ARCTIC SEA-ICE RECOVERY — THE SNOUT OF IGOR (Oct 28 – Nov 3, 2013)

This is the continuation of a string of posts, the last of which was: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-halloween-hushing-and-howling/

I likely should begin by explaining to first-time-visitors that “Forkasite” is not some strange, carbon-based mineral found at the North Pole, but rather is short for “Former Camera Site.” Originally these posts described the view from the North Pole Camera, however that camera was retrieved by an icebreaker a month ago, so now we only have  a site we can’t see, but can still describe, because they left a thermometer, barometer, wind-vane, anemometer and GPS behind.

I try to update these posts twice a day, giving the location of the site, (which is on a berg roughly 6-7 feet thick and drifting slowly down towards Fram Strait,) and also including the 0000z (morning) and 1200z (afternoon) DMI maps of pressure and temperature in the arctic.  Originally I included these maps to better understand the melting, and the later failure-to-melt, at our site, as well as why we moved the directions we moved, however more recently I’ve started to point out how these maps give us hints of where the cold air will attack southward.

The constant updates make this post grow longer and longer. A handy way to get to the bottom of the post is to click the small cartoon-balloon beside the tital (if you are on the “Home” page,) which brings you to the start of the comments. Then you can scroll up to the most recent update.

Lastly I should likely explain “Igor.”

While some name storms, I also name high pressure systems. (I have even been known to name blobs of isotherms which appear on temperature maps.)

Igor was a high pressure area that appeared in the wake of a summer gale on polar maps last August, and who then, in the ring formed by arctic maps, survived so long he became much like a long-time champion in a boxing ring, such as Joe Louis or Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali.

Still strong and undefeated, Igor retired from the arctic ring via Scandinavia in September, and then, just as cruel industrialists and capitalists become mild and giving philanthropists in their old age, Igor became a warm and benign high pressure system over the Black Sea. Then he faded east into the hinterlands of Asia.

I’m sure strict meteorologists might find reasons to object to my calling the general area of high pressure that moved east across Asia “the same system” as the “Igor” that wandered about the Pole. However this is my blog and what I say goes.

I figure that, if the Hurricane Center can verify their forecasts by naming swirls that barely touch 35 mph, in order to prove they forecast the correct “number” of storms, at the same time they refuse to call a hurricane a hurricane, and instead call it “extratropical,”  in order to verify a botched forecast, because they are fatheads who can’t admit they are wrong, then I can be a fathead as well.  However I am a kinder and gentler fathead.  I just grew fond of Igor, and couldn’t bear to see him fade into meteorological obscurity.

In any case, in terms of the polar maps, Igor’s center faded from view, but a sort of dent between the curves of northern storms gave me a vague idea of where he was.  The dent drifted east until it reached the expanding snow cover of Siberia.  That area was also an area of expanding high pressure.  Just as the ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland generate high pressure, the vast area of eastern Siberia generates high pressure when it is covered with snow, and nights grow long, and radiational cooling becomes extreme.

In actual fact 99% of that particular high pressure may have been home grown, and only 1% due to an impulse of high pressure wandering in from the west, but, because I’m the boss of this blog, I’m naming that high pressure “Igor,” and anyone who objects can go pound sand.

Because the Siberian snow cover has grown more swiftly, (even down into China,) than we have seen in recent years, the high pressure it creates is becoming a player, in terms of the things that ruin forecasts by refusing to fit the “norm” that computer models too often are attuned to.

In my humble opinion, it is a big mistake to attune things to the “norm.”  The reason computer models are so wrong is the same reason psychologists are so wrong:  The “normal” they strive for doesn’t exist.

In my sixty years I have never yet met a normal human, nor have I ever seen a normal sunrise.  Variety is not merely the spice of life; it is the “norm” of life.  If every snowflake is different, what is a “normal” snowflake?

Chaos theory recognizes that even a little butterfly can flap its wings and have a huge effect, much like a little pebble starting a huge avalanche.  However it does not help you to understand chaos if you run around with a net, capture butterflies, and pin them to cardboard.  Even if you collect every butterfly, and pin it down, all you have is bunch of dead butterflies, and not one can flap its wings.

Some people are too insecure. They can’t stand not having control.  They want to control children by drugging them, and want to control the weather by taxing carbon.  To me this seems an exercise in futility, if not outright lunacy.  Man cannot control children or control the weather.  They have lives and wills of their own. Rather than controling them, one should recognize what they are up to, and take steps.

If a river is rising, you build a levee. If a kid is out of line, you build a different sort of levee. But you cannot stop the floods. The best you can do is seek to recognize the floods.

In my prior posts I’ve mentioned some ways this autumn reminds me of the prelude to the fiercely cold winter (in the east of the USA,) of 1976-77.  That year saw a “flood.”  The flood was cold air, which came from Siberia, across the Pole, down through Canada, and froze the salt water in harbors as far south as Virginia.

I am no prophet.  However this current post will carefully watch the North Pole, to see if the center of high pressure I dub “Igor” starts discharging cold air across the Pole and down through Canada.

It has done so once, but one cold snap does not a winter make. Furthermore, in terms of “bias,” I am not fond of cold winters, and would be quite glad to see patterns change and a La Nina chill other parts of the globe, while giving the northeast USA a mild winter. However that doesn’t seem likely.  An El Nino, with the warmth centered away from the coast of Peru, seems more likely, and that made my neck of the woods, (New Hampshire,) cold in most El Nino winters of the past.

I tend to hope for the best, (a mild winter,) while preparing for the worst.  Furthermore, I confess I have stressed my sixty-year-old body preparing for the worst this year, which I didn’t do last year.

True, rather than cutting the firewood myself I purchased it from a friend, but I did stack five cord by my cottage and three cord by my place of business. (A cord is four feet by four feet by eight feet.) I did this merely as “back-up,” because I have become a bit modern, for an old geezer, and both places are primarily heated by propane.

Around here there used to be a joke about an old Indian who could always predict how bad the winter would be. Finally a young and rude person bugged the old Native American for how it was he could always predict how bad the winter would be,  The old man responded, “I look at the white man’s woodpile.”

This blog will investigate the truth of this hypothesis.

OCTOBER 29  —MORNING DMI MAPS—  

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

Our Forkasite is in the exit region of a very cold polar flow which actually has a “Y” shape and two entrance regions, one over central Canada and one over Finland and western Siberia.  The milder entrance-air is still across the Atlantic towards Scandinavia and back towards the coast of Canada, and the air flowing south down the coast of Greenland is brutally cold, and the sea ice there is rapidly growing from it’s below-normal beginning last summer.

Last summer was very different from 2007, when a huge amount of polar ice flushed south through Fram Strait and down the coast of Greenland, leaving the coast with above normal ice-amounts but the rest of the Arctic drained and empty.  This year the ice was held north.  Even now, when the flow has resumed, a lot of the ice along the coast is new ice, and not ice flushed down from the north.  (Our Forkasite is more than 250 miles north of where last year’s camera was picked up, around this date.)

Despite the expanding “black hole” of darkness, and also some annoying cloud cover, you can get a decent view of ice swirling down the east coast of Greenland by zooming in with the satellite map available at http://www.arctic.io/observations/  To the north, at the edge of the expanding black-out, you can see huge, individual plates of ice as large as cities, but to the south the new ice is made of such small specks it looks like cream swirled into plum brandy.

Also the big blob from the “Snout of Igor” is now off the map (and actually pushing into my life in New Hampshire, where we had a cold morning for late October, with temperatures down to 21 Fahrenheit (-6 Celsius.)  However the snout still potrudes into the arctic from Siberia, over towards the Bering Strait. The entrance flow to its west, and to the east of the low I dubbed “Swannecks” over central Siberia, is not very warm though the winds are south. That’s what happens when your south winds come off Siberia.

The big low over Scandinavia is named “Hype,” for reasons I gave in my last post.  It currently looks like it will stay south, but whether it obeys computer models or not remains to be seen.

The warmest entrance region is through the Bering Strait at the moment, though they are not as warm as yesterday.  The warmest buoy reading over that way this morning is Buoy 2013F: which is coming in at a balmy -9.85 C.

IGOR’S BLOB VISITS NEW HAMPSHIRE IN UNDER-STORY AUTUMN

Watching polar maps gives one a top-down view of arctic outbreaks. A more normal view is seen in the map below.  (Click to enlarge.)

Blob of Igor Oct 29 satsfc (3)

The 1033 mb high pressure centered over the Minnesota-Canada border is a balloon of cold air filled by a stream of Siberian air Igor blew across the pole, which we watched fill up in Canada last Friday and Saturday.  Sometimes such balloons sit up in Canada and bide their time, getting colder, but this one wasted no time sliding south.  It is actually the end of a line of such high-pressure blobs, all sliding down the east side of the Rocky Mountains and then spilling east, reminding me of the start of the winter of 1976-77.  You can still see the boundry between Arctic and Pacific air running down the Canadian Rockies, as the Pacific is held at bay with a stationary front, however south of there there are signs the warmth will not surrender to the arctic without a fight.

I sure wouldn’t mind a spell of mild Indian Summer weather.  It was a frosty 21 degrees here this morning, despite brilliant sunshine, and it seemed everyone started their wood fires at once. Because the chimneys were all cold,  the fires didn’t draw well and the fires smoked a bit at first, and a cold-air inversion clamped a lid on our little valley, which got hazy with blue smoke for all of an hour.  Some yellow leaves were held to twigs by nothing but frost, and fell despite the calm as the frost melted in the sun.  However most of the bigger trees have lost their upper leaves, and we are entering what I call “Under-story Autumn.”

There are actually a bunch of different autumns, if you pay attention. “Candy Autumn” is early, when the swamp maples blaze crimson in the low places, as all other trees remain green.  Then there is “Maple Autumn,” which tourists come all the way from Japan to see in New England.  This is followed by a more somber and dignified “Oak Autumn,” as the oaks turn later to hues of rusty red and purple.  But now finally comes “Under-story Autumn.”

I wonder if the younger trees are actually programmed to take advantage of a week in the spring and a week in the fall when they are not shaded by their elders.  Or perhaps they are merely more sheltered. In any case, when things start to look more stark and like leafless November,  and forest-shadows stop being dappled spots and start being stripes,  and you can see farther through the trees to the cautious deer avoiding the hunters, you can still see a small maple blazing a glory of yellow and red, here and there.  That is Under-story Autumn.

The world is all a rustle, and it is a great time to stroll through the snow-free, bug-free woods, providing you don’t get picked off by a Massachusetts hunter.

OCTOBER 29 —DAILY DATA—

The wind was steady from the northeast all day at between 5 and 10 mph, with our Forkasite moving south from 81.555°N to 81.428°N, and west from 1.497°W to 1.676°W, making our total movement for the day 9.00 miles south-southwest.

Temperatures have risen slowly from a low yesterday at 1800z of -25.6°C to a high today ar 1500z of -23.8°C.

Our companion buoy Buoy 2013B: (also called PAWS Buoy 975420,) located only 100 miles northwest at 82.697°N, 6.970°W, has been dipping below minus thirty and the latest Army data has it a full ten degrees colder than our Forkasite, at -34.63°C.

I am wondering if such a difference in temperature may indicate some clash in temperatures is developing, and whether low pressure could come of it.  Currently pressures are fairly high, up around 1015 mb at both buoys.

OCTOBER 29  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS— CANADIAN ARCTIC STORM

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

I’m too tired to comment much, but do notice the snout of Igor sticking off the East Siberian coast, and a new low I dub “Tyrone,” off the Canadian arctic coast.

Over Scandinavia the low “Hype” has a tail off the northwest coast of Norway.  I’m dubbing that “Hypeson.”  Wish I had time to pay more attention to their maps, for what I call a single storm over there is often a complex tangle of storms and occlusions.  If I had time “Hype” would likely have six different names, but I’m too tired to try to think of it all now, so I’ll just leave you with an idea how “Hype” looks from a European viewpoint. (click to enlarge)

Hype FSXX00T_00

OCTOBER 30   —MORNING DMI MAPS—

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

Patterings of sleet on the dry leaves, here in New Hampshire this morning, as the warm air tries to fight back north.  “Tyrone” up on Canadian arctic coast has cut us off from cross-polar flow, and the blob of Igor sitting over us is getting pummeled, without reinforcements.  Above map shows a new Blob from Igor moving into the Arctic Ocean north of Bering Strait, however whether the cold in that high will be sucked south behind Tyrone remains to be seen.  It could just stay at the Pole for a few days.

Next interuption will likely be “Hype,” moving east along Siberian coast and absorbing the weakening “Swanecks,” however Igors cross polar flow may stop “Hype.”

Back over Scandinavia “Hypeson” is modeled to weaken, and then restrengthen and attack Pole as next Atlantic Gale comes north further north than last one.  Also an Aleutian low is modeled to come int through the Bering Straits and attack Pole from that side, even as “Hype” is deflected north as well.  Then, with this huge party of  of storms dancing about the Pole next week, a very good cross-polar flow gets going from the Snout of Igor to Alaska.

Hmm. I think the models have been sipping some Kickapoo Joy Juice.  However its fun to think about.

Back at the ranch, Tyrone will appear at the top of North American maps, as he is heading down towards Hudson Bay.  It makes sense to me that he’d pull down some arctic air in his wake.

With all these storms, I imagine the Arctic will be warmer than normal, which would not fit the 1976-77 pattern.  The cold really built up north of 80 degrees in the late fall of 1976, and temperatures were well below normal.

OCTOBER 30  —DAILY DATA—  CALM BEFORE STORM?

Our Forkasite lollygagged along, continuing south and west, from 81.428°N to 81.325°N. and from 1.676°W to 1.707°W, covering a distance of 7.15 miles nearly due south. Winds continued from the northeast, but slackened to a near calm, as temperatures remained cold, rising from  -23.8°C to -23.0°C at 2100z yesterday, and then gradually and irregularly falling to -24.8°C at 1500z today.

At this point our Forkasite has drifted down to the point of no return, at the mouth of Fram Strait.  (Click to enlarge.)

Oct 30 2013E_track

The edge of the ice pack is not all that far away, across the meridian towards Svalbard,

Oct 30 arcticicennowcast (1)

However, with the winds so light and temperatures so low, and with ice expanding so rapidly towards the north coast of Svalbard, and with our Forkamsite moving away from the open water slightly, you might think the ice could congeal and our Forkamsite, until you look down the east coast of Greenland.

I’m not sure where that storm came from, because I didn’t pay attention, so I’m telling myself, “Pay Attention!” and I’m dubbing the storm “Payat,” (because I didn’t.)

This map distorts everything sideways, towards the north, making the top of Greenland look far wider than it is, but it clearly shows the winds ripping along the coast of Greenland, not all that far south of our Forkasite. (Click to enlarge.)

Oct 30 gfs_mslp_uv10m_natl_1

While that swath of storm force winds is still south of the sea ice, it is interesting to think of how it effects the refreeze.  I suppose a lot depends on whether it crushes the ice together onto the shore, or disperses ice out to sea, and also whether it taps into the very cold air over the pack ice, or the much warmer air over the open water.

OCTOBER 30  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  

DMI Oct 30B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 30B temp_latest.big

(click maps to enlarge.)

A parade of lows are circling the Pole.  “Payat,” who I just wrote about, approaches Iceland from the Southwest.  “Hype,” who generated all the fuss in England and Sweden a few days back, has moved very swiftly east into central Siberia, more as a ripple of isobars than a movement of airmaswses, but has left the very interesting “Hypeson” behind, over the northwest tip of Norway. (If anyone can explain what formed Hypeson I’d love to learn.) East of Hypeson and Hype is what is left of Swannecks, and then we cross the Snout of Igor to the Bering Strait, and see a surprisingly weak Aleutian Low to the south,  with the remains of two typhoons off the map to its south and winging east rather than reinforcing the Aleutian low.  East of the Bering Strait we come across Tyrone, just dipping down towards Hudson Bay, and in the northernmost inlets of Hudson Bay are the faint traces of Flect.  Both Tyrone and Flect are likely to be overwhelmed and merged into a big low which could soon explode over the Great Lakes and charge up towards our DMI map.  (Such November gales sink ships such as the Edmond Fitzgerald, so if one does get going I’ll dub it “Fitz.”)

With all these lows circling the Pole, you would think there would be a high pressure in the middle, but there are no pressures on the map above 1016 mb, and the center of the Pole is disorginized.  For the moment, until lows approach the Pole, this is a situation that will breed cold. The blob from the Snout of Igor is vaguely seen on the pressure map, but much more obvious on the isotherm map.  Also the isotherm map shows the great contrast just west and northwest of Svalbard, between air close to freezing and air twenty-five below.

Due to my focus on the winter of 1976-77, I’m watching that cold air pouring off the tundra of eastern Siberia onto the Arctic Sea.  It is amazing how quickly that tundra has gotten cold. It is not merely below zero Celsius, but largely below zero Fahrenheit as well.   The following map (which has Greenland on top and Siberia at the bottom, opposite the DMI map,) shows how amazingly cold eastern Siberia has become. (Click to enlarge.)

Oct 30 gfs_t2m_arctic_1

This map shows most of eastern Siberia is not merely below freezing, but below zero Fahrenheit, and a few places are as cold as the icecap of Greenland.  We are talking cold, brothers and sisters! You can also see a little neck of that cold, like a nozzle of a balloon, sticking out onto the Arctic Sea and contributing to the amount of below-zero (Fahrenheit) air building there.

Notice how the sea around Scandinavia is a shade of blue indicating the air 2 meters off the ground is above freezing, but just inland Scandinavia is a shade of pink indicating the air 2 meters off the ground is below freezing.  This is partly due to the fact the layer of warm air over the sea is shallow, and due to the water losing heat.  It can’t penetrate inland much.

As you travel east along the arctic coast from Scandinavia through the Siberian coastal waters you notice that surface air gets progressively colder, as the water has less heat to give up and becomes increasingly choked with ice.

Increasingly we are witnessing a building army of cold, massing its forces and, I somewhat forelornly hope, eyeing your neighborhood and not mine.

In actual fact Europe has been clobbered the past few winters, and the arctic may be deciding “to be fair to the other side.”  That is my neighborhood.

OCTOBER 31  —MORNING DMI MAPS—

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

The pressure map looks like a lull is occurring, with more filling-in of systems occurring than building up and intensifying of systems.  However this lull is allowing temperatures to chill downwards, and the graph of temperatures north of 80 degrees is sinking back down to normal: (click to enlarge.)

DMI Oct 31 meanT_2013 (1)

What I am watching for is a build up of truly cold air over the pole, as occurred at this time in 1976:

DMI Oct 31 meanT_1976

The reasons temperatures spike over the Pole at the end of that year is because the cold air was all leaving the Pole to come down here where I live.  It really got bad at the start of 1977:

DMI Oct 31 meanT_1977

Those above average temperatures at the Pole during the first 30 days of 1977 represent times it was colder in Cincinnati, Ohio than the North Pole, because all the cold came south.

THE WARMTH FIGHTS BACK OVER AMERICA

Rather than the cold pattern getting locked in, it got knocked out, and the current jet stream is allowing a surge of warmth to come north over the eastern USA:

Fitz Oct 31 gfs_z500_sig_noram_1

(Map created by Dr. Ryan Maue at WeatherBELL — click to enlarge.)

In order for the pattern to resemble 1976-77 the blue trough just getting kicked off shore, east of Maritime Canada would have to hang tough, and the red ridge of high pressure would stay stuck over California, and never come east.  As things stand, the troughs and ridges are moving around the earth like waves made when you give a stretched-out piece of rope a vigorous up-and-down shake.

When you give a rope a shake like that you can see that the rope is not actually moving, other than moving up and down, even though the wave moves right down the rope to its end.  In the same manner isobars can, in a sense, move without the air-masses they are part of moving.  However there are other situations where the isobars are actually created by the air-masses, and are indicative or where the air masses are moving.  In most cases it is a little of both, and trying to figure out whether a particular air-mass is moving with the isobars or being left behind, or is being uplifted or is settling down, is a vigorous mental excersize.  It also is a good way to wind up cross-eyed, if you are not careful.

Here is today’s surface map from my neck of the woods: (click to enlarge.)

Fitz Oct 31 satsfc (3)

Just a few days ago the arctic air stood its ground, and Pacific air could not get over the Rocky Mountains to the west.  Now the arctic high is getting punched off the coast, with its west-side south-winds contributing to its own demise.

The arctic front has been in some ways swept east, and is marked by a warm front slanting southeast over Hudson Bay. (That is Tyrone, entering the scene along that warm front, from the north.)  (Interesting stage-entrance…..not, “enter stage left,” but rather, “enter stage top.”)  While Tyrone is dragging some cold arctic air down behind him, the air in much of prairie Canada is a modified mish-mash of arctic and Pacific air, and any cold must be home grown.  We are cut off from the cross-polar-flow and a direct discharge of Siberian air.  However the Pacific air also doesn’t have a free reign to flood east, as is shown by the occluded front on Canada’s Pacific coast.  (I think that occlusion holds parts of three typhoons.)

The most interesting feature is that innoculous looking low southwest of the Great Lakes.  With a pressure of only 1002 mb, it doesn’t look all that threatening.  However it is “Fitz,” and even here, far from its center on its warm side, we could get some howling winds tomorrow, before it zooms off and up to the southern tip of Greenland, and enters our DMI polar maps at the start of next week.

Then I will be able to sit back and contemplate its progress. However now I have to rush off and do some quick roof repairs over at the farm before the winds get too high.

OCTOBER 31   —DAILY DATA—  

Our Forkasite continued its southward progress, moving south from 81.325°N to 81.219°N and west from 1.707°W to 1.781°W.  Total movement was 7.4 miles nearly due south.

Winds were light and nearly calm at times, persistently from the northeast.

Temperatures continued very low for a berg so close to Svalbard and the edge of the open North Atlantic, begining at -24.8°C at 1500z yesterday and dropping to -26.1°C at 1800z. Then it slowly rose to -24.4°C at 0600z today, and then slid back down to -26.6°C at 1500z.

At our “companion buoy” 100 miles northwest  temperatures began the 24 hour period at  -32.8°C and finished at -33.4°C.

Anyone think the North Pole is melting?

OCTOBER 31  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Oct 31B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 31B temp_latest.big

Things continue quiet, with even Payat weakening south of Iceland. and in the quiet the cold continues to build over the arctic.  I am interested in the small features, especially “Hypeson” over northwest Norway.  Also the piece Tyrone left behind north of Canada, which I suppose ought be called “Tyroneson.”

It would really be interesting to speak with some Norwegian forecaster who focuses on the microcosm of Norway, and get his insights.  However I’m fighting a cold, and it was a bit stupid of me to keep hammering roofing in the rain this afternoon, so I’ll sleep on it.  I do some of my best thinking when not fully awake…..

Besides the microcosm, it always is humbling, if not helpful, to take a peek at the macrocosm of all the weather in the entire world.  Maybe you can figure out how all the storms are going to interact, as I do a bit of snoring:  (click to enlarge)

Macrocosm Oct 31 gfs_mslp_uv10m_globe_9

NOVEMBER 1   —SLEEPY BOY LOOKS OUT WINDOW AT FITZ—

First order of business, as I wait for coffee to kick in, is to go out on the front steps and stand in the dark, feeling the warm wind eddy about in our protected neighborhood, tucked away from the warm gale that is roaring in the piney hilltops.  It almost feels as if winter is over, and it is spring.  The wind is like a kindly hand running fingers through your hair.

Then it is indoors for a quick check of the local map.  Fitz is rushing north and is far deeper than yesterday, already down to 978 mb, and the entire east of the USA is a northward sweep of warmer winds.  Far to the north, up on the east coast of Hudson Bay,  Tyrone gathers the routed and retreated armies of the the arctic cold, behind a stationary front.  (click  to enlarge.)

Fitz Nov 1 0600z satsfc (3)

NOVEMBER 1  —MORNING DMI MAPS—   QUIET COLD SLOWLY BUILDING

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

“Payat” south of Iceland is weaker, a 978 mb low like “Fitz” west of me here. England and Scandinavia must be in a southerly flow like me, though I doubt theirs is as warm.  (64 degrees Fahrenheit here, before the sun is even up.) Quick check of their map: (Click to enlarge.)

Payat Nov 1 FSXX00T_00

Yikes!  What a spiderweb of troughs and occlusions!

Off to work. Will comment later.

LOCAL REPORT  —FITZ’S FRONT PASSES THROUGH—

Although Fitz won’t appear on our DMI maps for a couple days, his pressure’s now down to 973mb, and he has whipped a front through New Hampshire.

Fitz Nov 1 satsfc (3)

I sure do like these autumn gales. Perhaps it is because there is no snow to shovel.  Also the leaves get into the act.  Sometimes, when the rain is heavy, you get amazing dams built of wet leaves that redirect the flow of entire brooks.  However the best gales for me, (though not for fishermen,) are the dry gales that stay off shore, and the rain-line never comes inland.  We got strong winds from the “Perfect Storm” in 1991, but I actually got a sunburn working all day building a house 15 miles north of here for “Habitat For Humanity,” glancing south at the wall of clouds that never came north or moved west, knowing it was a monster storm by the wind, which created a sort of delightful madness out of millions of maple leaves of red and yellow.

Today’s delight was the mildness after such bitter cold.  Also, though some of the leaves did stick to streets, the wind kept many moving.  A couple of power lines crossed down the street, creating some fireworks and an amazing noise,  like someone blowing a giant conch shell.  It was so windy that it was impossible to work up on the roof at the farm, which may explain my happiness, when I think of it.  I’m fond of procrastination, and as happy as a schoolboy when, rather than working, I go for a walk.

Strong south winds came surging, a mild, moist, blessed balance to the north’s nasty, bitter blasts.  With warm wind-fingers in my hair, I confessed I’d grouched hardship was the one thing that lasts, but hair was ruffled, as red leaves scuffled down warm, wet streets as the wires sung, and I chuckled, unmittened and unmuffled, at winter’s defeat before it had begun.

“Aboves” and “Belows,” they all average out, though “average” itself is rarely seen. The North and the South wreak havoc, know rout, as I walk here wondering in between and…count.  (I know I’ll be no math-class hero,  for minus-ten and plus-ten don’t make zero.)

NOVEMBER 1  —DAILY DATA—  LESS CALM AND LESS COLD

Winds at our Forkasite have remained steadily northeast, but have slowly picked up to over 13 mph.  Our site has picked up speed to the south west, moving south from 81.219°N to 81.037°N, and west from 1.781°W to 2.356°W. This is a movement of 14.05 miles from where we were yesterday, however I should add this is a movement parallel with the edge of the ice, and not towards it.

Temperatures bounced about a bit, but for the most part rose, rising from a low yesterday at 1500z of 26.6°C to to a high today at 1500z of -18.7°C.  As our “companion buoy’ to the northwest also recently jumped up from -30.2°C at 1200z to -24.8°C at 1500z, I suspect we are seeing some encroachment of air from the North Atlantic, due to “Payat” advancing towards, and “Hypeson” stalled northeast of, Scandinavia.

It is helpful to look at the DMI temperature map, and see the sharp gradient of isotherms just northwest of Svalbard, where sea ice gives way to open water.  Minus five air at the surface is not all that far away. Though it often is a very thin layer of warmer air, Atlantic gales can bring thicker layers north.

NOVEMBER 1  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—  ODDNESS NEAR OUR SITE

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

The isobars continue to indicate a weak and disorginized flow over the Pole, which seems condusive to building the cold.  Also the low pressure “Hype” is speeding east across Siberia, and now is far enough east to help the Snout of Igor snort more chill into the arctic, with his east-side south-winds.

Hype swung around the weakening “Swannecks” as if they were two stones on a connected bola, and after first being swung south Hype is swinging north as the remains of Swannecks are swung south off the Arctic Sea.

Far behind Hype the remnant Hypeson is up to odd things, as the weakening Payat comes north.  There is an odd ripple in the isobars just west of Svalbard which will effect our Forkasite, perhaps even swinging the winds around briefly to the south.  I am very curious about what is causing the ripple.  Is it a bit of Hypeson retrograding even further east, or is it a feature caused by cold winds coming off Svalbard’s mini-icecap?

LOCAL REPORT  —FITZ DOWN TO 970 MB—  ROARING TOWARDS LABRADOR

Fitz Nov 1B satsfc (3) 

As Fitz roared north it zipped up an occlusion at its top, and that occlusion has swung around and become a secondary cold front approaching us in its wake.  The true arctic air behind Tyrone has also been swept south as Tyrone was gobbled up, and is now tertiary front already down to the Great Lakes.

However arctic air is most definately not here yet.  The air behind the cold front that passed this morning was barely cooler, though dry enough to allow the sun to burst through. I was stuck at work because much of my staff has better things to do than work late on Friday, and therefore I had to watch 17 children with my wife, rather than attend to more important things, like this blog.

If I have to watch kids I’d rather watch them have fun, so we took them to the top of a nearby dam, and flew a kite in the roaring wind.  (The problem wasn’t keeping the kite up as much as it was keeping the kids down.) By then the sun was low and gold, the water behind the dam reflected the gold and made where we stood twice as warm, and the sky had nearly cleared.  There was just ripples of cirrostratus made amber by the approach of sunset. The roaring wind had lost the morning’s humidity and near-seventy warmth, but still wasn’t cold enough to cause a single child to complain, so I wondered how in the world I could include the warm scene in a post about arctic sea ice.

Then I realized something.  The high pressure Igor, building his vicious cold over Siberia, doesn’t just snort cold north across the Arctic Sea through its snout.  Also great swaths of frigid air is curved sweepingly out east by Pacific storms, over Korea and out into the north Pacific, where is swirls with warm Typhoons such as Wypha, and then crashes ashore and rides south along the pacific side of the Canadian Rockies, awaiting its chance to surge over and cascade into the plains as a Chinook-warmed rush of Pacific air, hurtling east to keep a kite air-born in New Hampshire.

As soon as I thought that, I thought I noticed just the slightest bit of arctic cold in the cool rush of wind, and buttoned the top button of my shirt.

NOVEMBER 2 —MORNING DMI MAPS—  STRANGENESS NEAR FORKASITE

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

I notice that curious dimple remains in the isobars west of Svalbard, and now seems apparent in the isotherms as well. It makes me curious. I’ve always wondered if the clash between minus five air over open water and minus twenty-five air over the ice-pack could generate small home-grown storms.  Perhaps that is what is happening, with uplift assisted by air puring off Svalbard’s glaciers and also perhaps a ghost-component of “Hypeson” sliding backwards from Norway.

In any case some models now show a storm developing over Svalbard.  Our Forkasite may briefly get some southeast winds, but if the storm develops the winds will swing back around to the north, and our progress down Fram Strait will resume.

Far to the east “Hype” continues its cruise towards Bering Strait, and is now shoving the “Snout of Igor” south and back to the east, in terms of isobars.  In terms of actual Siberian cold and isotherms, the east-side south-winds of Hype continue to draw some cold north, but the eastward extension of the low is also starting to draw some milder Pacific air in through the Bering Strait.  I assume Igor will be prevented from supercooling the Arctic for a while, until Hype either weakens or heads into Alaska. Some models show Hype sucking in some Pacific air through the Strait, strengthening due to that fuel, and taking a left turn at Alaska and heading for the Pole.

For the moment, however, the calm continues at the Pole, and temperatures have dipped a little below average up there.

The first hint of “Fitz” can be seen as the dent of low pressure to the south of Baffin Island, in the lower left of the DMI map.

LOCAL REPORT  –FITZ EXITS STAGE RIGHT;  DOWN TO 969 MB—

Morning twilight was frost free but twenty degrees colder than yesterday.  Pink sky with high purple cumulus, moving fast though no wind at ground.  Smoke rising straight up from chimneys.

As Fitz moves away I cast a wary eye at lows on trailing fronts, one to our south over Philadelphia on secondary front, and one to our west over Toronto on the arctic front.  They may look innocent, but I never trust the things until they zip by.

The arctic front is pretty far east as it trails back northwest up through Canada to the Yukon.  No big blobs from Igor coming down the pipeline, and that means we might get air from Arizona instead, and a warm up next week after a brief backlash shot from Fitz passes through.  Maybe I can use that as an excuse to put off finishing my roofing job…

No.  I have to at least check to see how brittle the shingles are, before I find an excuse to loaf.  See ya.

(By the way, in case anyone was wondering, that bit of particularly purple prose yesterday was something I do, when I get playful with prose.  It actually held a hidden sonnet, which, after a bit of dusting-off goes like this:)

WARM STORM SONNET

Strong south winds came surging, a mild, moist, blessed ,
Balance to the north’s nasty , bitter blasts.
With warm wind-fingers in my hair, I confessed
I’d grouched hardship was the one thing that lasts,
But hair was ruffled, as red leaves scuffled
Down warm wet streets as the wires sung,
And I chuckled, un-mittened and un-muffled,
At winter’s defeat before it’d begun.

“Aboves” and “Belows;” they all average out
Though “Average” itself is seldom seen.
The North and the South wreck havoc, know rout,
As I walk here wondering in between
And…..count. In Math Class I’m no hero;
My minus-ten and plus-ten don’t make zero.

NOVEMBER 2  —DAILY DATA—   HEAT WAVE!    (…sort of)

The steady northeast winds did veer slightly east, and even a hair southeast of east, but our Forkasite continued on south, from  81.037°N to 80.882°N, and west, from 2.356°W to 3.114°W.  Our daily movement was a healthy 13.56 miles, likely because the winds picked up to 18 mph, though they slackened back to 11 mph towards the end.

Of more interest was the upward surge of Temperature, as air from the open water towards Svalbard got whisked our way.  We began at -18.7°C at 1500z yesterday, but temperatures rose all the way to -9.1°C at 0600z today, before slumping back to -12.8°C at 1500z.

NOVEMBER 2  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  

DMI Nov 2B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 2B temp_latest.big (1)

I am keeping my eye on the bit of Hypeson dimpling the isotherms around Svalbard, as it merges with Payat weakly coming north, as only a 980 mb low now, (though it has a more vigorous secondary, Payatson, scooting north of Scotland off these maps.)  The lows are keeping Scandinavia sheltered on their south-wind side, and perhaps even wafting some warmer air north, to the east of Svalbard, however the winds look light, judging from isobars.

Hype has gone all the way to the Bering Strait, and is ushering some milder Pacific air Poleward from that side.

Fitz is barely seen down at seven o’clock in the circle.

For the most part the Pole is quiet and cold, though becoming less cold at our Forkasite.

LOCAL VIEW   —FITZ OFF THE EDGE—

click to enlarge

Fitz Nov 2 2222z satsfc (3)

I got the roofing done on the stable, under a glorious blue sky without a cloud, and with the sun so bright that even though the roofing tar was as stiff as old chewing gum, once you put a gob down on the roof its blackness soon absorbed so much heat that it spread like warm butter. In the same manner the stiff rolls of rolled roofing swiftly softened and didn’t crack when unrolled. So I was stuck with working, but at least I got an November tan out of the deal.

As evening came on and I was finishing up, it swiftly clouded over with a sort of rolling, low and purple cumulous, and abrupt sprinkles of rain began.  That little low over Philadelphia and the little low over Toronto were combining right over me, as the map shows,  but I was done, and, after feeding the goats, could head home and attend to what really matters:  The North Pole.

Fitz only matters because he might get up to the pole next week. Right now he’s at that annoying stage where he is not on the DMI map, and is leaving my local map in the upper right, where they don’t even note what his pressure is, though you can count isobars and figure out it is below 968 mb.  Even when I go check the UK Met map, only the 0000z map shows, and Fitz is at the left edge of that one as well:

Fitz Nov 2 UKMet FSXX00T_00

Sometimes you have to hunt, but at the WeatherBELL site I searched through Dr. Ryan Maue’s models, as the “Initial” maps of the various model runs are pretty much current-weather-maps, and I came across the GFS north Atlantic pressure initial-map for the 1800z run:

Fitz Nov 2 WB gfs_precip_mslp_natl_1

That’s more like it!  Fitz is down to 963 mb, and moving off Labrador towards the southern tip of Greenland. It is currently the biggest storm in the Northern Hemisphere.  “Hypseson,” now storming through Scotland and aiming for Norway, is in second place, and third place goes to a low brewing up in the Aleutians.

There.  Now that I have that determined, I can konk out and sleep in peace.

NOVEMBER 3   —MORNING DMI MAPS— TWO STORMS, TWO SNOUTS

DMI Nov 3 mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 3 temp_latest.big (1)

With the three biggest storms mostly off these maps, south of sixty-degrees-latitude, (though you can see the edge of Fritz on the southern tip of Greenland,) we have a bit of peace and quiet to focus on the Pole.  Interestingly, Hype and Hypeson have been so stretched out that they now occupy opposite sides of the Pole.  (It won’t be the first time a father and son have drifted hemispheres apart.)

Of course, a purist will point out Hype is actually a mishmash of ingredients, containing part of Swanneck’s Arctic air and an unnamed Aleutian Low’s Pacific air, however I’m the boss here and I prefer to keep things simple.  However, if a purist would like to explain how the heck Hypeson grew, I’d be all ears. The genesis of Hypeson remains a mystery to me, even though I watched it carefully.

In any case we had two inflows to the Arctic, one Atlantic and one Pacific, and it is likely that the inflow’s warm air rose, and the uplift contributed to the genesis of two lows which now block the inflow, by existing squarely in the inflow’s path.  Very pretty.  I feel like standing and applauding, as if I have watched good dancers.

The swift passage of Hype from west to east basically stampeded right over Ivan, and Ivan does not take kindly to being trampled in that manner.  At first I think he was astonished Ivan could be so rude, and ducked down and flinched back west,  but now he is arising  like a bear shrugging, and that shrug has propelled Ivan towards the center of the Pole.  Furthermore, like a creature in a nightmare, he has two snouts….(or perhaps they are merely the upper and lower jaw of a toothy smile.)

The snout to the east of Hype is shutting the door to Pacific air coming north, while the snout to the west is there to drive purists nuts, as it is purely a poetic invention on my part and it takes wild stretches of imagination to connect that ridge of high pressure, blocking the Atlantic flow, to the east Siberian High.  However isn’t that what poetry is suppose to do?  Drive everyone nuts?

NOVEMBER 3  —DAILY DATA— “WARM-SPELL”  OVER

The winds, which briefly veered south of east, have backed to the northeast and blown persistantly around ten mph, puffing our Forkasite steadily south, from  80.882°N to 80.683°N and west from 3.114°W to 3.416°W.  Temperatures, which were as high as -9.1°C at 0600z yesterday have plunged steadily from -12.8°C at 1500z yesterday to -21.6°C at 1500z today.

Even as our Forkasite tootles along steadily south, I wonder if it might slow, as the westward movement crunches the ice into the east coast of Greenland, and also the low temperatures cause the separate chunks of ice to adhere to each other.  We’ll see.

NOVEMBER 3  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Nov 3B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 3B temp_latest.big (1)

The two main features near the Pole continue to be Hype and Hypeson, with Hype diverting the Pacific invasion of warmth east to the Alaska coast, and Hype diverting the Atlantic invasion of warmth east, north of Scandinavia.

The Pacific invasion is making it almost balmy over the Beaufort Gyre buoys.  West to east, Buoy 2012H: is coming in at -7.30 C, the new Buoy 2013I: is at -10.29 C, Buoy 2013G: is at -10.80 C, and Buoy 2013F: comes in at -7.85 C.  These “high” temperatures explain the swirl of green on the temperature map, and they also represent a full tank of gas for Hype.  He will continue his circuit of the Pole, attempting to reach our Forkasite from the west, but his full tank will run out of gas as he is cut off from the Pacific gas station, and he will eventually weaken.  I expect we will see the green swirl fade to light blue as the invasion of Pacific air is chilled.

Hypson, who remains mysterious to me, will preform a circut of the other side of the Pole, also weakening as he is cut off from the Atlantic gas station.

Now we come to the southern wanna-bees. First is a likely future mystery, Payat, which is greatly weakened and a mere bulge in the isobars off the northwest Norwegian coast. Models have him weakening like Hypson did, but then mysteriously restrengthening like Hypeson did, and following Hypeson’s route.  I can only watch and wonder.  Likely I need to find a polar map that actually has fronts drawn in, to figure out what is going on.

Much more attention is being paid to Payatson, crashing into southern Norway, and his son Payathird, a tertiary storm that will likely strengthen in the Baltic.  However this mostly will effect areas south of the Arctic Sea, at first.

Another no-name storm is currently traversing the north border of China, troubling Igor’s underside and on its way to fueling a huge Aleutian Low next week. I’ll dub that low “Chin,” if and when it appears on our map.

Last but not least is Fitz, crashing into the southern tip of Greenland.  Strange things happen to gales when they meet Greenland.  If I were rich I’d fund a couple young meteorologists to simply study the transit of air over Greenland east to west, west to east, south to north, and north to south, because none of it currently makes a lick of sense to me.  Mostly I watch and wonder, however one rather interesting event can be seen in the UKMet map:  (click to  enlarge)

Fitz Nov 3 UKMet 9795535

What interests me is the long occluded front extending east from Fitz off Greenland nearly to Ireland.  It amazes me because even yesterday Fitz had a big warm sector loaded with juicy air.  It had a full tank of gas, which was air around 68 Fahrenheit with a dew point near sixty as it moved over me here in New Hampshire.   Somehow a cold front caught up and “zipped up” that warm sector.  This suggests two things to me.

First, that is one heck of an occlusion.  It is loaded.  It is not the occlusion of a dwindling and dying storm. Second, there is something odd about the speed of that zipper.  I’ve noticed often an innoculous-looking low acts as the zipper, but abruptly become an eventful low the moment it finds an opportunity to turn north.  (Around here a tiny “Alberta Clipper” can zip down from western Canada, reach the coast a hundred miles east of here, and amazingly explode into a full fledged gale the second it turns north.)

It looks like this particular zipper will become eventful in the English Channel tomorrow, and move from there up into the Baltic, where I previously identified the potential gale as a tertiary development of Payat and dubbed it “Payathird.”  I now think I should take that name back and re-dub it.  It is actually an impulse made from the zipper of Fitz, and therefore should be named “Fitzip.”

Finally I should discuss the poor Snout of Igor, which has the sad and sorry look of a dog smacked on the nose by a rolled-up newspaper. (Not that I do that to my dogs any more.)  The Body of Igor is alive and well, strengthening in the west of Siberia, but, to the east, Igor’s nose, subjected to Chin from the southwest and Hype to the northeast, is confused and disjointed. (You could say his nose is out of joint.) It is not the steady, serious and established flow of 1976-77, but is more like a state of transience.

Igor is liable to impart another shot of Siberia into Canada, in the wake of the blob of invading Pacific air fueling Hype, but then Chin will interrupt the flow before it becomes established.

Did this stuff happen in 1976-77?  I can’t tell you, because back then I had no access to such wonderful maps.  I don’t think such maps even existed.  However, relying on memory alone,  I don’t think it was until late November that a “local” I was friends with in Maine gave me a hint I ought expect a cold winter.  He neither used satellites nor computers, nor was he grey and grizzled.  He was in his early twenties, as I was back then, and we were standing up a steep hill from South Freeport Harbor.  I was remarking on how the wind stayed stuck in the northwest day after day, and he pointed out how the smoke from all the chimneys did not rise, but rather headed from the houses down to the harbor, and then he remarked, “The Old Timers say that is a sign of a cold winter.”

I guess I’ll have to drive up to South Freeport to be sure of anything.

In any case, as this post is called “The Snout Of Igor,” and as that snout is retreating, I think it is time to finalize this post with a final “Local View.”

LOCAL VIEW   —SNEAKY ARCTIC—

The edge of the arctic may have been displaced east, but that doesn’t mean it can’t sneak down and clip the northeastern tip of the USA.  This morning’s map is a perfect example. (click to enlarge)

Fitz Nov 3 1022z satsfc (3)

It was actually grey and spitting snow as I awoke, because of that little low “Fitzson” moving off the coast.  I told you that you have to watch out for those little ripples, didn’t I?  However this one did little more than warn people that spell of near-seventy-degree kindness last week was just a bit of Grace, and winter itself wasn’t cancelled.  It soon cleared off, but the air was bitter, and the sting on the back of hands made me wonder where I had misplaced my gloves.

You’ll notice the above map has a cold front crossing Florida, however that “cold” is greatly moderated and partially Pacific air.  The real Arctic boundary is the cold front over the northeast USA.  Notice how it curves back north to our west, and on up to the Northwest Territories.  If this was the pattern of December-January, 1976-77, what you would see is another arctic high pressure rolling down the east side of that front, keeping warm air from pushing east.  However we currently see no such reinforcements arriving.

Instead we see an interesting conglomeration of low pressure in the Rocky Mountains.  The meteorologist who wrote the map was meticulous, and I count seven in all. These are not the little dimples called Alberta Lows, rippling southeast along an established arctic front, but rather are a development called a variety of names, such as “Colorado Low.” ( I suspect this one would have to have seven names.)  In any case they tend to become a feature in and of themselves,  and can become a blizzard in the northern plains.  This one looks likely to become a blizzard moving up into the Canadian plains to Hudson Bay.  It won’t come east because of the high pressure  coming down over us today.

That high will go through a remarkable transition which I always find somewhat amazing to watch.  You can see it happening already in this evening’s map: (click to enlarge)

Fitz Nov 3 eve satsfc (3)

What I notice right off the bat on this map it that the boundary to the arctic air is no longer marked, to the west.  You can see the cold front extending to just north of Cape Hattaras on the North Carolina coast, and then it mysteriously ceases to be.

They always do this, and I never see why.  You can actually see the clouds marking the edge of the front as it curves back north through Kentucky, Indiana, and Wisconsin, but they consider it dead. Therefore I call such fronts, “ghost fronts.”  I have found it pays to remember where they are, over the years, for just because they are not on maps doesn’t mean they can’t come back to haunt you.

In any case this ghost front marks where the arctic air has been halted, and is being over-swept by the warm flow in front of that Mountain Low to the west.  I’ll dub that mountain low  “Bliz,” as it looks like it will be a blizzard for folk out on the plains, especially up in Canada.

Why is Bliz going north?  It is because the cold arctic high chilling my house tonight is going to turn into a warm friendly high.  Mr. Hyde is going to turn back to Dr. Jekyll.  The high pressure will move off the coast and then stand its ground, refusing to let the blizzard come east.  Instead we will be situated in a southwest flow between the high and Bliz.

It is quite a difference from 1976-77.  In 1976 the arctic highs came so quickly they kept the warmth at bay, however in this situation the pause between the arctic highs is so large the  leading high becomes an ally of the south.  And the western storm is able to be something besides a little clipper.

The reason this occurs is because of winds up in the higher levels of the atmosphere.  In 1976-77 the jet stream got “stuck,” with a big ridge in the west and a big trough in the east.  Currently the jet stream is allowing troughs to ripple around the world.  The trough that brought the Great Lakes Storm has moved east, but a new one is moving to the west and allowing a Mountain Storm and Plains Blizzard.  Within 48 hours the situation will be quite opposite the situation of 1976-77, in the upper air map. (Click to enlarge.)

Fitz Nov 3 gfs_z500_sig_noram_9

While this upper-air map does hint at the “Snout of Igor” in the to-left-center margin of the map, to me it looks like the arctic air will be hoarded up there.  Some discharge may leak through the far west of Alaska and down the Pacific coast, but it will be prone to plunging into the trough in the west of the USA.  If an arctic boundry is reestablished it will be in the west, and have a hard time fighting east into the lovely surge of southwest flow.

(Or maybe not so lovely, as it takes away all my excuses to avoid doing a ton of last-minute chores I must do before winter sets in.)

This lovely pattern will not lock in any more than the last one locked in.  November tends to be a time of transition, and that trough in the west is likely to be gone by next week.  In fact, in his blog at WeatherBELL, Joe Bastardi, who is one of the better long-range forecasters I know about, mentioned November isn’t much use, when it comes to finding signs of what the future weather will do.  October, though farther away from winter, is a better indicator.

Keeping that in mind, I will still keep my eye peeled for the “Snout of Igor” poking down from Pole.  I can’t say I will mind it all that much if he directs his snorts into the west of the USA, and I have to suffer a green Christmas.  It seems to me that is has been an awful long time since they’ve seen snow in San Diego, and I wouldn’t want to see those poor folk deprived.  Sadly, I suspect they will be deprived, while I know the wealth.

With the start of a new week, I guess I should start a new post.  It will be found at: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-the-dance-of-polar-storms/

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ARCTIC SEA-ICE RECOVERY —HALLOWEEN HUSHING AND HOWLING

NOTE — THIS IS A CONTINUATION OF A SERIES OF POSTS, THE LAST BEING https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-diary-the-deepening-twilight/

In our last episode we saw our North Pole Camera Site, (with the camera removed in the prior episode,) at long last begin its journey down towards Fram Strait. However first it had to wait for me to come up with a new theory that it wasn’t going to Fram Strait, and instead was being sucked into the Beaufort Gyre. As soon as I walked out on that limb, it had the smug satisfaction of sawing the limb off.

Because I got tired of repetitively writing, “our camera site with no camera,” and even “former camera site” was getting tedious, I have renamed the chunk of ice that once held our camera “Forkasite,” (which is short for “Former Camera Site.”)  Although the camera is gone, Forkasite retains a number of instruments,  and we get reports from its GPS, thermometer, and a mysterious wind-vane that seems to point where the wind is going, rather than where it is from.

I think what may have happened is that the berg the vane is upon has swiveled right around. The scientists who run the site likely make some sort of adjustment, but a layman like myself is not let in on the secrets, and therefore when I mention the direction of the wind it is a guess, derived from the lay of the isobars, and larger maps.

I have been watching the views from the camera for several years, just to get a feel for what is actually going on up there.  I felt the media was not actually studying some of the things they reported about, and it did not take me long at all to discover my suspicions were not mere paranoia, but founded on fact.  I urge all young reporters to spend a little more time digging, and scold all older editors for failing to properly guide young reporters. Some of the stories about arctic sea ice are sheer balderdash, and I doubt balderdash is what either young reporters or older editors want to be known or remembered for.

I don’t claim to be an authority, but neither am I a dupe, willing to accept the pablum some members of the media are dishing out to  the general public. Therefore I am simply using my own eyes, and watching what happens to our north.

Our camera rested upon a sturdy plate of ice, chosen last April for its sturdiness, for it is expensive to get all the equipment up to the arctic, and the last thing people want is to spend all that time and money to erect a site soon to be dumped into the sea.  Thertefore our berg is perhaps not a typical run-of-the-mill-berg, but rather is the cream of the crop.

One soon learns that the arctic is not a solid “cap” of ice, but rather bergs jostling and crunching with other bergs.  During the dead of winter the surface becomes more rigid, however even in the coldest part of the year a storm with winds that suddenly shift can crack the surface apart, creating a long, thin crack of open water called a lead. When temperatures are forty below, the open water swiftly freezes over, but the new ice is a weak place in the ice, and should the winds shift again, (and “diverging” winds become “converging” winds,) the two sides of the lead come crunching back together, and all the new ice is crumpled and jumbled into a long thin feature called a pressure ridge.  Most pressure ridges are three to six feet tall, but, as nine-tenths of an iceberg is under water, even a three foot tall pressure ridge has theoretical roots extending down twenty-seven feet.  In the more occational cases where mighty polar gales crush ice together with such fury that the pressure ridges are twenty or thirty feet tall,  the roots are big enough for Russian Subs to hide behind in Tom Clancy novels.  In comparison, our plate of ice is rather modest, and fairly flat, though it did have a nice pressure ridge in the right distance, as seen back when we had a camera.  However one never knows about such plates of ice, and I had hopes when a crack became apparent right in front of our camera, hoping we might get to witness the formation of a nearby lead.  It didn’t happen, but that fissure may have been where the water drained, when “Lake North Pole” vanished so abruptly, last summer.

During the summer the ice gets slushy and cracks apart into many jostling bergs, and then in the winter the jigsaw puzzle freezes together again. My sense is that the degree to which the ice melts is largely dependant on the “AMO,” or Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, which injects more warm water into the Arctic Ocean when it is in its warm phase, (as it is now,) than when it is in its cold phase. To a lesser effect the “PDO” (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) has an effect, though the exchange of water through the Bering Strait is less.

My feeling is that we have just been through a period when both the AMO and PDO were warm, and such periods have less ice.  Now the PDO has turned cold, and the AMO is forecast to do so in five to ten years.  The exact mechanics of how the ice regrows is unknown, but if it happens it will swiftly end all talk of an “ice-free-North-Pole.”

One reason I am watching the Pole is because I am curious to see what happens.  The last time the AMO and PDO turned cold we didn’t have satellites to watch the ice with, or cameras giving us instant views of the ice.  The only way to see it was via dog sled.  Therefore we are seeing things for the first time.

Even if I turn out to be completely wrong, and the North Pole does become ice free, it will be something we can see with our own eyes.  We don’t need the media to tell us what is going on.  They, to  be honest, have done a very bad job so far, compared to my own eyes.

Each day I’ll post “Daily Data,” which describes what our particular plate of ice has done.  I figure that it is through observations we best get an idea of what is happening up there.

OCTOBER 16  —DAILY DATA—  COLDEST YET

Our Forkasite moved south from 82.668°N to 82.561°N, and east from 3.927°W to 3.411°W. Total movement was 8.74 miles south-southeast.

Since our Forkasite was blown north to 84.142°N at 1800z on September 30, we have moved steadily nearly due south a total of 109.87 miles.  This gives you a sense of how mobile the ice is up there, and how it can move about even when temperatures are well below the freezing point of salt water.  So far there has been no sign of the ice-pack stiffening up and becoming less mobile.

Temperatures have bounced about.  At the start of our 24 hour period temperatures rose slightly from -15.0°C at 1500z to -14.9°C  at 1800z yesterday, but then plunged down to -21.6°C at 0300z today. This temperature, (-6.9 Fahrenheit,) is the coldest we’ve seen this autumn. However it bounced back up to -16.4°C, (+2.5 Fahrenheit,) by 0600z, before again sinking back down to -19.4°C at 1500z.

Why should temperatures bounce around like this when there is no obvious passage of a front? For one thing, during the 24 hours winds were veering dramatically around from south at 5 mph to north at 15 mph, and such shifts wrench at the ice, causing cracks to open to leads, and exposing open water which in the dead of winter is at the lowest only -1.9, which is the freezing point of even the more briney sat water, (and water up there often can be less briney and freeze at higher temperatures.) Such open water must create pockets of warmer air and sea smoke, at least until the leads freeze over.

Speaking only from my experience of the bays along the coast of Maine, once temperatures drop below +5.0 Fahrenheit the sea has far less hesitation about freezing over, especially when you are talking about areas of water between areas of ice.  Any surface exposed to such wind and cold grows ice outwards.  If the surface is a cake of ice, all its edges extend outwards, and if the surface is the decks and rigging of  fishing boats the glaze can get so thick that the ships have grown so top-heavy that they capsize.  Smaller bergs in the arctic can capsize in the same manner, whether they are enlarging in the freeze or shrinking in the melt.  It a dynamic situation which is by no means as still and silent as one thinks a frozen sea would be.

OCTOBER 16 —MORNING AND AFTERNOON DMI MAPS

I thought I’d put the maps together, for the purpose of comparison.  The top maps are pressure and temperature from 0000z, (which I call the “Morning Maps,”) and the bottom maps are from 1200z, (which I call the “Afternoon Maps.”)

DMI Oct 16 pressure mslp_latest.bigNMI Oct 16 temp_latest.big

DMI Oct 16B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 16B temp_latest.big

I should explain I have the habit of naming features formed by isobars,  and even by isotherms. The low over central Siberia is “Flect” and the low inland to its east is ” Leut.” The low north of the coast of Canada is “Fred.” The high off the east coast of Greenland with the ridge extending all the way back to the Bering Strait is “Newhie.”

There are two simplistic patterns I look for over the Pole, “zonal” and “meridianal.”  A zonal pattern has a low or high atop the Pole as “king of the hill,” and cold tends to build in the calm center, and be locked up there by winds going around and around the Pole.  A meridianal pattern has one or two blocking highs cause loops in the jet stream, and at times the wind goes across the pole, creating a “cross polar flow.”  When this happens cold air is discharged from the Pole, and a cold wave is experienced to the south of the area of discharge.  I am always looking for cross-polar-flows, which tend to have an entrance region and an exit region.  If the arctic north of me is an entrance region, I rest assured air from the Canadian arctic is being sucked north, and not towards me, however if the arctic north of me is an exit region I assume air from Siberia is being sucked north, crossing the Pole, and heading down through Canada to freeze my socks off.  It is a very simplistic view, but works a surprising amount of the time.

As usual, reality refuses to be simplistic, and the above map is a combination of zonal and meridianal.  Newhie was over the Pole, allowing cold to build with something like a zonal flow, however now it is all stretched out to elongated ridge between two long fetches of east winds, both of which could fit the definition of just barely being cross-polar-flows.

One fetch has an entrance region of central Siberia, which is a cold source region, and exits over Finand and westernmost Siberia, which are seeing a foretaste of winter. The second fetch is from northern Baffin Bay across to Wrangle Island to the west of Bering Strait, and bringing cold air down to Korea and northern Japan.

It is not surprising to me that we have been mild, here in New Hampshire.  What is surprising to me is that Canada has been able to supply cold air with so little help from the Pole.  The cold air affecting the USA with snow in the west is basically “home grown.”

A REASON TO FRET, BUT NOT A FORECAST YET

One of the coldest winters I remember was the winter of 1976-77, which was the start of a string of nasty winters.  Quite a number of groups of young hippies, who had decided to form communes and “go back to nature” up in Maine were utterly fed up with nature by 1980.

While watching ice melt via the North Pole camera I found myself paying attention to the DMI temperature-north-of-eighty-degrees-latitude graphs.  Just compare this past year’s graph with the graph of 1976, which lead into the winter of 1976-77.

THIS YEAR’S DMI GRAPH                                DMI GRAPH FOR 1976

DMI Oct 16 meanT_2013 (1)DMI 1976 meanT_1976And that’s all I’m saying for now.

THE SAGA OF O-BUOY #7

If you want your lying eyes to learn more about the arctic ice melt and refreeze than you are liable to ever learn in print, I can’t express how highly I recommend watching the film created by O-Buoy #7.  It takes of all of ten minutes to watch from June to October, and you witness how slushy it gets in July, and a bit of polar bear fur on August 8, and the fact the ice continues to melt from below even as the refreeze starts from above.  In the distance you can see the open water of leads and pressure ridges, until the thaw causes the camera to tilt forward and look at a meltwater rivulet at her feet.   That rivulet forms the weakness where the ice cracks, and then you peer down at the edge of the ice by open water after September 4.  Just when you think the ice is going to refreeze and the camera will be stuck looking down, it falls in the water and spends four days blown free of the ice and bobbing in the ocean,  before it is again engulfed by drifting ice, and you get to watch the ice refreeze, and eventually become snow-covered.  Although the film ceases on October 8, you can still get views in the diminishing daylight with current-view still shots.

Here’s the view down at the edge of the ice.

Obouy7 sep 10 webcam

Here’s the view as the sea-ice tries to freeze the camera tilted

Obouy 7 Sep 17 webcam

Here’s the view after the camera broke free, righted herself, bobbed in ice-free water for four days, and then was engulfed by ice.

Obuoy 7 Sep 30 webcam

Here’s the ice getting thicker

Obuoy 7 Oct 3 webcam

Here’s her view during the brief daylight, with a twinkle in her eye, from a couple days ago.

Obuoy 7 Oct 14 webcam

And here’s the view after the sun set today

Obuoy 7 Oct 16 webcam

However if a picture is worth a thousand words, the film is worth a million: http://obuoy.datatransport.org/data/obuoy/var/plots/buoy7/camera/ob7.webm

MOONLIGHT OVER THE BEAUFORT SEA

I’ve been hoping to catch the moon in a picture, and this morning the moon is riding high enough to shine down on the Pole, or at least 75 degrees north in the Beaufort Sea, where O Buoy #7 is frozen.  (It’ll be interesting to see if the snow is brighter and better exposed when the moon isn’t shining directly into the lens.)

Obouy 7 Oct 17 webcam

Apparently the O-Bouy cameras keep right on transmitting pictures even when conditions are less than perfect.  (For example, O-Bouy #8 was plucked from the sea last August 8, but still is regularly takes pictures of the rusty wall of a storage unit.)

OCTOBER 17  —DMI MORNING MAPS— 

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

AFTERNOON DMI MAPS   —a double cross—

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

When trying to think up a name for this pattern, I abruptly decided it is a double crossing pattern. On the Aisian side there is an entrance region in East-central Siberia, with a spit exit region of West Siberia and then the North Atlantic. (Notice how far south of Svalbard the zero isotherm has shifted.)  On the Canadian side there is an entrance region from the top of Hudson and  Baffin Bays, and an exit across the Bering Strait over Wrangle Island. Most of the air entering the arctic is continental, with the central area a ridge of high pressure and likely built by decending air from Polar and perhaps Ferrel cells. It is definately a pattern that  builds and incubates cold, which explains the DMI temperature-north-of-80-degrees graph plunging below normal.  The question now is: When that building cold breaks out and heads south, where will the arctic outbreak be?

OCTOBER 17  —DAILY DATA—  WAVES OF COLD

Our Forkasite made good time south, from 82.561°N to 82.415°N in 24 hours, as longitudinal motion moved eat and then back west, from 3.411°W to 3.286°W at 0600z, and then back to 3.365°W at 1500z.  Total movement was 10.14 miles south, as winds averaged 15 mph from the north-northeast.

Temperatures sunk from -19.4°C at 1500z yesterday to -21.1°C at 1800z, then rose briefly to -19.2°C at midnight, before plunging to -22.2°C at 0600z. This is the coldest we’ve seen this fall. After remaining low , temperatures abruptly spiked up to -15.9°C at 1200z, and then settled back slightly to -17.3°C at 1500z.

OCTOBER 18 —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Oct 18 mslp_latest.big AMI Oct 18 temp_latest.big

We can still see the cross-polar-flow in the “double cross” pattern, but it looks like it is starting to fall apart.  I can always tell when things are changing, because I have trouble finding the features I’ve named, and have to fudge a bit to avoid looking like I’m baffled.

The low pressure “Flect” remains stalled over central Siberia, and I suppose “Leut” has been swung south of it. You can see a blob of low pressure down there in Russia.  I’ll dub that new low forming north of Sweden “Sven,” because it burbed up from Sweden. Vewn is splitting the first cross-polar-flow into a “Y,” with one fork exiting down into Siberia and another exiting over Svalbard and chilling the North Atlantic.

The second cross-polar-flow has been shortened, as “Fred” weakened while crashing into the Queen Elizabeth Islands, but not before messing up the entrance region.  I am going to just say Fred’s energy “translated south,” and call the storm in northern Hudson Bay “Fred.” Even if it is a separate storm I happen to like the name “Fred,” and, like the National Hurricane Center, what I say goes (here, if nowhere else on Earth.)

Fred is robbing the enterance region of some of its home-grown cold, shunting it south (towards me), however the border region of Canada and Akaska is a new continental source region for a shortened flow from Alaska to easternmost Siberia and down towards Korea.  This flow is likely to persist for a while as the remnants of Wipha come barreling north  into Bering Strait.  Although it will swiftly weaken, the east winds to its north will  keep the Alaska-to-Siberia flow going.

This flow happens to be the exact opposite of the flow that freezes my socks off down here in New Hampshire,  however the surge of Wipha seems to be dragging a high behind it, and as Wipha fades away and the high builds, with west winds across its north side, the flow will slow, stop, and reverse.  Some modles are showing Siberian air pouring across and down into North America by the end of next week.  It will be interesting to watch.

One thing I am trying to scrutinize, because they are always making an ass out of me, are these so-called “polar maritime” high pressures that build into Canada from the Pacific.  I think they need to be further differentiated into type A and type B, because some are benign and become warm Chinooks as they cross the Rocky Mountains,  and make my forecasts twenty degrees too cold. Meanwhile others seen to have arctic cores, and filter over the Rockies into northern Canada looking benign, but holding air that swiftly chills, making possible a home-grown pool of arctic air which makes my forecast twenty degrees too warm.

I think the high following Wipha may be the latter, as it is being pumped full of bitter-cold arctic air by the current cross-polar-flow.  However forget I ever said this, if mild Chinook-warmed northwest breezes are bathing me from the northwest, at this time next week.

OFF THE CHARTS  —BOUY 2013C “GANG AFT A-GLEY”

The warmest temperatures (minus two to minus four, Celsius,) in the Army arctic data has lately involved the entrance region to the Canada-to-Siberia cross-polar-flow mentioned above, and furthermore has involved Buoy 2013C:, which has refused to behave in a proper and civilized manner. It was placed on a solid chunk of ice, a shelf on the North coast of Ellesmere Island, by the entrance of Nare Strait (Between Greenland and Canada.)  The ice shelf was around ten feet thick, and for a while the buoy reported as a stationary base on the ice shelf facing the North Pole, often giving us our coldest readings, during the summer.  However it got bored and broke away, and has gone scooting down Nare Strait, whirled about in a large eddy where the current exits into Baffin Bay, and now has headed past the end of Ellesmere Island, around the southern point of Devon Island, and is cruising east down Parry Sound as if it wants to rejoin humanity at the northernmost human town on earth, at Resolute.

So wayward is this Buoy 2013C: that it has actually gone off the charts: (Click and then click again to expand to full size.)

oFF cHARTS 2013C_track

I guess it goes to show you that even when preparing charts, attempting to fathom arctic sea ice demonstrates the poet Robert Burns was right, and that:

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley,  (IE: “Often go astray.”)

OCTOBER 18 —DAILY DATA—  VERY COLD

Our Forkasite moved south more slowly, from 82.415°N to 82.337°N, while drifting west from 3.365°W to 3.437°W at 0300z, then back east to 3.429°W at 1200z, and then shifting back west to 3.433°W at 1500z.  Totally movent for the day was 5.45 miles pretty much due south, as north winds slackened to a calm.

Temperatures again sunk to levels of cold we haven’t seen before this autumn.  Things began relatively warm, at -17.3°C at 1500z yesterday, and rose to -14.7°C at 1800z, but then had sunk to -20.0°C at midnight, and -21.5°C at 0900z today. After a tiny rise to  -21.2°C at 1200z, temperatures sank to -23.3°C at the last reading at 1500z today.

This is the coldest we have seen since last spring, at our Forkasite, and represents a temperature of ten below Fahrenheit.  It only gets that cold every third winter, here in New Hampshire. We are already reaching levels of cold many have difficulty imagining.

OCTOBER 18  —EVENING DMI MAPS—

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

The new pattern that is emerging seems transitional, and that it will not establish itself and last, however we briefly have a sort of zonal pattern with a part of Newhie establishing a center of high pressure at the pole, with four lows wheeling around like the petals of a daisy. Fred is in north Hudson Bay, Sven is north of Scandinavia,  Flect is over Severnaya Zemyla on the Siberian coast, and the low oozing through the Bering Straits I dub “Wiphason,” even though Wipha doesn’t really show yet on our maps.

Four storms make four entrance regions and four exit regions. The isotherms show it a little less cold over the Pole, but a lot of that cold has robbed the water north of Scandinavia and the Northernmost Atlantic of heat.

ICE EXTENT RETURNS TO 2000’S NORMALS

Extent Oct 19 Sea_Ice_Extent_L

(Click graph to enlarge.)

Comparing this year’s levels with last year’s, you can see why there was so much talk about an “ice-free North Pole” last year, while this year the silence is deafening.

What many fail to grasp is that ice-free water in the arctic allows the water to chill right down to a depth of 400 feet, while ice-covered water can allow milder currents to infiltrate beneath the ice even in the dead of winter.  To have the water ice-free is a negative feedback.

JOE BASTARDI SEES COLD WINTER IN EAST OF USA

Joe Bastardi has stuck his neck out with a winter forecast that in some ways looks like the winter of 1976-77 I’ve gone on about.  What jumped out at me was the Japanese Model:

JMA new dec_feb(1)

You can see the high pressure (yellow and orange) giving California a nice winter, as a low pressure trough (blue) stays stuck over Hudson’s Bay. Between the two a cross polar flow brings arctic air from Siberia straight down to the eastern USA.

Getting this information from the WeatherBELL “professional site” cost less than a cup of coffee each day, and today it makes me as hyper as coffee does.

OCTOBER 19  —MORNING DMI MAPS—

DMI Oct 19 pressure mslp_latest.big DMI Oct 19 temp_latest.big

I can only give these maps a quick perusal, as I wait for the sun to rise, as I have put my money where my mouth is, and purchased extra firewood.  I have eight cord to stack.  (A “cord” is a wonderfully non-metric unit of measurement. It is four feet by four feet by eight feet, or 128 square feet of wood.) I used to cut all my wood myself, and think being stiff and sore made me stronger. At age sixty I conclude it makes me grumpy. In any case, wood is like money in the bank;  if I don’t use it all up it’ll still be there to use later.

The above map shows our Forkasite is getting light south winds. I doubt we’ll make much progress down towards Fram Strait. Though the body of “Fred” is down in the northern reaches of Hudson Bay, a faint impulse was kicked east and our Forkasite is in it’s “southerly flow.” (A twenty below, you can’t call it “the warm side.”)

Another interesting feature is the deep blue at the top of the isobar map.  That is Wipha, (though I’m sure purists will say it can’t be called Wipha because it isn’t officially a typhoon any more.) It is kicking the low Wiffason east along the Alaskan north coast.

It must be nasty in Finland, though I’m sure those tough people can take it.  The low I call “Sven” is actually a complex system of lows making things murky there, sucking very cold air south while injecting a bit of milder air north.

Further east along the Siberian coast sits “Flect.”  Flect shows us the power and persistance of a mass of occluded fronts, all tangled together into a confused mess, like a tangle of yarn, and then rolled like a bowling ball along the arctic coast. (Pretty good mixed metaphor, aye? How often do you see yarn mixed with bowling balls?)  You cannot deliver so much occluded warmth into the arctic, and expect it to just vanish.

Another interesting thing about Flect is the protrusion to its south. That is a memory of “Leut.”  The dent on the west side, between Flect and Leut,  has rotated around from being on the south side, and, because that dent was originally made by the high pressure champion I dubbed “Igor,” I have decided, (because I am the boss around here,) that Igor has traversed all of Asia and that bit of weak high pressure just sticking its nose into the arctic west of Wrangle Island is the former champion, Igor himself, returning to the ring to the cheers of adoring fans.

Igor is the very end of a long and weak ridge of high pressure that crosses the pole, passing over our Forkasite and extending down to Newhie, which has deflected the typical feature called the Icelandic Low well south of Iceland.  Although Newhie is stretched out like a noodle, it barely retains its ability to be a sort of center, with all lows marching around and around it.  (This is about to end.)

The temperature map shows that the various lows have brought some mildness north, and things slightly warmer up there, however all in all arctic temperatures remain below normal.

OCTOBER 19 —DAILY DATA— SOUTH WINDS AND A “MILD” SPELL

Our Forkasite moved northeast today, with its position moving south until midnight, from  82.337°N to 82.326°N, before moving back north to 82.353°N. Longitudinally we also experienced a reversal, moving west from 3.433°W to 3.445°W at 2100z yesterday, and then acceleration east to 3.278°W at 1500z today.  Total movement was 1.81 miles to the northeast, which is the wrong direction if we are heading for Fram Strait.

I’m expecting the north winds to resume, as well as the southerly movement.  Greenland becomes a sort of perpetual high pressure area this time of year, and we are on the northwest-wind side of it.  If we had managed to remain a little further north we might have escaped the clutches of a suction that now draws us hopelessly down to the doom of all ice.

The air coming from the south was a bit milder, and temperatures rose slowly but steadily from our coldest so far, -23.3°C at 1500z yesterday, to -16.3°C at 1500z today.  Not exactly a heat wave, but more normal for mid October.

October 19 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS— PATTERN CHANGING

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

Our Forkasite is still in a weak southerly flow, but what is more interesting to me is the confusion of flows created by “Flect” on the Siberian side of the Pole, and Wiphason off the coast of Alaska.  They have broken the long ridge formed by “Newhie,” and created a new, diorginized and weak double-crossing cross-polar flow at right angles to the old double-crossing flows. What a mess!

I’ll write more later, but need to get a life a little, this weekend.

BRIEF DAYLIGHT ON THE BEAUFORT SEA

At our Forkasite the sun has gone down for good, and even if our camera was still there the best we could hope to see is the southern sky brighten with twilight at noon, however the camera at O-buoy #7 in the Beaufort Sea is roughly seven degrees latitude further south, and still gets glimpses of daylight. Temperatures have been “milder” over there, as “warm” as ten below, and the freeze-up of the Canadian arctic coast has fallen around a week behind schedule, though I suspect that is about to change.

Obuoy 7 Oct 19 webcam

OCTOBER 20  —DMI MORNING MAPS—  TRANSITION PROCEEDING

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

Our Forkasite remains in calm and light winds, as the main feature on the map is now Sven, exiting Finland, which now is snow-covered to the north, and rolling along the Siberian coast. It will reach the spot where a weakened Flect now resides and veer north to take up a position atop the Pole as king of the Hill later in the week. Models suggest this will be the pattern for a while, with future storms cruising in from the north Atlantic, riding along the Siberian coast, and reinforcing Sven.  This wobbling wheel of low pressure atop our planet will rotate a series of blobs of high pressure from Siberia to Alaska, as the cross-polar-flow I least like sets up.

Sometimes I learn more by simply stating to myself that I don’t understand the mechanics of what I am witnessing.  The blobs moving from Siberia to Alaska are in a sense moving against the east wind to the north of the Aleutian Low.  How does that work?  I simply don’t know.

I’m amusing myself by calling the first blob “Igor,” because the isobars are dimly related to the high pressure that ruled the pole last month, and retired down into Scandinavia a few weeks back.  After a vacation down in the Black Sea it drifted across all of Asia, and now is skirting the ring it once ruled.  Or it is doing so in my imagination, at least.  If forecasts pan out, and we get a blast of Siberian air here in New Hampshire next weekend, I’d get a certain amusement by calling it my old friend “Igor.”

Temperatures up at the Pole are back up to normal, due to the invasions of these various low pressure systems, however “normal” is swiftly getting much colder, with the freezing isotherm now well south of Svalbard. The minus-twenty isotherm remembers the ridge formed by “Newhie,” and if you squint you can even see the smallest dot of a circle made by the minus-twenty-five isotherm, to the left of the Pole.

OCTOBER 20 —DAILY DATA—  NOT MUCH HAPPENING

Our Forkasite drifted north a hair, from 82.353°N to 82.357°N at 1800z, before light north winds of less than 5 mph drifted us south to 82.318°N at 1500z today.  Longitudinally our drift continued east, slowing slightly, from 3.278°W to 3.046°W. Our total drift was 3.24 miles southeast.

Temperatures rose from -16.3°C at 1500z yesterday to -14.2°C at 2100z, before falling back briefly to -17.2°C at midnight. They were back up to -14.4°C at 0300z, and then remained basically flat, reaching the days high of -14.0°C at 0900z, and only settling back to -14.2°C by 1500z.

I’m not exactly sure where these “milder” winds are coming from, but suspect it is an Canadian continental impulse, perhaps a memory of the low “Fred,” kicking over the top of Greenland, though perhaps it is a situation where the Katabatic winds coming off the Greenland’s icecap are relatively warm, “only” minus five.

OCTOBER  20  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  

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

Still calm at our Forkasite.  “Sven” looks like a nasty gale on the Siberian coast, churning the Barents and Kara Seas.

The new double-crossing flow still looks weak and disorginized.  One weak flow ambles slowly from the Northwest passage of Canada north of Greenland and on to Scandinavia,  but the counter flow only gets halfway across from West Siberia towards Alaska before being bent away towards the Bering Strait by Wipha’s east winds.

Fine with me.  I’m not ready for cross-polar-flow and Siberia down here in New Hampshire. I say, “Siberia for Siberians,”

OCTOBER 21  —DMI MORNING MAPS—  A SNOUT OF COLD

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

I’m keeping an eye on that snout of cold high pressure, protruding north of the Bering Strait, from Siberia towards Alaska.  Though the winds are still transporting cold around and back towards Asia, the high itself may be eyeing my back yard.  There are some creatures no fence can keep out of your garden.

OCTOBER 21  —DAILY DATA—  (YAWN)

Winds have picked up to nearly 10 mph, while backing from northeast to northwest and then veering northeast again.  Our Forkasite has moved south from 82.318°N to 82.224°N, and east from 3.046°W to 2.774°W.  Total movement for the day was 7.00 miles southeast.

Temperatures popped up from -14.2°C to -9.8°C at 1800z yesterday, but then went back into a gradual decent back down to -14.6°C at 0900z today, before rebounding slightly to -12.2°C at 1500z.

I received some interesting information about Camera One today, but have to run off to work and then a meeting. Hope to write more later.

OCTOBER 21  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS— 

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

WILL COMMENT LATER.

LATER:  I hope I will be forgiven for having a sort of backyard mentality, and being over-focused on things that effect me, and a bit ho-hum about weather features that may be causing you anguish, of various sorts and degrees.  Even when looking down on Earth from above the Pole, at land masses I likely shall never live to tread (though I can see them through our cameras,) all I honestly care about are the pepper plants in my back garden.

Therefore I fear I have been over-focusing on the developing burb of high pressure expanding towards Alaska from Siberia, north of the Bering Straits, and have been completely missing other features, even though they may be the features which, in the long run, are critical to how the coming winter will be.

I am focused on spotting features that resemble the winter of 1976-77 because, to be blunt, most people under the age of forty have little clue how severe a winter can be in the eastern half of the USA.  There were a few winters in the early 1990’s that were almost as hard, and a few more recent winters have had deep snow, but in terms of unrelenting cold the winters of the late 1970’s were merciless.  I am concerned some may be naive, unprepared, and even in danger.

(One problem with getting old is that you know too much.  I don’t want to be one of those gloomy old farts who always expects the worse, or a Chicken Little who runs about clucking that the sky is falling, thinking he is Paul Revere.)

In any case, if such a winter does develop, this will be a good site to watch it happen on. The focus is likely to shift from sea-ice to how soft suburbanites handle temperatures of thirty below,  but I’ll do so with maps.

Currently the above map shows the weak Northwest-Passage-to-Scandinavia cross-polar flow is starting to blow our Forkasite east.  It is also bringing milder temperatures across the Pole, for the source region for that flow is parts of Canada that haven’t frozen up as swiftly as Siberia has.  This is largely due to the fact Baffin Bay and Hudson Bay haven’t frozen over yet, which allows the water to lose heat like a radiator.  Siberia has no such radiators, unless you include the Arctic Ocean itself.  The Laptev Sea, which was acting like a radiator a fortnight ago, has already lost so much heat that its surface water is below zero Clesius.  It only remains unfrozen because it is salt, and yet you can see (in the above map) it still warms the air above it.  It is a radiator filled with salt water chilled to -0.8.  It might not be a radiator you’d warm your hands on, but it does warm a pocket of air to less than -5, even as the air around it chills towards -10.

This explains, perhaps, why the low I call “Flect” hasn’t weakened, though cut off from sources of warm, moist air.  It is sitting atop the Laptev Sea.  You might not call seawater at -0.8 “warm,” but it is warmer than air over the Snow of Siberia, and warmer than air over the surrounding ice pack. The fact of the matter is that “Flect” may well be a warm-core storm, like a hurricane.  It has stalled over its -0.8 source of “heat,” (and you can hardly blame it,) but now it is forecast to drift north to become king of the hill, atop the Pole.

South of Iceland you can see a low that models suggest will eventually ride up the arctic coast to the Laptev Sea, and then copy Flect, and be king of the hill. Perhaps I should dub this one “Next One,” but I’m going to reverse words, and call it “Swan-necks.”  (Get it?)

This is an interesting pattern. Did a pattern like this develop in October, 1976?  I lack both the time and resources to learn. However checking old maps for this pattern is one place where I would look, if I was paid to have this fun.

However I did learn (via Joe Bastardi’s WeatherBELL blog,) that in October 1976 a weak El Nino was following a period of La Nina dominated South Pacific.  We are seeing the same thing now…..which keeps me suspicious.

To return to our Forkasite, and the reason for the mild air, I return to the fact Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay and Davis Strait haven’t frozen over, and thus are “radiators of heat,” and this “heat” is flooding north and around the north side of Greenland, bringing “balmy” minus five air towards the Pole, and causing the Pole’s temperatures to spike above normal.

This did not happen in 1976, and is an indication this winter will be utterly different, (and winters tend to be unique, just as every snowflake and every fingerprint is unique.) However “different” doesn’t automatically mean “warmer.”  “Different” can also mean “colder.”

However my eyes are drawn back to that blurb of high pressure expanding from Siberia towards Alaska, north of Bering Strait.  That is too much like 1976 to be ignored.

Unfortunately I don’t have the time to study further.  If I did have the time, I’d study the maps I’ll end the post with, of current snow-cover, current temperatures, and current winds. I’ll let you do the work for me, and if you see anything I should know about, I’ll be most grateful to hear from you.

I myself tend to hope for the best while preparing for the worst.  My old bones ache from stacking wood, because, even though I don’t heat with wood any more, I am concerned propane prices may soar this winter, if several million people south of here have to turn their heat up.  If prices get too high, I simply can’t afford propane, and will have to turn the burners off and light the old wood-stoves up.  (My hope is that this won’t happen, and we can laugh about my needless worry, by next March.)

I’ll mention my worst-of-all-case-scenario, only as a remote possibility.

The waters off the east coast of the USA are warmer than normal.  If colder than normal air comes south, the clash could generate some east-coast super-storms.  The media will not help a soul, by blaming Global Warming.  If they wanted to be helpful they could alert people and prepare people, and one way to do this would be to mention a super-storm, (or actually series of four storms,) which occurred nearly three hundred years ago, back in 1717.  Around here, after that storm, snow was at eye-level, in flat places.  The drifts went over two-story houses. Flocks of sheep vanished, and when the snow melted in March some sheep were alive, but had only lived by grazing all the wool from the dead sheep’s backs. (Google “Great Snow of 1717”.)

Likely I’m wrong, but my eldest daughter will be having her first baby this Thanksgiving.  Should I ignore the fact this winter might set record’s? Or should I prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best?

I’m too busy stacking wood to properly study the following maps:  (click to enlarge)

CURRENT SNOW COVER

Oct 21 cursnow  

CURRENT ARCTIC TEMPERATURES (With thanks to Dr. Ryan Maue and WeatherBELL.)

Oct 21 gfs_t2m_arctic_1  

CURRENT ARCTIC WINDS  (With thanks to Dr. Ryan Maue and WeatherBELL.)

Oct 21 gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1

CAMERA ONE WAS NEVER RETRIEVED, AND STILL REPORTS!

I would like to thank the blogger Dirk-Lütjen Blaas for alerting me to the fact we still have a North Pole Camera.  Camera One is not the camera that showed “Lake North Pole,” but instead is the camera that the polar bear knocked over, back in August.  It continued to take pictures, but only a most dedicated observer (like me) would pay it much mind, because a fall of snow buried the lens, and all we could observe from then on was close-ups of how snow behaves in thaw, and during subsequent re-freezes.

When the evil pirates arrived to rob us of our cameras, and to deprive us Truth-seekers of our view of the arctic ice, they found Camera 2, however Camera 1 hid under a light fall of snow.  They couldn’t find it.

However Camera 1 continued to send us pictures of life under snow, even into October: (click to enlarge, and, because “up” is to your right, also tilt your head at a ninety-degree angle.)

NP Oct 3 npeo_cam1_20130929135726

Please look at the comments, to see how Dirk-Lütjen Blaas learned Camera 1 was left behind. You will see he learned that, if you send a polite email to scientists up north, you get a polite response.

I really have to tip my hat to the guys who study arctic ice.  We bloggers are embroiled in a furious war, and increasingly it is obvious the war is purely political, and has nothing to do with the science of the actual ice. But those guys up there are all about science.

I confess I’ve been angry because they took away our view.  I likely have said a thing or two I should be embarrassed about, but it is only because they gave such wonderful views in the past, and I was sad to have such views taken away.

Last year they were in no hurry to pick up the cameras, and in fact the cameras had drifted hundreds of miles further south, before they picked them up.  We were still getting pictures at this date, in October 2012.  A lot of the pictures were of fog, as the cameras were much farther south in Fram Strait.  However right at the end the view cleared, and the final pictures, just before pirates in an icebreaker picked up the cameras, were beautiful examples of ice starting to break up, but also refreezing.  Considering they could let the cameras take pictures up until October 25 last year, why were they in such a hurry this year?

Before you jump to your conclusion, you should check out this neat picture from near the end, last year:  The ocean is refreezing, and less open water is visible, but check out the dents in the snow:  (Click to enlarge)

NP Last year bear tracks oct npeo_cam2_20121015124807

Those dents in the snow are polar bear tracks.  Before we complain about them picking up cameras too early or too late, perhaps we should reflect upon what it is like working anywhere near a 1500 pound bear.

Polar Bears hunt by using stealth. They only attack humans when they are hungry, and the humans they attack are often unaware a bear was even near. Could you even manage to dial “911” on your cellphone? And what earthly good would it do?

Those guys have guts.

OCTOBER 22  —MORNING DMI MAPS—

DMI Oc 22 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 22 temp_latest.big

OCTOBER 22  —DAILY DATA—  A SUDDEN THUMP OF COLD

Our Forkasite chugged steadily south, from 82.224°N to 82.098°N, in winds that picked up to near 18 mph from the northwest.  We also moved east until the winds, even while slacking off to 9 mph, veered to the northeast, which shunted us west at the end. Eastward motion was from 2.774°W to 2.251°W at 1200z today, before moving west to 2.263°W at 1500z. Total movement was 9.99 miles. (I could call it ten miles, but that would be sloppy.)

It has occurred to me that we may be moving south, but so is the edge of the ice.  Some days the edge of the ice moves further south faster than we do.  Even when we make it to Fram Strait, by then the edge of the ice will be far south of there.

For most of the day our Forkasite basked in above-average temperatures.  You could call it a heat wave, in a sunless world, where “normal” is fifteen below.  Temperatures bounced up from -12.2°C to -9.0°C at 1800z yesterday, and then slowly rose to the day’s high of -8.4°C at 0300z. They still were at -8.5°C at 0900z, but then began a precipitous fall to -18.7°C at 1500z.  Likely this had something to do with the wind shift from northwest to northeast.

SOMETHING STINKS IN DENMARK.  NO AFTERNOON DMI MAPS

I will substitute WeatgerBELL’s GFS  temperature and pressure maps, put together by Dr. Ryan Maue. (The site has a “trial period,” where you can view the excellent maps for free.) (Click to enlarge.)

WB Oct 21 gfs_t2m_arctic_1 WN Oct 22 gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1

The low I call “Flect” is moving north towards the Pole, and will create a sort of zonal pattern which I imagine will allow very cold temperatures to concentrate at the Pole.  However of greater interest to me is the Snout Of Igor, which is wrapping around Flect on the Bering Strait side.

The snout creates a highly convoluted cross-polar-flow.  Check out how cold eastern Siberia is, and how Fletch is swinging that air out over the Arctic Sea, however the snout of Igor whips some of it around and back towards Alaska, however the small unnamed low over the Northwest Passage re-curves some of that east wind south, and towards me.

(As an aside, it should be noted a duo of Typhoons are charging north past Japan to enter this fray.)

In conclusion, it looks like the mild spell over the Pole may end, as Fletch creates a whirlpool of zonal and cold-generating flow.  However, to the Bering Strait side of that flow a sort of cross-polar flow may be developing, due to the Snout.

One might even dare to conclude some Siberian air might make its way down to the USA. The problem with this conclusion is that cold has already hit the west of the USA.  This will be the subject of my next update to this post.

SOME DISTURBING NEWS FROM OUT WEST

A close friend has just returned from an amazing adventure with his wife in a tiny trailor, from New Hampshire all the way to Idaho and back. (He was sensible where I was not, and he gets to retire at age sixty.)  He was not seeking adventure, but happened to run into the early October snows that buried parts of the Dakotas under four feet of snow.

Being much more sensible than I, he was well aware blizzards don’t hit in early October out there.  However this particular blizzard wasn’t sensible, and hit when it is statistically impossible. Therefore my sensible friend found himself fishtailing while driving a tiny tailor, even while driving 35 mph on a western Interstate Highway where people usually think nothing of driving 80 mph, and hit 90 mph to pass slower cars. (He only entered the interstate after the interstate, (I-80,) reopened after being shut down for nearly a day.)

He did fine.  I am always amazed sensible people can handle such situations. I can handle situations that are not sensible, for I am not sensible. However I tend to assume sensible people are out of their natural environment, when thrown into situations which are not sensible, and will flop about like fish out of water.  However sensible people don’t flop.

As we discussed the situation he had witnessed out west two topics bothered me.

The first was that the blizzard did not have arctic origins, that we could see.  To have air so out of season so far south you would assume some bizarre jet stream was transplanting the North Pole to South Dakota.  Nope.  The record-setting cold was home-grown.

The second was that entire herds of cattle died.  I hadn’t heard about this in the news, but apparently big-time farmers, (and farms are enormous out there,) got caught with cows still in summer pastures, and the cows got caught with summer fur in place, or at least with winter fur not grown in. Oddly, the final straw was apparently not the blizzard, but a cold rain before and after the blizzard, The cows did not freeze, but rather died of hypothermia. I am not sure of the numbers, but it must be thousands. I have heard it may be as many as 100,000.

The idiots in Washington will see this calamity in terms of “the price of hamburger at supermarkets.”   As a simple farmer, I see it in more simple terms.

In order to get through the winter, we need protein, (meat,) and whole grain carbohydrates (wheat, rice and corn.)  To avoid scurvy, it helps to have some vegetables like winter squashes and cabbages and apples and pickles and rose-hips for rose-hip-tea put aside, as well.

However that storm in early October put a bit of a dent in our national larder.  It is as if a glutton visited the USA and ate a hundred thousand cows.

This means nothing to fat cats in Washington, who are willing to pay a higher price for choice cuts of beef.  However, to the guy working flipping burgers at a fast-food joint, it means a lot when burgers get too expensive.  Customers stop coming, his hours are reduced, and his boss won’t give him stale burgers for free any more, because the boss is taking them home to feed his own family.

This is not a good way to start a winter that may be a bad one.  I was thinking I should sell my goats, but now I am thinking perhaps I should breed them. If the price of protein soars by spring, baby goats will abruptly be a welcome addition to the diet of people who currently look down their noses at eating goat.

I only mention this so you will understand weather maps are not a mere hobby to me.  They are not as unimportant, like the World Series and athletes who make millions. The maps have to do with whether we eat or go hungry.

Here in America too many people care more for athletes and movie stars and political correctness than food.  While I would never wish famine on anyone, a little touch of hunger might be good for us.  It might be good for the rest of the world as well.  They might stop looking to America for the wrong reasons.

People think America is a cornucopia, but we are merely a bread basket.  And breadbaskets do have bottoms. Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of Africa, but now knows hunger. America could suffer the same fate.

In any case, this winter won’t even start until the solstice, in late December, yet already thousands of cows are dead. And the cold that killed them didn’t come from the Arctic. It was home grown. I find this odd, and it makes me nervous.

I am more of a grasshopper than an ant, but this year might find me a grasshopper who is stocking up his larder for a long, hard winter.

OCTOBER 23 —UPDATED DMI MAPS— YESTERDAY AFTERNOON’S AND THIS MORNING’S

DMI Oct 22B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 22B temp_latest.bigDMI Oct 23 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 23 temp_latest.big

Well, the link has been established.  You can follow the 1018 isobar off the above map onto the map below, and see it goes from Siberia to the Gulf of Mexico.  Now we only have to watch to see how much cold air is delivered.  Hopefully (if you like warmth) the link gets broken quickly.  In 1976 the link got established in October and we stayed stuck in it until February, (click maps to enlarge)

Snout Of Igor satsfc (3)

The high pressure poking down from the Yukon in the upper left of the above map is “The Snout Of Igor.”

OCTOBER 23   —DAILY DATA—  CROSSING 82 NORTH LATITUDE

Our Forkasite moved steadily south and east in a light northwest wind, moving from 82.098°N to 82.001°N , and from 2.263°W to 2.017°W. This represented a distance of 7.13 miles.

Temperatures remained cold, dropping from -18.7°C at 1500z yesterday to -20.6°C at 2100z, and then rising to the dayless day’s high  of -17.3°C at 0300z this morning, and then falling back to -19.0°C, and bouncing up to -17.6°C at 1500z.

Even at these temperatures the ice is tortured to a degree where there are plenty of leads of open water formed, which I think explains the variations of temperature.  Although most of the Arctic Ocean is hidden by the “black hole” of darkness, you can still watch the sea ice form off the east coast of Greenland, (when the weather is clear,) via the satellite view at http://www.arctic.io/observations/ . It is not a steady creep of ice away from the coast, but rather looks like someone swirled white paint in with blue paint.  The sea is constantly moving the ice as it forms, in a manner that cannot be described and should be seen.

OCTOBER 23  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  IGOR’S COLD SNOUT

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

As Flect advances towards the pole, the temperature map shows the cold air bulging off the coast of west Siberia, southeast of Wrangle Island. This is incredibly different from the summer, when wind from the hinterland was mild and spiked arctic temperatures upwards. Now it is bitter cold, and is transported along a long curving fetch right around the Pole, except for a branch down into Canada, (and onwards towards me.) I suspect the DMI graph will now crash, as the Pole gets colder.  The only visable hope of warming is carried by “Swannecks” as it approaches Scandinavia.

The high pressure nosing north of Bering Strait  is made up of bitter cold air, and henseforth will be refered to as “The Snout of Igor.”  (I like the sound of that; it fits in with the Halloween Spirit, as days darken.)

OCTOBER 24   —DMI MORNING MAPS— TRAIN OF LOWS

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

Not much change overnight, except perhaps the storm track is clearer.  The storm track is repressed south of Iceland, moving straight across the Atlantic and over Great Britain, and then up through Scandinavia to the Siberian coast, and then to the Pole.  Atlantic air is not being carried north at the surface, but rather aloft in occlusions.  Some milder air is  being carried north from  the Mediterranean to eastern Europe, but then is steered west and only enters the arctic after a long trajectory over land,  which cools it.  Meanwhile there is a steady cross-polar flow from Siberia to Alaska, which ought freeze up the Alaskan and Canadian arctic coast fairly swiftly.

The question now becomes: Is this the pattern for the winter?  Or is it a brief transitional pattern?

LAPTEV SEA FROZEN OVER

The Navy map below shows that the Laptev Sea, which was the last open water on the central Siberian Coast, is now icing over.  No water is open, and the water that was open yesterday is now “30%” ice-covered.  That means 70% is open water, and explains the island of warmth that shows on the above DMI temperature map, however complete freeze-up should come swiftly, as the surface water temperature is down around -1.5 C.

As soon as it freezes over it means the water beneath does not cool as swiftly, however the air above can radiate heat from the soon-white surface as the ice becomes snow covered,  and also can settle more as the “warm” water isn’t creating thermals.  Air that had a hard time chilling lower than five below abruptly can chill to twenty or thirty below.

It is one more piece falling into place;  all part of winter’s plot to freeze our socks off.

Navy extent map Oct 24 arcticicennowcast (1)

TODAY’S MAP IS LIKE 1976

When I first saw this sort of map back in 1976 it fooled me.  One expects low pressure systems to move east, and so (back in 1976)  I would have expected that little low over the southwest corner of Yukon, in the upper left of the map, to travel east across the top of the prairie provinces to Hudson Bay, pushing a warm-front ahead of it and bringing Chinook winds over the Rockies to warm Canada and end New England’s cold flow.

What happened instead was that little low headed southeast, often even south-south east, hardly pushing its warm-front  east at all, and turning the warm-front into a cold-front to its rear.

Some lows run down the west side of arctic high pressure like this and are called “Alberta Clippers,” but they usually run down to the Great Lakes.  In 1976 they plunged right down to Texas.  In fact if you follow the warm front on the current map from Yukon to where it becomes a stationary front down in Texas, you pretty much can see the path taken by the most depressed storms in 1976. (Click to enlarge)Like 1976 satsfc (3)

The blob of high pressure sliding down the east side of of that front is arctic high pressure.  Consider it a blob from the Snout of Igor,  or, if that is too gross for you, consider something else. In any case, one tends to think that after the high passes you will get onto the warm side, winds will become south, and the cold wave will be over.  However in 1976 blob followed blob, each seperated from the next by a fairly dry clipper like storm  which headed down the spine of the Rockies.

As I recall, when the pattern began in October 1976 the storms didn’t clip so far south,  but up in New England the winds seemed to be stuck in the northwest.  They might back a little to the west as a clipper zipped by, but they never seemed to veer to the northeast, and the storms would be well out to sea before they formed nor’easters. At best the winds would veer slightly to the north, and the bitter winds would increase from the north.

We did get a few storms that dug in and became nor’easters close to the Atlantic seaboard of the USA, however they were largely to our south.  The main feature of the bitter winter of 1976 up in New England was the enduring northwest wind, that simply seemed to get colder and colder with each passing impulse.  The snow we did get never melted, the harbor froze, and it reached 20 below right on the wharf, by the “warm” sea.  You could walk out to islands on Casco Bay.

And the maps always seemed to look like today’s.

OCTOBER 24 —DAILY DATA—  

Moved south from 82.001°N to 81.873°N and east from 2.017°W to 1.405°W.  Steady winds from northwest, 10-15 mph.  Total movement 10.69 miles south-southeast.

Temperatures yo-yoed, fairly steady but slightly milder, beginning at -17.6°C at 1500z yesterday and concluding at -15.5°C at 1500z today. Low was -18.0°C at 1800z yesterday and high was -14.2°C at 1200z today.

OCTOBER 25  —YESTERDAY’S AFTERNOON AND TODAY’S MORNING MAPS—

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

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

Low on Pole, “Flect,” weakening, but reinforcements coming as “Swannecks” kicked along Siberian coast.  Cross-polar-flow established, and another blob from “Snout of Igor” shows as minus-fifteen-isotherm on east Siberian coast towards Wrangle Island.  Flow will last a couple days at least.

Atlantic Pattern seems established. Low over Iceland is weak occluson left behind by Swannecks, and is boundry between Atlantic and Arctic. Storm track is off map to south. 991 mb low hitting England, but bigger 973 mb low south of Greenland will cross towards England, peaking at 950 mb on its way.

Best chance to cut cross-polar flow likely to come from Pacific.  Typhoons east of Japan likely to cross Pacific well to south, but wobbling low over Aleutians, currently at 961 mb, may eventually kick something north through Bering Strait to roll along north coast of Alaska, and that would interupt the flow. But that is in five days or so.

In the mean time some first class arctic cold is crossing and pouring down into North America.  Expect more lake-effect snows.

OCTOBER 25  —DAILY DATA— 

Our Forkasite continued south and east, from 81.873°N and 81.782°N and from 1.405°W to 1.063°W.  We moved 7.16 miles to the southeast. Winds were northwest, gradually slackening from roughly 11 mph to less than 5 mph.

Temperatures began at -15.5°C at 1500z yesterday and steadily sank to -20.6°C at 1200z today, before rebounding slightly to -19.1°C at 1500z.

OCTOBER 24  —EVENING DMI MAPS— 

DMI Oct 25N pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 25B temp_latest.big

TWILIGHT ON THE CHUKCHI SEA (75 DEGREES NORTH)

Obuoy 7 Oct 25 webcam

OCTOBER 26  —MORNING DMI MAPS—

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

The transpolar-flow continues across from Siberia to Alaska and Canada, however low pressure extending up through the Bering Strait will likely break the flow by Monday.  Too late, for by then a considerable amount of cold air will have created a big high over Canada, which is only going to get colder and send shots south my way.

It looks like the Pole will be somewhat drained, with cold air exiting down through Hudson Bay, and likely starting the freeze of that water (usually frozen by Christmas,) and also some very cold minus-twenty-five air pulled south by “Swannecks” over the unfrozen parts of the Kara Sea.

I’m unsure what the new pattern will be.  There will be a new entrance region over the Bering Strait, which may bring a less-cold inflow, but beyond that everything looks like confusion for a while.  I don’t trust the models much, when there are too many factors to add to the chaos.

Simple chaos is quite hard enough.

OCTOBER 26  —-DAILY DATA—  CALMER AND COLDER

Progress towards Fram Strait slowed, as winds died to near calm. We moved south from 81.782°N to 81.711°N, and east from 1.063°W to 0.944°W at 0600z today, and then jogged back west to  0.963°W at 1200z, before resuming the eastward motion to 0.948°W at 1500z.

The movement of the ice, when winds become light and variable, fascinates me.  In some ways I think the momentum of the ice, when winds have blown it one direction for days and the fetch is hundreds of miles, must be huge, and I expect the ice to continue in whatever direction it was moving, although more and more slowly. Any variation from this expectation fills me with curiosity, What is up?

In any case, we moved 5.06 miles nearly due south today.  I’m fairly certain the ice still must be big cakes that jostle each other, and leads still must open and expose seawater from time to time, but the satellite data now reports our Forkasite is now in an area where ice is generally 6-7 feet thick.

Temperatures began at -19.1°C at 1500z, but bounced up to -16.6°C three hours later, staying at that plateau for a while, reaching the day’s high at -16.3°C at midnight, and still at -16.4°C at 0300z, but then the temperatures began falling more steeply, finally crashing down to -24.0°C at 1500z, which represents the coldest we’ve seen.

This temperature, roughly -11 Fahrenheit, is something I’ve experienced this far south.  However it is something to write home about.  The vapor from your breath freezes on your mustache.  The oil in your car becomes like tar, and the engine turns over complaining of cruelty. When it comes south mankind is tested.

OCTOBER 26  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  SURPRISE!

This far north the various globs and blobs of high and low pressure tend to defy the logic we of lower latitudes write for them.  At my latitude things move from west to east, and down south of Florida things move from east to west.  Our thinking becomes prejudiced, and the way things move at the Pole baffle.  This is one of those days.

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

What surprises me in the above maps is that the cross-polar-flow is stronger, rather than weaker.  The weakening low “Flect” that was over the Pole has not reached out to shake hands with the Aleutian low, severing the 1016 mb isobar extending from Siberia to Arctic Canada and Alaska. Rather the 1020 mb isobar now extends across the Arctic Sea, albeit briefly.  None of the computer models I’ve looked at have changed their mind; they have just delyed things a little.

However it is too late, in a sense. The damage has been done.  Not only has an extra blob of cold been delived to lands to my north, but also the models have (perhaps) shown they are incapable of catching when this might happen.  And, in the case of a hard winter, it might happen thirty times.

On the positive side, it does allow me to pen purple prose about the “Snout of Igor.” I have a boyish side which delights in anything gross, (up to a point,) and it is sort of fun to talks about cold globs coming from the snout of Igor.  And you can actually see the globs in the temperature map, The minus fifteen isotherm form a repulsive, blob-like, phlegm-like strand straight across from East-Siberia to the Canadian Arctic Islands, and it is even a sort of gross blue-green color.  (If it isn’t obvious to you I run a Childcare on my farm, and spend more time than I imagined I’d ever spend, when I was young, as an old man dealing with small noses,  then you haven’t been visiting this site long.)

To depart from gross imagery, this cold stream will hurry the freeze-up of the coast of arctic Alaska and Canada, which has been behind schedule. That in turn lessens the protection we-folk-south-of-there have between us and Igor’s snout.  One by one the lakes in Canada are freezing over. Rather than arctic air being moderated by its passage over warm waters, it passes over ice and actually gets colder, especially as the sunshine is so much less.  Already the days are as short and dark as they are in late February.  The difference is that in February the lakes and bays and arctic-coastal waters to my north are frozen.  Now those waters are unfrozen or just skimmed with thin ice.  The difference this makes is huge.  In October we still have hardy plants, like kale, Brussels sprouts, parsnips and Swiss chard in our garden.  In February the garden is a white stretch of snow, and on a sunny day you can get some sap from a Sugar Maple, if you are lucky.

(Between October and February are a dark time for all northerners. I have a feeling my future posts will be more concerned with my own survival than whether the ice in the arctic survives.)

In the mean time, I will note the coldest air on the map is not part of the cross-polar-flow’s minus-fifteen isotherm,  but rather part of a blob of minus-twenty-five approaching our Forkasite from the northwest.  At the very center of that is a dot of minus-thirty.

Minus thirty Celsius amounts to -22 Fahrenheit, which I have only experienced thrice in my life.  The coldest I’ve experienced is -27 Fahrenheit, and that was nasty.  The shingle-nails poking through the roof of the attic of our old house were white with frost, and I moved my children from their bedrooms to the floor of the living room, by a stove I made sure to restock twice before dawn.  (The only good thing about -27 is that there is no problem with the “draw” of a stove.  Smoke goes up the chimney like a rocket, and that makes your stove eat wood like a blast furnace, which explains why I had to restock the stove twice, when it usually burns until dawn.)

Most winters are not so bad, however I hope you will forgive me if at times I seem a little gun-shy.  You only need to go through such a winter one time to become more cautious than people who have never experienced such a winter are.

ANOTHER PROMOTION OF O-BUOY SEVEN’S SPLENDID FILM

I urge all who are remotely interested in arctic sea ice to watch the sea freeze in the final fifty seconds of this film.  Scroll down to the bottom of the picture, and slide the thing-a-ma-gig to the ten minute mark on the film,  and it will only use fifty seconds of your life.

http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#buoy7/movie

I’d like to thank the unknown person who updated the images in the movie up to October 25.  I’m sure it was a bother to edit out all the increasing images of arctic night, to keep the movie from boring with blackness.  You made the movie better, and I am grateful.  Hopefully this bit of promotion on an obscure blog does some good for you and your life.

Here is the picture I grabbed from O-buoy 7 today, after the end of that film.

Obouy 7 Oct 26 webcam

After I grabbed that image I noticed it has the same cloud as yesterday’s image.  In other words, you can’t trust the clock in the upper right which states, “Next update in 07:57…7:56…7:55…” because they have shut the thing down.  (Perhaps the gizmo is solar powered, and they have to wait for the sun to rise in February.)

However the photograph is a beauty.  To me it looks all the world like a sea of water, even though it is all snow and ice.  However if you look into the far distance in the upper right you can see a patch of flat ice.  That is where a patch of open water, without any icebergs, froze over.

If you were crossing this landscape on skis, dragging a sled, where would you stop to drill a core down to measure the thichness of the ice?  Where the ice was jumbled and thick?  Or a nice flat place like the upper right, where ice was thinnest?

Not that you would be fool enough to cross such a friged landscape on skis.  Even an old anachronism like me would chose a ski-mobile with a cap heated to seventy.  (It is around minus fifteen there, right now.)

However a tough old guy did cross a landscape such as this, two springs ago, taking core-samples to show the ice was thinner and Global Warming was shrinking the ice.  The problem was, he only took cores in the flat places.  The flat places were the lowest places. If 9/10th of an iceberg is under water, the flat places are the places with the least ice under water. If he’d clambered up a pressure ridge ten feet tall, his core-sample would have to drive down ten feet just to reach the water level, and another ninety feet to reach the bottom of the ice.

That is a lot of work.  I don’t blame him for choosing the flat places.  However the data he gathered is not the full picture.

A SOUTHERN VIEW OF CROSS-POLAR-FLOW;  SIMPLICITY MADE HARD

What is happening is that arctic air is getting driven across the Aleutian side of the Pole and continueing on to Texas.  This drive keeps Pacific air from coming east over the Rockies, and generating lovable Chinook warmth on the plains of Canada and USA.

However pretend you didn’t know that.  Instead, using only the frames of the following maps, attempt to make sense of that the heck is happening down south:

Oct 26 1022z Map  (sorry….some glitch occurred and the wrong map keeps appearing)  So much for the observation I was going to make.  I’ll have to use the map below by itself.

Oct 27 0127z MapA example 2 satsfc (3)

(Click to enlarge)  If you look back to the map I pasted up on October 24 the boundary between pacific air and arctic air shows clearly, running as a front from The southwest corner of Yukon to Texas.  The same boundary still exists, though less obvious because someone decided to stop marking the original front, except for a brief line of blue atop Cuba. You can see the clouds running down from Bermuda to Cuba, west across the Gulf of Mexico, and faintly back north up the Rockies, however the front has been relegated to the status of a “ghost front,” and more attention is paid to the weak cold fronts separating the various blobs of arctic air the Snout of Igor has sent across the pole and down our way.  Each blob has its own high pressure area, and I suppose each is modified and develops a character all its own, as to the fronts seperating the blobs.  However they are all part of the same stream coming from the north, hidden from the eyes of those who view weather through such maps.

(As a person who once viewed my local weather from such a perspective, I tended to see things in terms of a big wheel located over Newfoundland, and the blobs as petals of a flower rotating around that wheel.  “Petals” is far more poetic than “blobs.”)

CHINOOK COUNTERATTACK

In the above map you can see a warm front struggling to push into the Dakotas, hanging down from a low up in Saskatchewan. A cold front extends from the low up towards Alaska. The low will have a battle pushing east, as will the warm front, however if the pattern was truly arctic it would make no headway at all,  and would simply ripple down the front.  A truly arctic pattern for the eastern USA has a deep trough in the east, and the jet stream steers storms south. A trough in the west and ridge in the east makes storms slide east with no problem whatsoever, and can bring Pacific air to New Hampshire in January.  I hated such patterns when I was a boy and wanted snow to cancel school, however now I have decided they are not all that bad.

So the question one always is asking is whether the pattern will be zonal, or will there be a trough in the east, or a trough in the west.  Currently the trough is in the east, so the question becomes whether the trough will “lift out,” or whether we are stuck in a cold pattern.  Looking only at the map of the USA, we see Sunday morning’s map showing:

Test

You can see that warm front has only progressed halfway across the Dakotas, while the cold front is pushing Pacific air back to the Rockies with ease.  A new and quite large blob of arctic air is swelling south, along with a 1040 mb high over Alaska.  The Chinook looks like it is going to lose this battle.

The air over the USA is largely arctic, though moderated and humidified to various degrees.  It is all blobs from Igor.

OCTOBER 27  —MORNING DMI MAPS—

DMI Oct 27 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 27 temp_latest.big

OCT 27  —DAILY DATA—

Our Forkasite moved south from 81.711°N to 81.653°N.  Longitudinally it switched direction, moving east from 0.948°W to 0.903°W aqt 0300z, before being blown back west by light northeast winds and winding up the day farther west than it began, at 0.998°W.  Wind had been light and variable all day, even with a southerly component, but had picked up slightly to nearly 7 mph from the northeast by the end. Total movement was only 4.06 miles, nearly due south.

Temperatures were the coldest we’ve seen all autumn, starting at  -24.0°C at 1500z and sinking steadily down to  -27.2°C at 0600z, before rebounding to -25.1°C at 1200z and then settling back to -25.8°C at 1500z.  -27.2°C is now the new low to beat. It is -17 Fahrenheit, and a temperature where diesel fuel stars jelling up even when it has additives.

OCTOBER 28  —MORNING DMI MAPS— IS ARCTIC ICE TRIVIAL?

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

My wife had a baby-shower for my eldest daughter this weekend, and I figured this meant the women would all do women stuff, and leave me alone to attend to really important stuff, like ice at the North Pole.  My wife begged to differ.  She said a daughter having a baby was important, and ice in some far away place nobody lives is sheer trivia.

I said that if my daughter was having a baby I’d be the first person freaking out and running in circles, but she was not having the baby yet, and I wasn’t going to freak out and run in circles for a bunch of women making a fuss before it was time to make a fuss.  This point seems quite sensible to me, but it sure didn’t win me any points.  In fact it convinced my wife I am cruel and heartless,  and so on and so forth, and before I knew it I was running in circles just to prove I’m not such a bad guy.  As a result, this blog suffered a lack of attention.

I apologize.  Some maps vanished due to some strange glitches that developed. For example, even though I had saved a 0000z map, when I went to paste it the 1200z map appeared.  Even though I could make the 0000z appear on my computer screen it refused to appear on this blog.  This kind of glitch drives me nuts, but considering I was sneaking to the computer, and facing the risk of getting glared at for not making ornamental scarecrows for the yard, I didn’t have time to rave and pull my hair out much.

I wound up having to cut a lot of corn stalks.  (I don’t see what is so bad about having fence posts look like fence posts, but for some reason beyond masculine comprehension they all needed to have a bunch of corn stalks attached.)  This actually is harder than it sounds, and with my muscles aching I did a bit of muttering about people who think ice at the North Pole is trivia, while corn stalks at fence posts is vitally important.

If I’m going to work out in the cold like that I need a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs, but the women folk were cooking all this dainty stuff that they eat at baby showers, and all I got for breakfast was samples and ordered out of the kitchen. I think it was a macaroon my daughter tested out on me that turned me as green as my choir robe, at church.  My wife was so busy she skipped church, which likely means she’s in trouble with the Lord and I’m not; usually it is the other way around, and I was going to mention this to my wife, but something about the look in her eye had me bite my tongue.

At long last the baby-shower began in the afternoon, and the women folk took over the farm house as we men slouched about outside in a blast of polar winds, as yet another front whipped through from the northwest.  To keep the men entertained my wife had some sort of cooking contest arranged, with prizes for the best chili and ribs, and I was ordered to have a nice warm fire out in the pasture.  I did as I was told, hauling out a propane fueled hot-oil-fryer and cooking potato chips and onion rings and shrimp, and grilling some ribs, but after a while I noticed few guys were joining me.  Most were over by the farm house, huddled out of the wind. So I didn’t get to try any of their ribs, and they missed the shrimp.  Only the tough old geezers like me, and the little-whippersnappers who are so hot-blooded they never get cold, came out to tailgate.

(I’m pretty glad I wasn’t over by the farm house, because I heard the ladies got tired of eating dainty stuff and came out for some healthy ribs, but the young fellows had pretty much scoffed them all down.)

Anyway, I didn’t get back to my real home, (the farm is our place of business, and actually owned by my brother,) until it was pitch dark. A glance at the clock showed me I had an hour before bed, and a glance at the weather maps told me I didn’t have a clue what was going on.

If you don’t stay on top of the weather, you can lose touch with amazing speed.  All I can say is the cross-polar-flow I was watching has been snapped, the last big cold-glob-from-the-Snout-of-Igor is exiting stage right, and our Forkasite looks very cold and calm.

OCTOBER 28  —DAILY DATA—  

In a steady but light wind of 5-10 mph, our Forkasite drifted steadily southwest, south from 81.653°N to 81.555°N, and west from 0.998°W to 1.497°W, for a total distance of 8.47 miles.

Temperatures remained very cold, though we set no new record lows for the autumn.  They rose from -25.8°C to the day’s high of -23.2°C at 0300z, and then fell again back to -25.5°C at 1500z.  Brrr.

SNOUT OF IGOR  –SOURCE REGION—  SIBERIAN SNOW-COVER

The early snows across Siberia, and indeed right down to northern China, are impressive and above normal.  It amounts to a huge area of pure white, generating cold and high pressure.  Unless some surge of warmth melts it away, it will be a significant factor over the next six months.

It also will likely make a mess of computer models over the next few weeks, unless the models are flexible enough to adjust for variations in snow cover.  I fear most models have enough on their plate, adjusting for other variables, to focus much on snow-cover in Siberia.  If they do, they likely use a “norm,” and adjust the model to an “average increase.”  This year’s is an increase which is outside the “norm,” and therefore any model built upon such a “norm” will be thrown all out of whack, as this years “abnorm” is like a huge butterfly flapping its wings in a chaotic system.

Just look at the size of the Eurasian snow-cover on the map below.  It is bigger than the lower 48 states of the USA.  It is a giant area of radiational cooling, every long arctic night, generating high pressure of bitter cold.  If it spills south, look out, China.  But if it spills north and crosses the Pole, look out North America.

The brief bit of cross-polar flow we just experienced was like a warning shot across our bow.  It is just a taste of what the arctic could do, if it declares war on North America, this winter.  (Click map below to enlarge)

Igor Snout Sourse Oct 28 ims2013301 (1)

 

SNOUT OF IGOR  –FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE BEING BREACHED—

The best defense against arctic air is a body of water.  If you don’t believe me, just look at the winter temperatures here in New Hampshire, as opposed to southern France.  Nashua, New Hampshire is further south than Marseilles, France, but in January you won’t find many in Nashua heading for the beach, with temperatures this side of the Atlantic down around minus ten Celsius. The primary difference is that body of water called the Atlantic.

Here in New Hampshire we also have our bodies of water protecting us.  To our west we have the Great lakes, which can remain open in warmer winters, and to our north we have Hudson Bay, which usually remains open at least until Christmas, and to our Northeast we have the same Atlantic that warms France. It takes a particularly sneaky blast of arctic cold to attack from the northwest to thread between the Great Lakes and Hudson Bay and give us immoderate arctic air.  However, for that matter, a sneak attack from just the right angle can thread the needle from the northeast, and give the beaches of Marseilles snow as well.

However the problem with our defences, here in New Hampshire, is that they tend to freeze over. Marseilles doesn’t have the problem with the Atlantic or the Mediterranean that we have with Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes.  A bitter winter can freeze Hudson Bay over before Christmas, and the Great Lakes start freezing over, one by one, with the shallow eastern ones first, not long after,  until we are practically defenseless.

However this early, while it is still October, we still have the coast of the Arctic Sea open, north of Alaska and Canada, to moderate arctic air….until…well, it is starting.

The snout of Igor sent such a blob of cold across the arctic that ice is closing in on the coast.  This is partly due to cold, but is also due to the fact such wind shoves the ice south.  The movement of ice is impressive, when it arrives at the beach, for the ice doesn’t politely and demurely stip at the high tide line, but can continue to grind up the beach and inland to a surprising distance.  Not only does this dismantle man-made structures, but it gives arctic beaches a geological “look” much different from more southern beaches.

(This is one reason geologists know Global Warming enthusiasts are incorrect, when they state it is warmer now in the arctic than it was in the recent past.  Geologists can tell the difference between a beach made by waves and wind, and a beach made by winds, waves and also grinding ice.  Because of “isostatic uplift,” (also called “post glacial rebound,”) the arctic shoreline is rising in many places, which puts the shores of a thousand or two years ago uphill from current shorelines.  Therefore, when the geologists see a shoreline made only by wind and waves just uphill from a shoreline made by wind and waves and ice,  they know the older shoreline was made by an ice-free arctic.  They also know their findings could get them in trouble with those who believe it is politically incorrect to suggest we are not facing “unprecedented warming.”)

In any case, the arctic shoreline is seeing ice rapidly clamp in towards the shore, as seen by the map below. (Click to enlarge.)

Igor Snout defence Oct 28 arcticicennowcast (1)

OCTOBER 28  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

DMI Oct 28B pressure mslp_latest.bigOctober 28B temp_latest.big

 

Much of the contrast is gone from the pressure map. The low I dubbed “”Flect” has faded into an indisinct area of low pressure at the top of Baffin Bay, while the low dubbed “Swannecks” is smaller and weaker, on the arctic coast of central Siberia, over Servenaya Zemlya. Despite the input of three typhoons, the Aleutian low looks fairly bland on this map.  The real storm is in the north Atlantic.

I dub it “Hype,” because both the English and Swedish media overdid the sensationalism, as the storm approached. It was a big, bad gale, but not all that different from other big, badf gales of the past, and certainly not a “Storm of the Century.”  So many are experiencing a sense of letdown, in England and Sweden, and are feeling a bit annoyed at the media.  The bad side of such sensationalism is that it is like “crying wolf,” and when a genuinely dangerous storm does come, the media will be laughed at and ignored.

In any case, such storms are common in the autumn, and are basically the refusal of summer to meekly retire and give up without a fight.  A lot of warmth is held in reserve, and when the cold starts creeping south huge gales develop as the cold meets warmed waters, (and the Atlantic is above normal in many areas.)

Here in North America the Great Lakes are warm, and huge storms can develop over them, and wreck big ships like the “Edmond Fitzgerald.”  Some models show such a storm brewing up in the guts of North America later this week.

These dtorms are largely to the south of the edge of our arctic DMI map. Only in Europe do they roar north and influence the Pole.  “Hype” will do this, though exactly how it will effect the pattern is still something of a mystery. (Some models show it heading east  through Siberia inland of the Arctic Sea, giving the sea a fetch of east winds, and avoiding the confusion of a storm arcing up to the Pole.)

Meanwhile the “Snout of Igor” still exists, albeit in a very reduced form. The bright yellows of arctic high pressure above 1030mb are now totally absent from the arctic. The final big blob from Ignor’s snout is a pocket of lemon-lime 1025 mb isobars exiting stage right, through the Queen Elisabeth Islands. As a sort of backwash to this flow mild air is streming in through the Bering Strait, and some of the warmest arctic readings (up around minus five) are north of the Bering Strait, right where cross-polar-flow had it very cold only two days ago.  However, though the cross-polar-flow is broken, the Snout of Igor still pokes north of Eastern Siberia, somewhat exhausted after exhaling so much cold mischief, but inhaling more air the breed cold with, over Siberian snows, and full of forebodings of future mischief.

There are various entrance and exit regions to the Pole.  A tight little flow enters and exists around Swannecks.  Aweak and confused flow enters and exits at the Bering Strait.  However the low “Hype” is sucking air up and around towards our Forkasite, as the south-sinking blob from Igor sucks air up from thje Canada-Alaska border,  and across the north coast of Greenland, towards our Forkasite.  Indeed the most significant exit region, during the current period-of-transition, is down the east coast of Greenland, south of our Forkasite.

Therefore, even as our Forkasite moves south, it does so with the coldest air the arctic has to offer.  The “edge” of the ice is growing south, and therefore it may be farther from the edge, even as it moves south.  (If the “edge” freezes solid ten miles, and the Forkasite only moves eight miles south, the Foraksite winds up two miles further away from the “edge,” despite all its hard work. It is like walking up a down-escalator.)

However it seems more and more unlikely the Forkasite will do anything interesting, like head west across the top of Greenland. It will only be slightly interesting if it travels south along the east coast of Greenland, and is still reporting data much later than other “North Pole Cameras” ever have. (For example, down near the southern tip of Greenland next May.)

I want this blog to be something more than “slightly interesting.” Therefore I intend to shift the focus from the original focus, (namely, the site of the North Pole Camera,) to how the North Pole effects southern lands, with a special focus on New Hampshire, because that happens to be where I park my carcess.

I will continue to report on the doings of our Forkasite in my next post, but as it leaves the Pole behind it in some ways leaves my interests behind. I doubt many are all that interested in ice after it travels through Fram Strait and bobs about melting in the North Atlantic. (Not even the captain of the Titanic was interested in such things.)  However many continue to be interested in the ice up at the North Pole. My future posts will be focused less on the old North Pole Camera, and instead will focus more on the ice where the new North Pole Camera will be planted next April, (if we are lucky and the funding is still there.)

This series of posts will continue at::  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-the-snout-of-igor/

 

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE RECOVERY DIARY —THE DEEPENING TWILIGHT—(October 5-16, 2016)

CONTINUED FROM OLD POST AT  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/arctic-sea-ice-minimum-the-darkness-decends/

This is a continuation of observations I began last summer, while enjoying my lazy hobby of watching ice melt on hot days, via the eyes made available through North Pole Cameras  One and Two.  It was much more interesting this year than usual, involving media hoopla about “Lake North Pole,” a visit from a polar bear that knocked over Camera One, a midsummer gale, and the fact our camera refused to drift down to Fram Strait as usual, and instead hinted something new and unusual may be occurring up at the Pole.

I have a hunch that we are seeing a change in a sixty year cycle, and a thirty-year pattern of diminishing ice may be swinging over to a thirty-year pattern of increasing ice.  The only way I know of determining whether my hunch is correct it to sit back and watch.  (It is not hard work, if you don’t mind the fact you don’t get paid.)

I comment on what I observe, and some people find my mutterings to myself mildly amusing. There have been well over 10,000 views of this series of posts. Therefore I’ll continue the diary, though it may get a bit dull when it is pitch dark at the Pole.  However things will liven up next April, when we get a new camera.

OCTOBER 5  —DAILY DATA—  MUCH COLDER

The wind has continued to die down at our camera-site-with-no-camera, and our drift to the south has slowed.  We moved south from 83.577°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.478°N today, as our movement west came to a halt. We moved longitudinally west, then east, then west, then east, and then west again, with the sum total for the day being a movement east from 4.894°W to  4.881°W.  Total movement for the day was 5.83 miles south.

The real news was the plunge in temperatures from -7.8°C at 1500z yesterday to -16.8°C at 1500z today. This is the coldest we’ve seen so far this autumn.  It is ironic it is occurring even as we get further south than we’ve gotten before.  Simpleton logic would state the further south we go the colder it gets.

-16.8°C represents a temperature of 1.76 Fahrenheit, and once it gets that cold sea ice starts forming faster. Bergs can’t slip and slide by each other, as they tend to glue together. A sloppy slush can turn into a rigid plate. There has got to be a difference in the flow of the ice, but I know of no studies on this topic.

In theory ice cannot form on the surface of salt water until a considerable column of water is near freezing, for the cold water at the surface sinks, replaced by rising warmer water from beneath. However reality trumps theory, for once it gets this cold the ice just forms at the surface. I have seen no studies about this either, though I sense some are on-going, by the data being collected. As a layman I simply think that once the air gets extremely cold the water at the surface doesn’t have time to sink; it freezes before it can sink, and then becomes more boyant than water.  (When storms torture the ice in midwinter, cracks can open into leads more than a mile wide, exposing salt water to air temperatures lower than forty below. These leads freeze over swiftly, and quickly the ice gets thick enough for a polar bear to walk on, and there are some very beautiful pictures taken from above of bears walking on black ice so thin the bear makes spiderwebs of cracks as it ventures across a lead.)

In any case, it is amazing to watch day-by-day, and to see how quickly it gets very cold up there.  If you back-track through these posts you’ll see it really wasn’t all that long ago that freezing temperatures were a rarity atop our earth.

OCTOBER 5 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS— NEW STORM APPROACHES

DMI Oct 5B pressure mslp_latest.big

If you are new to this site, I should explain I have the habit of naming storms and high pressure systems. Forgive me. It jazzes up a subject that otherwise could get tedious.

The big storm “Landic” is being replaced by a new Icelandic low I’ve dubbed, “Flect,” because it was deflected north. The little low north of the New Siberian Islands is all that is left of “Leut,” (because he had Aleutian origins,) but he is being replaced by a new Aleutian Low I’ll dub “Leutwo,” south of the Bering Strait. The general area of high pressure northwest of Greenland is named “Newhie,” for some dumb reason. (Maybe because it was a “New High,” but I forget.)

The north winds generated by the isobars between Newhie and Landic have chilled our camera-site and pushed it south. The question now is, will the low Flect, advancing north from the south, reinforce the northerly flow, which has been slacking off, or will it replace that old flow with an easterly flow. It all dependes on where Fleck moves.  If Fleck moves east of Svalbard, the flow will be from the north, but if he moves west of Svalbard and bumps into northeast Greenland, the flow will be from the east.

This is important to our site, for it is at a fork in the road.  If it goes south it will exit through Fram Strait.  If east winds push it west it could hit the top of Greenland  and be carried west into the Beaufort Gyre, or even, (and this would be really cool,) slip into Nares Strait on the other side of Greenland.

DMI Oct 5B temp_latest.big

The temperature map is colder.  Maybe it has something to do with the side-effects of polar gales, (like Leut exiting stage right,) or maybe not. Maybe it is just October, and that means much colder, in the arctic. However I have noticed the freezing isotherm playing with the shores of Svalbard for serveral days, and it was loath to venture so far south until recently.

The only invasion of above-freezing temperatures is at the top of the map, associated with “Letwo” southerly-wind side, and bringing some pacific into the arctic.

The rest of the map demontrates the plunge in temperatures shown by the DMI north-of-eighty-degrees-latitude graph in October. However that graph deserves its own update.

THOUGHTS SPRINGING FROM THE DMI GRAPH

This is a comparison of this year’s DMI graph with last years. (Click to enlarge)

2012 DMI graph                                 2013 DMI graph

DMI 2012 meanT_2012DMI 2013 Oct 5

I read such graphs in my own way.  The above normal temperatures during the winter of 2012 show the sea is giving up heat to the atmosphere, which loses it to space as there is no sunshine. Partly this was caused by the warm AMO reducing ice-cover towards Eurasia, and partly it was caused by winter storms smashing up the ice and exposing warmer water. This cooled the water, and cooler water made the summer of 2012 cooler, despite the amazing heat-wave over Russia. However cooler water was still open water, and the water that brought temperatures down that summer kept temperatures up that fall, leading into another winter with open water and storms allowing a lot of heat to leave the water, leading to temperatures being even colder last summer.  However colder water is still open water, and once again we see above normal temperatures this fall.

At a certain point the water gets so cool things start to change.  One change might be seen in the fact last winter was able to generate some serious cold up there, which didn’t happen the prior winter.

Now let’s compare this year with 1976

DMI Graph 1976                                               DMI Graph 2013

DMI 1976 meanT_1976DMI 2013 Oct 51976 shows the same sort of prior winter, with much heat being lost to the sunless sky, and is followed by a summer slightly cooler than normal, and a fall warmer than normal. However then temperatures crash. Some serious cold built over the Pole, and when it came south it came to the coast of Maine, where I lived back then, and the sea froze.  In fact it froze all the way down to Chesapeake Bay, that winter.

If you look at the 1977 map you notice arctic temperatures spike upwards in January.  That is because all the cold air was unloaded south.

How cold was it?  I remember I threw off a pair of sweaty socks in the shack where I was living, and later I found they were frozen to the carpet.

I’m thinking I should buy some extra firewood.  (Not that I’m an Alarmist or anything like that.)

OCTOBER 6  —DMI MORNING MAPS—  

Just thought I’d pop the maps in here. I have to run to choir practice on a wet morning with the colored leaves vibrant in the grey day. Looks calm at our camera-site, with “Army data” showing temperatures still cold, at -17.81 C.

DMI Oct 6 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 6 temp_latest.big

OCTOBER 6  —DAILY DATA—  A LENGTHY LULL

Despite the gale “Flect” churning to our south, our camera site has remain tucked into an area of calm.  I wonder if the ice slowly rises and falls, the way a becalmed sailboat does on a glassy sea, when you are in the swells of of a big storm five hundred miles away.

The southerly drift has continued, from 83.486°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.435°N at 1500z today. With only a slight bump to the east, the longitudinal drift has been steadily to the west, from 4.881°W to 4.990°W.  In the past 34 hours we have drifted 3.64 miles to the south-southwest. We are slowing down. At this rate, we won’t make to Fram Strait for Christmas.

I actually expected we’d make better time. The computer models showed a strong north wind for days. On October 4 we covered nearly 15 miles.  However we seem to have been just far enough away from “Flect” to sit in a lull between systems, and now the models are breaking their promise for steady north winds, and inventing a storm that may take a bizarre track to our west and over the tip of Greenland towards Canada. I’ll have to see it to believe it, but it would push us back north with southerly winds.

Temperatures are still very cold cold, but have moderated sligfhtly after bottoming out, dropping from -16.8°C at 1500z yesterday to -17.7°C three hours later, and then slowly rising to -13.6°C at 1200z today, before settling back to -14.1°C at 1500z.

While the slow-down of the drift is largely due to the wind being nearly calm, at these temperatures the open waters between bergs must be filling with slush and coagulating. Pity they stile our camera, and we can’t see.

OCTOBER 6  —DMI EVENING MAPS—  

DMI Oct 6B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 6B temp_latest.big

OCTOBER 7 —MORNING DMI MAPS—

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

It is interesting to put the surface maps together and create a sort of animation by comparing them. Currently the high pressure “Newhie” has attained king-of-the-mountain status at the Pole, and has a parade of storms wheeling about it.  Though the high pressure “Igor” arrived at a similar solution not all that long ago, I get the distinct impression computer models do not approve of this “solution.”  Models keep attempting to replace the high pressure with a low. Perhaps some theory has a vortex over the Pole, but reality has a habit of differing from virtual reality.

The storm “Flect” south of our camera site is weaker, and has booted some of its energy east to Siberia, forming a secondary I’ll call “Fleckson.” Others might call that storm a secondary of “Landic,” further east, but I’m the boss here.

I figure that, if the hurricane center can get away with verifying its forecasts by refusing to call storms tropical when they are, and calling storms hurricanes when they aren’t, I can play that game as well. I just hope I don’t aggravate any true meteorologists.

Or actually I do. You learn a lot, by aggravating a true meteorologist.  I feel somewhat sorry for the meteorologist Joe Bastardi when the hurricane center refuses to verify his forecast, and instead verifies their own forecast, by not calling an obvious hurricane a hurricane, however as Mr. Bastardi hits the roof and goes ballistic I learn a great deal about hurricanes.  Therefore I welcome any visiting meteorologist to give me a tongue-lashing.

I’m interested in that storm over towards the Bering Strait. In one way it is a blob that morphed north from the Aleutian Low I dubbed “Leutwo,” however “Leut” itself seemed to get absorbed into it, in a very weakened state.  Therefore, by the power vested to me by….myself, I’m going to pronounce that “Leut”  survived his circuit of the Beaufort Gyre, and has revived.  Meteorologists, speak now or forever hold your peace.

What revived Leut was some milder pacific air coming in through the Bering Strait. As soon as such air gets over the arctic it seems to rise like a hot air balloon, creating low pressure at the surface.  It also is creating a cross polar flow that is sucking air out of Canada.  That is good news for me, for air sucked out of Arctic Canada  is air that is not going to charge down here to New Hampshire.

We actually have a cold front approaching, down here.  One thing I’ve started to do is to plug the arctic map into my thinking, while looking at my local map.  Even though that storm passing to our north gave early snows out in Montana, I know it is cut off from cross-polar-flow, and its cold air is moderated by having hung around a while down south. So….my tomatoes may survive a bit longer. (click to enlarge.) (By the way, “Leutwo” is that storm off the west coast of Canada.)

Tomatoes survive satsfc (3)

OCTOBER 7 —DAILY DATA—  COOL, CALM AND KINDA BORING

The calm and the southwards drift continue. Our site has moved from 83.435°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.374°N at 1500z today. Longitudinally we drifted west from 4.990°W to 5.030°W at 0600z, but then backtracked to  5.002°W at 1500z. In the past 24 hours we have moved 4.23 miles south.

Temperatures have bounced about a bit, winding up about a degree colder. They fell from -14.1°C at 1500z to -15.7°C at 1800z yesterday, then rose to -12.9°C at midnight before falling back to -15.8°C at 0300z, and then rising to -13.3°C at 0900z, and then falling to -15.3°C at 1500z.

I suppose these ups and downs are interesting, however they are likely local effects caused by open patches of water between plates of ice. The plates create pockets of colder air and the water creates pockets of warmer air.  All in all these temperatures are fairly normal for the Arctic Ocean in early October.  Dullsville, if you ask me.

Looks like I’ll have to prowl around other parts of the Pole to find any excitement.

TEN DAYS AGO THIS CAMERA WAS SHOWING US OPEN WATER

Obouy 7 Oct 7  webcam

This is the current view from the camera I stated had a “downcast look”, earlier in the summer.  I have fallen in love with it, (now that the North Pole Camera has jilted me and run off with some sailor on an icebreaker.) It is called either Buoy 2012L: or O-Buoy #7, and if you have ten minutes to spare I highly recommend watching the arctic through her eyes.  This can be done by watching this film clip, which condenses all the pictures taken since before it even was deployed onto the ice.  (The first picture is from some building where they are assembling the buoy, back on June 13, 2012.)  If you have no time just watch it from the nine minute mark on.  I swear you learn more using your own eyes than the media teaches with a hundred headlines.  http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#buoy7/movie

Amazingly, ten days ago, on September 27, this buoy had been bobbing in the clear, without ice in sight, after a storm crumbled the ice it was upon and, I suppose because the superstructure acted as a sail, even though the north wind was bitter and cold the buoy was blown south into open waters. However the winds then got nicer, and southerly, and, the superstructure again acting as a sail, it headed north, and now look at the mess it is in!

Let this be a lesson to all of us. Kindly winds may not always be moving us the ways we want to go.  Sometimes it is the bitter blasts that push us to the palm trees.

A CUD TO CHEW UPON

Here’s a couple of good maps to stimulate thinking .

The first is from Anthony Watt’s supurb “Sea Ice Page” at http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/ and is a map which doesn’t try to say how thick or concentrated the ice is, and instead shows the edge, with an orange line that shows the “average edge” for this date. (It is produced by NASA’s National Snow and Ice Data Center.) (Click to enlarge, and click again to make a huge version.)

Excellent N_bm_extent_hires

What this map shows is the (only slightly) cold PDO seems to allow ice to be above normal on the Pacific side, (despite the current influx of milder air through the Bering Straits,) while the below normal ice is where the warm AMO allows a current to sweep north of of Scandinavia and continue north of Siberia, and melt ice from underneath even when air temperatures are cold.

The second picture is created by Ryan Maue on the WeatherBELL site, from data used by the Canadian model for its initial run.  (I prefer this to the GISS model.) It shows temperatures modeled from spots of current data, 2 meters above the surface.  (click to enlarge.)

WB Oct 7 cmc_t2m_arctic_1

Besides a lovely swirl of temperature-contrasts made by the storm I decide should retain the name “Leut,” it (to me) clearly shows the heat escaping from the coastal regions of the Arctic Ocean.  No longer can you say those regions are warmer because of warm winds from the south, for the tundras of Alaska, Canada, and Eurasia are subfreezing, (pinks turning to blues and, if below zero fahrenheit, white.) Any land-breeze is now bone-chilling. The only warm southerly winds now involve maritime air from the Atlantic or Pacific. That can only explain the milder surface temperatures drawn north from the Atlantic north of Scandinavia and westernmost Siberia, and perhaps the waters immediately north of Bering Strait. Other arctic coastal waters are generating heat from the water itself. They have pink to their north and pink to their south, and stand out like the white areas of an infrared picture that show where your home is losing heat.

The areas I focus on are the entire Canadian arctic coast and the eastern arctic coast of Alaska, and a huge area north of central Siberia. There is no excuse for those areas being warmer, other than the water itself.  Furthermore, every hour that air is warmer represents heat lost by the ocean.  It is not merely lost at the surface, as occurs when the sea is insulated by a layer of ice, but down to several hundred feet.

The things to think about, (for me at least,) is: How much heat is lost, and does it have anywhere to go but up, to the frozen stars above?

OCTOBER 7  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  LEUT IS KING OF THE HILL

DMI Oct7B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 7B temp_latest.big

The high pressure “Newhie” is being knocked off the Pole by the advance of “Leut,” and the pressure gradient between the two should disperse ice that has been crammed to the Canadian side by earlier systems out into the Eurasian open waters. As this ice is accompanied by very cold temperatures, I expect the extent-graphs will show a surge of “new ice,” which is something of an illusion.  Even our former-camera-site, under the calm center of NewHie, has stopped drifting west and started drifting east.

The current run of models is completely different from the last one, so it is likely best to ignore them until they make up their minds. I’m just watching to see if an polar-anti-vortex can be replaced by a polar-vortex in two days, and how long the situation lasts.

OCTOBER 8  —MORNING DMI MAPS—

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

Models have the weakening storm “Leut” move right over our camera-site and on to Greenland, but to me it looks like the high pressure “newbie” is forming a saddle right around the Canadian side. I can’t see why Leut shouldn’t get shunted down to Siberia like it did last time around. I can’t see now, but will see tomorrow I suppose.

Army data has it a toasty -16.02 C at our site, with the buoy drifting southeast.

OCTOBER 8  —DAILY DATA— STILL CALM, COLD, AND SOUTHBOUND

Our former-camera-site is continuing south, from 83.374°N at 1500z yesterday to 83.294°N at 1500z today, and east from 5.002°W to 4.685°W.  This represents a drift of 6.11 miles to the southeast.

As there has been no wind reported for 24 hours, I wonder if the storm Leut to the north is pushing ice against other ice which jostles against our ice, bulldozing us along without wind.

Temperatures have stayed cold, dropping from -15.3°C at 1500z yesterday to -19.9°C at midnight. This temperature, (-3.82 Fahrenheit,) is the coldest we’ve seen it be at our site this autumn. Temperatures then rose to -11.5°C at 0900z today, before falling back to -12.0°C at 1500z.

All in all temperatures are normal and the drift is normal. I confess I find it boring when weather and ice behave themselves. I thought we were going to see something new, with the ice heading towards the Beaufort Gyre, and it’s a bit of a let down to have things go back to normal.

OCTOBER 8 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

DMI Ocr 8B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 8B temp_latest.big

OCTOBER 8  —DMI MAPS—  POLAR LOW

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

A quick glance before work shows “Leut” right over the pole, but not very strong. Central pressure is above 1000mb, and winds all around it are breezes at best. I can’t call this a gale, and it likely isn’t tearing the ice up and sloshing the water around, sucking the heat out of the ocean. However it is the closest we’ve seen to a zonal flow in a while, and a zonal flow locks the cold up top and allows it to build. Glancing at the temperature map it does seem there are a lot more pockets of sub-fifteen-below air this morning than there were yesterday afternoon, (and you can’t blame the sun, as it has set up there until next March.)  There is even a tiny pocket of sub-minus-twenty air just off the northeast tip of Gtreenland, not all that far from our former-camera-site.

A quick check of  Army data shows our buoy at -14.17 C, but over north of the Queen Elizabeth Islands Buoy 2012G: is coming in at -26.68 C. Yikes!  That is sixteen below zero Fahrenheit.  The cold is building up there, all right.

OCTOBER 9  —DAILY DATA— NO DATA AVAILABLE

Our former-camera-site continues in an area of calm light winds between storms, drifting a bit more rapidly southeast in bitter cold air. Movement in the past twenty-four hours has been south from 83.294°N to ? and east from 4.685°W to ? .  Total distance has been ? miles.

Temperatures fell from  -12.0°C at 1500c yesterday to ?.

(The above useless information demonstrates what happens if you prepare beforehand for the release of data, ordinarily at around 1:00-1:30 PM.  What happens is Murphy’s Law. See if I ever prepare beforehand again!)

The most recent Army data (which lacks a time stamp) puts the buoy at 83.20 North, 4.35 West, (which is 7.07 miles from where it was at 1500z yesterday,) with the air temperature at -15.46 C.

OCTOBER 9 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Oct 9B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 9B temp_latest.big

Tentative theory:  As these storms over the Pole fill and weaken, temperatures get much colder.

Computer models are suggesting that the next major player in the arctic will be “Flect,” now south of Svalbard. He is the northern appendage of an amazing assortment of fronts, occlusions and troughs, a sort of traffic jam of Atlantic storms caused by the champion polar high-pressure “Igor” retiring to Scandinavia and refusing to allow any bad weather to mar their autumn for a while.  You can see a northern appendage of Igor over western Siberia in the DMI map, but the next map shows that Igor himself has decided to take a Black Sea vacation, and the entire mess of fronts decided to sneak into Scandinavia behind his back.  Behind the back of these sneaks is a new high-pressure area just southwest of Iceland, (which Igor has hired to look after Scandinavia while he is away.) This high is named “Igin,” (a combination of “Igor” and “Again,”) because Scandinavia will again get more nice weather as all the sneaks will be pushed east to Siberia, where they will be the fuel for what perhaps, might, maybe, could be (we are talking about computer models, after all,) the revival of “Flect” into a major storm on the coast of central Siberia. We’ll see. In any case the map below shows Igor reclining comfortably on a Black Sea beach, and the plethora of sneaks entering Scandinavia. (click to enlarge.)

Sneaks FSXX00T_00

EXTENT GRAPH SHOWS REMARKABLE INCREASE, STIMULATING REMARKS 

(CLICK GRAPH TO ENLARGE, AND CLICK AGAIN TO ENLARGE AGAIN.)

Extent Oct 9 AMSRE_Sea_Ice_Extent_L

I have learned to take the ups and downs of “extent” graphs with a grain of salt. Such graphs fail to differentiate between ice packed tightly together and ice spread out thinly. For much of the summer, winds were packing ice from the Siberian side to the Canadian side, which made extents look less, and now winds have reversed and the ice from the Canadian side is to some degree being spread out to the Siberian side, which make extents look like more.

Think of it this way:  If you had a pat of butter, and spread it over a piece of toast, a small square of butter would cover a large square of toast.  That is like winds blowing from the Canadian side to the Siberian side. Then imagine you had such amazing dexterity with a butter knife that you could scrape all the butter from the toast back to a small pat of butter again. That is like wind blowing from the Siberian side to the Canadian side.

Of course, no one actually has such dexterity with a butter knife, and a butter knife is too blunt to dig butter out of all of the tiny, yeast-made air-pockets that cover the surface of toast. In the same manner, once ice is spread out in open water, not even all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can put it back together again.  In the summer, a lot of it melts, and in the depth of winter a lot of it grows new ice around its edges and enlarges, and becomes huge round pegs you can’t fit back into small, square holes.

A lot depends on the temperature of the water the ice is spread out upon.  For example….(The following is my private theory, and hasn’t been peer reviewed.)…

The big summer gale in the arctic during the summer of 2012 melted ice quite effectively, as the water which the ice was churned about within had been exposed to a triple-whammy of warming.  First, it’s depths “remembered” the warmth of general AMO warm influxes, down deep. Second, a mild winter in North America meant Alaskan and Canadian rivers were pouring warmer water into the arctic (and warm, fresh water floats on top of colder, more briny water,) and this warmed the surface on that side. Third, an amazing hot spell over Russia that summer meant Russian rivers were pouring warmer water into the Arctic Ocean on their side, later in the melt season.  When the big summer gale hit the ice was stirred around like Scotch on the rocks, and the rocks melted.  (There were a few exceptions, for the gale did pile the ice up in colder areas, or even in warmer areas where circumstances allowed ice to converge.) Therefore, because the water was generally warmer, ice melted and ice extent shrank in a manner that surprised me and taught me a lesson.

However when you stir scotch on the rocks, something happens besides the rocks melting. Also the scotch gets chilled, (and sadly watered-down, but that’s another topic.) In the case of an ocean, the water gets chilled. It gets chilled not only at the surface but also down deep, as such storms churn down deeply.

This cooling of the water was furthered by the fact ice-free water is cooled more deeply than ice-covered water by arctic nights, and that big summer gale left a huge area ice-free, and in essence butt-naked, before the onset of winter.

Last but not least, a winter gale last February put a huge torque onto the surface of the Beaufort Sea, stressing the thin ice so extremely that it fractured and formed leads hundreds of mile long and many miles wide, expose vast areas of open ocean to howling arctic gales at a time temperatures were well below normal. (And normal is 30-40 below zero.)

Therefore, when gales blew up over the pole this summer, and people waited expectantly for ice to vanish like it did in 2012, it simply could not happen, because the water was cooler at the surface and cooler down deep.

Our most recent polar gale, (that I dubbed “Leut,”) seems another example of a gale that failed to melt ice and reduce extent like the summer gale of 2012 did. I honestly expected it to smash up a lot of “baby-ice,” and to see a dip in the extent graph. The NORSEX graph did show such a dip, but was so unnerved by the experience that it suffered a nervous breakdown, and hasn’t reported since October 1. The above graph, which is the AMSRE graph, only shows a slight flattening of the rise at that time.  Then the steep rise resumes.

What’s going on here? Why aren’t the bergs melting, when churned up with unfrozen water that is churned up from below?

To answer these questions legitimate scientists are working very hard to gather sets of data regarding temperatures and salinity at various depths at various locations. I wish them well, and am eager to see their results. However I am an illegitimate bastard, compared to them, and will launch into the realms of sheer conjecture.

It seems to me that the Gulf Stream obeys one law while breaking another.  The first law is that warm water floats above colder water. The second law is that salty water sinks below fresher water. As the Gulf Stream progresses north it is saltier water above fresher water, because for a while its warmth trumps its salinity.  However as its warmth gets less and less it runs out of trumps, and then salinity eventually trumps warmth, and tendrils of warm Gulf Stream warmth dive under colder water, because they are saltier. They can even pass under ice, and melt the ice from beneath.

However these tendrils of slightly warmer water can only pass under slightly colder water when the difference is slight.  When the slightly colder water becomes a bit colder, salinity can no longer trump temperature.  Slightly warmer waters that may have been able to glide many hundreds of miles north abruptly runs into a wall not made of bricks, but of fluid dynamics.  (I think a tenth of a degree can make a huge difference at this point.)  Rather than slightly warmer water gliding hundreds of miles north, it goes elsewhere. Where? Maybe to the surface to be rapidly cooled, or perhaps left or right.  In any case, it doesn’t glide hundreds of miles north.

The first to notice are the plankton, and then the fish, and then the gulls, and then the fishermen.  (Sorry scientists, but you haven’t noticed it yet.) Entire populations of plankton, gulls, fish and fishermen relocate hundreds of miles, and the ice expands where it was retreating before, and scientists scratch their heads and say, “Look at this satellite map, Harry. How odd!  Have we enough funding to locate a new sensor in quadrant 64, sector 77z?”

I am no scientist, and I am only a half-decent fisherman.  Perhaps I am something of a gull, for some have called me a bit of a bird brain. However gulls know enough to fly away when the fish are gone.  I’m not so sure about scientists.

In any case, I distrust extent graphs, however the same potential shortcomings in this year’s graph effect other year’s graphs.  The 2006 graph was effected by them. And therefore when I see this year’s graph bounding upwards and crossing 2006, I think I can safely say, “The arctic is not ice-free, as some suggested it would be, by now.”

Less safe would be a radical statement, such as the following:  “The theory of Global Warming was a ship built by rats and crewed by rats.  It is a ship the rats won’t abandon, but honest people will. I hope only the rats go down with that ship.”

But you know me by now.  I am far too fond of safety to ever, ever utter a statement like that, aren’t I?

OCTOBER 10  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

I’m glad there is no government shutdown in Denmark.

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

Looks like our camera-site might briefly be in the south-wind side of Leut, as Leut fades away.  I wonder if the southward progress will slow, or if the north-wind side of “Flect” will take over.

The most recent Army data this morning has us down to 83.15 N, 4.16 W, with the air temperature at -14.19 C.

STILL NO DAILY DATA  —ARMY DATA WILL DO—

Most recent Army Data has our former-camera-site at 83.12 N, 4.19 W, and the air temperature at  -14.05 C. Compared to roughly this time yesterday, we have moved 5.71 miles just east of due south, however the eastward drift has shifted to a slight westward drift.

OCTOBER 10  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

DMI Oct 10B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 10B temp_latest.big

OCTOBER 11   —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

“Leut”  is now just an apendage of “Flect,” but isobars suggest our Forcamsite (New word I coined meaning “Former Camera Site.”)  is getting strong winds from the north.  The Forcamsite was reported this morning by Army data to be at 82.93 N, 3.36 W with temperatures “warmed up” to -10.40 C.

Isotherms show how much Atlantic warmth and moisture Flect has pulled up north of Scandinavia and Siberia, but as it crawls east along the Siberian coast the southerly flow will no draw on Atlantic juice, and instead will draw upon dry, cold interior air. It will be interesting to watch to see if temperatures drop dramatically in its circulation.

Also of interest will be the high pressure north of Canada.  Though not particularly cold now, it looks to be cloud-free in satellite shots, and we can watch to see if radiational cooling drops temperatures there as well.

DAILY DATA  —CATCHING UP ON THREE DAY’S DATA— CROSSING 83 NORTH

They finally got around to posting data from our Forcamsite, but heck if I was going to stay in on a Friday night catching up.  If they can take a break, so can I. (However I was starting to wonder if they were effected by the “government shutdown.” A lot of the graphs at Anthony Watt’s “Sea Ice Page” haven’t been updated since September 30. Our Forcamsite data comes from sources not strictly under the government’s thumb, but dependent on government grants. I was wondering if the government issued the grants on a monthly or weekly basis, to keep people beholden.)  However on a Saturday morning I can catch up.

October 9 Data:  Our Forcamsite drifted steadily south from 83.294°N to 83.207°N, and east from 4.685°W to 4.229°W. Total movement was 7.09 miles south-southeast. Winds were calm, and then light during the final nine hours, swinging from northwest to west-southwest as what was left of “Leut” drifted down to the west.  Temperatures remained cold, but average, warming from -12.0°C at 1500z on the 8th to -11.6°C at 2100z, then dropping to -13.7°C at midnight, then again slowly rising to -11.7°C at 0900z on the 9th, before dropping to the day’s low of -16.8°C at 1500z.

October 10 Data: Our Forcamsite continued south from 83.207°N to 83.153°N and east from 4.229°W to 4.071°W at 0300z, before shifting back west to 4.113°W. Total distance was 3.87 miles. The slowing of the drift was due to light headwinds for a while, however at the end of the period winds started to pick up from the north as Leut became a mere appendage of Flect, and Fleck’s west-side winds took over.

Temperatures hit their daily low early at -18.6°C, where they stayed until 2100z, before rising sharply at 0300z to -13.9°C. I suppose this represents Leut’s arctic air giving way to Flect’s greatly-modified Atlantic air. Temperatures then slowly rose to -13.1°C at 1500z.

October 11 Data: Our Forcamsite continued south from 83.153°N to  82.953°N. Westward movement continued from 4.113°W to 4.145°W at 0300z, whereupon eastwardly movement resumed and we drifted to 3.204°W at 1500z. Our total drift was 15.84 miles to the southeast.

The acceleration in our speed was caused by very strong winds that developed during the day, peaking at around 34 mph around 0600z, before slacking off to 14 mph at 1500z. As the wind slowed it backed around to the west, and we reached our southernmost latitude at 1200z, and remained at 82.953°N at 1500z. However at long last we have crossed 83 degrees south. Last year at this time our camera was just getting retrieved by the icebreaker Lance well south of 80 degrees, east of Svalbard.

Temperatures remained around thirteen below throughout much of the gale, likely churning and chilling any open water exposed by the mangling of ice. We reached our low of -13.4°C at midnight. Temperatures began rising as winds slacked off, reaching -9.9°C at 1200z and then falling to -13.0°C at 1500z as pressures began rising and winds became more westerly. Sounds like a bit of a cold front passed through.

Cold fronts and warm fronts do exist way up there, though perhaps not to the degree they exist further south.

OCTOBER 12 —DMI  MORNING DATA—  SIBERIAN GALE

DMI Oct 12 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 12 temp_latest.big

Some interesting stuff going on up north today. At our Forcamsite there is a tiny little memory of “Leut,” likely confusing the winds, as well as a slender intrusion of milder air. (While morning Army data has our Forcamsite at  -13.48 C, our “companion buoy” Buoy 2013B: to the north-northeast is coming in at a “mild” -6.15 C.  Meanwhile Svalbard, which recently drove the subfreezing temperatures briefly north of its shores, is being attacked by the minus-five isotherm.  There is quite a swirl of contrasting temperatures about our Forcamsite, and likely some uplift as well, which suggests “Leut” still exists even if isobars don’t recognize his existence much.

Meanwhile “Flect” has moved east to that noodle of land sticking north or Russia called “Novaya Zemyla.” Temperatures there are quite balmy for early autumn, largely above freezing, and this is going to supply “Fletch” with fuel to keep whirling. Western Siberia is not as cold as central and eastern Siberia, so the fetch of Flect is across tundra not quite as cruel as tundra further east, however it is colder than the Atlantic fetch it once drew upon.  The source-region for air sucked up into the arctic is chilling, east of Flect, and though the next Zemyla east of Novaya Zemya,  Severnya Zemyla, is slightly warmer it remains a growing outpost of ice on the Siberian coast.  Beyond that is the Laptev Sea, whose open water has been a radiator of heat, but it is running out of heat, and is slightly cooler. Beyond that are the New Siberian Islands, (which really ought to be called the New Siberian Zemyla, if we wanted to be at all consistant,) beyond which is the East Siberian Sea, which has frozen to the shoreline, and then comes Wrangle Island, and the Bering Strait.

The other interesting feauture is the high pressure northwest of Greenland, which I suppose is part of Newhie coming back to life after part was squashed down into Canada.  If you compare this morning’s isotherms with yesterday morning’s, you can see it is getting colder. The “black hole,” created by the area around the pole where the sun never rises any more, has expanded south to the north coast of Greenland.  Every day the area atop our earth where the sun has no influence grows larger, and the ability to generate cold grows greater.

Sadly, many of the cameras that still function have stopped adding to their neat films, but you can still get a picture of the twilight that still occurs at high noon.  Here’s a picture from  Buoy 2013H: earlier today, located across the Pole at 80.94 N, 149.42 E, with temperatures at  -12.11 C. (Click to enlarge.)

Obouy 10 Oct 10 webcam

(I hope to get a picture when the moon “rides high,” during the next full moon.)

The ice is growing back much more quickly this year than last year. Here is a map from Steve Goddard’s site comparing where ice exists this year but didn’t last year (in green,) with areas ice existed last year but doesn’t this year (red.) Yellow is where ice existed on this date both years. (Click to enlarge.)

Goddard comparison Oct 12 screenhunter_1381-oct-11-07-28

The main red areas, where ice existed last year but doesn’t this year, is in areas where ice is slushed south through Fram Strait to melt into the North Atlantic.  The fact ice hasn’t headed south this year leaves that much more ice up north.  It sure doesn’t look like we are on our way to an “Ice-free North Pole.”

Even though it looks like our Forcamsite is at long last headed south, a lot of freezing is occurring as we go. The storm that pushed us nearly sixteen miles south yesterday was blasting the water with winds of 35 mph and temps of -13, or 8.6 Fahrenheit. Considering salt water starts freezing at 29 Fahrenheit, such winds can’t bring about much melting.  In fact it would seem the seas should jam up and coagulate. It will be interesting to see if southward motion slows at all.

Ice does continue to exit via Fram Strait all winter, but old maps show that some years it doesn’t melt, and some springs see an ice pack stuck to to the east coast of Greenland right down to its southern tip.

In the mid-1800’s there were reports of a few winters where the ice-pack even touched the north coast of Iceland.  In my humble opinion, that’s takings things too far.

OCTOBER 12  —DAILY DATA—   

We actually moved a bit north, from 82.953°N at 1500z to 82.962°N at midnight, before winds swung around and increased to 22 mph, and brought us south to 82.871°N by 1500z. Longitudinally we moved  from 3.204°W east to 3.167°W at 1800z yesterday, then west to 3.197°W  at 2100z, then back east to 3.162°W at 0300z today, then back west to 3.500°W at noon, and then back east to 3.458°W at 1500z.

After all that work, we only covered 6.09 miles.  That’s only a quarter mile an hour.  Do you know how slow that is?  At age 82 my Dad could go faster than that using a walker (which he called “my gallopper.”)

I guess it just goes to show you, if you want to get anywhere, don’t change direction all the time. Sounds like a fine philosophy, and I intend to try it out, as I have to drive to Boston tomorrow.

As the winds at our Forkasite (I’m shortening the word “Forcamsite,”) veered over 160 degrees during the course of the day, temperatures also went through antics.  They sunk slightly from -13.0°C to -14.9°C at 1800z yesterday, and then rose gradually to -12.7°C at midnight, but then spiked up six degrees to -6.7°C by 0300z, and were still at -6.5°C at 0600z, but then spiked down nearly four degrees to -10.3°C by 0900z. They were still at -10.2°C at noon, but then spiked down nearly four more degrees to -14.1°C by the final report at 1500z.  Sunshine had nothing to do with it, as the sun has set for the winter at our site.

Obviously that slot of milder air, that was over our “companion buoy” this morning, was wheeled south over our site.  Our companion buoy had  a longer period of milder temperatures, as high as -1.6°C at noon yesterday,  and -4.7°C at 1800z yesterday, which stayed high at  -6.7°C at 0300z today, and then abruptly sunk to -10.3°C at 0600z and continued this plunge down to -19.2°C at 1500z.  To me this longer period of milder temperatures shows the arctic “warm sector” of this slot of air was wider, but uplift has made the slot narrower as it came south.  The slot is on its way to becoming an occlusion of warmer air aloft, with temperatures showing no uptick on the ground. (At 1500z our companion buoy was 87.1 miles north-northwest of our Forkasite.)

Some arctic maps show no sign of all these antics our Forkasite witnessed today. They saw nothing but straight lines of isobars between Flect, now far to the east, and Newhie, still far to our west.  I guess it just goes to show what you can miss if your weather observations are too far apart, and your “grid” is too large.

OCTOBER 12  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—  LEUT BECOMES INVISIBLE MAN

Leut, responsible for all the antics we saw in the daily data, is only the slightest waver in the isobars west of Svalgard in this afternoon’s map.  All that we have to focus on at our Forkasite is Flect, far to the east, and Newhie,  far to our west. Leut has become one of those “butterflies” that drive meteorologists mad by ruining their forecasts.

DMI Oct 12B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 12B temp_latest.big

The DMI temperature map impresses me with how the cold has built over the Pole. (Compare it with the above map for the morning of October 9.) This is relected in the DMI graph for temperatures-north-of-80-degrees-latitude, which has dipped below normal.

DMI Oct 12 meanT_2013 (1)

I hope it bops above normal a bit more. I’m not ready for an autumn like 1976 was from November on, quite yet.

OCTOBER 13  —MORNING DMI MAPS—  MINUS TWENTY-FIVE

DMI Oct 13 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 13 temp_latest.big

With the center of the high pressure “Newhie” right over our Forkasite, wind on our side of the arctic are dropping, as east of Svakbard the winds roar and the ice-free sea is churned. We might even get some light southerly winds, as the low Flect digs south and crashes ashore in Siberia, and Newhie is king of the hill to our north.

Newhie is generating some real, winter-cold.  For the first time this fall a small island of sub-twenty-five islotherms have appeared just north of Greenland, and, though the DMI map only shows it as a bluer area in the sub-twenty isotherms north of Queen Elizabeth Islands, Army data shows Buoy 2012G: coming in at -30.19 C.  That is -22.34 degrees Fahrenheit.

How quickly things change up there, once the midnight sun sets.  Thirty days ago the sun was always up, and temperatures were still up near freezing.  (It makes me feel a lot better about how quickly the days are becoming shorter here in New Hampshire.)

SPRING COMING!

I was feeling bitter and wintery, because Cameras One and Two ran off with a sailor on an icebreaker. Then, no sooner did I recover and profess new love for  Buoy 2012L:, when she vanished from the Army site.  (Likely because their thermometer sank when the ice broke up.)  I tracked her down at the O-buoy site, but all she would give me is a frosty look:

Obuoy 7 Oct 12B webcam

Undaunted by such coldness, I turned to the other side.  It is spring in Antarctic, and the sun is rising at the South Pole!

SP Oct 13 cmdlfullsize

OCTOBER 13  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—   NO, IT ISN’T SPRING UP HERE

DMI Oct 13B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 13B temp_latest.big

Just back from Boston. Couldn’t look at the maps until now. What surprises me is how much more deeper blue, sub-minus-twenty-five isotherms there are up there.  The cold seems to be building fast, and currently has nothing to do but sit there and build more.

Second thing I notice is that innocent little low about halfway between Iceland and Svalbard.  That is roughly where all the leftover junk from Leut that passed over us yesterday would be.

OCTOBER 13  —DAILY DATA— 

Our Forkasite drifted south from 82.871°N to 82.821°N in the past 24 hours, and drifted east from 3.458°W to 3.385°W at 0300z, before shifting back west to 3.425°W. Total distance covered was 3.48 miles south-southeast. Winds were light and backing around to the southeast.  Pressures rose slightly and then fell slightly.

Temperatures fell from -14.1°C at 1500z yesterday to -18.7°C at 0300z, before rebounding to -14.7°C at 0900z, and then resuming the fall to -18.9°C at the final report at 1500z.

VIEW FROM THE FROZEN SEA NORTH OF THE BERING STRAIT

I must have made Buoy 2012L: nervous by running off to look at Antarctica this morning, because she decided not to be so frosty, and gave us this view of the frozen sea, with its cracks now hidden by drifting snow.  (This is that camera with the “downcast eye” that was giving us views of an open ocean it bobbed about in, only two weeks ago.) (Click to enlarge.)

Obuoy 7 Oct 13 webcam

In case you are wondering how the sun can still be shining, it is because this buoy is “down south” at a latitude of roughly 76.5 north. (Our Forkasite was at 82.821°N at 1500z. By using the handy-dandy gadget at http://stevemorse.org/nearest/distance.php , and by keeping the longitude the same, I can tell you with some degree of authority that this camera is 442 miles further south than our Forkasite is.)

All places north of the Arctic Circle will eventually arrive at a dreadful day when the sun refuses to rise. However the further south you are, the fewer dreadful days you endure, and the later in the year the first sunless day casts it’s shadow across your life.

You can get an idea of how low the sun is by the pink tint on the snow. However this is as good as it gets. This is noontime, and all too soon the sun will dip back below the horizon, and in not too many days it won’t even rise; you will only get a twilight at noontime.

It puts me to shame for griping I do,  if we get too many cloudy days in a row. Darkness is not an easy thing to endure. I spent a single winter farther north, up on the northeast tip of Scotland, but that was below the Arctic Circle, and at least we could hope the clouds would part and we might get a snatch of sunshine at noon, even in December.

Just a snatch of sunshine, such as Buoy 2012L: now gets, as the sun limped low across the sky, was like water in a desert to my spirit. I can’t imagine how tough people who spend winters north of the Arctic Circle need to be.  They likely have little choice in the matter, and do what they need to do, and think little of what they are doing. However, because I have endured darkness, and know what such endurance entails, I have respect for Inuit and Laplanders and Russian pioneers who know such a demand upon endurance every year, and knew it even when they were small children.

As a rule, the small children at my Childcare at my brother’s farm do not like darkness one bit.  Even the small boys brimming with machismo, who sneer at other children who admit they are scared of the dark, tend to hurry a bit, with panic on their heels, when they are the last one in the woods as night is falling.

By December the sun is going down before 4:30 here in New Hampshire, and it is quite dark by the time parents arrive to pick up their kids after their nine-to-five jobs and, in some cases, a long commute. I want to keep the children outside, because my staff is busy cleaning the “facility” to comply with state codes and standards, and a child indoors can get place so dirty it breaks codes and standards in less time than it takes to shake a cat.

How to keep kids outside, when it is dark, cold and kind of creepy? All I need to do is light a campfire. It draws the kids like moths.

I tend to gather dead, junk wood from cleaning the woods up, and light the fire before the sun has set. The first kids are the cold kids, but as soon as they are warm they dash off to play some more. However, as the dusk grows, more and more children are drawn to the light. Soon everyone is there by the fire.  Even the parents are drawn, when they arrive to pick up their child, and linger longer than necessary.

There is something ancient and perhaps Neanderthal about the power of firelight in winter darkness. Even my dog feels it, and perhaps the reason dogs were domesticated so early in human history is because they were less afraid of fire than other beasts.

However fire is no match for the sun. It comes in a poor second. I see this every February, as the days lengthen and sap starts running in my maples. For the kids I like to tap a few maples and boil the sap, but the fire has not the draw it had in December.  By March the children are practically disdainful.  They do not actually come out and say, “Oh, pooh pooh! Who needs you!” (likely because they understand my fires cooks delicious stuff,) but they are no longer drawn like moths, for there is no longer any darkness to nip your heels with Halloween panic.

However right now the dark is building and getting worse.  On some primal level we instinctively know darkness breeds cold and cold can kill us. Or you should know that. Even Neanderthal knew that. If you don’t know that your IQ might be sub-Neanderthal.

Some likely have their excuses. A visitor to this site might have always lived indoors, and had a thermostat on the wall that could warm without light being involved, and switches on the wall that responded with light without heat being involved.  They might, in fact, be so coddled that they haven’t a clue what cold and dark are.

If you are such a visitor, I am afraid I must be the one to tell you there is no Santa Claus. Things such as cold and dark do exist, and you are privileged and fortunate to have lived a life where the plug never got pulled on you.  I pray it never happens to you, but if it does happen I am here to tell you that yes, such things can happen, because the plug got pulled on me.  I learned what cold and dark are like, as an altruistic artist sleeping in my car.

Cold and dark are not nice things, but they do teach you to love warmth and light.  Therefore, because cold and dark are such good teachers, you might even call them lovely.  They are lovely because they teach you to value warmth, light, and all sorts of other attributes ascribed to the spiritual ideal called “Love.”

Wow!  You likely never dreamed a blog focused on Arctic Sea Ice could sidetrack off into such altruism.  However the simple fact of the matter is that cold and dark matter greatly to ordinary bums who are not always sure where their next meal or heating bill is coming from, which explains why ordinary bums bother with meteorologists and weather reports.

In conclusion, even though we are only into the first third of Autumn, the oncoming Winter weighs on people’s minds. Some Neanderthal logic stirs in the depths of humanity, and they wonder, “Shall I see another springtime?”  And the answer from the cold and dark is like Halloween, and states, “Maybe not.”

This is why the above picture from Buoy 2012L: pleases our eyes.  Sunlight on arctic snow, it tells us, even as daylight shrinks, “Light will return.”

How are protected people to know this? They are so sheltered. They are vaccinated from ever getting the measles, and do not know what I know. When I was young I got the Measles, and the measles gave way to a time I could spring from bed.  I had the mumps, chicken pox, rubella, and a flu before flu shots that nearly killed me. I always sprang from sickness to healing like darkness springs to dawn, and winter springs to spring.

The good guys always win. People get proof of this every day, They try so hard, but get more and more tired. Finally they are exhausted.  They can’t go on. They are in a sense defeated. So do they take a course in how to utilize waking time wisely? No. They do this totally lazy thing called, “Go to bed.”  Not the most constructive, pro-active thing to do, yet they achieve a springtime. They awake revitalized, recreated, reinvigorated, and ready to face the light.

We are all moths, because we all want to face the light. Even when the light is ebbing, and shadows lengthen, (for a while,) the light remains attractive. For example, look at the latest view, from Buoy 2012L:, showing shadows lengthen.  Is the light not still beautiful?  And able to make snow a thing that can warm a soul?

Obouy 7 Oct 13B webcam

OCTOBER 14  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

The low south and east of Svalbard is still “Leut,” I have decided, as it formed out of junk which included stuff leftover after Leut decomposed. It is a reincarnation, and northeast winds around it will nudge our Forkasite  south today.

Newhie is still king of the hill, atop the Pole, but things look weaker, as if we are about to see the pattern change.

Army data has our Forkasite at  82.77 N, 3.55 W, with air temperatures moderated to a balmy  -13.72 C.

OCTOBER 14 —DAILY DATA— STEADILY SOUTH

Our Forkasite moved steadily south, from 82.821°N to 82.724°N, and steadily west, from 3.425°W to  3.425°W, for a total distance of 7.18 miles south-southwest.

Temperatures rose from -18.9°C at 1500z yesterday to -12.7°C at 2100z, and were still at -13.2°C at 0600z today, but then fell back to -17.6°C at 1200z, before rebounding slightly to -16.2°C at 1500z. I assume the northeast winds are keeping the very cold air to the northwest from sliding in, and keeping us in air that has been modified downwards a lot by the arctic ice and night, but still was Atlantic in origin, though it took a long, roundabout loop to arrive at our site.

OCTOBER 14 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

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

OCTOBER 15  —DMI MORNING MAPS—  EAST WINDS

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

(CLICK MAPS TO ENLARGE)

While isotherms show a slight southerly flow bringing milder air in just southwest of Svalbard, around reincarnated “Leut” as it bumps into northern Scandinavia, the greater flow is still around “Flect,” which is wobbling down in Siberia and likely to wobble back north as it merges with Leut. While these lows are creating an east wind north of the Siberian coast, feeding into that east wind is a weak cross-polar-flow to the north of the high pressure “Newhie” which is again cresting over or Forkasite.  If the east winds can get down to us we may see our first sub-twenty-below readings of the season.

The area bounded by the sub-twenty isotherm seems smaller this morning, but I think that is because it has been discharged east across the pole towards Siberia.  As soon as it gets near the open waters northeast of Svalbard it is warmed and no longer is sub-twenty any more.  However those waters are losing a lot of heat, especially when churned by storms such as Flect. This in turn is cooling the major inflow of warmer water into the Arctic.

I’ve noticed the pocket of unfrozen water in the Laptev Sea is shrinking.  It is located over central Siberia in the map below.

Extent map Oct 15 arcticicennowcast (1)

As soon as the Laptev sea freezes over Siberia’s power to generate cold greatly increases.  What I will then watch for is a cross-polar-flow developing from eastern Siberia to Alaska, with any sort of high pressure ridge poking up the Pacific coast. Despite such a lobe seeming to attempt to poke north, such cross-polar-flow is not the case currently, with a lobe of the Aleutian Low along the Alaskan coast creating an interesting divergence of winds north of Canada, (West north of Alaska but east north of Greenland.) (Whenever I see such divergence I imagine ice being stressed, pulled opposite ways until it is torn in two, and a lead of open water forming in very cold air.)  However the current pattern is a pattern in flux.  Events such as the Laptev Sea freezing over make major changes to the ingredients going into the recipe of a pattern.

The huge area of open water north of Western Siberia and Scandinavia catches my eye.  During colder times in sixty-year-cycles the ice would already be well below the eighty degree latitude circle, encasing Franz Josef Land and northern Svalbard in the ice pack, with the the ice pack already extending down to the tip of Novaya Zemyla, and filling the entire Kara Sea to its east with ice.

The fact this water is open water instead creates, in my view, a tremendous negative feedback to any continued melting.  All that open water is being robbed of heat, and next summer the Arctic Sea will be colder, which will effect the speed of the ice-melt next summer.  It represents a sort of reverse logic, for open water means more ice, not less ice.  The longer that water stays open in November and December the more ice there is likely to be hanging around in June and July, (dependent, of course, on other factors, such as winds flushing ice south, or a new warm-spike in the AMO sending a new charge of warmer water north.)

THE INCUBATING ARCTIC ICE-DRAGON

Below, in a map of polar temperatures created by Dr. Ryan Maue at WeatherBELL out of the data used for the initial run of the Canadian Model, you can clearly see (if you have any sort of imagination) the dragon of sub-zero temperatures circling the pole like a doomsday vulture. And I’m talking sub-zero Fahrenheit, the REAL sub-zero. The contrast between above zero Fahrenheit and below zero Fahrenheit is made vivid in Ryan’s map by a shift from deep blues to white. (Click to enlarge.)

WB Oct 15 cmc_t2m_arctic_1

The cold dragon is incubated by cold, silence, and darkness. The lull after Leut weakened while crossing the Pole, the building of Newhie over the Pole with clear and calm, and the more southerly route of Flect along the Siberian coast, all allowed winds to circulate around the edges without any discharge of the building cold from the center.  Now, even though the cross-polar-flow is not major, just watch the temperatures over Scandinavia and East Siberia this next week. The discharge side of the cross polar flow is always a shock to those receiving its attention, when the cold dragon rules.

It is also impressive how the cold has built in Western Siberia, towards the Bering Strait. It shows up well in another of Dr. Ryan Maue’s excellent maps, this one using data from the initial run of the GFS modle. Compare the cold on the Siberian side of the Bering Strait with the Alaskan side. (Click to enlarge.)

WB Oct 15 gfs_t2m_npac_1

With this map we have to switch our brains around to having the Pole at the top. The huge typhoon doesn’t really show in the lower right, but as it pulls northeast from Japan it ought to tap into that cold Siberian air, and northern Japan could see some early snow. Then that typhoon ought fuel a humongous Aleutian low.

When you look at the above map and note the cold in Siberia and the relative warmth in Alaska, it might seem Alaska is a buffer to the cold.  However what happened the autumn of 1976 was that much of west, south and central Alaska was above normal, as the cold air “came over the top.”  In the above map such a route would make an illogical-seeming sharp curve, but if you look at the map above that, and view our Earth from the top, the route from western Siberia to western Alaska is a far straighter line.

That is what I am watching for. Until I see otherwise, this autumn smells like 1976.

In case you are wondering how the cold can build so quickly in Siberia, check out the snow-cover they have already.  Short days, long nights, and snow-cover, and presto!  Sub zero air.  Once the arctic coasts of Siberia and Alaska are frozen over, that sub-zero air only gets sub-zeroier, as it crosses the sunless arctic sea, and sub-zeroiest as it crosses the dark and frozen tundras of Alaska and Canada.  Then, as they say, there is nothing between the North Pole and Texas but strands of barbed wire and some shivering cows.

In the winter of 1976-77 the entire population of the USA east of the Mississippi got hit by a winter they never expected, for the snow dragon breaths out air that burns, but with blasting cold, rather than flame. (Click snow-cover map to enlarge.)

Snow cover Oct 15 ims2013287

OCTOBER 15 —DAILY DATA—  SOUTH BUT SLOWER

Our Forkasite began the past 24 hours drifting south at a goodly clip in a brisk, light northeast breeze that occasionally gusted to 15 mph, however as winds slackened to under five mph, with occasional calms near zero,  and swung around to the south, and temperatures rose up to the low teens below zero, working conditions became so unbearable for sea-ice that it little wonder tongues hung out and progress towards Fram Strait slowed.

However progress we did, moving south from 82.724°N at 1500z yesterday to 82.668°N at 1500 today, and longitudinally west from 3.712°W to 3.940°W at 1500z today, before backsliding to 3.927°W at 1500z.  Total movement for the day was 4.32 miles to the south-southwest, with most of the progress made early.

It’s hard to progress  when it gets so danged hot. Temperatures began at a comfortable -16.2°C at 1500z yesterday, but immediately spiked to an unbearable -12.6°C at 1800z. They then strove to cool, getting as low as -15.3°C at 0300z, however another uppercut of stifling heat raised temperatures to -13.7°C, and all efforts since have only lowered the temperatures to a sultry -15.0°C at 1500z.

The UBAI is threatening to go on strike and not budge at all if I don’t improve working conditions.  They said I promised them temperatures of sub-twenty-below.  I am buying time by telling them, “But I didn’t say when,” however they have a mean look in their eye.  It never pays to mess with the United Brotherhood of Amalgamated Ice-floes.

OCTOBER 15  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  

DMI Oct 15B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Oct 15B temp_latest.big

The pressure map shows that Newhie has relinquished contol of the Pole, but not to a storm, but rather to a general area of low pressure with isobars so far apart that conditions must be calm or nearly calm. The lobe of the Aleutian Low has formed a little low north of Canada which must be named, so I’ll name it “Fred.” (Why not?) Fred’s east-side southerly winds are the warmest air entering the arctic at this time,  and because they are continental, from inland Alaska and Canada, they aren’t all that warm.  and anyway they are swiftly curled around and head back towards Bering Strait. The second inflow into the Arctic is very cold air slowly oozing in to the east of “Flect,” coming from central Siberia. And the third inflow is likely from aloft, as air lifted in Ferrel Cells and Polar Cells decends.  There must be air coming from above because a lot less seems to entering than is departing.

A long fetch exists as an east wind above both Fleck and Leut,  and then dumping south onto Scandinavia. Considering this air has origins in Siberia, and furthermore incorperates bitter cold air from north of Greenland translated into it by the slight cross-polar-flow, I don’t suppose the folk in Finland are forgetting to don their fur hats.

The degree of cold in this exit region is largely masked in the temperature map.  I surmise this is because very cold air crossing relatively warm water is swiftness moderated at the surface, robbing the water of its heat. However I also surmise that layer of heat is shallow, and the warming only appears aloft in areas where uplift is encouraged, towards the center of lows.

I still feel this is a very temporary pattern. I’m eager to see what Tyhoon Wipha adds to the mix, once it becomes an Aleutian low.

OCTOBER 16 —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Oct 16 pressure mslp_latest.bigNMI Oct 16 temp_latest.big

 

NOTE:  AS THIS POST IS GETTING LONG AND UNWIELDY,  IT WILL BE CONTINUED AS A NEW POST AT: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-halloween-hushing-and-howling/