the continuation of my observations with updates from: )


NP Aug 5 5.jpg Before Foorprints  


NP Aug 6 8.jpg Footprints  

LUCKY HE DIDN’T EAT THE CAMERA. (However is that a speck of dirt on the camera lens, that wasn’t there before?)

UPDATE!!!  CAMERA HAS FALLEN OVER!!!  Anyone care to go up and put it back up?  Watch out for bears.

NP Aug 6 9.jpg Camera tipped

If that dumb bear starts messing around with camera two, how am I to sit around watching ice melt?  Someone ought hustle up there with a helicopter and a rifle.


The bear hasn’t found Camera Two yet, (it is roughly 900 feet away,) and it is picturing a “snow-eater” fog.  Temperatures have risen to 0.9 (C) above freezing.  Winds are from the East-southeast, which is a warm weather wind up there, as it is coming from the (relatively) warm North Atlantic rather than the frozen wastes of Greenland.  The buoy is, in its contray way, once again moving into a head wind, moving towards the east, though it has also crept the smallest amount back to the north as well. (From latitude 84.549 to 84.554.)  So ice continues to stay stuck up there, rather than getting flushed out of the Arctic Sea through  Fram Strait, as is more typical.

It is starting to seem like “now or never,” if we are going to see serious ice-melt.  We are running out of time.

Fog speeds melting because, just as water condenses on the side of a cool drink on a summer’s day, it condenses on the side of ice and snow, and as it changes from vapor to liquid it releases latent heat.  This fog is getting pumped up into the Arctic by the east side of a North Atlantic gale southwest of Svalbard and east of Greenland.   More noteworthy is a big storm over the Arctic Ocean itself.

Last year a storm of this sort smashed up a lot of sea ice and led to record-setting ice-melt.  This will be a test of sorts, to see if the ice is harder this year.  Temperatures are below freezing over that part of the sea, though south winds to the west of that gale are pumping warmer air into the heart of cold.

If this doesn’t get warming back on track, it will be like 2006.

Click picture and maps below to enlarge.

NP Aug 7 17.

DMI Aug 7 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 7 temp_latest.big.

UPDATE ON POLAR STORM—Ryan Maue posted this wonderful graphic of the low level moisture feeding into the storm.  I assume these storms have different mechanics than the storms down here.  If it was down here I’d say it was occluded and weakening, but I don’t think that is the case.  Maybe we’ll learn from this. (click to enlarge)

Ryan Maue polar_dp_storm.


Arrived home to find everything changed, which seems the norm this year.  In terms of north-south movement, the camera, which had been moving ever so slightly north to 84.554 degrees latitude, had jolted a full tenth of a degree south, (6 miles,) to 84.454 degrees.  Also, in terms of east-west movement, the movement to the east had screeched to a halt and turned to a movement to the west.  Winds, which had become nearly east, swung back around to the south and then south-southwest, which means that the air was not coming off the relatively milder Atlantic, but Greenland, and therefore the temperatures, which had risen to a balmy 1 above, crashed to 1 below. (C) (33.8 to 31.2 Fahrenheit.) Rather than the ice moving into the wind to the east, the contrary ice is now moving into the wind to the south west.  Does this ice ever move with the wind?

All this switching to and fro has got to take a toll on the ice, and explains why the pictures from outer space show the ice so fractured and tortured.  From the ground level of the camera itself, not much of this mangling is visible, though this year we’ve been lucky to see some pressure ridges and, I think, a lead that shone in the sun back at the end of June.  Now it looks like we may be seeing another lead in tonight’s picture, or at least that is my interpretation of the dark line on the horizon, from slightly left of the center distance to the left margin.

A lead does not mean the ice is melting. They can appear in the dead of winter when temperatures are forty below. (The one time C and F are the same.)  What they mean is that stress has split the ice, and the ice is moving in two directions.  The lead of open water gets wider and wider until winds shift, and then sometimes the two sides come slamming together again and the crash forms the jumble of ice we call a pressure ridge.  Then, if winds shift yet again, the crack can reopen, and you can witness a lead with part of a pressure ridge on one side and part on the other.

Squinting at tonight’s picture, I think we may be lucky enough to be witnessing exactly this. The pressure ridge that seemed to inhabit the left side of the distant horizon seems gone, replaced by that distant dark line.  However, if you squint even harder, I think you can see a white line above the dark line, which would be those missing pressure ridges far away, on the far side of the lead.

In the future I hope the north pole camera has a zoom lens.

I have a hunch that we might just get even luckier.  With a storm brewing on the far side of the pole, and winds picking up from the southwest, our camera might be blown back north, and we might see the lead close, the two sides crash, and a really big pressure ridge form.  However I stress the word “might.”  All forecasters know forecasting is a quick way to become humble.

In any case, watching ice melt has sure turned out interesting, this year, even though it has been a while since there’s been any melting to watch.  I was sort of hoping we might see Lake North Pole refill at least once, (as camera two is placed in a low place in the ice,) but that forecast was wrong, because I should have forecast polar bears.NP Aug 7B17 .

(As always, click picture to enlarge.)


The dmi charts seem to show the gale wrapping below freezing temperatures around its core.  It’s center is just across the North Pole from Camera Two, 400-500 miles away.  Temperatures at the camera look  to be below freezing from the DMI chart.  (No data yet.) It looks pretty dark and ominous up there.

NP Aug 8 18.

DMI Aug 8 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 8 temp_latest.big.


The camera continues south into the wind, down to 84.315 latitude despite the fact the wind is increasing. Wind has backed from southwest to southeast, but temperatures remain quite cold, currently at minus 2.6 degrees(C).  It has been below the freezing point of salt water all day.  The latest DMI graph shows the mean temperatures north of 80 degrees has dipped below freezing. That is earlier than usual. That also means the big storm, now located nearly on the pole, is for the most part circulating freezing air.  The only really warm area is just north of Canada, with temperatures near 70 on the coast.  Elsewhere prospects for ice-melt look slim, unless and until that storm moves off the the top of the earth.

NP Aug 8B npeo_cam2_20130808190029

DMI Aug 8 B pressure DMI Aug 8 B temp_latest.big

DMI AUG 8 meanT_2013 (1)


The buoy continues to move south and east. Temperatures up to just above freezing at 0.5 (C). Despite the local winds being from southerly quadrants it has moved down to 84.210 latitude. I am starting to think the buoy can’t possibly move into the wind as much as it seems to do,  and am checking for some error I must be making, but I can’t find it.  The wind has backed up to the east-southeast, yet the buoy has continued upwind and crossed the meridian and is at longitude 0.302 E. (Note; written Oct 21, 2016. My error was likely twofold. First, due to the fact the berg the buoy was on can pivot right around, “north” on a physical wind-vane can actually be to the south. Second, up towards the magnetic Pole “north” on a magnetic wind-vane can be in a direction other than true north, and can change as the buoy drifts relative to the magnetic pole.)

My guess is that the gale up by the pole has strong west winds to its Greenland-side. (You can’t say “south side,” because all sides of a storm are to its south when it sits on the pole.)  The reason the winds at the buoy aren’t west is, (I think,) because of a front, which may be causing what appears to be a decent snowfall at the buoy, though the lens is wet and makes the view unclear.  The storm is what is moving the ice, not the local winds. Once the front passes the buoy may head for Svalbard rather than Fram Strait.

Here is a great animation of the polar storm’s moisture inflow by Ryan Maue, that Anthony Watts posted on his “Watts Up With That” website.

NP Aug 9 npeo_cam2_20130809125904

DMI Aug 9 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 9 temp_latest.big


While the camera looks like it may get a cold wave, the arctic coast of Canada is warm, and also the polar storm is developing some sort of appendage down to the Siberian coast, and perhaps pulling milder air up into the mix on the Bering Straits side of the pole.

Hopefully the lens will melt off soon.

DMI Aug 10 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 10 temp_latest.big.


Temperatures have been as low as -4.1 (24.6 Fahrenheit.)  Definitely not good for melting ice.

The Navy map is showing the ice is pushed by polar storm towards Fram Strait, as the rest of the ice spins around the pole like a top. So far there has been no acceleration of ice melt due to storm.

 Navy ice speed Aug 11 arcticicespddrfnowcastNP Aug 11 18

DMI Aug 11 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 11 temp_latest.big


Since temperatures dipped below freezing at 1200Z  on August 7 they have only risen above freezing at Camera Two for a brief period on August 9, (1200z, 1500z and 1800z reports,) and even then only achieved a high of 0.5 Celsius (32.9 Fahrenheit.) All the rest of the time it has been below freezing for the primarily fresh water on top of the ice, and over half the time it has been below freezing for the salt water the ice floats upon.

Something is going on up there that deserves some serious thought, but I’m just back from a camping trip, and prefer to think about a long and hot shower.

Hopefully I’ll have time for deep thought tomorrow.  In the mean time, do the deep thinking for me.  I’ll supply some pictures and maps for your lying eyes.

Please notice the DMI maps show the storm is weakening, but has crossed the pole and nears our camera.  Notice our poor camera looks cold, with no obvious slush or melting to see.  Lastly, a view from outer space shows the areas in the quadrant between 120 and 180 degrees longitude, hit hardest by the polar storms warmest winds, have areas of open water, but still have plenty of ice, and are not seas swept nearly clear of ice, as were last year’s seas by last year’s gale.

NP Aug 12 17.

DMI Aug 12 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 12 temp_latest.bigSarelite arctic Aug 12 index


I have to catch up on work, but will quickly post a picture of our cold camera, and today’s DMI pressure and temperature map, concluding with the DMI graph showing the mean temperature north of 80 degrees remains below freezing, and is actually sinking.

(click picture, maps or graph to enlarge)

NP Aug 13 npeo_cam2_20130813064917

DMI Aug 13 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 13 temp_latest.bigDMI Aug 13 meanT_2013 (1)


The most recent Camera Two data shows that in the past 24 hours the warmest temperature was -3.4 and the coldest was -4.7, Celsius;  (25.9 and 23.5 Fahrenheit.)  This has occurred even though winds backed through the “warm weather” compass points of southeast and east. At these temperatures slush turns to rock, (as anyone who has shoveled snow in New England knows.)  The ice is definitely becoming harder, and less likely to crumble. Even while open water may not freeze at these temperatures, every place water comes in contact with ice that already exists, up at the surface, is forming a new glaze of new ice.

The camera continues to be pushed south, and is now at 83.780 north latitude.  This movement has been largely into a headwind. When the wind is pushing ice one way as currents and ice to the north push it the opposite way, ice is more liable to pile up than be dispersed. As a whole, this particular part of the Arctic Ocean is seeing ice get thicker and harder at a time of year it normally gets more slushy and thinner.

The camera continues to see a dark line in the distance, from the center to the left of the background.  I think this may be a “lead,” or a crack formed by the twisting and torturing of the ice, rather than by warming.  The ice was longitudinally moving east, but stopped at . 1.453°E, moved back west to 1.156°E, and then again stopped and resumed eastward motion to 1.597°E.  This sort of acceleration and deceleration of a large plate of ice stresses it and can crack it even in the dead of winter when temperatures are at forty below.  At those temperatures the water “smokes” like hot tea, even though the salt water can be as cold as 29 degrees (1.7 Celsius.) The open water can cause a briefly warmer micro-climate of a fog called “sea-smoke,” before  the lead swiftly freezes over.  Ice can be thick enough for a man to stand on, at forty below, in a matter of hours. However right now, with temperatures 37 degrees warmer in the Celsius scale and 65 degrees warmer in the Fahrenheit scale, leads do not freeze over, and the reason they don’t makes for an interesting sidetrack.

We tend to think warm things rise and cold things sink, but fresh water breaks that rule below 36 degrees Fahrenheit.  While we think only a hot-air-balloon rises, and a cold-air- balloon must sink, in the case of water cold-water below 36 degrees rises to the top of a freshwater pond. As water right at freezing is most bouyant of all cold water, it is right at the top and turns to ice naturally and easily.

However, as soon as you add salt to the water, water loses this ability.  It acts like a cold-air-balloon, and sinks.  Therefore it is in a sense theoretically impossible for ice to form in the ocean, because before water can get cold enough to freeze it sinks.  The reason ice does form is because some water is in contact with very cold air long enough to rapidly cool and flash-freeze before it has time to sink. As soon as it becomes ice, even if it is a mere speck, it behaves like all other ice and floats atop the water, often serving as a sort of seed-crystal for further water to turn to ice.

To complicate matters further, as soon as water becomes ice it rejects the salt dissolved in it,  and becomes fresh water.  And if that isn’t confusing enough, by going through the phase change from liquid to solid it releases latent heat.

In conclusion, the scientists dealing with the refreezing of the arctic are not dealing with a simple change.  You have water that wants to sink, unless it becomes ice and wants to rise.  You have water that is salty unless it becomes ice, and exudes salt, which makes the surrounding water saltier and harder to freeze, unless that salt melts ice which is fresh water and makes surrounding water less salty.  And last but not least, you have heat being gobbled up as ice melts but being released as water freezes. (I learned more about the “water column” and “pycnocline,” and the “hydration energy” involved in removing salt from ice. See “More About Refreezing” at end of August 15 evening update.)

It is enough to make your head spin, at which point it is good to just look at the view from Camera Number Two, and simply chill out.

(Click image to enlarge. To see most recent temperatures at Camera 2, see )

NP Aug 13B npeo_cam2_20130813185047


(Hat tip to Chris Beal @NJSnow Fan)  It sure doesn’t look like we are going to see an “ice-free North Pole” this summer.

Polar View BRlfKI4CMAAhkcP.


I’m waiting on the temperature data, but it looks from the DMI temperature-at-two-meters map that the core of the cold is still north of Greenland, so I don’t expect much of a bounce from the sunshine.  The pressure map shows that the arctic gale has disintegrated, but what is left of its low pressure is actually over camera 2.  Not much of a storm any more, is it?

Today’s picture is wonderfully clear. That does look like a “lead” in the left background, with the far side looking like the jumbled ice of a pressure ridge.  If the two sides of that lead clap together again that  pressure ridge will get bigger.

Also notice the drifted snow is deeper by the snow stake in the foreground.  The first black check is now nearly hidden from view. Rather than melting we are seeing snow and ice increase, on this side of the North Pole.

NP Aug 14 17

DMI Aug 14 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 14 temp_latest.big


Click on to this DMI map and then click the animation loop. It will give you a good “feel” for what has been happening the past 30 days.  It starts out fairly typically for this time of year, with ice retreating from the coasts of Siberia and Alaska, and concentration decreasing overall, (turning from white to shades of grey). However more recently the concentration increases, especially on the Greenland side of the pole, which is unusual before mid September.

Click the “faster” tab for the animation until it is moving at top speed, and you get a “sense” of the ice moving around and around the pole, rather than flushing out through Fram Strait.


I’ve had a rough day, because some fiend apparently spread fertilizer over all our lawns, when I took a couple days off to camp with family.  Mowing is low on my list of desirable activities, while watching ice melt is way up there.  However sometimes a man has got to do what a man has got to do, (because his wife says so,) and so I mowed rather than watch the ice melt. (Or perhaps watch it not-melt.)

I did steal a few moments to insert this morning’s update into this post, and ventured some comments on other sites where those-who-love-to-watch-ice-melt abide.  However then I had to mow, mow, mow, and then childcare, childcare, childcare, and finally run off to shop for stuff necessary in childcare, such as whiffleballs and fishinghooks, water-softener salt and dogfood for the farm dog, and some other sundries, but now, at long last, (after filling the water softener,) I can sit back at my computer to watch ice melt. And what do I discover, right off the bat?  Nearly 400 people have visited this site today.

Usually my site is a nice, obscure site about childcare, poetry, New England and local weather, visited by perhaps twenty people a day, but this is the third time an influx of hundreds of visitors have dropped by.  The first time was when “Lake North Pole” drained, and the second time was when a polar bear visited the “North Pole Camera.” However this time there is no reason.

I can only suppose that I am not the only one one interested in watching ice melt, and also I am not the only one aware something odd is occurring up in the Great White North, this summer.  (I am not so alone as I sometimes feel.)

In any case, odd stuff continues to happen at the North Pole Camera.

First, the sun came out, but rather than temperatures rising they dropped to minus 5.9 celsius, (21.4 faherenheit.)  When clouds returned, temperatures rose to minus 2.5.  This suggests to me that, even when the sun is out, it is so low it cannot prevent some sort of “radiational cooling” from happening, that far north.

Second, the wind shifted to the north, and rather than that wind boosting the progress of the buoy down towards Fram Strait, the buoy came to a halt and moved north, from latitude 83.780°N to latitude 83.814°N. I suppose the ice may be responding to the south winds of the past, however it bothers me that the ice seems to be moving upwind so much.  I feel I have to be making some blatant mistake, but can’t see what it is.

In any case, the ice is, albeit briefly, moving north.  This creates a sort of ice jam in the flushing of ice out of the arctic through Fram Strait.  Rather than ice melting away in warmer, southern waters it is staying stuck up at the pole.  This makes it all the less likely we shall see an “Ice-free North Pole” anytime soon.

I need to add I have never seen the temperatures so cold at the North Pole Camera so early.  Usually mid-August sees the yearly thaw progressing, and the question is how long the thaw will last before freezing resumes.  Usually I am keeping an eye cocked for any temperatures below freezing, and usually they are brief when they first occur.  Now the question is utterly different, as we are wondering when the thawing will resume, when temperatures will rise above freezing, and whether the thaw will resume at all.


Another spell of sunshine, allowing us excellent views. Last year it seemed foggy all the time, as the camera moved south into air from the North Atlantic. This year the air seems more arctic.  Squinting at the left background, it looks like that lead of open water might have clapped shut again.

The DMI pressure map suggests some cross-polar flow is developing, on the other side of the pole, moving from Siberia to Canada, which might not bode well for people attempting the Northwest Passage this summer.  It might warm things in the Northeast Passage, and hasten ice-melt where it has been delayed on the Siberian coast.  However this camera- side of the pole off North Greenland remains cold.

Hat tip to “Master Of Space and Thyme” for linking me to this neat video of ice conditions seen from “O Buoy #8” in the Beaufort Sea north of Canada. It is time-lapse, actually beginning in the hanger and/or lab where they set the buoy up,  covers the trip to the arctic,  and covers two summers (with the buoy shut down in the winter dark.) By the end it is far further south than “our” buoy, at around 73.5 latitude, and shows conditions in a sea that is 70-80% ice covered.  The buoy is made to float in water, but at times gets crunched by ice and looks nearly straight down. In the end it shows the boat come to pick it up. It takes roughly eight minutes to watch the entire video, however is well worth the time (if you are into watching ice melt.)

NP Aug 15 npeo_cam2_20130815064243

DMI Aug 15 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Aug 15 temp_latest.big


Today temperatures bottomed out at -8.6 Celsius. (That is 16.5 Fahrenheit.)

Temperatures have since risen to -5.4 Celsius. (22.3 Fahrenheit.)

Winds are not coming from the bitter cold icecap of Greenland. Winds are from the north, crossing miles and miles of ice which cannot be slushy to have temperatures so low. Slush will have frozen and melt-water pools will be freezing, releasing latent heat in the process, but that latent heat isn’t warming things up much at all.

Roughly 100 miles north-northeast is another bouy, “Paws Bouy 975420.” It must be across a weak area of high pressure, for winds there are from the south-southeast. The temperature there is nearly the same: -5.3 Celsius, and falling. Temperatures at that buoy have been below the freezing point of salt water since August 10, and below the freezing point of fresh water for well over a week. It stopped moving south early on the 13th of August, and since then has edged around 1.2 miles back north.

Our “Camera 2” buoy came to a stop today as well.  At 0300z yesterday it made it down to 83.794°N latitude, and at 1500z today it stands at 83.808°N. That’s roughly a third of a mile further north, in terms of latitude, as the buoy drifts slightly east, in terms of longitude.

The open waters of Fram Strait lie over 200 miles away.  What are the odds this buoy will make it down there before the winter freeze up?

Things are back to normal, here in this quiet corner of ice-melt-watching.  After 456 views yesterday there were a more reasonable 47 at this site today. I’m still not sure how I attracted such a crowd.

There were over 300 comments at the “Watts Up With That” post about this subject.  Quite an uproar got going, with Master of Space and Thyme getting sucked off-topic into a maelstrom of politics.  My old friend “Latitude” made an appearance.  It was hard to see through all the smoke to the science, but I did learn more about the refreezing process, which I hope to share later.

By the way, besides showing the drifting snow has shifted about a bit, this evening’s camera 2 picture seems to show the lead in the far left distance has reopened. Or perhaps it was just covered by a skim of snow-dusted ice this morning.

NP August 15B 18


Here is an interesting comment I read among the over 300 comments at the Watts Up With That post I mentioned above.

Retired Engineer John says:

The following is from Dr Wadham’s essay on the freezing of water:
“Cooling the water down
Consider a fresh water body being cooled from above, for instance a lake at the end of summer experiencing subzero air temperatures. As the water cools the density increases so the surface water sinks, to be replaced by warmer water from below, which is in its turn cooled. This creates a pattern of convection through which the whole water body gradually cools. When the temperature reaches 4°C, the lake reaches its maximum density. Further cooling results in the colder water becoming less dense and staying at the surface. This thin cold layer can then be rapidly cooled down to the freezing point, and ice can form on the surface even though the temperature of the underlying water may still be close to 4°C. Thus a lake can experience ice formation while considerable heat still remains in the deeper parts.
This does not apply to sea water. The addition of salt to the water lowers the temperature of maximum density, and once the salinity exceeds 24.7 parts per thousand (most Arctic surface water is 30-35), the temperature of maximum density disappears. Cooling of the ocean surface by a cold atmosphere will therefore always make the surface water more dense and will continue to cause convection right down to the freezing point – which itself is depressed by the addition of salt to about -1.8°C for typical sea water. It may seem, then, that the whole water column in an ocean has to be cooled to the freezing point before freezing can begin at the surface, but in fact the Arctic Ocean is composed of layers of water with different properties, and at the base of the surface layer there is a big jump in density (known as a pycnocline), so convection only involves the surface layer down to that level (about 100-150 metres). Even so, it takes some time to cool a heated summer water mass down to the freezing point, and so new sea ice forms on a sea surface later in the autumn than does lake ice in similar climatic conditions.”

The reason that I posted this paragraph is there is a point that Dr Wadham did not make that I feel is significant. Going back to high school chemistry there is an experiment where you have a thermometer in a beaker of water and add salt. The temperature of the solution goes down as seen on the thermometer. When salt, sodium chloride, is dissolved the process is know as hydration and energy is required to make the new bonds. The hydration energy for one mole of sodium chloride is 4 kilojoules. This is not a lot of energy, but it is significant. For salt water to freeze, this energy must be removed to break the bonds between the water molecules and the sodium and chlorine ions. The temperature must be lowered sufficiently to remove all this energy. The ions and their water molecules play a game of musical chairs, moving from one ion to another until all the energy is removed. When all the energy is removed the water can freeze. In salt water the process of removal of the hydration energy starts at 4C and is completed at the freezing temperature. This transition zone is the reason that much of the ocean is at 3-4C. As water temperatures are lowered, additional energy removal is required to pass through the transition zone.

Interesting stuff, but I suspect there  are other factors involved as well. I’m fairly certain the pyrcnocline does some strange stuff, especially as thermohaline circulation begins in the arctic.  Also a chip of ice at the surface, or even a snowflake, can allow ice to form directly from seawater, without the seawater sinking.

As this post is getting unwieldy, I’ll once again start a new post, which I think I’ll call, “The Big Chill, Sea ice Version.”

However, just for the record, I thought I’d include the comments I made over at that Watts Up With That post, even though I sometimes adopt a wise-guy attitude ill-befitting the proprietor of a blog as high-minded and dignified as this one.


Paul Homewood says:

August 14, 2013 at 3:10 am

The temperature scale only goes down to -1.5 and below.

Presumably it could already be below -2C?

  1. Caleb says:

August 14, 2013 at 3:30 am

RE: Paul Homewood says:
August 14, 2013 at 3:10 am

The core of the cold is just north of Greenland, and the thermometer attached to the North Pole Camera has recorded temperatures as low as minus 4.7 Celsius.

It’s been a great summer for sitting around watching ice melt, the only problem being it stopped melting right after they made all that hoopla about “Lake North Pole.” Perhaps Al Gore visited by helicopter and jinxed the melt. (They did see some large tracks made by a heavy creature up there.)

You can see a map of arctic air temperatures by going to Anthony’s Sea Ice Page, clicking on the DMI graph (also pictured at the top of this post,) and then going from that graph to the “Arctic Front Page,” (by clicking the link under the box with all the dates in it on the left hand side.)

  1. Caleb says:

August 14, 2013 at 3:37 am

I should add that, once on the DMI “Arctic Front Page,” you click the link “Arctic weather north of 60N” in the box to the upper right. That gives you their map of pressure and another map of 2m temps. I prefer DMI as Denmark has more at stake in arctic seas. I find it odd how other maps and graphs can differ.

  1. Caleb says:

August 14, 2013 at 4:28 am

One thing that seems odd and different can be seen in the DMI 14-day-loop of ice concentration. Take a look:

While ice shrank away from the coasts of Alaska and Siberia, as is typical this time of year, the concentration of ice stopped decreasing towards the middle and towards Greenland (stopped turning from white to grey, in their color-code,) and instead concentration increased, (turned from grey back to white, in their color-code.) My guess is that this is partly due to the gale they had up their piling up the ice, but also due to sub-freezing temperatures and freshly fallen snow.

  1. Caleb says:

August 14, 2013 at 4:34 am

If you turn the animation of the above link up to top speed, you really get a sense the ice is circling around and around the pole, rather than being flushed out through Fram Strait.

John Silver says:

August 14, 2013 at 6:36 am

Actually, the surface water in the Arctic Ocean freezes at -1.7 C due to the somewhat lower salinity there.
(salinity varies in the oceans)

REPLY: Good to know, thanks. here they say -1.9C


  1. Caleb says:

August 14, 2013 at 7:06 am

RE: John Silver says:
August 14, 2013 at 6:36 am

Arctic Ocean water is weird. When a lot of freezing is going on, the new ice is exuding salt, and the brine briefly increases the salinity of the surface water, (as it sinks through it,) and that lowers the freezing point of the surface water. However, the ice becomes mostly fresh, (with a few embedded pockets of brine,) and when that fresh-water-ice later melts it lowers the salinity of the surface water, which raises the freezing point of the surface water. Right now it is easier to freeze the surface water, (by a tenth of a degree or two tenths,) than it will be once freezing gets underway in earnest.

Watching ice melt is not as easy as it looks.

Caleb says:

August 14, 2013 at 7:11 am

RE: wws says:
August 14, 2013 at 6:39 am
“What happened to the building polar sea cyclone that was being discussed here as recently as a week ago???”

All over and done with. Didn’t break up the ice as much as last year’s, likely because it was colder, and also swirled winds around the pole rather than across the pole.

For a while the gale stood nearly atop the pole, and thus became a storm with no north side. Alarmist media blew a big chance for a sensational headline: “Global Warming Creates Storm With 360 Degrees Of South Side!!!”

  1. Caleb says:

August 14, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Meanwhile, back at the “North Pole Camera….”

It got down to -5.9 Celsius yesterday. (21.4 Fahrenheit.)

  1. Caleb says:

August 14, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I meant to say: It got down to -5.9 today. While the sun was shining. When clouds moved in it “warmed up” to -2.5.

Temperatures have been at or below the freezing point of salt water, at that drifting location, since some point between the 1500z and 1800z reports on August 10.

One heck of a way to run an ice-melt; that’s all I can say.

  1. Caleb says:

August 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm

RE: Master of Space and Thyme,

You first commented at 7:19, when I had to get to work. Now I’m back, and am amazed at the time and effort you put in all day. Does your boss know what you are up to? I’d love to spend all day watching ice melt, and thinking about what I watch, however my boss (IE wife) won’t allow it. I am an oppressed worker.

I’ve only had time to skim through the hundred or so comments, and check a couple links, however I did spend roughly eight glorious minutes watching ice melt in that video you linked to back at 11:18.

It is odd how you and I can look at the exact same picture and see such different things. You stated, ” If anyone is interested in seeing how bad the ice is at the H buoy is, check out the movie from the webcam. The cam was removed last week after the ice collapsed. The significant melt starts at about 6 minutes in to the video.”

First, you hurt the feelings of that ice by calling it “bad.” Be careful. In some circles that would be deemed politically incorrect.

Second, that slushy scene looked very typical to me, for the time and place.

Third, the camera apparently was designed to survive being tilted into a lead, and able to right itself, providing it was floating on water. The times it spends looking down are due to being crunched in ice, and unable to right itself. During the final video-minutes it is positioned in water between ice, not on ice itself, and therefore I think it may be incorrect to state, “The cam was removed last week after the ice collapsed.” My assumption would be that the camera was retrieved because it is a darn valuable hunk of equipment, and could be damaged in all the jostling that goes on in a storm, when a sea is 70% sea ice, and a big storm was in the forecast. In any case, even as the camera shows the ship coming to pick it up, the ice cover is 70%.

In my view 70% ice cover is not “bad” ice cover. However, as I said, we see things differently.

I do appreciate the many links you provide, and I’m green with envy that you apparently get away with watching ice melt more than I do.

  1. Caleb says:

August 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm

RE: Master of Space and Thyme,

You first commented at 7:19, when I had to get to work. Now I’m back, and am amazed at the time and effort you put in all day. Does your boss know what you are up to? I’d love to spend all day watching ice melt, and thinking about what I watch, however my boss (IE wife) won’t allow it. I am an oppressed worker.

I’ve only had time to skim through the hundred or so comments, and check a couple links, however I did spend roughly eight glorious minutes watching ice melt in that video you linked to back at 11:18.

It is odd how you and I can look at the exact same picture and see such different things. You stated, ” If anyone is interested in seeing how bad the ice is at the H buoy is, check out the movie from the webcam. The cam was removed last week after the ice collapsed. The significant melt starts at about 6 minutes in to the video.”

First, you hurt the feelings of that ice by calling it “bad.” Be careful. In some circles that would be deemed politically incorrect.

Second, that slushy scene looked very typical to me, for the time and place.

Third, the camera apparently was designed to survive being tilted into a lead, and able to right itself, providing it was floating on water. The times it spends looking down are due to being crunched in ice, and unable to right itself. During the final video-minutes it is positioned in water between ice, not on ice itself, and therefore I think it may be incorrect to state, “The cam was removed last week after the ice collapsed.” My assumption would be that the camera was retrieved because it is a darn valuable hunk of equipment, and could be damaged in all the jostling that goes on in a storm, when a sea is 70% sea ice, and a big storm was in the forecast. In any case, even as the camera shows the ship coming to pick it up, the ice cover is 70%.

In my view 70% ice cover is not “bad” ice cover. However, as I said, we see things differently.

I do appreciate the many links you provide, and I’m green with envy that you apparently get away with watching ice melt more than I do.

Master of Space and Thyme says:

August 14, 2013 at 7:34 pm

I was surprised to read that the retrieval was scheduled and not related to recent melt and weather events. Your’e right about the buoy floating freely, there are pictures at the link showing it’s retrieval. Here is an online diary from the ship.

The main page at that site gives some background information about the Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project. The Beaufort Gyre traditionally was something akin to an ice nursery. Ice used to spend several years growing in the gyre before returning to the CAB or being flushed through the Fram Strait.

  1. Caleb says:

August 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Umm…is it safe to come out now?

Meanwhile, back at the “North Pole Camera….”

Today temperatures bottomed out at -8.6 Celsius. (That is 16.5 Fahrenheit.)

Temperatures have since risen to -5.4 Celsius. (22.3 Fahrenheit.)

Winds are not coming from the bitter cold icecap of Greenland. Winds are from the north, crossing miles and miles of ice which cannot be slushy to have temperatures so low. Slush will have frozen and melt-water pools will be freezing, releasing latent heat in the process, but that latent heat isn’t warming things up much at all.

Roughly 100 miles north-northeast is another buoy, “Paws Buoy 975420.” It must be across a weak area of high pressure, for winds there are from the south-southeast. The temperature there is nearly the same: -5.3 Celsius, and falling. Temperatures at that buoy have been below the freezing point of salt water since August 10, and below the freezing point of fresh water for well over a week.

At the very least it should be obvious that a wrench is in the works of typical ice-melt, in that quadrant of the Arctic Sea.

Further thoughts at bottom-of-post update at

Caleb says:

RE: Retired Engineer John says:

August 14, 2013 at 9:33 am

I’d like to thank you for your comment, early on in this discussion. It really got me thinking about the dynamics of the refreeze. While I think Dr. Wadham’s idea of the entire water column needing to chill right down to the pycnocline has merit, (and have seen some neat video of ice freezing below the ice and slowly floating upwards that seems to affirm that concept,) I think other factors can come into play as well, not the least of which is that the pycnocline needs to be punctured by sinking brine in order for thermohaline circulation to occur.

Dr. Wadham’s ideas are wonderfully elegant, and likely explain a lot of what occurs during a refreeze, however as engineer I’m sure you know “a lot” isn’t always good enough, as reality tends to to throw a wrench in the works of well thought out ideas. (Murphy’s Law)

There is stuff going on during this current refreeze that seems to break certain rules, and that baffles me. Therefore I am casting around for ideas such as your idea about the power of hydration energy. Another idea involves the fact salt water does not necessarily need to sink before it reaches it’s freezing point when cooled, if it is in contact with ice already floating and already below the freezing point. (Think of the complex problem created when a falling freshwater snowflake at just below the freezing point lands on saltwater just above the freezing point; will the snowflake melt or will the saltwater it lands on freeze? Besides the hydration energy you have to factor in the latent energy of the phase change from ice to water or from water to ice.

Straining my mind about this stuff is great fun, but I doubt I am close to any sort of answer. (I thought I had it all figured out at one point, but then I rolled over and woke up.) In any case I really appreciate your attitude and what you add to the discussion.

RE: RACookPE1978 says:
August 15, 2013 at 3:50 pm

While I listen with interest to your political ideas, what I find most cool are your ideas concerning direct and indirect sunshine, and the whole matter of albedo. You’ve done some hard work there, and I thank you for sharing.

It would be nice if we got paid for all this hard work we are doing, but it is likely “our reward is in heaven,” and therefore we might as well just enjoy the fun of seeing truth as it is displayed to us by nature here on earth. Witnessing such truths is a joy which those who distort truth for political ends know nothing about. Sort of sad, when you think of it. They are impoverished, yet think that makes them better off.



NP last year Aug 5 npeo_cam1_20120805201206


NP Aug 5 npeo_cam2_20130805065710

One thing I notice while comparing the pictures of this year and last year is, (beside the obvious fact this year is colder and this year’s picture has no melt-water,) is that this year’s picture has more pressure ridges.  I  assume this suggests that the same area of ice has a greater volume, because it is thicker at those pressure ridges.

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 then 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 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 every 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 longitudinal measurements in miles.  However I feel it is noteworthy that yesterday 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 brakes 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 latitude alone, 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 tremendous crash, and he had a really ugly 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, 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.