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.”)
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
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.
Here’s the view as the sea-ice tries to freeze the camera tilted
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.
Here’s the ice getting thicker
Here’s her view during the brief daylight, with a twinkle in her eye, from a couple days ago.
And here’s the view after the sun set today
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.)
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—
AFTERNOON DMI MAPS —a double cross—
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—
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.)
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—
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
(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:
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—
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
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.
OCTOBER 20 —DMI MORNING MAPS— TRANSITION PROCEEDING
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—
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
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—
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
CURRENT ARCTIC TEMPERATURES (With thanks to Dr. Ryan Maue and WeatherBELL.)
CURRENT ARCTIC WINDS (With thanks to Dr. Ryan Maue and WeatherBELL.)
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.)
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)
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—
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.)
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
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)
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
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
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.
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)
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—
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—
TWILIGHT ON THE CHUKCHI SEA (75 DEGREES NORTH)
OCTOBER 26 —MORNING DMI MAPS—
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.”)
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:
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—
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?
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)
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.)
OCTOBER 28 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—
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/