SIGN OF HARD WINTER? EARLY ARCTIC SNOWS

I clipped and pasted this from my “sea-ice diary,” for I figured it deserved extra attention.

 —EARLY ARCTIC SNOWS—

On Twitter, blogger “Chris Beal” put together a chart of the snow cover for the first day of fall, for the past eight years.  Not only is there more snow this year, but it is evenly distributed on both the Alaskan side and the Eurasian side. It is not a lopsided pattern, where snow on one side is averaged out by a heat wave on the other.  I’d say it’s a good sign, if you like freezing your -bleep- off in January.  Not a good sign if (like me) you like a mild winter. ( https://twitter.com/NJSnowFan )

Of special interest to me is the snow on the North Slope of Alaska.  During our coldest winters a ridge on the west coast of USA brings air straight down from there to New Hampshire.  I’m glad I ordered wood early.

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ARCTIC SEA ICE MINIMUM — THE DARKNESS DESCENDS (Sept 18-Oct 5, 2013)

 ARCTIC SEA ICE MINIMUM — THE DARKNESS DESCENDS

(Note: My last post came to an abrupt end when the post began to retroactively omit nearly every time I hit the “enter” key.  This utterly ruined the spacing of the entire post. None of the pictures were where I wanted, and there was no spacing for paragraphs.  Everything was one, gigantic run-on-sentence. Grrr.  It is a sheer guess on my part that I exceeded some WordPress limit as to how many bytes could be in a post. Therefore I am starting anew here.)

(Click all maps, pictures, and graphs to enlarge them.)

The most recent news is at the bottom of this post.  A quick way to get to the bottom is to hit the little cartoon-balloon to the right of the title, which takes you down to the start of the comments. The most recent update is just above the comments. (Thanks to blogger “Max™” for this suggestion.)

I moved yesterday’s updates from the last post to this one, in an attempt to free up space on the last post.

SEPTEMBER 18  —MORNING PICTURES—   NOT HOT SHOTS

0000Z PICTURE NP Sep 18 12

0600Z PICTURENP Sep 18B 18

Our camera crept a bit back north over night, to 83.71 N, 4.38 W. “Army” data temperature shows  -3.69 C at our camera, -6.14 C at “companion buoy” roughly 80  miles north, and -11.54 C at the next buoy, roughly 140 miles further north. All three of these buoys are lined up along the meridian now.

It is interesting to compare how little these buoys have moved the past three months, to the way buoy Buoy 2013C has zipped down Nares Strait (Between northwest Greenland and Canada,) in just a month.  I suppose if ice can’t go one way it will go the other. However Beaufort Gyre funnels into Nares Strait, so that Gyre is definitely alive and kicking, even if the Transpolar Flow is listless.

Buoy 2013C_sept 18 track

SEPTEMBER 18  —DMI MORNING MAPS—  

DMI Sep 18 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 18 temp_latest.big

LUNCHTIME PICTURE   —THE SUN’S GETTING LOW AT NOON—

NP Sep 18C 17

I hope the sunlight defrosts the lens to the left, because that is the direction I am most curious about.  But I’m not going to complain, for this is a remarkable and beautiful view.

SEPTEMBER 18  —DAILY DATA—   BUOY MESSES WITH MY HEAD

The winds have been calm, so I expected the camera to drift northwest, but it disobeyed my theory. It did drift steadily west, from  4.302°W at 1500z yesterday to  4.479°W at 1500z today, but it only drifted north from 83.708°N at 1500z yesterday until 2100z, when it seemingly paused at 83.720°N for six hours, before starting south sometime after 0300z and drifted down to 83.699°N.  Who can figure it?  Tides?  Ramming other buoys moving west? A shift in very light winds as the sun swings around? Temperatures befuddle me as well, moving in the exact opposite manner from diurnal variation.  During the time the sun sank low they rose, from -6.7°C at 1500z to -2.1°C at 0600z today, when they started to again fall, down to -6.4°C at 1200z, when the above picture was taken. Perhaps that just shows you that clear skies allow radiational cooling when the sun is so low on the horizon.  At the finally record at 1500z temperatures has risen slightly to  -5.8°C, which may mean some clouds rolled in. We’ll await the next picture.

THE NEXT PICTURE  —SOME CLOUDS ROLLED IN—

NP SEP 18D 14

For the next week it will be sunset, and then a week of twilight, and then the darkness starts descending.  These are our final views, unless the camera stays north all winter and they can start it up in the spring. You can now plainly see the ice on the far side of the lead in the left distance.

SEPTEMBER 18  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—   

DMI Sep 18B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sept 18B temp_latest.big

Basically a confused map, as the “old” cross-polar flow transitions to the new.  Things are proceding as the models foresaw, but with a few corrections necessary. The low I dubbed “Newfee” is getting squeezed off the Pole into Siberia as foreseen, and the high-pressure “Igor” across the pole is linking up  with his right arm over easternmost Siberia to form the new flow. However the blurb of low pressure extending north to the west of Svalbard is giving our camera northwest winds rather than southwest winds. Unless the winds swing to the southwest our camera will continue to drift south. More minus ten isotherms appearing over the Beaufort Sea, to speed their refreeze.

MIDNIGHT PICTURE      —-TWILIGHT—

NP Sep 19 18

At 84 degrees north, the sun first dips below the horizon on September 8. That first night is barely an hour long, but by today, September 19, the nights are already 9 hours and 52 minutes long.  The sun will rise at 06:08 and set at 20:16 at our camera today, giving us 14 hours 8 minutes of possible sunlight. However this picture is taken at the dead of night, and as you can see it isn’t all that dark.  It is midnight twilight.

SEPTEMBER 19  —MORNING SNAPSHOT—   ALBEDO ON OPEN WATER IS ZERO

NP Sep 19 17

Because the sun doesn’t rise in this picture for ten more minutes.

SEPTEMBER 19 —MORNING DMI MAPS—

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

I have to run, but did notice that the frost had slid down the lens a bit, in the above picture, so I quickly checked the “Army” data. Temperature is up to -0.20 C!  A final thaw coming?  (It does suggest the wind is veering to the southwest.)  (I wonder what my wife would say if I skipped work to study maps?)

LUNCHTIME PICTURE   —WET LENS—

NP Sep 19B 15

This view suggests temperatures made it above freezing. I hope the thaw continues, for if this water freezes on the lens we could be screwed for days. It also looks very foggy.

SEPTEMBER 19  —DAILY DATA—  SOUTH WINDS AND THAW

Down in the slight depression where our camera is located it remained windless until 0900z, but since then winds have sprung up at around 10 mph from the south.  Temperatures have risen steadily from  -5.8°C at 1500z yesterday to 0.8°C at 1500z today.

During the calm the camera’s movement was erratic. In terms of longitude it was nudged west, to east, to west, to east, to west again, and wound up pretty much where it started, moving from 4.479°W to 4.476°W in the last 24 hour.

In terms of latitude it drifted south from 83.699°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.669°N at 0900z today, (roughly half a mile,) before the wind started, and we have come back north to 83.678°N at 1500z.

It is likely the south winds will continue a while.  It will be interesting to see how far back to the north we get.

SEPTEMBER 19  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  CLASH DEVELOPING?

DMI Sep 19B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 19B temp_latest.big

I haven’t seen this solution in any modle, but I’m wondering if above-freezing and moist air getting drawn up to our camera, with such cold air nearby just north of Greenland, might not create a bit of a clash, and create a low right over our heads? We’ll see.

EVENING PICTURE   —LOOKS LIKE THAW CONTINUES—

NP Sep 19C 18

For some reason the “Army” data hasn’t updated since the reading of -0.20 C this morning. Blame it on the full moon.  In any case, it sure looks dark and gloomy up there, especially when you consider it is roughly three and a half hours before the sun slips below the horizon.  Pity the view isn’t clearer, for there are only two times of day: Sunset and twilight.  (I wonder if one of the other cameras that are farther south will give us a picture of the ice under a full moon.)

A CONSIDERATION OF THE ALBEDO OF ARCTIC SUNSETS

A reason some Alarmists fear the melting of arctic ice is due to the idea the open water will absorb sunlight and warm, creating warmer water which will then keep the refreeze from happening, so that there will be even less ice the following year. This will start a vicious cycle, in theory, resulting in an Arctic ocean so warm that there will be serious warming over the entirety of the planet, and a derangement of life as we know it.

This theory is based on a simplistic idea of the albedo of water versus the albedo of ice, as seen in the following chart. (Click to enlarge.)

ALBEDO TYPES 429px-Albedo-e_hg.svg

The above chart makes it clear that ice reflects roughly 35% of incoming light, while water would reflect only around 8%. The problem with this idea is that it assumes the light is coming straight down.  The sun is never so high in the arctic.  You need a second chart that shows how water reflects sunlight when sunlight is low on the horizon:

ALBEDO SMOOTHE WATER 800px-Water_reflectivity

What this chart suggests is that once the sun drops to ten degrees above the horizon, its albedo starts to surpass that of ice, (especially in situations where the water is glassy and calm, and the ice is summer-roughened and pitted.)

It should be noted that even at high noon the sun at our camera is now barely ten degrees above the horizon, and usually it is lower, or has set. It also should be noted that the sun arrives at this position when ice is at its minimum.  Rather than the areas of open water absorbing more heat, they are reflecting more heat than ice would.  The effect is the opposite of the effect Alarmists worry will occur. Rather than warming there is cooling.

Add this to the fact open water loses heat more effectively and to a greater depth than water insulated by ice, and the Alarmist worry is to a large degree put to rest. Open waters will only lead to a warmer Arctic Ocean when the the sun is high in June, but in June there is still plenty of ice and even freshly fallen snow to reflect the incoming light.  By the time snow is melted and the ice is reduced,  the sun is sinking and water stops absorbing and starts reflecting incoming light.

The one thing the open water can do at this point is to create a maritime air mass, whereas a solid area of sea-ice would create an arctic air mass.  We are seeing such an maritime air mass over our camera right now.  However that can happen even after the sun has set, and it has next to nothing to do with albedo, and should be the subject of a different update.

LATEST ARMY DATA   —A RETURN TO ROOTS (VIKINGS IN GREENLAND)—

The most recent “Army” data states the temperature has dropped to  -2.92 C.  Blast. The lens of our camera is likely covered in hoarfrost.  Where did this cold come from?

I suppose you could blame the fact the sun is spending some time just below the horizon, and call it a diurnal variation, however if the wind was importing fog from the Atlantic temperatures would likely fall less.  Therefore I checked “Army data” to see which way the camera has drifted, to see if the wind has changed.

The buoy has drifted north to 83.69 N, which suggests the winds are still pushing up from the south, however the camera has stopped drifting west and instead has started east, to 4.32 W. That suggests our winds have shifted from southeast to southwest.

That likely explains the temperature drop.  We are involving different “source regions.” Air off Greenland tends to be colder than air off the North Atlantic.

It also makes me consider my original reason for dabbling in the science of Arctic Sea Ice: The Vikings of Greenland.  As a small-time farmer, the fact they could grow barley for their beer up there has always amazed me, especially as we cannot do it now, even with all the advancements and advantages of modern science.  (As an occasional sailor,  the fact they sailed the routes they sailed, in basically open boats, is equally a thing I would not advise attempting today.)  Something was obviously very different.

We have just seen, at the microcosm of our camera, the difference between winds with arctic and winds with maritime source regions.  It may seem a small difference, but the difference between just above freezing and just below freezing is huge, if you are a farmer growing barley. It is the difference between a failed crop, or a harvest, and also the difference between having no beer, or having beer, which can be important if you are a tough character living a rough life.  (Not that I’d know about such things.)

The Greenland Vikings simply had to have more maritime air than we now enjoy, along the west coast of Greenland, but it is hard to configure loops of atmospheric jet streams, and to warp oceanic Gulf Stream perambulations, that are stable enough to last long enough to make farming Greenland worthwhile.  It is for this reason I simply deduce the Arctic Ocean itself had to be ice free, at least north of Greenland, and at least in August and September.  This would have given them a new source region for maritime air.  At the very end of their growing season the first frost would have not occurred until the north wind stopped holding maritime air, and that would have held off the first frost just long enough for the barley to ripen.  The north winds would have grown bitter once those seas froze over in December, but by then harvest would have been in, and with beer brewing for Christmas the winter would have been something to look forward to.

A NEW OSCILLATION INVOLVING SEA ICE

This is an undeveloped idea I think people who are smarter than I are already aware of.  I’m just bringing it up to encourage further thought.

It would be nice if weather patterns were as simple as a two-stroke engine, but even with the PDO and AMO we already have four strokes.  It is highly likely there are more, and it is likely we are dealing with a chaotic system,  but this is not to say there is not a marvelous harmony involved, at times.  At times chaos resolves into the spiral of a big storm, as seen from outer space, and that does not look unorganized and chaotic at all.

When the harmony appears it often involves dynamics much simpler than chaos. A high pressure wheeling next to a low pressure is like two meshing gears, and that is not so complex an idea, is it?

As long as we recognize the majesty and vastness of the chaotic background, I think it is permissible to simplify, and see things in terms of two-stroke, four-stroke, or even sixteen-stroke engines.

It seems obvious to me a certain dynamic is being revealed to us, when the Canadian side of the Pole is choked with ice and the Eurasian side is so ice-free.  Obviously it will have an effect, to have conditions which cool one side and warm the other.  It is the high tide of some sort of oscillation, and influences the winds and ice-movements, which will result in the next phase.

Some guy will get the credit for being the first to diagram the stages of this undiscovered oscillation, and I will be glad.  This is the sort of thinking we should be doing, to advance our understanding.  To sit back and state, “the science is settled,” and to discover nothing, is, in my humble opinion, the act of a man who is lazy, and likely other bad things as well.

MIDNIGHT PICTURE  —AS I FEARED; LENS FROZEN UP—

NP Sep 20 12

SEPTEMBER 20  —MORNING DMI MAPS— FLOW FROM SOUTHEAST ESTABLISHED

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

The high pressure “Igor” is slowly expanding towards Scandinavia, as the storm “Newfeeson” which clouted England on Monday has dissipated, and any north Atlantic low pressure left behind is being absorbed into the new Icelandic low developing to the southwest of Iceland.  This new storm, which I dub “Hudthree,” is expected to travel north east to Iceland and then north, weakening on Sunday as its secondary, “Hudthreeson,” travels south of Iceland across to crash into Norway early next week.  This entire time “Igor” will stand to the north, with our camera on its southwest side.  We could see generally south winds at our camera right through to next Wedensday, providing no surprise “Baffy” storm develops to our west.  Even though these forecast winds don’t look especially strong, after five or six days we might find ourselves back up near 84 degrees.

At least we can watch to see if that happens, even if the view from our camera isn’t all that hot.

VIEW FROM FAR SIDE OF THE POLE

With our camera’s morning shot as blinded as our midnight shot, my gaze becomes wayward, and I peek through other cameras in other places.  This is a midnight picture from the buoy across the north pole from us, located at 80.95 N, 154.56 E, and smack, dab underneath “Igor.”  Temperatures are a toasty -14.39 C.

Obuoy 9 Sep 20 webcam

SEPTEMBER 20   —DAILY DATA—  drifting north

Our camera has drifted steadily north in a light south wind moving from 83.678°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.726°N at 1500z today.  In the same period it has moved longitudanally east, then west, then east, and then west again, but is furwe east overall, having moved from   4.476°W   to 4.359°W.

Temperatures basically followed a diurnal variation, dropping from +0.8°C at 1500z yesterday to -2.6°C at 0600z today, and then rising again to -0.2°C at 1500z.  I’m hoping for a thaw, for our camera’s lens is fairly useless as it is.

SEPTEMBER 20  —DMI AFTERNOON DATA—  FIRST MINUS FIFTEEN ISOTHERMS

DMI Sep 20B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 20B temp_latest.big

CAMERA SPOTS SHIP!!!

0000Z VIEWNP Sept 21 11

0600Z VIEWNP Sep 21 C 18

Well!  This was a bit of a surprise.  First, that the ice melted from the lens, and second that a ship hove into view.  By comparing two pictures taken ten minutes apart I can tell the ship is stationary.  My hope is that they are sending someone over to fix camera One, which was knocked over by a polar bear back in August.  My fear is that they have decided to retrieve the cameras for use next year.  Last year the RV Lance picked up one of the cameras down in the Fram Strait, but that wasn’t until after October 15, as I recall.

I checked up on the RV Lance, to see what it was up to, and it apparently has some mission scheduled northeast of Svalbard.  http://www.npolar.no/npcms/export/sites/np/no/om-oss/lance/lance-toktplan-2013.pdf  Anyway, this picture shows a big helicopter pad towards the stern, and the ship in our picture has none.

Lance shipdata

I tried using “Sailwx.info” but it neither showed Lance nor our mystery ship. (It does show buoys.)

Mystery Ship 523d89d2_2550_0

So now I’m heading off to other websites to see if I can find a good researcher.

UPDATE:  THE SHIP’S SILHOUETTE RESEMBLES THAT OF THE NORWEGAN ICEBREAKER “H V SVALBARD”  http://forsvaret.no/om-forsvaret/utstyrsfakta/sjo/Sider/Kystvaktens-fartoy-KV-Svalbard.aspx

(Information submitted by the blogger “Billy Liar.”)

MORNING DMI MAPS  —SVALBARD TO BERING STRAIT CROSS POLAR FLOW—

DMI Sep 21 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 21 temp_latest.big

Our camera will not be headed towards Fram Strait today, unless it is aboard that boat.

SEPTEMBER 21  —DAILY DATA—   HEADING NORTH

Steady light breezes from the south have continued to push the camera north, from 83.726°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.791°N at 1500z today.  The longitudinal drift has been west, then east, then west, then east, and then west again, but we wound up west of where we started, moving from 4.359°W to 4.541°W.

The temperatures again got above freezing, which allowed us to see the ship with our camera.  I’m not sure of the state of the lens now, as there was no noontime picture. Temperatures rose from -0.2°C at 1500z yesterday to +1.0°C at 2100z.  Temperatures haven’t been so warm in quite a while, and it counts as a sort of heat wave, this late in the summer. Temperatures did fall to -1.8°C by 0600 this morning, then rose with the sun to -0.3°C at 1200z, and fell slightly at the final report to -0.7°C at 1500z.

As long as the wind stays from the southeast I expect temperatures to remain relatively mild, and for our camera to drift north.  Modles show winds remaining light, and our camera on the west side of the high “Igor” into next week.  The major wrench in the works of a southeast flow would be the antics of the high that sits atop Greenland.  If it bulges towards the high “Igor” it cold create the calm of a “col,” and if it bulges further it could shove our camera back south with northwest winds.

If the winds persist it will take around two and a half days to drift back up to 84 degrees latitude, which mystifies polar bears by forming a straight, black line across the white sea ice, roughly twelve miles north of where our camera now surveys the pirates approaching it, from the dark silhouette of the distant ship.

NO PICTURES FROM CAMERA  —DID PIRATES STEAL IT?—

When I named this post “The Darkness Descends” I assumed it would be the arctic night.  Instead it may well be that the cameras were stolen retrieved.

Personally I think this may be a remarkably stupid executive decision. First, hiring a ship to pick up a camera cannot be all that much cheaper than getting a new camera.  Second, this camera is not as good as the cameras taking pictures across the Pole, and it would be nice to have a better camera placed up near the Pole next year rather than recycling this old one.  Third, we have never had pictures from this particular area of the Pole as darkness descends,  and are therefore losing an opportunity to learn. Last but not least, this camera may not have been on its way to Fram Strait, and instead may have gotten pushed just far enough west to get sucked into the Beaufort Gyre, in which case we are losing an opportunity to witness a long and remarkable journey.

There. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest I concede there are factors I know nothing about, both involving the finances and the physical upkeep of the camera, and for all I know the decision could be brilliant.  I’m just grumpy, because it is hard to see anything brilliant about blindness.

There do seem to be “Army” reports coming in, so perhaps we will be able to get an idea of what we aren’t seeing. The “camera,” (perhaps I should now call it “the emptiness,”) is still heading the wrong way north and west, to 83.80 N, 4.56 W.  The temperatures are still relatively mild, but have dipped down below freezing in the midnight twilight to -2.65 C.

For some reason an illustration in a Dr. Seuss book springs to mind.  The Grinch is stealing Christmas, but is caught red handed by a little girl as he stuffs the Christmas tree up a Chimney. He explains he is only taking it home to repair it.

I just hope the Grinch has a change of heart.  Maybe they are only taking the camera aboard the ship to repair it.

Grinch[1]

MORNING DMI MAPS   —CROSS-POLAR THAW—

DMI Sep 22 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 22 temp_latest.big

Two features grab my attention in this morning’s maps.  First is the above-freezing isotherm sticking its tounge out over the Pole and saying “Nyah nyah” to the concept of Asia-to-Greenland Transpolar Flow.  Second is the cause of that reversal, which is the high pressure I dubbed “Igor” quite a long time ago, and which, despite all computer modeling to the contrary, has persisted in bumbling about the Pole and slugging all challengers squarely in the snoot.

Looking back, it seems Igor first blurbed north from Scandinavia in the aftermath of the big storm that stood atop the pole around August 10.  That storm pushed our camera down to 83.780, and it seems remarkable we are still no further south, and are headed north, and I feel the persistence of Igor is to blame.  One way or another he has been lurking about. The closest he came to departing was when he exhaled a surge of cold down into Canada a couple weeks ago, but he held back enough of himself to hold his claim, and then shifted back to his more usual position along the Siberian coast.

(I should mention this hang-out of Igor’s shatters one of my pet theories, which was that the open water on the Eurasian side would generate low pressure, while the ice on the Canadian side would generate high pressure.)

Even though Igor was often weak, especially at first, and on these maps was a shade of lime green rather than his current shade of robust orange, the simple fact he has lingered and lurked predominately on the Siberian side has led to cross-polar flows that have pushed the camera, and sea ice in general, back towards the pole rather than down into Fram Strait, and over into the Beaufort Gyre rather than out into the open waters northeast of Svalbard.

I’ll leave it to the experts to explain why this has happened, but, as an observer, it is what I have witnessed.

As Igor advances towards Svalbard a low may develop over towards the Bering Strait, and the flow between that low and Igor will be cross-polar from Canada to Asia, which we haven’t seen much of.  However at our camera the flow will remain south, and the empty place where the camera once stood will head north a bit longer.

THOUGHTS ON DMI GRAPH UP-TICK

As I predicted, the DMI graph is like last year’s, and on the high side, refusing to admit the summer is over, and plunge in the ordinary manner.  However I should hasten to add I am right for the wrong reasons. (Click to enlarge)

DMI Sep 22 meanT_2013 (1)

I expected these temperatures to remain high due to the open water over towards Eurasia, but the DMI temperature map above the graph shows the tongue of mildness has a sourse region in the North Atlantic.

The DMI graph can fool you on occasions where the cold has been shunted south of 80 degrees. To get an idea of the area covered by the phrase “north of eighty degrees,”  it is the area inside the smallest circle of this Navy ice-extent-map. (click to enlarge.)

Navy extent Sep 22 arcticicennowcast (1)

If you compare this ice-extent-map with the above DMI surface-temperature-map you notice two things.  First, the tongue of warmth is within the 80-degree circle while a large area of minus-five and even a little minus-ten air is outside the circle;  therefore the warm air is included in the DMI graph while the cold air isn’t.

Second, while the mild air may be causing some (likely fleeting) ice-melt right on the pole, over in the Beaufort Sea temperatures are cold enough to add to the refreeze.  Also other cold air has been cycled around by the high “Igor” and is over the exposed waters towards Siberia and north of Scandinavia. Those water will not refreeze, however they are giving up a lot of warmth due to the fact they are so exposed.

It is a pet (and likely overly simplistic) theory of mine that, because those open waters are so exposed, they chill right down to the pycnocline, therefore chilling the ocean more deeply than it would be if it was sheltered by ice.  Rather than a sea capped by ice with warm AMO currents invading under it from the south,  a deeper wall of cold water resists such influxes.  Thus, by melting the ice, the warm AMO creates its own demise.

My theory may be wrong, but I get a couple points for elegance, aye?

STILL NO CAMERA, BUT DAILY DATA IS IN  —NORTHWARD DRIFT CONTINUES—

There is still no camera.  All I can say is: It sure is  taking them a darn long time to change the batteries.  Hope they didn’t fall through into the ocean, or have a run-in with a polar bear.  Changing batteries is not the safest job, up there, and OSHA was going to come down hard on them, but the Site-inspector went missing.

(The good thing about having no picture is that you can let your imagination run wild.)

I recently located the ship, Svalbard, and it was chugging towards Svalbard town, of all places, which is located on Svalbard.  They left from Longyearbyen, also located on Svalbard, and the information was……eleven days old?????!!!

I have way too much space for my active imagination here.  Leeway might be good for sailors, but it can be dangerous in my case.  In fact, I have decided the ghostly silhouette in the final picture isn’t the good ship “Svalbard,” but rather is a ship owned by Greenpeace.  The next picture, (which is now classified,) shows a Russian sub surfacing, and the picture after that (also classified) shows Greenpeace ecowarriors running hither and thither pursued by Russians and Polar Bears.  We have a major international incident occurring right before our eyes, only we can’t see it!  If ever there was a time to enact the freedom-of-information law, this is it!

(Do you see what I mean about too much imagination?  They had better get that camera running soon, before my imagination goes viral and all sorts of people have to hold press-conferences to explain what isn’t happening.  A camera is a good thing, for it keeps me grounded.)

To return to the banal, our daily data still works, and it reports our emptiness has moved steadily north from 83.791°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.831°N at 1500z today. Longitudinal motion has continued to hither and thither, moving from 4.541°W first west to 4.607°W at 2100z yesterday, and then slowly east to 4.414°W at 1500z today.

(The further north you get, the less a degree of longitude matters. Down where I sailed when young it was roughly “a mile a minute,” the same as latitude, (or sixty miles per degree,) however if you are standing next to the Pole, and veer sharply with each stride, you can cross both hemispheres and cover 360 degrees with four steps.  I find it hard to care all that much about thousandths of a degree longitude, up where our emptiness is located.  You can cover that distance by spitting downwind.)

To return to the banal, temperatures have continued mild in the southerly flow.  They fell from -0.7°C to -2.6°C as sunset became twilight, and then rose to -0.1°C as twilight turned to sunset.  The day was eactly as long as your day was, wherever you may abide on Earth, this being the equinox, however it was never really night, and never really day.

Wish we could watch it, but we can’t, due to darn Greenpeace and those darn Russians, running all over kingdom come, out there…..

SEPTEMBER 22 AFTERNOON DMI MAPS  —IGOR PLANS RETIREMENT—

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

Whist I was away attempting to chase down the pirates who stole our camera, the computer models did what they always do, which is to come up with some completely different illogic they call a “solution.”  (Whatever the solution is, they ought cut back on the amount they imbibe.)

I try not to get too fascinated in fairy tales, due to problems I myself have with an over-active imagination, and therefore only glance at what the computer models say.  However, for what it is worth, now they have “Igor” returning home to Scandinavia, (retiring undefeated, as it were,) after a long career careening about the boxing ring of the Pole. (I doubt he will actually do this, for computer models have it scheduled ten days from now.)  (Does anything they forecast ten days in advance ever happen?) However what Igor does in the next few days could be quite interesting, and turn the Pole topsy-turvy.

Already, just by heading homewards towards Svalbard, (which is part of Scandinavia, after all,) he has forced the computer models to radically revise former forecasts.  The low I dubbed “Hudthree,” rather than dissipating, is going to be morphed along his occlusion. (Is “Morphed” the correct meteorological term?) The morph will zip right over Scandinavia and consolidate as a decent storm over Russia,  and the contrast between that storm and Igor will open the arctic gates for a polar flow down over Scandinavia.

Meanwhile the storm that was suppose to rip right across the Atlantic and crash into England, “Hudthreeson,” has had a complete change of heart, in model-land, and now is going to mozey along like an old mule in a near-stall and attempt to tuck in unnoticed under Spain.  Yowza!  What a difference a day or two makes, in model-land!

In a sense it is as if, only now, are the models recognizing Igor is still champ, capable of squirting “Hudthree” east and denting “Hudthreeson” south, simply by taking a step in their direction.

The DMI temperature map shows Igor bringing up a noodle of above freezing temperature past the Pole, but also wheeling a big club of cold air around, which could come down on the pretty blonds in Sweden. (Remember this map is a 1200z map,  and represents the heat-of-the-day north of Russia; a midnight map might show blobs of minus-five isotherms about to clout down on Swedish blonds, like a caveman in search of a spouse.)

The most interesting thing, if Igor actually decides to head home, will be the Canada-to-Eurasia cross-polar-flow that will develop behind him.  Just look at the chill north of Canada, dammed-up and waiting.  Also think of all the sea ice that has been crammed to the Canadian side, just waiting to be ten thousand icebergs released, and charging towards Asia.

It will be interesting to watch, however, if Igor is going to retire, I may as well do the same.  After all, these posts are about the view out the lens of the North Pole camera, and there is something absurd about continuing to post about what doesn’t exist any more.

All the other topics, outside of what the camera saw, have just been outgrowths born of trying to better understand what the camera was seeing.  It has been great fun, as has been meeting (as pen-pals) a few of the 10,000 “views” my babbling has attracted. However summer is done, the party is over, the camera is gone, and winter is serious business, up here in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire may be well south of Sweden, but we have no body of water to our west, holding a Gulf Stream, protecting us from arctic blasts.  For a while early in the winter we do have Hudson Bay to our north, but the darn thing freezes over.  We also have the Great Lakes to our west, but some years even they freeze over as well.  During a bad winter we might as well live in Siberia, (and this might be one of those winters.)

This geography likely explains why people admire Swedish blonds, but you hardly ever hear anyone mention folk in New Hampshire who happen to be blond.  We have no Gulf Stream protecting us, and, as hard as Swedish winters are, they do not turn blonds into curmudgeons like New Hampshire winters do.

In any case, as much as I detest being serious, it is a thing one has to do, in these parts, and therefore I must bid adieu to watching ice melt at the Pole.  It will be on my doorstep all too soon.

I likely will continue my posts, however in a abbreviated manner. Mostly I’m interested in whether our camera emptiness ever does make it down to Fram Strait, or whether we are swept west into the Beaufort Gyre.

I will also continue to look at the DMI maps, but I will leave the naming of storms up to you. To be honest, I was running out of names.  In fact I was in danger of calling storms things such as L16b, and, if I sunk to that level, I’d be a Climate Scientist.

I sure hope I am never accused of that!

SEPTEMBER 23  —CAMERA-LESS ICE STILL HEADING NORTH—

“Army” data has buoy at 83.88 N, 4.16 W this morning.

DMI maps can be found at:  http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/weather/arcticweather.uk.php

BUOY 2012L  (O-BUOY #7) BREAKS FREE INTO OPEN WATER

Check out the very end of this video record, and you see the buoy finally break free during the last storm that ran along the Alaskan coast.  http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#buoy7/movie

This was the buoy that was tilted, that I described as having the “downcast look.”  It is bobbing about in the open water north of Bering Strait, with no ice in sight as it looks north.  Hopefully it will keep filming, although days will rapidly grow shorter.  It is floating at 74.33 N, 159.94 W, which is across the pole and over 500 miles further south than “our camera” was located.

Photo supplied thanks to Max™ (click to enlarge.)

waterbuoy_zpsb3339985

SEPTEMBER 23   —DAILY DATA—  

We are still heading north, from 83.831°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.892°N at 1200z today. Longitudinally we’ve drifted east  from 4.414°W to 4.167°W, in the same period. We are now less than a mile from 84 degrees north latitude.

Temperatures remained mild during the midnight twilight, but as the sun peeked up and sunset again began, temperatures fell, perhaps indicating clear skies and a beauriful view we can’t see.  Temperatures fell slowly from -0.1°C at 1500z yesterday to -0.3°C at 2100z, and then more rapidly to -3.0°C at 0900z, and then perhaps more clouds rolled up from the south, as temperatures rose back to -0.7°C at 1200z.

For some reason there is no 1500z reading today. (They better not be messing with that thermometer.)

SEPTEMBER 24  —ARMY DATA—  STILL HEADING NORTH

The latest report I have (at 4:30 AM, EST,) is that our camera-site is up to  83.94 N, 3.59 W.

SEPTEMBER 24 —EARLY ARCTIC SNOWS—

On Twitter, blogger “Chris Beal” put together a chart of the snow cover for the first day of fall, for the past eight years.  Not only is there more snow this year, but it is evenly distributed on both the Alaskan side and the Eurasian side. It is not a lopsided pattern, where snow on one side is averaged out by a heat wave on the other.  I’d say it’s a good sign, if you like freezing your -bleep- off in January.  Not a good sign if (like me) you like a mild winter. ( https://twitter.com/NJSnowFan )

Of special interest to me is the snow on the North Slope of Alaska.  During our coldest winters a ridge on the west coast of USA brings air straight down from there to New Hampshire.  I’m glad I ordered wood early.

SEPTEMBER 24  —MORNING DMI MAPS—

I figured I might as well include these maps every now and again, at least until the high pressure “Igor” departs the scene.

Igor has made it to Svalbard, and he is pushing our camera-site north. Cross-polar flow towards Eurasia is giving northern Canada a bit of a break after a prolonged cold spell closed up the entrances to the Northwest Passage early. (The passage was never fully open this year.)

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

SEPTEMBER 24 DAILY DATA   —NORTHWARD HO!!!—

The camera-less camera-site has continued north, moving from 83.892°N at 1200z yesterday to 83.990°N at 1500z today, and longitudinally east from 4.167°W to  3.108°W.

The “heat wave” is continuing, with another touch of thaw that would have nicely cleaned the camera lens, if it was still there.  (Self-snip)  The camera-site’s temperature rose from -0.7°C at 1200z yesterday to +0.7°C at 1500z today.

However the real news is the fact we are approaching 84 degrees latitude again.  Some one really ought to make some noise about this.  We need horns, kettle drums and maybe a cannon. But who will do it?

NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!  —HORNS!  KETTLE DRUMS!  AND YES, A CANNON!—

Well, someone had to make the fuss, so it might as well be me.  After all, this has been going on for some time now.  Nor is it just “outlier,” involving only our buoy site.  Compare the drift map of “our camera” ( Buoy 2013E: ) with our “companion buoy” (Buoy 2013B🙂  80 miles north, and Buoy 2012J: , which is roughly 220 miles north-northeast of our camera-site. These buoys haven’t just stalled for a week, before heading south again.  They’ve been stalled for weeks and weeks, and are in fact headed the wrong way.

I understand scientists have to get all their data neat and tidy, and have to be absolutely sure they aren’t making a fuss about a brief anomaly, but considering the media likes to have conniptions about a most minor heat wave, you’d think some scientist somewhere could make a buck (or get a grant) with this news.  The Transpolar Drift has shifted into reverse! (I suppose you’d have to tie it into Global Warming, so may I suggest this final sentence? “Researchers are still uncertain of the dynamics causing the reversal of the flow, and further study will be needed to determine how Climate Change is causing it.”)

(Click these maps to enlarge, and click again to enlarge further.)

BUOY 2013E  Sep 24 2013E_track

BUOY 2013B Sep 24 2013B_track

BUOY 2012JSep 24 2012J_track

TODAY’S NAVY DRIFT MAP, SHOWING “ANTI-TRANSPOLAR DRIFT”

Anti-trans arcticicespddrfnowcast

Down towards the equator there are counter-currents as well, some which appear and vanish intermittently.

IT IS OFFICIAL:  WE ARE ACROSS 84 DEGREES NORTH YET AGAIN.

The latest update of the “Army” data puts our camera-site at 84.01 N, 2.91 W.  That makes the eleventh time the buoy where our camera used to be has crossed over 84 degrees since they lugged it over the first time, last April.

Hello?  Hello? Any scientists paying attention out there? Or are you going to let me, an eccentric old geezer who never lifted a finger when it came to facing polar bears and getting the camera set up, steal all your thunder?  You guys did all the work, why aren’t you leaping forward to claim the credit?  Do you want to see the counter current named after me?  (Hmm.  The “Caleb Counter Current” does roll off the tongue nicely, now that I think of it…”)

Oh, I suppose there’s some boring old money-grubbing executive bossing around some cowed and gutless and semi-senile professor, who turns around and takes it out on you, but that’s their problem.

The executive is bound to get fired, when the camera-site drifts back up to the Pole, and he has to explain the expense of getting an icebreaker to pick up the camera, and the expense of getting a whole new crew to put a camera up at the pole, when if he had just left the durn thing alone the Caleb Counter Current would have done all the work for free.

The executive will probably try to blame the professor, and you will have to decide whether the old semi-senile coot is worth protecting.  Tough call.

The old professor is likely is ready for retirement at any rate, for all his study has been focused on the study of a thirty-year-period of decreasing ice.  He deserves respect, for his work will be invaluable around thirty years from now, when we are done our thirty-year-period of increasing ice.  However he knows next to nothing about the Caleb Counter Current, (unless he paid attention and was respectful towards a professor who retired around thirty years ago, which I somehow doubt he did, for I was young thirty years ago, and know we did poorly, when it came to respecting our elders.)

This could be a great chance for advancement, for one of you young scientists.  After all, why should it be called the Caleb Counter Current, when it just as well could be called the Leon Smedley-Hodgkin Counter Current? (If that is your name.)

SEPTEMBER 25 —DAILY DATA—  BECALMED

Our camera site has seen a shift in temperatures and winds, I think because we are situated in a col between our high, “Igor,” and the high pressure that is semi-permanent atop Greenland. The winds, which had been a stiff breeze from the soutwest, swung around briefly to the west and northwest as they died down to light airs. Our camera-site moved from 83.990°N at 1500z yesterday to 84.039°N at 0600z, and since then has moved back south to 84.023°N at 1500z.

Longitudinal mothion was east until 1200z, from 3.108°W to 2.560°W, but in the near calm it again drifted west, to 2.656°W at 1500z.

Temperatures remained above freezing until midnight, when they stood at +0.6°C, but then some Greenland air must have worked in, at they fell during the day to -4.1°C at noon, before rising slightly in the calm to -3.6°C at 1500z.

SEPTEMBER 25  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Sep 25 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Sep 25 temp_latest.big

The south winds up “Igor’s” west side are being interrupted by the clash with north winds around the Greenland high’s east side.  The col between the two highs is a channel of low pressure which is going to be attacked both from  the south, by the Icelandic Low, and from the north, by an low up by the Bearing Strait, which is suppose to cross the pole off the Canadian coast. The models have these two storms pushing Ivan back into Siberia and Scandinavia, however the models may simply be trying to obey convention and to create a arctic vortex, when the pattern this year is not conventional.

It is a revelation how swiftly the shot of above-freezing air that went right over the pole just vanished from the map.  Now the minus ten isotherm is heading that way. Not that “Igor” couldn’t keep swinging warm air up that way, but I think milder air just lifts off like a hot air balloon and vanishes from the surface maps. At the surface the cold just builds.  That is the minus-twenty isotherm making its first appearance, just north of the Queen Elizabeth Islands.

SEPTEMBER 26  —DAILY UPDATE—

Posting from Virginia after a twelve hour drive, and using a friend’s computer, so forgive me if any garbling occurs.

Our camera-site resumed its slow drift north, moving from 84.023°N at 1500z yesterday to  84.073°N at 1500z today.

Longitudinal motion was from 2.656°W  at 1500z yesterday west, east, and west again,  matched by somewhat fitful winds, to 2.712°W at midnight.Then the winds became steadier from the southwest, and motion was east to 2.558°W at 1500z today.

Temperatures continued to defy common sense, as they did yesterday, falling as the sun peeked over the horizon and then rising as the sun dipped back down to twilight. Rather than proving the existence of an anti-diurnal variation, I think it merely demonstrates that the power of the sun is feeble when it is so low, and what really controls the temperature is blobs of colder and warmer air, swirled together but incompletely mixed. (The Canadian Model’s 0000z initial run seems best at visualizing these blobs.) The temperature rose from -3.6°C at 1500z yesterday to  +0.5°C at midnight, and then fell to -1.7°C at 1500z today.

SEPTEMBER 26  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS— BIG SQUEEZE

mslp_latest.bigtemp_latest.big

The high pressure I dubbed “Igor” remains strong over Svalbard, promoting a weak flow up from the Atlantic and a strong cross-polar-flow from Canada to Eurasia. Any mild air wafted up from the Atlantic is deflected away from the Pole by the cross-polar-flow, which I imagine is bringing quite a lot of cold across and chilling the open waters toward Siberia.

I feel the chilling of this water is more significant in the long run than the current up-tick of ice extent.  The cross-polar flow may merely be dispersing packed sea ice.  It’s the same amount of ice, but spread out like butter over bread; more of the bread may be covered, so that a greater “extent” of the bread is covered, but the amount of butter is the same. In fact ice extent has more to do with warming at this time of year, when sunshine has little effect, for the ice protects the water from the bitter winds.

What the models have been suggesting is that “Igor” will be squeezed off the playing field by the combination of the low towards the Bering Strait, which I will dub “Leut,” and the low over Iceland, which I’ll dub “Landic.”  The models seem to want to create a traditional polar vortex, but so far this year “Igor” has messed up that solution.  It will be interesting to watch and see if Igor again slides along the Siberian Coast and refuses to give up the Arctic, or whether the seasonal changes overpower the late-summer pattern Igor accented.

SEPTEMBER 27   —DAILY DATA—

Our camera has continued its wrong-way drift, moving north from 84.073°N at 1500z yesterday to 84.118°N at 1500z today. I figure the wrong-way ice is bigger news than the just-released IPCC report.They also seem to be heading the wrong way, however to some degree that is quite normal for the UN. Heading the wrong way is more interesting and unusual when it is the sea-ice doing it.

Longitudinal motion has been slight, in the light southerly winds. The camera-site swerved east, then west, then east again, from 2.558°W at 1500z yesterday to 2.498°W   at 1500z today.

Temperatures have remained quite mild for early Autumn, rising slightly from -1.7°C at 1500z yesterday to -0.1°C at 0300z Then temperatures bounced like a yo-yo as pockets of chill vied with pockets of slightly milder air. It got as low as -1.2°C at 1200z but was back to -0.4°C at 1500z. I imagine it is pretty foggy in the light wind, and that if we still had our camera the lens would be frosted over.

 SEPTEMBER 28  —MORNING DMI MAP—

  It is hard to pay attention to weather maps when you are attending a wedding, and there are before wedding functions and after wedding functions, besides the wedding itself. The invitation said we could dress casually, but my wife and I have different ideas on what “casual” means.  I have been sent to my room like a boy of ten on several occasions, and rather than weather maps have studied clothing. (I am convinced weddings are seen by women as a chance to play “dress-up,” but will admit it is amusing to look in a mirror and see a complete stranger looking back.)

However this morning I got up before everyone else, and am stealing a moment to peek at the maps.

mslp_latest.big

The pressure map shows the squeeze is on “Ivan,” and he has been pressured east of Svalbard by low pressure advancing both “Landic”  from Iceland and “Leut” from the far side of the Pole. It will be interesting to watch how these two storms interact with each other.  Will they strengthen or weaken each other?

temCaleb p_latest.big

The pressure map shows the cross-polar flow has lipped from northern Canada to the top of Greenland. It is delivering some chilly weather to Scandinavia and Western Russia’ where they will see temperatures five to seven degrees below normal the coming week. However besides the exit region there is an entrance region, and you can see the western channels of the Northwest Passage are getting a mild spell.  This is good news down where I live, for when the discharge of arctic air is to the Siberian side of the Pole we get a respite from early season cold snaps.

Also the high Pressure “Ivan”  continues to bring Atlantic moisture up towards Svalbard, but it then is turned east and away from the Pole. The influence of this southerly flow on our camera-site (and even on Svalbard itself) is likely to weaken as the very cold air over the Pole collapses southward.  Even if the winds remain from the southwest we could see temperatures plunge.

SEPTEMBER 28  —DAILY DATA—  ALL IS CALM

The ice drifted north at our camera-site, from 84.118°N at 1500z yesterday up to  84.129°N at 0900z. and then back down to 84.119°N at 1500z.  So all in all, we moved a thousandth of a degree north. That is roughly 80 yards, or a distance a strong young man could throw a rock.

In order to understand how wildly exciting going no place is, I challenge you to leave any floating object anywhere in the open ocean, and have it still be in eye-shot 24 hours later.

Longitudinally we moved from 2.498°W at 1500z yesterday to 2.126°W at 1200z today,before bobbing back to  2.184°W at 1500z. Movement of nearly four tenth of a degree longitude may seem like a lot, but the measure of a degree of longitude shrinks as you travel north, until you can cover 180 degrees with a single step at the pole.

I suppose I’ll have to figure out what the actual measurement of a tenth of a degree of longitude is, at 80 degrees north latitude, before I write my final report, but I can tell you with great authority at this point I am avoiding it like the measles.

It also is fairly obvious the winds at our camera site have been calm or nearly calm. Likely the skies have cleared, for temperatures have fallen, though perhaps the tempertures simply cannot remain “mild” without the steady import of southern air.

Temperatures fell steadily from -0.4°C at 1500z yesterday to -5.9°C at 1200z today, and then rose to -3.7°C at 1500z. This uptick in temperatures, added to the change in the direction of the slight drift, whispers of a change in the weather, however I am too exhausted from dancing at a wedding reception to figure out what it is.

SEPTEMBER 29  —MORNING DMI MAPS—

I am enjoying the afterglow of attending a marvelous marriage, and after so much warmth it is  hard to properly attend to ice.  (While some cynics tend to deride “feel-good” moments, I do think it wise to take some time, every now and again, to remind ourselves of the power of Love,  and to rejoice about it.)

Now, back to ice.

PRESSURE mslp_latest.big

The pressure map shows “Leut” and “Landic” continuing to  attempt to pry the high pressure “Igor” off the arctic, but it is proving more difficult than some of the computer models suggested. Leut is being shrugged one way, towards Siberia, as Landic is shouldered the other, towards Greenland.

The Canada-to Siberia cross-polar flow is starting to look a littled ragged, due to a crimp created by Leut developing an appendage on the Canadian coast, (“Leuttwo.”) However the entrance region still warms the Northwest Passage and the exit region still chills Sweden and Siberia.  (This demonstrates why it is good to watch for these cross-polar flows in the depth of winter: It gives you a heads-up about where the really cold air is being delivered.)

Our camera-sit continues to sit in the quiet of a “col,” and to wait for the next pattern of winds to show its cards.

TEMP temp_latest.big

The temperature map clearly shows the entrance region of the cross-polar flow as a tongue of warmer air pushing north if the Canadian arctic islands towards the very cold air north of Greenland.  The exit region is less obvious, though I think people in Finland would claim it was more obvious than this map shows.  (One reason it is not entirely obvious is that the open parts of the Arctic Ocean are losing heat to the frigid air as it sweeps over it.)

A small detail is the creep of the sub-freezing isotherm along the arctic coast of Siberia, as that landmass shifts from an area which generates heat and swarms of mosquitoes to a refrigerator without a mosquito in sight.

Another interesting detail is that the greatest contrast in temperatures, (the place where isotherms are closest together,) is right by our camera-site.

Now I have to drive 600 miles and get back to work.

SEPTEMBER 29  —DAILY DATA— THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

No wind reported the last 24 hours.  During this time our camera-site has floated from 84.119°N at 1500z yesterday north to 84.122°N at 1800z, and then slid steadily south to  84.102°N at 1200z today, when it budged back north to 84.103°N at 1500z. This last shift involved a change of air mass as temperatures, which had been cold, sinking from -3.7°C at 1500z yesterday to -4.4°C at 0600z today, before starting to rise, at first slowly but then abruptly ( around 1200z) and reaching the freezing point, exactly at 0.0°C at the final report at 1500z.

Just because no wind is reported doesn’t mean there isn’t a light air, (like a draft that wavers a candle,) steadily pushing, especially at the higher points on the ice floe. (Remember our camera was tucked down in a low saucer, which became a “lake” during the summer thaw.)

The current calm is because we are between systems, but this is likely to soon end.  A storm is modeled to pass to the east, and north winds may shift us south of 84 degrees latitude once again by Wednesday.  Temperatures may well crash, and it will be interesting to see how the ice moves as freezing occurs.  Will it become at all sluggish, compared to summer?

“ARMY BUOY 2012L (O-BUOY 7) RECAPTURED BY ICE

Check this bit of film out: http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#buoy7/movie

This was the buoy with the “downcast eye” during the summer, tilted at an angle that pointed the camera down at nearby ice, and gave us a great example of how a rivulet-channel can, even when recovered by late-summer snows and blasted by below-zero winds,  become a weak point, where the ice cracks when flexed by sea swells. Then we witnessed an edge of ice and water, and the suspenseful battle between washing waves and growing ice until, hidden by the nighttime dark at 9:30 in the time-lapse film, an event occurred that freed the camera from ice, and it could at long last straighten up and see an ocean horizon. With its small superstructure acting like a mainsail, it bolted from the edge of ice into the open waters of the Beaufort Sra, and bobbed merrily westward, free! Free! Free! Free at last…until…at the final frames of 7:57 in the film, the ice catches up, and surrounds the buoy, and the slush clots in the cold, and now we see sea-ice all around once again.

The frame where this slush first slides into view is 2013-09-27 20:41:27

The current position given by “Army” data is 74.43 N, 161.74 W, and the temperature is -1.39 C, which is actually above the freezing point of salt water.  It will be interesting to see if the camera can break free again.  It has also been interesting to watch how mild the recorded temperatures have remained, due to the proximity of open water, even when temperatures nearby have been much colder.  If the buoy remains surrounded by ice, it will be interesting to see how long the sea can keep things warmer, or if temperatures soon drastically plunge.

There is a lot the untrained eye can learn, just watching this film clip.  Even if you are illiterate, there are things your mind can read, and the mind can also calculate even if it can’t count.  (In fact a baseball player does better at catching a baseball when he isn’t encumbered by a computer keyboard or slide rule.)

If anyone could share how to make this film play frame-by-frame, I’d like to learn. Currently I have to play it over and over, trying to “pause” it at just the right frame, in order to study what fascinates me.

Today’s afternoon picture:

Obuoy 7 Sep 30 webcam

SATELLITE VIEW   —THE BLACK HOLE—

If you check out the visual Satellite View at  http://www.arctic.io/observations/ you will notice a growing black hole in the center of the picture, due to the simple fact the arctic night has descended at the pole, and is expanding out towards it maximum extent, marked by the Arctic Circle, which it will reach on the first day of winter.

This black hole limits what we can see with our lying eyes, and instead we have to trust microwave radar data to see through clouds.  I have a bit of a grudge towards such data, due to its habit of seeing a puddle on six feet of ice as “open water,” and I distrust it especially during the summer, because I suspect at times it even sees moist snow as “open water.”  It is especially obvious when the flat surfaces of melt-water pools freeze and then thaw and then refreeze, for an area of 100% ice-extent can abruptly become 60% ice-extent, and then just as abruptly become 100% again. However as the bitter winter temperatures expand this becomes less of a problem. There are few puddles to worry about at forty below.

The current picture, as I type, has some excellent views of the edge of the ice over towards Bering Strait.  I always find the appearance and disappearance of leads fascinating to watch and think about. The ice can fracture like this in the depth of the coldest winter, abruptly creating an area of above freezing water exposed to forty-below air. During winter gales such leads can become miles wide.  They can skin over with remarkable swiftness, but this ice is so much thinner and weaker than other ice that, should winds shift and bring the two sides of the lead together again, the thin ice cannot put up much of a fight, and gets crumpled up easily, just as aluminum foil would not put up much of a fight and would get crumpled if between two converging pieces of aluminum sheet-metal.  These jumbled piles of ice form “pressure ridges” which in some cases are quite small, but in other cases can become quite impressive, rising up to thirty feet up and therefore, (because nine tenths of an iceberg is under water,) thrusting 270 feet down. (These down-bulges were things submarines hid behind, back when the Soviets, British and Americans played cat-and-mouse up there.)

In any case, besides an excellent view of the ice-edge over towards Bering Strait, there is an excellent view of ice moving down Nare Strait towards the top of Baffin Bay.  Army Buoy 2013C: has moved right down this strait in the last 90 days and now is amidst an interesting clot of ice at the top of Baffin Bay, where it likely will be frozen in for the winter.

If anyone knows how to copy pictures from this Satellite View, (especially the zoomed-in views,) I’d like to learn.  It is not enough to give the link, for the next time the picture is updated the situation could be radically different, and something I am pointing out could be hidden by clouds, and by the time the clouds are gone everything is shifted and it can take time, or even be impossible, to locate the slab of ice you were referring to. One thing all who study the Arctic agree on is that it is a surface in flux.

SEPTEMBER 30  —MORNING DMI MAPS—  “Ivan” going home DMI Sep 30 pressure mslp_latest.big

While the high pressure “Igor” has done a decent job surviving the onslaughts of “Luet” and “Landic,” and even to have shoved Luet south as Landic seems knocked for a loop, this may be the end of seeing so much orange on the map.  Landic apparently will make a come-back and move just east of our camera towards the pole, and even may become a Polar Gale.

It seems fitting that Igor, who began at the end of the last Polar Gale, should retire at the start of another.

In any case it will be the start of a new pattern I haven’t seen before, and likely I should keep my mouth shut, and my eyes open.

DMI Sep 30 temp_latest.big

The temperature map shows the definite crease made by the cross polar flow, bringing warmer air up from Canada to the Pole.  Yet how different things are from a month ago. We have redefined the word “warmer,” for where it was above freezing temperatures it now is temperatures “less than ten below.”

As Landic heads to the Pole the east winds to his north side will counter the current cross-polar flow and break it down.  Those winds instead will be bent towards the top of Greenland, and our camera-site will get winds from Canada coming down from the north.  They won’t seem warmer, compared to the waftings of Atlantic air we’ve been getting.  They are likely to become stronger as well.  Our camera-site will attempt to head down to Fram Strait once again, a midst a freezing sea of clotting bergs.

It is interesting to note that some years the arctic loses a lot of ice through Fram Strait in the dead of winter, in which case it is harder to call it “due to warming.”  It will be interesting to chart our camera site. Even without a camera, we can still see. We can see if this is one of those winters.

The change in the pattern is likely to keep the wind north up to a week. Besides heading south, we may well see our coldest temperatures of the year, so far.

SEPTEMBER 30 —DAILY DATA— STILL NORTHBOUND

The light airs and calm lasted until 0300 today, when a light breeze sprang up. As best I can tell it initially was from the west-northwest, but then swung to the southwest.  This wind was accompanied by a crash in the temperatures.

During the calm period the camera-site moved north and west, from 84.103°N at 1500z yesterday to 84.135°N at 0600z today, as longitudinally the movement was from 2.664°W to 2.862°W at 0300z. Then the wind had some fun begin.  The site was shoved back south to 84.126°N at 1200z, before again lurching up to 84.135°N at 1500z. The longitudinal motion reversed east to 2.682°W at 1200z before it too lurched the other way, to 2.723°W at 1500z.

I don’t know about you, but I am impressed by the hidden power revealed when these chunks of ice come to a complete halt and then move the other way.  I’ve seen videos of icebreakers smashing their way through ice, and they can only make headway by breaking the ice.  To actually stop a berg and nudge it the opposite direction, as a tug boat would do, involves energy I’ve never seen considered in climate equations.

The temperature went through some interesting fluctuations, demonstrating yet again the unmixed nature of the air.  A warm blob moved in, during the near calm yesterday, moving us up nearly five degrees to the freezing point,  0.0°C at 1500z, but then a colder blob dropped us to -1.8°C at 2100 z, before a warmer blob lifted us to 0.5°C at at 0300z this morning. Quite obviously these shifts have nothing to do with diurnal variation, and this is especially shown by the fact that as the twilight brightened and the sun porepared to take one of its final peeks over the horizon, the wind picked up and temperatures crashed to -8.3°C by 0900z. They had risen slightly to -7.1°C by 1200z, but dipped again to -7.3°C at the final report at 1500z.

I have the strong sense it will be a long time before we see a thaw again.

CALCULATING LONGITUDINAL DISTANCES AT 84 DEGREES NORTH

The blogger Max™ shared this excellent site for calculating how far our arctic buoys have moved. You plug in the latitude and longitude of the starting point and finishing point, and it gives you the answer: http://stevemorse.org/nearest/distance.php

(Thanks to Max, and also Steve Morse, whosoever he may be.)

My immediate curiosity was what a degree of longitude amounted to, at 84 degrees latitude.  The answer was: “7.25 miles — ellipsoidal earth.”  That means a thousandth of a degree is .00735th of a mile.  Or 38 feet 9 45/64 inches.  Roughly thirteen of my strides.  Therefore winds would have to be strong gales in order to cover a thousandth of a degree longitude by “spitting down wind,” at our buoy-site.  (I may have to correct a prior post.)

Incidentally, that far north a degree of latitude is  “69.4 miles — ellipsoidal earth.”  Prior to today I was using my “mile an minute” boyhood way of calculating, (which worked on Cape Cod when I sailed by dead reckoning, pre-GPS.) Such calculations estimated a degree was 60 miles.  So add a bit to all my estimates in prior posts. (When I’m rich and can hire a secretary she’ll go over all the old posts and fix them,)

SUB-ZERO FAHRENHEIT TEMPERATURES APPEAR

In New England we are anachronistic old grouches, and still think in terms of Fahrenheit temperatures.  Whereas sub-zero Celsius is nothing all that remarkable, this far north, sub-zero Fahrenheit really means hardship is strolling the streets.

This morning I noted that while the “Army” data has our site at a modest -4.99 C, over at Buoy 2013G: temperatures briefly dipped to -20.42C. A quick check told me that was -4.756 Fahrenheit, so I decided to take a peek at Ryan Maue’s WeatherBELL maps, which are nice because they show the dip below zero Fahrenheit with an abrupt color shift from deep blue to white. (Canada is to the right; click to enlarge.)

WB Oct 1 gfs_t2m_arctic_1

Besides showing us the very cold air gathering over Canada, this maps shows us how cold the land masses are getting. Eastern Siberia is especially cold. (Any area in pink is below freezing.) No longer is a continental air mass automatically warm, and in fact between now and May they can almost automatically be counted on to deliver bitter cold.  From now on the only real hope of thaws come from maritime air masses, squeezing through the the Bering Strait or surging up from the North Atlantic.

You can see what a radical change this is from even 45 days ago, and why we might need to adjust our thinking. concerning patterns.

OCTOBER 1 —MORNING DMI MAPS—  

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

As always, click these maps to enlarge them.

The high “Igor” is almost out of the ring, as Landic has developed a second wind approaching our site, and Leut weakens towards Siberia.

The Alaska to Siberia cross-polar flow is being replaced  by a Siberia-to-Canada flow, as the air surges about the confines of the Arctic.

OCTOBER 1  —DAILY DATA—  

The pressures have fallen steadily as Igor departed and Landic approached, but somewhat surprisingly winds have remained light and from the southeast. Our site has moved irregularly, and I think this may be one of those occasions when the flow of the ice is governed by circumstances over the horizon, more than by local conditions.  The wind has not matched the movement.  Our site moved north from 84.135°N at 1500z to 84.142°N at 1800z yesterday, which I think will mark the high-water mark of our site’s current attempt to go the wrong way.  All signs point to a week of north winds. In any case, it drifted south to 84.131°N at midnight, nudged back north to 84.133°N at 0300z, and then continued south to 84.120°N at 1500z.  Longitudinally we moved east from 2.723°W to 2.663°W at 2100z yesterday, and then headed west to 3.311°W at 1500z today.

The total movement was 4.3 miles to the west-southwest.  We are still headed the wrong way, if we want to get to Fram Strait, which is due south.

The fact the north winds haven’t yet started was shown by the drift of temperatures upwards, as if the wind wished to make a fool out of me, because I stated I doubted we would see any thaws for a long time.  After an initial dip, where temperatures dropped from -7.3°C at 1500z to -8.4°C at 1800z yesterday, temperatures steadily rose to -1.0°C at 0900z today, and had only fallen back to -1.3°C at 1500z.

The sluggish winds and slow movement of floes is because we are situated in a trough of low pressure, but between the circulation of Leut and Landic, in a sort of col that persists between fading Igor and the Greenland High. If Landic moves over us, rather than to our east, it might take even longer for the north winds to develop.

A NICE PICTURE FROM THE BEAUFORT SEA

I don’t know about you, but I really miss our camera, and crave the visual aspect of arctic study.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  I really like this one of today’s pictures from the camera I stated had the “downcast glance.” (Click to enlarge.)

Obuoy 7 Oct 1 webcam

I can just glance at that picture, and know it is milder than it was a couple of days ago.  Even though the temperatures are below freezing, they are not below the freezing point of salt water, and the scene looks slushier than it did. (Current “Army” temperature at the site is -1.39 C.)

I think any layman who has lived in the north has an eye for the nature of ice and snow, and this is especially true if they risk the dangers of walking on water, and most especially if they did so as a youth, and fell through. I did. Twice, which either means I didn’t learn and was especially stupid, or else I had a indomitable spirit. (I prefer to think it was the latter, but concede the latter involves a degree of the former.)

Now that my farm involves showing small children the pleasures of country life, I have to deal with other indomitable spirits,  and have a certain dread of the time when ice first forms on ponds. I know it doesn’t matter how fierce I make my face, while warning any testing of the ice is strictly forbidden, youth will test limits.  Therefore I am on my toes at all times. Some might even say I lack trust.

Last year, when I was not officially on duty, I glanced up from some wood-cutting I was doing and saw, far away across the pasture, a five-year-old boy nonchalantly strolling with a four-year-old boy, who was even more nonchalant. They edged slyly away from a member of my staff who was busy consoling a bawling three-year-old while trying to separate two other girls who were clouting each other with dolls.

I knew what was up, as soon as I saw the nonchalance was headed for the pond. Call me distrustful all you want, but I arrived at the pond just as the two boys were edging out on the ice, which was barely an inch thick. (It is amazing how much weight such thin ice can hold. I know this from experience.)  (I thwarted the two boy’s desire to become as experienced as I am.)

In any case, if you live in the country, you learn about ice. However that is fresh water. I lived in the country on the coast during the late 1970’s, when the talk was not about “Global Warming,” but “The Coming Ice Age.” The sea ice was amazing on the coast of Maine back then, so of course I went out on it.  Altogether I must have walked and skated a couple hundred miles over waters most think of belonging to sailboats and lobstermen. I never fell through a third time, but the time I came close still wakes me at night in a cold sweat.

The problem with ice is not when it first forms, because then you are cautious. Rather it is when it starts to go away, but you have grown accustomed to the ice being safe.  Such was the case one dark night with no moon but many clouds, when I could hardly see my hand before my face, when I was taking a shortcut across a harbor.  I’d taken the route many times, but this time some instinct warned me to stop, and, peering ahead, I thought the dark looked a darker dark, so I flexed my knees to feel if the ice flexed as well.  It did. All around me the ice rose and fell with an eerie squeal.  So I turned around and went back the way I came.  Oddly I was not at all perturbed, and sat down at home to write a letter about the experience, and only then did my heart start pounding.  It still does, for morning’s light showed I was five, four, or perhaps only three steps from plunging through the ice and being swept under, away from the unappreciated stuff we call air, by a tidal current that made the ice thin there. I’d thought I knew all the spots currents made the ice unsafe, and that particular current wasn’t much of a current, but when the sun gets amber in late February even not much of a current can kill you.

That is one of two acts of sheer stupidity in my life that I can’t believe I survived. (The other was joy-riding on a Boston freeway during the rush hour at age fifteen, and seeing if the vehicle could hit 100 mph.)  In fact survival seems so unlikely that sometimes I wonder if I actually died, and all the life I think has happened since then is actually a dream dreamed by a dying brain, a sort of see-your-life-pass-in-a-flash experience.

However if this isn’t a dream, and I did survive, then the experience gets parked in my layman’s brain, and is there to use when I look at pictures of sea ice.  Maybe it doesn’t involve thermometers, or incorporate Math much at all, and maybe it cannot be called “science” at all.  However I think it matters.

For example, if you had to cross a harbor in Maine in the midst of a bitter winter, who would you want as a guide, (if you had to cross in a hurry, without carting along sonar and other equipment?)  Would you want a geeky guy who called himself a “Climate Scientist,” and who had never left his computer screen,  and dealt primarily with a virtual reality called “modeling?”  Or would you want a sixty-year-old fossil like me?

Interesting question. And I wouldn’t blame you if you chose the geek.

OCTOBER 1  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

DMI Oct 1B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 1B temp_latest.big

I just stuck these maps in because I want a record of the current pattern change, hoping to study it in detail at some future date.  It shows “Igor” spitting into two blobs, one going home to Scandanavia to give them some fair weather, and another becoming the start of a winter Siberian High.  “Landic” is finally generating some north wind over our site, as “Leut” fades to little more than a trough extending across the pole from Landic. However most interesting is the new high pressure, (which I dub “Newhie,”) on the Canadian side.

I like this map, for it is one of the rare occasions reality fits my theory.  I theorize the open water on the Eurasian side of the Pole should generate low pressure, as the icepack on the Canadian side generates high pressure.  (It’s amazing how seldom reality obeys theory.)

The temperature map is also interesting, for the tongue of warmer temperatures from Canada to the sea north of Greenland is a fading memory of the past cross-polar-flow, while the new flow is already making a dent more towards Asia and the Bering Strait.

The new flow will not direct cold air into northern Canada, and then down towards my garden.  We are actually enjoying a warm spell here in New Hampshire, (which is something you can expect after the cross-polar-flow aims away from you.)  The new flow will instead aim for our site, and northern Greenland. It’s most westerly discharge might fill Baffin Bay, but even that is too far east to often threaten New Hampshire.

Because the source region of the new flow is East Siberia, and because East Siberia is cold, we should not expect the Pole to be warmed much by the southern winds.  We’ll see if that proves true, shortly.

OCTOBER 2  —DAILY DATA—  ACROSS 84 DEGREES YET AGAIN

Winds went from calm to a light breeze from the northeast (as best I can tell) before becoming calm again, as the center of the low I dubbed “Landic” moved up and overhead. Our camera-site moved south from 84.120°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.996°N at 1500z today, while moving west longitudinally from 3.311°W to 3.729°W.

Using Steve Morse’s excellent site at http://stevemorse.org/nearest/distance.php I figure we traveled 9.11 miles to the south-southwest.

Temperatures fell from -1.3°C at 1500z yesterday to -6.7°C at 0300z today, and since then have rebounded to -3.1°C at 1500z.  This is still below the freezing point of salt water, and I expect the sea will become increasingly slushy and clotted from now on.  It will be interesting to see if the ice remains as mobile.

PICTURE FROM THE FAR SIDE

Here is a nice picture from Buoy 2013H: (Also called O-Buoy 9) which is right across the Pole from us, at 80.68 N, 151.96 E. They are actually further south than us, but ordinarily would ride the Transpolar Drift across the Pole and arrive in our general vicinity in around a year.  This year they are dawdling a bit, and are heading west rather than north. The temperature is -7.97 C as we look out at the rosy sunset snow.  It has only touched freezing twice Since early September, and usually is around ten below. http://imb.crrel.usace.army.mil/irid_data/2013H_temp.png

Obuoy 9 Oct 2 webcam

OCTOBER 2 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—  POLAR STORM BREWING

I was thinking I’d close this post until next summer, once the high pressure I called “Igor” departed, but I must confess I am now addicted to observing the north.  I am now fascinated by “Landic,” (although I think, if I was a purist, I’d say it was a secondary low and should be called “Landicson,”) which is now just north of Fanz Josef Land, with a lobe back towards Svalbard.  Central pressures are down to below 980 mb, and that is the sort of storm that can raise seas and crunch floes and generally raise a ruckus in the world of ice-extent fanatics.  So I simply must include these maps. (Click to enlarge.)

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

Although our camera-site, judging from these maps, is in an area of calm, to our north there is quite a cross-polar flow roaring from Eurasia to Greenland and Northmost Canada, and I imagine this will crush a lot of ice back to the Beaufort Gyre, and may even clear out the arctic seas north of Eurasia a little. “Ice Extent” graphs could even show a slight dip, despite the increasingly bitter temperatures of early fall.

Looking at the temperature map, it is helpful to remeber that back at the start of this post the islands of minus-ten-Celsius air were rarities.  Now we have a snout clear across the Pole, even extending over the warming  of open waters,  The seasons are definitely changing.

In fact minus-ten-Celsius is normal for this location and this date, and the air “Landic” is swinging up with his warm sector is making the polar temperatures be above normal.

I am wondering a lot about whether that means the arctic is warming, or that the planet is losing heat through the polar night.

Another new feature is the high pressure “Newhie’s” warm side flow, injecting maritime air through Bering Strait.

SOME NICE BEAUFORT SEA PICTURES

Here are a couple pictures from our camera with the “downcast eye.” I think one reason this camera is surrounded by so much ice is that it sticks up more than a flat piece of ice, and south winds push it north more than the ice is pushed, so it in a sense “sailed” from open water into the ice, and now is forcing its way through the bergs.

Temperatures remain below freezing, but above the freezing point of salt water, at this site, which sits in the southerly flow around “NewHie.” What we are seeing is a sort of “thaw.” The first is before dawn, and the second around noon.

Obuoy 7 Oct 2 webcamObuoy 7 Oct 2B webcam

OCTOBER 3 —DMI MORNING MAPS—  BABY ICE ABUSED

DMI Oct 3 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 3 temp_latest.big

The morning maps not only show “Landic” wobbling away north of Svalgard, but a revived “Leut” churning north of Siberia.  All the fragile “baby ice” is being smashed up, in some cases turning into a layer of slush on the surface and heaped at the edges of stronger ice, but in other cases being stirred into the water and melted, which chills the water.

During a summer storm there was a definite following dip in temperatures, and I’ll be watching this one to see if we witness the same phenomenon. At the time I supposed a lot of heat was turned to latent heat both through the process of melting and the process of evaporation, and this heat was lifted and released up at the edge of the stratosphere, which is much lower in the arctic, so that the net effect of a storm was a cooling effect.

So far the only “extent” graph showing a hint of baby ice being smashed up is the NORSEX graph. (click to enlarge.)

Baby Ice Smashed ssmi1_ice_ext

OCTOBER 3  —DAILY DATA—  SOUTH BOUND

Winds have picked up since yesterday’s calm, as the pressure has risen, until the breezes were up near 25 mph from the northeast, at last report.  Our camera-site has moved south from 83.996°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.780°N at 1500z today, and west from 3.729°W to 4.562°W. We have traveled some 16.2 miles southwest, which is the most progress we’ve made towards Fram Strait in some time.  We’ve got to stop this business of drifting west, however.  It will be embarrassing if we crash into Greenland, and I don’t think our insurance covers that.

Temperatures perked up slightly, from -3.1°C at 1500z yesterday to -1.9°C at midnight, which is right around the freezing point of salt water, however as the winds grew strong the temperatures crashed, and then stabilized at -7.6°C, where they remain at 1500z.

It must be wild up there in that wind, with the ice crunching together wherever the plates meet.  Pity they took our camera away.  However what I  remember most about the sea ice along the coast of Maine back in the late 1970’s was the noise.  Up there it talked even in a calm, due to the tides, but in a wind it made a constant conversation of grumbling and  muttering.

Maybe someday we’ll get a polar microphone, besides a camera with a zoom lens that swivels about to look where you want it to look.  (They might even make a little of our tax-money back, if they made it pay-by-view.) (In fact, if I ran the world, the governments would make money, and rather than taxed we’d all get paid.) (Fade to Cowardly Lion singing, “If I were king of the forest…”)

OCTOBER 3 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  BOZO ON THE SOUTHBOUND BUS

Have to run off to an evening meeting. Hope to comment later. (Click to enlarge maps)

DMI Oct 3C pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 3C temp_latest.big

LATER— This above DMI pressure map looks like I have been expecting for months.  I suppose it is a case of a blind squirrel being right twice a day, or something like that.  The open water on the Eurasian side creates warmth and uplift, which generates low pressure, while the ice on the Canadian side generates radiational cooling and sinking air, creating high pressure.  Between the two you get a cross-polar-flow from Bering Straits to Greenland.

This sort of cross-polar flow prevents the cold air which is starting to be generated over the permafrost of the tundra, (where early snow-cover is speeding things up a bit this year,) from being drawn north over the Arctic Sea.  Where a Canada to Siberia cross-polar-flow would chill the sea with cold air from Canada and Alaska, or a Siberia to Canada cross-polar-flow would chill the sea with cold air from the especially cold landscape of Siberia, a cross-polar-flow from the Atlantic to the Pacific, or the Pacific to the Atlantic, not only involves benign maritime air, but it blocks invasions northward from either the Canadian or the Siberian side.

Looking at the above DMI temperature map, you can see the warm-notch stabbing down towards the Pole from the Bering Straits, indicative of the newest cross-polar-flow, but I wanted a better map.  I like the Canadian model’s map, (because I figure Canadians know more than most about cold,) so I zipped to Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps at WeatherBELL:  (Click to enlarge)

WB AAAA Oct 3 cmc_t2m_arctic_1

What a good map!  It not only shows the cold of the tundra, (especially East Siberia’s) and how Arctic coastal waters have gone from being a source-region of cold, last July, to a refuge of warmth, now, but it also shows a crease of warmth from the Bering Straits towards the Pole, indicative of a seam of maritime air pulled by the cross-polar-flow and…and…maybe….a little too pretty to be trusted?

I’m not sure why a little alarm was going off in my head, but I decided to resort to my lying eyes, and went to have a look-see through the eyes of OBuoy #7, also known as Army Buoy 2012L: (Click to enlarge)

Obuoy 7 Oct 3B webcam

To me the picture looked colder.  The temperature had been remarkably stable at  -1.39 C, which I assumed was due to the moderating effect of the sea-water, but now I became suspicious.  The picture showed recent snowfall, and pack-ice, but not the softened edges I’d expect from temperatures above the freezing point of salt water.  In fact my lying eyes judged temperatures to be below the freezing point of salt water. So I dug a little deeper, and abruptly gave myself a good smack on the forehead.

What a dork I have been!  The temperature of  -1.39 C was recorded on September 25th. Since then that has been the “most-recent report.”  It is not current at all!

I wonder what happened.  Perhaps, when this particular buoy went sailing in the open sea, the thermometer sunk. I don’t know.  I just know we cannot use that thermometer.

But do the models know as much?  A lot of their data gets entered automatically, and, because thermometers are few and far between in the Arctic, a single malfunctioning thermometer can generate all sorts of incorrect modeled data.

For example, if this single thermometer stated it is  -1.39 C when it isn’t, it just might produce a lovely lighter line in the modeled map, heading from the Bering Strait to the Pole, as is seen in the above Canadian Map. This lovely line might flatter my fat ego by supporting one of my pet theories, but it sure does make me feel like a Bozo when I consider the fact the modeled isotherm-crease might not even be there.

In the case of a modeled map, a single bit of incorrect data is like a butterfly flapping its wings.  It changes everything, including the map.

The question then becomes, why is the “Army” data not updated?  If you dig deeper, you can see the temperature at that buoy and camera, at the time of that picture, was around -6.0.  (See graph at http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#buoy7/weather )

OCTOBER 4  —MORNING DMI MAPS— IF THIS DON’T, NOTHING WILL

I have to rush off to work, but a quick glance at the northerly flow over our camera-site makes me mutter, “If this doesn’t move us down to Fram Strait, nothing will.”

DMI Oct 4 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 4 temp_latest.big

OCTOBER 4  —DAILY DATA—   COLD NORTH BLAST

The winds have slacked off some at our camera site, from around 25 mph to 10 mph, but I would not want to stand in such a wind when temperatures were 19 degrees Fahrenheit.

Our site has headed south from 83.780°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.577°N at 1500z today, and moved west from 4.562°W to 4.894°W.  This movement south-southwest of 14.3 miles puts us farther south than we’ve been any other time this year.  However we are still roughly 300 miles north of where we were at this time last year.

It is interesting to note that, while we may make the connection and get sucked down into Fram Strait, our “companion buoy” to the north may have missed the connection, and may get sucked into the Beaufort Gyre.  All summer it was to our northeast, but now it is to our northwest, and is at longitude 10.845°W.

Temperatures have stayed low all day.  They began at -7.6°C at 1500z yesterday, and perked up to two small spikes, -6.4°C at 2100z and -6.8°C at 0300z, but spent the rest of the day more than seven below, and ended up the period coldest, at  -7.8°C at 1500z today. The heat is getting sucked out of the system, especially with the wind so steady and the ice moving.  You will read that there is some melting going on on the bottoms of bergs in October, however every open lead is getting windblown, and every splash onto any piece of ice is freezing and extracting salt, which sinks as brine down into the water cooling it further.

Believe it or not there is also evaporation over open leads: in Maine the ocean bays would steam like soup on cold, December mornings, when the air was below zero, even though the water was right at freezing. The lobstermen called it “sea smoke,” and considered staying home, not wanting to deal with freezing spray making their boats top heavy; (often they went out just the same.) In any case evaporation sucks up heat, which is why we like to get wet on a hot summer day, but is why getting wet is so dangerous in the winter.

It got this cold last August, despite the endless sunshine, after that summer gale.  I am watching to see if the current polar gale seems to make it any colder at this time of year.

OCTOBER 4 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS— 

I have to take a class tonight.  Bleah.  Friday nights are not suppose to be spent going to school.  I thought everyone knew that.  However we “Child Care Professionals” need “continuing education,” according to some politician somewhere.  So I’ll try to be good and not revert to the way I was 45 years ago, when I caused many teachers to contemplate different careers.

So I don’t have much time to contemplate clouds.  (Come to think of it, that’s what I spent many Math classes doing, 45 years ago.)  However I’ll stick the maps up just for the record.

DMI Oct 4B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 4B temp_latest.big

LATE NIGHT UPDATE   —IS CLIMATE SCIENCE CHILD ABUSE?—

I’m home from class, and incredibly smarter. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I’ve learned a lot, tonight.

Of course, it mostly has to do with one of my many sidelines. (I have so many sidelines that there are times I resemble a playing field invented by Calvin and Hobbs.)  The ice in the Arctic Sea is one, and being a Child Care Professional is another. I will now attempt to show the two subjects are connected….

(Deleted text.)

(Fail.) (or actually a draft for another post.)

OCTOBER 5  —DMI MORNING MAPS—  ADIEU TO IGOR

DMI Oct 5 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 5 temp_latest.big

A glance at the morning map shows “Landic” being shunted south towards Siberia, but the northerly flow over our camera-site being perpetuated by a new Icelandic low I’ll dub “Flect,” because it was deflected north by a lovely high over Europe.  That high is actually our old friend Igor, who has changed his nature and now is a kindly old retiree with a somewhat mediterranean southerly flow.  While various Atlantic lows have crashed occluded fronts into Ireland and England and Scotland, they haven’t been able to get very far east, due to Igor, and their energy is bottled up in “Flect.”

Temperatures are getting very cold in the arctic.  While the minus twenty isotherm doesn’t show on the above map, the “army” data tells me it is -20.35 C at Buoy 2012G: , located at 80.54 N, 122.78 W. This is a gentle reminder that the season for watching ice melt is over, as are the ice extent maps: (click to enlarge.)

Extent Oct 5 Sea_Ice_Extent_L

The above graph makes it quite clear there is more ice than a year ago.  All the fuss about an “Ice Free North Pole” last spring now looks a bit absurd.  It has been a year of recovery. To me it looks like the recovery will continue next summer.

For the time being I’ll have to find a new hobby.  In fact I have become addicted to watching the ice, and think my new hobby will be to watch ice grow.  However that will require a new post.  Click this link to see the continuation of this sea-ice diary: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-diary-the-deepening-twilight/

I think I’ll close this link with a final view of Igor, now sitting happily over central Europe.  Igor over Europe FSXX00T_00