ARCTIC SEA-ICE RECOVERY; THE DARKEST SIXTH (November 15-24, 2013)

This is a continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was, https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-the-dance-of-polar-storms/

I began this series last summer, as my relaxed observations about the yearly melt at the North Pole, as viewed through the North Pole Camera.  I’d been doing it for several years, gradually learning more about the topic as I went.  It definitely made me feel cooler, during New Hampshire July heat wave when temperatures touched ninety with dew-points at seventy,  to spend the hottest part of the day watching ice melt.

I would joke about “watching ice melt” in a self-depreciating manner, however I actually made a refuge out of clicking my mouse and having my screen produce a view which became quite familiar to me.  It was an escape.

Among other things, one thing I desired escape from was the seemingly endless hype and spin concerning Global Warming.  For a variety of reasons I was drawn into the debate over a decade ago, and quite early on I became convinced Alarmists were mistaken about some things.  At first I had the trusting sense that I had only to point out the mistakes and all would be well, but with the passage of time I became increasingly aware that, to put it bluntly, Truth didn’t matter to Alarmists.

Originally I came to the North Pole Camera to see things with my own eyes.  It does not take a person long to become aware members of the media do not research what they prattle on about.  There was a great deal of  talk about the “North Pole Melting,”  and how this would reduce “albedo” and cause run-away warming, especially during the summers of 2007 and 2012 when ice-extent was quite low, however all a person had to do was go north and examine the situation with their own eyes, and one saw the alarm had some major holes in its logic. I won’t go into all the evidence at this point, because my main point is that by last summer I had gotten tired of the arguing.

I think there comes a point in any debate when further talk is fairly useless.  It not only doesn’t melt the wax from the ears of the deaf, it is bad for your own sense of spiritual tranqility.  Banging your head against a wall only gives you a headache.

Most frustrating to me was the awareness that some are quite aware the premises behind Global Warming are balderdash, but feel that the ends justify the balderdash.  They feel lying is politically correct.  That causes me great heartache, for I know Truth is Beauty.

To cut a long story short, I originally came to the North Pole Camera to learn specific truths I could use in a debate, but got tired of the debate, and then came to the Pole just to see the Beauty.  There is a Truth in a beautiful landscape which does not need to be argued.  Some may chose to argue, standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, that the canyon is just a big, ugly hole,  but such people stand to be pitied, and debate is more or less an exercise in futility. If I have it in me to be charitable, I’ll listen to the bitterness like a gentle and caring psychologist listening to a troubled soul, however if I myself am the one in need of charity, I simply put some space between myself and the lunatic.

So it came to pass that I retired to the Pole to observe and not argue, and posted on my obscure blog about aspects of Truth and Beauty that interested me, attempting to steer clear of politics, and to walk on eggs when I crossed thin ice.  This made my blog a bit boring, and I could usually expect between five and ten visitors a day.

Abruptly, last summer, this obscure blog had hundreds of viewers.  It was due to a melt-water puddle that formed in front of the camera and some called “Lake North Pole.”  It was supposedly proof the North Pole was melting, in some circles, but I was in the position to say I’d seen it before and that it would drain away.  When it did drain away, I suppose I became a sort of authority, (though I am not.) In any case, I figured the visitors would go away, but they didn’t.  Even to this day roughly five hundred people drop by each week to hear me ramble away about a wide variety of subjects orbiting about the subject of the North Pole.

Admittedly some subjects orbit farther afield than Pluto,  however I figure I’ll keep on rambling away as long as people keep coming.

Things get a bit boring this time of year, for it is pitch dark for twenty-four hours a day, however I find I am learning things about the arctic despite the darkness, and Truth exists even when you’re blind.

Each post is updated, usually twice a day, with the updates added to the bottom of the post.  If you are entering on my “home” page you can click the cartoon balloon beside the post’s title, which takes you down to the start of the comments, and then scroll up to the most recent update.

Each day I have a “Daily Data,”  which formerly gave the location of the North Pole Camera.  That camera was retrieved in late September by an icebreaker, but other meteorological equipment and a GPS was left behind, so I continue to give the position.  Because I grew tired of writing “Former Camera Site,” I now use the shorthand, “Forkasite.”

I had to discontinue pictures from the other cameras scattered around the Arctic Sea, because they have all been shut down.  I think they may be solar powered. In any case, there is little to see in the 24 hour darkness. If I’m still around when they start the cameras back up next spring, the pictures will resume.

I try to post the DMI isobar and isotherm maps of the North Pole twice a day.  You learn a lot, viewing our planet from the top.

Lately I’ve started to include something I call the “Local View.”  This is a somewhat self-centered view of how the North Pole is affecting my brother’s small farm, which is also a Childcare Center, in southern New Hampshire.  I have a hunch this could be a bad winter on this side of the globe, so this feature could get interesting in January.

Last but not least, a long time ago I studied poetry very studiously and got good grades at it. ( A more useless subject, in terms of making money or being “practical,” I doubt exists.) However it explains the fact this blog may occasionally dissolve into purple prose. (I try to hide a sonnet in the prose at least once a week.)

Hopefully that covers everything.  If I have forgotten anything, please feel free to comment.  The comments are my favorite part of hosting these posts.

NOVEMBER 15  —DAILY DATA—  The darkest sixth.

We are now about to enter the darkest sixth of the year, the two months either side of the solstice which the test the souls of all who live in northern lands.  People in southern lands cannot understand what the darkness does to you, but it explains why Native Americans said, “He has seen many winters,” when talking about an old man, rather than, “He has seen many summers.”

In terms of North Pole Cameras and our Forkasite, it is often the end.  We drift down into Fram Strait to areas where, despite the increasingly cold temperatures, the ice is clobbered by howling gales, and can be torn apart into many small bergs in a sea of slush.  If we drift far enough east we can begin to reach the northernmost tendrils of the Gulf Stream, which melt bergs from beneath.  If we drift west and cling to the coast of Greenland, we concievably could survive right down to Greenland’s southern tip,  but if we drift far east we are doomed.  Even during the very rare, once-a-century winters when sea ice extends across Denmark Strait to Iceland, it is smashed and battered ice, and only extends that far briefly.

In the last 24 hour period (from 1800z yesterday to 1800z today) our Forkasite drifted south from 78.707°N to 78.539°N, and saw its eastward drift turn back to a westward drift, from 4.648°W to 4.912°W.  Winds, which had been light from the west, dropped to a calm for a while, before picking up to around 10 mph from the northeast.  Our total movement was 12.2 miles to the south-southeast, which is a pick-up of speed from yesterday.  Although the gale I dubbed, “Sneak,” has not yet hit us very hard with its winds,  its winds are far stronger at the edge of the ice to the northeast, and shoving ice south even when not actively blowing ice south.

Temperatures have remained very cold, beginning at -23.7°C at 1800z yesterday, reaching a low of -27.0°C at midnight, rising to the day’s high of -21.9°C during the dark of noon, (the sun never rises up there,) and then settling back slightly to -22.6°C at 1800z today.

The low temperatures are another sign “Sneak” isn’t yet effecting the Forkasite much.  Usually these storms bring up warmer air.

NOVEMBER 15  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Nov 15B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 15B temp_latest.big (1)

NOVEMBER 16  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Nov 16 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 16 temp_latest.big (1)

Sorry to be late with these maps.  On a Friday night sometimes a warm wife is more important to me than an icecap.

If you’re visiting for the first time you’ll have to forgive me for naming storms, and sometimes high pressure systems and even blobs of isotherms.  It helps me keep track of things, and is an outlet for my latent mischievousness.

We’ve been watching two storms deliver some warm Atlantic air north towards Scandinavia.  The first I dubbed “Sneak” and the second was dubbed “Combo.”  Combo was split in half by Greenland, but the western half has vanished, absorbed into a mish-mash of low pressure over northern Canada.  The eastern half is a 957 mb gale, combining with Sneak, which is a 962 mb gale. Together they form the biggest storm in the Northern Hemisphere at this time, and are likely to rip apart the “baby ice” and cause an uptick on the DMI arctic temperature graph and a down tick on the sea-ice extent graphs.  We went through this a fortnight ago when  “Blizson”  came north. (All that is left of Blizson is that weak low, north of central Siberia.)

I think these warm invasions of the Pole may have an effect which is counter-intuitive. Not only is warmth brought up there as the actual temperature of the air masses, but a great deal of latent heat is released when vapor condenses to liquid and liquid freezes to snow.  Where does this heat all go?  In the perpetual darkness of arctic winter I imagine a lot radiates out into outer space, especially because the stratosphere is much lower up there, and the storms lift a lot of the heat to the cloud tops.

In other words, if we are rooting for a nice, mild winter, we should root for a zonal flow, where the storms stay further south and the cold stays locked up in the arctic.  The mixing involved with these northern storms does not bode well for later in the winter, I imagine, as our savings-account of warmth, saved up from last summer, is getting squandered into outer space by these un-thrifty storms.  In any case, the heat brought north doesn’t last.  You can see the spike in the DMI temperature-north-of-eighty-degrees graph fell right back down to below-normal readings, as all that heat vanished: (click to enlarge.)

DMI Nov 16 meanT_2013 (1)

I imagine we will see another uptick as the current storms sweep Atlantic air into the arctic.

A second counter-intuitive effect is seen when these storms smash up the thin, “baby-ice” north of Europe in the Barents and Kara Seas. When you see a down tick in the extent graph, there is the tendency to think it indicates a warming of the water, however quite the opposite is true.  For one thing, the howling winds are often below the freezing point of salt water, and what is happening is that thin sea-ice, as little as six inches thick, is being plowed into a smaller area, where it is heaped up and thicker.  Second, open water gets colder than water protected by an insulating layer of ice.

This is due to the fact salt water behaves differently than fresh water. In a lake, water at 33 degrees floats on top of water 34 degrees, which floats on top of water 35 degrees, so the ice forms swiftly, because the coldest water is on the top. Salt alters this dynamic, and the colder water always sinks.  In theory you would have to chill water to 29 degrees to the very bottom of the Arctic Sea before it would get cold enough on top, however in actual fact the existence of the Pycnocline around 300-400 feet down means you only need to cool that layer. Also, if so much as a crystal of ice exists at the surface it will float, and act as a seed for the growth of further ice, so falling flakes or freezing spray can start the growth of ice at the surface once temperatures get absurdly cold. However, when temperatures are only “a little” below the freezing point of salt water, the cold water sinks, replaced by rising warmer water.  Therefore an open sea north of Europe enhances the cooling of water right down to the Pycnocline.

This is a very different situation from the situation in water covered by ice.  Such water enjoys a stillness, and can develop layers based on salinity rather than temperature, and slightly warmer but slightly saltier tendrils of the Gulf Stream can travel hundreds of miles north under the ice, eventually leading to more melting from beneath.

In conclusion, more ice leads to more melting, while more open water leads to more cooling and eventually more freezing.  It is a balance: When things get out of kilter in one direction a negative feedback causes things to return to a “normal,” and then get out of kilter in an opposite direction, whereupon a new negative feedback kicks in, and returns thing again to the “normal.” (This is sheer conjecture on my part, and has not been peer-reviewed.)

In any case, here is the DMI extent graph, showing the “dent” in the growth of the ice made by the last storm.  My assumption is that, if the water north of Europe remains open, the arctic waters will be colder next summer, and the ice-melt will be less, (unless other factors kick in.)

DMI Nov 16 icecover_current_new

Last, I need to correct something I stated in my last post.  I was assuming that these storms were bringing up a flood of warm air to Britain and Scandinavia.  If you look at the current UK Met map you can see a sort of Azores High tucked in under the storms. (The more southern storm is a secondary I suppose I ought dub, “Comboson.”)  It was my assumption this warm southwest flow would automatically bring warmth:sw flow 10074768

Then, yesterday, I was enjoying Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at WeatherBELL, and noticed he had posted one of Ryan Maue’s excellent maps from the same site.  The map showed whether temperatures would be above normal in western Europe through December first.sw flow gfs_t2x_swath_eur_65(21)

You can imagine my chagrin. It might be milder over western Scandinavia, but that blue area is cold enough, to the southwest, for a nice snow over Spain, France and Germany even before November 24. (Click Joe D’Aleo’s/Ryan Maue’s maps to enlarge them.)sw flow gfs_6hr_snow_acc_eur_33(166)

O well. Back to the drawing board, and time for a new assumption. My new assumption is that these big arctic storms don’t merely import warmth, but  also export cold.  We’ve been brewing up a nice pool of cold air up there, and glancing at the recent isobars I can see that cold is dragged south by the west-side winds of Sneak and Combo.  Though warmed by its transit of the Atlantic, it certainly does not arrive in England as a benign flow from the Azores. Instead perhaps it will dust the landscape with white, and put everyone in the mood to make Christmas presents. (We’ll have to make them this year, if all the cash goes for heating bills.)

NOVEMBER 16  —DAILY DATA—

Our Forkasite moved south from 78.539°N to 78.330°N, and west from 4.912°W to 5.034°W at midnight, and then back east to 4.921°W, for a total movement of 14.5 miles. The northeast winds backed to northwest, increasing to 15 mph and then slacking to 9 mph as the storm “Sneak” passed to the north.

Temperatures remained very cold, yo-yoing  up and down with a low temperature of -22.6°C at 1800z yesterday, a high of -20.3°C at 0300z today, and a final temperature of -20.6°C at 1800z today.

NOVEMBER 16  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS— Jack Sprat

DMI Nov 16B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 16B temp_latest.big (1)

Last week we saw a Polar map of remarkable symmetry, with all in balance as if choreographed by a genius of dance. This week has been choreographed by a joker, who has created a lopsided dance floor, with slender Jack Sprat prancing around with his enormous wife. You couldn’t ask for a more lopsided situation.

On the Atlantic side you have the deepest gales in the Northern Hemisphere, down below 960 mb, while over on the Pacific side you have pressures up near 1050 mb across the Bering Strait.  This creates a wide but somewhat vague and dispersed area of cross-polar-flow, and as a consequence most of the cold has been pushed over to the Canadian side. Also a timid “Snout of Igor” can be seen timidly poking out from the East Siberian coast.

At this point I should likely explain to new visitors that “Igor” is a character with a long and colorful history on this blog, (look back to earlier episodes if you care,) and currently has retired to Siberia, where he thought he could enjoy a quiet retirement growing orchids (of frost,) however he is finding, like many retirees, that stuff like Obamacare comes along and makes mincemeat of your plans to grow orchids.

Siberia is snow-covered, completely dark in the north and experiencing very short days in the south, and represents an area four times the size of the icecap of Greenland doing what icecaps do, which is to grow orchids of frost.  However Igor, quietly growing his orchids, keeps getting pestered by bureaucrats in the form of low-pressure-areas that come rolling along a more southern route, through the Mediterranean, across the Black Sea and Caspian and into the near-endless Steppes.  Often very dry and rainless, such lows still have the capacity to lug along warm sectors holding a de-moisturized memory of far warmer lands, including Africa.

“Chet” was just such a storm, and, (even though I try to avoid Asian weather maps because too-much-information can result in fuses blowing in the the old noggin,) his progress has been enticingly alluring.  He was just a warm-frontal zipper that was kicked east of a bigger gale into the Mediterranean, where he gained brief fame by dumping snow on Mount Etna’s vomited lava.  Perhaps he gained super-powers from that experience, for even though he only moved east of there as a barely noticable dimple on isobars, over the Steppes east of the Caspian he has regenerated into a surge of warmth mirroring the surge of warmth along the Siberian coast to the north, and now is becoming a threat to Igor’s plan to grow orchids.  Chet represents a flood of dry warmth approaching Siberia from the southwest.  It will be hard to grow orchids of frost under such balmy breezes.

If Igor is distracted from growing cold air, it is less likely cold air will be exported via cross-polar-flow to Canada, and less likely I will freeze my socks off in the near future down here in New Hampshire.

However Igor already has puffed a big balloon of cold air onto the Pole, but that too is being used up by distractions.  Although the distractions may be good for my short-term warmth, I am nervous about what it may mean for next January.

The above DMI map of temperatures shows a big pool of air, (near thirty-below,) pooled north of Canada.  A lot of that air will move south, but will be used cooling and freezing water. The release of latent heat will moderate the cold.  However the cooling and freezing of water is creating a highway of ice that will ensure that future pools of cold air travel south over solid ice, without any sign of water that could release latent heat.  For example the freezing over of Hudson Bay releases a lot of latent heat and warms the air at first, but once the bay is ice-covered our temperatures down here in New Hampshire are bitterly colder.

Other coolings of water are less obvious and take longer to manifest.  For example the cold pool over the Pole has two current exit-regions, and only the first is down over northeast Canada to freeze up Hudson Bay. The second pours over our Forkasite and down the east coast of Greenland and then east, over the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream doesn’t do anything dramatic like freeze, but if it becomes colder there is less ice-melt next spring and summer when it arrives north of Europe, and having more ice up there effects the long-range weather up there, and eventually even down here as well.

In any case we may well see that reservoir of cold air simply vanish, over the arctic, over the next week. However just because you read  no news of arctic outbreaks in southern cities, don’t suppose it merely vaishes without having an effect.

NOVEMBER 17  —DMI MORNING MAPS— Backwash

DMI Nov 17 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 17 temp_latest.big (1)

At times I fear I likely drive qualified meteorologists to distraction, because I simply observe things happen and state what they look like, without digging into underlying causes and properly researching upper-air maps and so on and so forth. I’m about to do so once again.

At times the flows in and out of the arctic get established and stay stuck for a time, and you can think in terms of a in-door and a out-door at a restaurant’s kitchen: The warm air comes in here and cold air goes out there.  At other times the in-door becomes the out-door as the out-door becomes the in-door, creating the chaos of an old Charlie Chaplin slapstick comedy.

On these second occasions I stop thinking in terms of in-doors and out-doors, and switch my thinking to using the analogy of a wave coming up a beach, and then the backwash sucking back the other way.  (This only works to a point, as the warm air does rise up and over cold air, like a wave rising up a beach, but the return tends to be in the form of a digging trough of cold, which may form a wave on a map but doesn’t work like any wave I’ve ever seen on any beach.)

In any case, the gale I called “Combo” drove a wave of warmth up either side of Greenland. You could watch the warmth head north on temperature maps.  Now the backwash is heading back south.  For example Longyearbyen on Svalbard currently has northwest winds and a temperature of +5 Fahrenheit, ( -15 Celsius,) though you can see from the DMI map that much milder temperatures are being swept around the other side of Combo, with even some above-freezing temperatures invading the Barents Sea.

Currently the upper air flow is fairly flat and west to east, but by tomorrow a significant trough will start digging south  towards western Europe, and deliver the backwash of cold. (See “Mike C’s” good analysis below, in the comments.) Eventually this trough will deliver another bowling ball of a cut off upper air low, rolling slowly west through the Mediterranean, perhaps to drop more snow to hiss on Mount Etna’s crimson lava.

During November the weather can’t make up its mind, and patterns tend to follow the wave-up-and-down-the-beach pattern. The words often used are “in transition.” What this means is that one week you can be absolutely sure it is going to be a mild winter, and the next you can be convinced we are in for a debacle of snow and cold.

It is usually in December that patterns get more fixed.  Currently I am still expecting a lot of cold to pour down onto me here in New Hampshire, in the eastern USA.

NOVEMBER 17  —DAILY DATA— 

Continued south, from 78.330°N to 78.082°N, and east, from 4.921°W to 4.561°W, moving our Forkasite  17.95 miles a little east of due south.  Winds remained steadily north-northwest, breezing up to 15 mph but slackening towards the end of the period.

Temperatures rose as the Atlantic air brought north by Sneak and Combo mixes in with the fridged arctic pool, beginning at  -20.6°C at 1800z yesterday and, passing though slight ups and downs, arriving at the high of -16.1°C at 1800z today.

NOVEMBER 17   —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

DMI Nov 17B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 17B temp_latest.big (1)

Some subtle changes apparent, but for the most part the situation remains the same, with the invasion of Atlantic air now achieving major status, and “warm” air completing its conquest of the Pole.

It seems odd the Pacific side seems so quiet.  Rather than a wanderer from the Aleutians, the weak low off the coast of Alaska is actually a weak memory of Blizson that has drifted across in the cross polar flow.

It also seems odd that all the cross polar flow hasn’t resulted in any obvious arctic outbreak.  Therefore we had best keep our eyes peeled for the un-obvious.

NOVEMBER 18  —DMI MORNING MAPS—  The high tide of “heat”

DMI Nov 18 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 18 temp_latest.big (1)

Both Sneak and Combo are weakening and filling in, with a low I think is “Comboson” kicked east beneath them and east along the arctic coast of Siberia.  Though Sneak and Combo have seen better days, they have imported considerable “warm” (IE: minus-five to minus-ten Celsius) air over the Pole, and have put a large dent in the reservoir of minus-thirty air that was building up there.

I imagine this may reverse the freeze-up of the Kara and Barents Sea for a time, perhaps making a second dent in the extent graphs.  However over the Pole itself the temperatures are still below the freezing point of salt water, and also there is likely the addition of some snow atop the ice, so, if anything, the ice would be growing, further north.

It will be interesting to keep a keen eye on the exit region created by the back side of these dual lows.  Watch to see if the trough develops, poking down towards western Europe on the 500 mb maps.  While the cold air is warmed by the Atlantic crossing, in maps such as the DMI map above, such maps measure temperatures two meters (six feet) above the surface.  It would be interesting to see the temperatures only fifty feet higher.  Though there is some turbulent mixing, and stratocumulous seen in satellite views, I imagine the air remembers its arctic origins even when it arrives in Europe.  Not like the vicious east-northeast winds from Siberia do, but very different from southwest winds off the Gulf Stream.

Here in North America some cold has come across from Siberia, but is taking its sweet time coming south.  The clash between colder air and quite warm air from the Gulf of Mexico fueled some thunder and tornadoes in the midwest USA yesterday, but the front seems more Polar than Arctic. The really cold air is loitering about in Northeast Canada.  I’ll have to scrutinize what it is up to, when I have time.

In New Hampshire it is a mild and pitch dark predawn, with showers of rain pattering on the roof.  A grey Monday is in the offing.

WARM INVASION OF POLE SHOWS CLEARLY ON DMI GRAPH

DMI Nov 18 meanT_2013 (1)

(Click to enlarge.)  This is likely the high tide of the current warming, but the graph shows it was even stronger than the last one.

The weakness of this graph is that it only includes the area north of eighty degrees latitude.  This excludes the Actic Sea towards the Bering Strait and also the cold air over land in Siberia and northern Canada.

NOVEMBER 18  —DAILY DATA—

Our Forkasite has continued south from 78.082°N to 77.834°N, and east from 4.561°W to 4.508°W, for a total distance traveled of 17.22 miles. This is decent progress, considering the anemometer states the wind has died to a dead calm for the past 18 hours.  Of course, there is always the chance the anemometer froze up, or fell into a fissure.

The thermometer is still reporting, and temperatures went through ups and downs, beginning at -16.1°C at 1800z yesterday, dropping to the low of -20.1°C at 0300z today, creeping back up to -14.2°C at 1500z, before backsliding down to -15.4°C at the last report at 1800z.

It may get a degree or two warmer, if some of the Atlantic air brought up by “Sneak” and “Combo” swirls around incompletely mixed, but that air will be steadily cooling.  It will be hard to get much warmer as long as the winds stay from the north.  However some models are showing a low crashing through the top of Greenland from Baffin Bay on Wednesday and Thursday,  which might give us a spell of south winds.  I wonder if our southward movement will be paused, and if we’ll see temperatures up in the single digits. (“Up in the single digits;”  hmmm…that sounds a bit odd, but shows you the cold we are dealing with these days.)

NOVEMBER 18  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  

DMI Nov 18B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 18B temp_latest.big (1)

I am just watching the show at the Pole without truly comprehending the whys and the wherefores, but thinking it is pretty neat. The low just off the northeast of Norway actually came rolling down the backside flow of “Sneak,” from the general area of our Forkasite, and now is bigger than both Sneak and Combo, which are both basically collapsing.  I’ll call the low off Norway “Sneakswash,” because it developed in Sneak’s backwash, but I don’t pretend to have a clue as to the dynamics involved, and I’m quite sure qualified meteorologists don’t use the word “backwash.”

The low on the other side of Greenland, at the top of Baffin Bay, is another mystery to me. I’d say it is made of the warm air from the west-side piece of Combo, clashing with the cold in place, but I don’t understand why the low pressure died away and only now is making a come-back.  I’m baffled, so I’ll dub the Baffin Bay low “Baff.”

The low kicked ahead by the occlusions of Sneak and Combo, Comboson, is proceding east along the Siberian coast, but running into high pressure which is our old friend Igor.

Yes, the Snout of Igor has again thrust his big nose into our business, pouring cold air north from Siberia and towards the Pole.  In fact temperatures at the Pole have dropped nearly ten degrees since this morning’s DMI map, partly due to the cooling of air that never feels the touch of sunshine, but also because it is being dented back towards Greenland by the Snout of Igor’s nosiness from Siberia.

If you look at this morning’s map you can see a dagger of yellow above-freezing-isotherm air jabbing north from Finland, but by this afternoon it is gone. That air is still moving north, but has cooled below freezing.

Temperatures are likely to crash over the Pole as swiftly as they spiked, however the question for thinkers is: “Where did that warmth go?” We know where it came from, (southern climes,) but where does it vanish to? It hasn’t melted any ice or even warmed much water, (considering it is, for the most part, cooler than the water,) yet it vanishes from our equation. (Obviously I side with those who think it is lost to outer space.)

As a resident of North America, I am also a bit nervous about how much cold air has gone oozing down into northern Canada.

EUROPE’S BACKWASH

Every action has its reaction.  The big wave thundering up the beach, kicking its stallion heels and white mane, pauses at the top, and then reverts to an increasingly raucous undertow, rattling cobbles like a stadium’s applause.

We have watched a wave touch the Pole itself, but now Europe faces the backwash.  The UK Met map shows cold fronts replacing the southwest flow: (click to enlarge.)

A collapse 10128498

Even more signifigant, yesterday’s flat, zonal-like flow has buckled down into a digging trough over western Europe:  (Click Ryan Maue’s WeatherBELL map twice, to view biggest enlargement.)

A collapse gfs_z500_sig_natl_1

Let this be a warning to all who seek to use weather events to promote a narrow, political agenda.  By the time you notice the warmth at the Pole, and print the headline, it will likely be snowing in Spain. You wind up looking like a fool.

NOVEMBER 19  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Nov 19 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 19 temp_latest.big (1)

I have to run, but hope to comment later.  See comments section below for good input from MikeC and Stewart Pid.

NORTH AMERICA’S BACKWASH

I’ve been saving maps for my “Local View” section, but am too busy being part of the view to write about it.  So now I have five maps and no comments (on paper.)  (I comment plenty under my breath.) What the maps show is how the warm flow that developed after a hard cold-spell switched back to a cold flow.  (click all maps to enlarge)

2100z Nov  16  A surge satsfc (3)

0900z Nov 17  A Gray Day satsfc (3)

0000z Nov 18 A Gray Day 2 satsfc (3)

1200z Nov 18 A Gray Day 3 satsfc (3)

0900z Nov 19   A Gray Day 4 satsfc (3)

NOVEMBER 19  —DAILY DATA—

Our faithful Forkasite continues south, from 77.834°N to 77.549°N, but longitudinal motion has been erratic, beginning at 4.508°W, getting as far east as 4.472°W at 0300z, and as far west as 4.615°W at 1500z, before ending at 4.588°W.  Total distance covered was 19.81 miles, which indicates a decent wind, but the anemometer reported a calm, so I fear it may be broken.

Temperatures remained relatively mild, beginning at our high of -15.4°C at 1800z yesterday, sinking to our low of -18.5°C at midnight, then rising to a secondary high of -15.7°C at 0900z, and then settling back down to -16.8°C at 1800z.

We might see milder temperatures if winds actually become south tomorrow.

NOVEMBER 19 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Nov 19B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 19B temp_latest.big (1)

NOVEMBER 20  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Nov 20 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 20 temp_latest.big (1)

NOVEMBER 20  —DAILY DATA—

Our Forkasite continued south, from 77.549°N to 77.228°N, and east from 4.588°W to 4.413°W, for a total movement of 22.43 miles.

The aneometer and wind vane, which may have been frozen and immobile, apparently busted free of frost, abruptly reporting 20 mph winds from the north-northeast at 2100z yesterday, and then backing around  to the west while slacking off, down to under 5 mph at 1800z today.

The temperature trended down, reaching its high, -13.9°C, at 2100z yesterday before sinking to its low of  -20.1°C at 1800z today.

NOVEMBER 20  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS— 

DMI Nov 20B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 20B temp_latest.big (1)

Sorry to be late with data and maps. I’m pretty busy outdoors, as it looks like our landscape could be turning white by next week.

A quick glance at maps stuns me slightly with the speed at which things are moving, and the swiftness patterns are flip-flopping about.  That surge of warmth to the Pole now looks completely replaced by cold, and I expect the DMI graph to be crashing back down to normal.

The southwest flow up over Europe looks like it got clonked on the head by a trough that came down like a dumbbell: (Click the Maue-map to enlarge, and click again to enlarge further.)

A dumbbell ecm_z500_anom_eur_1

This has allowed a low to slide down from north of Iceland into Britain.

 A dumbbell 10177346

I really haven’t been paying enough attention, but think this low is Sneakswash’s secondary (Sneakswashson?) The mishmash of low pressure extending from northern Norway  north of western Siberia is Sneakswash, Sneak, and Combo all stirred into a cold pudding.

The high pressure over towards Bering Strait is a new snout of Igor which has been bringing a slow but steady seep of air onto the Arctic Sea and into Northern Alaska and Canada.  The stored up cold in Canada is starting to loom.  If it wasn’t for Hudson Bay’s open water warming that air to the east, it would be even more impressive. (Another of Dr. Ryan Maue’s great maps from WeatherBELL. Click twice to see at full size.)

A dumbbell gfs_t2m_noram_1

Another activity that has been happening too fast for me to see has been various storms I’ll combine and call “Baff.”  Perhaps because the northwest Passage is now Frozen, as is northern Baffiin Bay, while southern Baffin Bay and Hudson Bay haven’t yet frozen, a clash between thirty-below air and five-below air is tending to appear between the two areas, and a temporary storm-track is clouting storms up the west side of Greenland.

If you look back to the five local-view maps above, you can watch an innoculous low (Fitz2?) blow up north of the Great Lakes much in the manner of Fitz a few weeks back, lashing the Great Lakes with abrupt winds (which sometimes build such sharp seas that two peaks can hoist the bow and stern of an ore freighter, with air under the middle, and snap the ship in half,) and that low rockets north with amazing rapidity right up into Baffin Bay. As such lows crash into Greenland they can actually make the cold high that sits atop Greenland vanish. Sometimes you can see a circle of low pressure cross Greenland, but other times you simply see both the low and high vanish into a brief time of “no pressure,”  and then the high reappears atop Greenland as a low appears out of nowhere on the east side of Greenland. This may occur right over our Forkasite, during the next few days.

If you remember, Fitz was a Great Lakes Gale, and then was followed by a Mountain Low which became “Bliz,” a Canadian Plains Blizzard as it headed up to Hudson Bay. The same has happened again, but I have the sense the new “Bliz,” (Bliz2,) will join the parade up west of Greenland, and join the “Baff” party.

I apologize for speaking in only the most vague and general terms.  I don’t have the time to scrutinize maps and catch all the nuances. I envy the true meteorologists. If you look above to the fifth of the five local-view maps, (the 0900z Nov 19 map) you will note there is not a single mountain low, but rather nine lows, (including four over southern British Columbia and three over northern Montana.)  I imagine that demonstrates the attention to detail a true meteorologist can muster.  However I must attend to other details, (such as how hard life gets around here when we have to start dealing with snow,) and therefore I blur the distinctions and just see surges heading this way and that.  I note a sequence such as Fitz and Bliz, and then a similar sequence a couple week later, but notice the sequence is different, and take a stab at a reason for the difference, by noting which bodies of water are now iced over, and which are still open (and can still brew storms.)

In any case, watch the storms west of Greenland. It may well be they only happen when Hudson Bay is open but the Northwest Passage is closed, and when Hudson Bay is closed (in as few as twenty days from now, some years) we won’t see them behave the same any more.

Even as these storms create a traffic jam up at the top of Baffin Bay, they kick down more ordinary cold fronts, which develop more ordinary secondaries which can get big in a more ordinary location, and become Labrador Lows.

In the local-view map below Fitz2 is gone,  and the two main lows to the north are Bliz2, over Hudson Bay, and a Labrador Low over Fitz2’s trailing cold front I’ll dub “Fitz2son.”

A dumbell satsfc (3)

LOCAL VIEW   —Not locked in yet—

If you click the above map to enlarge it, you’ll note a 1037 mb high pressure right over me here in New Hampshire. That is cold air that clashed with the warmth, and caused tornadoes 1000 miles to our west on Sunday.  Here it caused temperatures to fall from a balmy 60 on Monday morning to 26 on Tuesday morning,  (A swing from 16 Celsius to -3.)

We’ve been experiencing these whiplash swings in temperature for a while now. It seems to be a North American thing that I didn’t see happen when I lived up in Scotland.  One side effect of these swings is that it stresses out the human body.

The body goes through some sort of big change when it gets dark and cold. Old timers used to speak of “thickening the blood” in the fall and “thinning the blood” in the spring, and had various herbal teas which supposedly helped you make the switch. However they had no tea that helped you when it felt like spring on Monday but winter again on Tuesday, and it happened over and over again.  Instead they simply stated that changeable weather bred colds.

There is a cold hanging around my town that people are having a hard time shaking.  People think they are over it, and stride forth with the beautiful optimism mortals display when they are redeemed from a sickbed, and after a day or so wind up stooped and despairing and crawling back in bed.

It seems to be hitting the small children as well, and, because I run a Childcare on my farm, I get inoculated by a steady stream of germs all day long, and even though I am hale and healthy for my age, it was inevitable I’d get the bug.  Unfortunately I can’t just go to bed, as that is not allowed when you have livestock.  I do sneak in naps, but I can’t just spend a couple days snuggling under a quilt and collecting sick pay.  So I have had to put up with the bother of seeing my cold come back, over and over and over again.

It does bad things to your psyche. A voice whispers it isn’t a persistent cold that makes you cough, but rather is cancer.  You will never get better. It will only get worse.

This is not anything you want to be entertaining in your skull, as the days get shorter and winter darkness grows. It is also not a good thing to be feeling feeble when you have a ton of work to do before the snow flies.  And it is coming.  You get a bit frantic, when the long range forecasts start to hint at a foot of snow.

Darkness is coming, and much must be done before the snow flies and leaves can’t be raked. Days are shortening; a dwindling sun limps low and makes mockery of when baked we were by burning beams, and ached for cold snow to press on scorched skin and scalded brows, and longed for late sunsets to end too bold daylight and too long workdays pushing plows.

Darkness is coming. The snow we longed for will make walking hard, driving a danger, raking a joke, a path become a war with a shovel, and warmth be a stranger.

And people to our south won’t have a clue why northern folk vote the strange ways we do.

But…….for a few more fleeting days our landscape is still brown, and the weather pattern is not locked in, and wildly alternates, and the cold is driven back by warmth, and we strive to use what freedom we still have to prepare for when it is lost, and we are locked in.

NOVEMBER 21  —DMI MORNING MAPS— 

DMI Nov 21 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 21 temp_latest.big (1)

It is interesting to watch “Baff” crash over the icecap of northern Greenland, giving our Forkasite the possibility of south winds.  Isobars make it possible, though the east coast of Greenland can defy isobars at times.

It is also interesting to compare the isotherm map with the above map from November 18. The slot of “mild” air which was between minus five and minus ten has been replaced by a blob of air below minus twenty-five.

OBSERVATIONS ON EFFECTS OF POLAR GALES ON ICE EXTENT 

A comment by the blogger “dresi4” (see below) intrigued me, and I thought I’d take a quick look at the ice extent maps to see the effects of the big Polar storms of the past fortnight.  (You can get these maps at Anthony Watt’s excellent “Sea Ice Page” at  http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/ )

I tend to use the Navy map, though it at times shows ice on cold coasts where ice hasn’t truly formed. (The Cryosphere Today maps tend to leave out areas where ice extent is less than 30%, and also to confuse melt-water pools as being open water, which can give a wrong impression during the summer melt, and lastly to confuse slush as open water, which creates a wrong impression during the refreeze, as the ocean seems to go through a sort of slush-stage as it refreezes.)  However the map below simply shows any ice at all as white, which can make ice look denser than it is, but avoids the sidetrack of “ice-concentration,” which is so fascinating that I tend to wind up utterly distracted. The map below is  the NSIDC map, which is also handy because its orange line shows where the ice “should” be at this date.

I think they determine where the ice “should” be by averaging out the years they have data for, which gives you an orange line that tells you where the ice never is, for, in order to have such a average year, you would have to have a AMO both warm and cold, and a PDO both warm and cold.  Nature is never average.  (What you tend to get is less ice on the Atlantic and/or Pacific side when their particular cycle is “warm.”)  So you have to take the orange line with a grain of salt, but it does serve as a handy reference point.

Click the map to enlarge it, and click it again to make it absolutely enormous. If it is too big for your liking you can click it a third time to reduce to a more manageable size.

Extent Nov 21 N_bm_extent_hires

The most noticeable area which hasn’t frozen over, and shows the most open water inside the orange line, are the waters north and northeast of Scandinavia, west of Svalbard and between Franz Josef Land and Novaya Semyla. These waters were actually freezing over more swiftly than in recent years during October, however the recent storms have driven the edge of the ice back to the north and east, and also the north sides of the storms have blown the edge west and then south west into Fram Strait.

Ice extent tends to be politicized, and can be a polarizing subject. (Hyuk hyuk hyuk) When it increases there is gloom among Alarmists, who glare at Skeptics, especially when Skeptics can’t resist rubbing it in and say unscientific things such as, “neener-neener-neener.” However the tables are turned when the extent shrinks. Then the Skeptics pout as the Alarmists cheer and sometimes even burst into tears.

In actual fact the current dip in the amount of ice in the Barents Sea likely is cooling the water, as it is a major inflow area for the Arctic Ocean,  and water is cooled more efficiently when it is exposed than when it is insulated by ice.

Secondly, a lot of the extent that disappeared was “baby ice,” and only a foot or so thick. In some cases it was churned into the water, further cooling the water, but also it can be piled up in heaps like driftwood on a beach at the edge of the ice further north, creating a far thicker ice at the edge which will prove more durable when the melt season gets going next May.

Lastly, the real power that diminishes the ice extent is the process of flushing the ice out through Fram Strait.  Earlier this autumn the ice down that way was well within the orange line, but now so much ice has been flushed down that way it is outside the orange line to the north, indicating more ice than normal.  This may indicate the Arctic is colder, but only to a degree; mostly it indicates how much ice the arctic is losing. Sometimes seeing more ice than normal in this part of the Arctic means there is less ice than normal left behind, especially when it is mult-year ice which is flushed out.  For example the winter of 2006-2007 saw so much ice flushed out that it led to a very low extent the summer of 2007, especially as the flushing continued. However this year the ice being flushed out is largely “baby ice,” and not so much multi-year ice, so I doubt the effect will be remotely similar.

My current bet would be for ice extent to be above six million km2 , next September, which would be a sizable increase.  The longer the Barents Sea stays open, the colder the water will be in the Arctic Ocean, and the slower the melt will progress, once it gets going next May.

NOVEMBER 21  —DAILY DATA— A heat wave!

Our Forkasite has seen an interesting change, as our progress south saw a pause.  This was caused by the passage of Baff creating a brief spell of south winds.  The ice must have been noisy, as the southward slide came grinding to a halt, and all the ice jostled and moaned.

We began at 77.228°N at 1800z yesterday, and were still at 77.228°N at 2100z, as light breezes swund around to the southwest. Then we began to drift north, to 77.219°N at 0300z today, at which point winds had veered back to the west. We were still at 77.219°N at 0600z, and had been bumped south to 77.226°N by 0900z, but by then the winds were backing to the southwest again, and we headed back north to 77.174°N at 1800z. We contiued east throughout most of this period, moving from 4.413°W to 4.144°W, and only jogging back west to 4.148°W at 1800z.. This occurred due to a radical wind shift at the very end of our 24 hour period, veering around from southwest to northeast, and rising from a near calm to 20 mph.

Our movement for the day was 5.53 miles to the east-northeast, and represents the first time our Forkasite has reverted to its wrong-way-buoy ways since back in September.  It should be noted that it was a movement towards the edge of the ice, though also noted that, since all the ice is moving this way, the edge is likely moving east as well.

Temperatures experienced a dramatic rise, moving from -20.1°C at 1800z yesterday to -9.0°C at midnight, and then continuing to rise more slowly all the way to -3.3°C at 1500z. When the wind dramatically shifted temperatures plunged to -8.1°C at 1800z, but it should be noted that the mild spell represents the closest we’ve come to the melting point of salt water since early October. This is a reminder that we are not all that far from the edge of the ice, and the warming effect of open water.

NOVEMBER 21  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

DMI Nov 21B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 21B temp_latest.big (1)

It appears “Baff” has survived the passage of Greenland’s icecap, and will take advantage of reletively mild zero-degree air in close proximity with minus twenty air to bomb out.  Also you can already see high pressure, oppressed by Baff’s passage over Greenland, making a come-back over southern Greenland.  If it rises to 1020mb as Baff falls to 980 mb, the isobars are going to abruptly become tight over our Forkasite, which means the winds could rise and howl from the north. We are very close to the edge of the ice. Could this be the end?  Stay tuned!

The map also shows that the Snout of Igor has successfully delivered a big glob of high pressure across the Pole into Canada, and the cross-polar-flow continues.  I’m a bit puzzled as to why the isotherm map doesn’t show cold air being delivered.  Perhaps the ice is thin enough for the relatively warm water under the ice to make the 2 m (six feet up) temperatures appear warmer than the air is twenty feet up.  In any case very cold air sort of disappears as it leaves Siberia and reappears when it gets to Canada.  Most mysterious. But the fact is a army of cold is marching into North America, and bivouacking as the generals of cold plan to freeze the socks off the American holiday of Thanksgiving.

(See the comments below for the blogger “MikeC’s” interesting observations on the growing cold.)

I am trying to figure out where the storm Baff will head, after it blows up.  I didn’t get much help when I checked out Dr. Ryan Maue’s excellent map at WeatherBELL, and if you look at the map, and consider the 500mb winds as “steering currents,” you’ll understand why. (Click to enlarge, and click again to enlarge further.)

Baff steering gfs_z500_sig_arctic_1

Right now the “steering currents” might suggest Baff would be carried north of Svalbard, but these are mess-with-your-head isobars. If you track the 540 mb isobar to the south, (the red one,) you’ll notice it quirks south rather than north.  This sort of fork-in-the-road arrangement of isobars is called a “divergence.”  The reason for calling it by such a name is because all meteorologists are secretly poets, and the poet Robert Frost once began a poem with, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…”

It just so happens that when a storm like Baff sits right where the “steering currents” are sharply turning north, but also a divergance, they bomb out. When they bomb out they get so big so fast it effects the upper atmosphere, and that effects the “steering currents.” This is why such situations mess with your mind.  You are never 100% sure which way the storm will go.  However I will say this: If I lived in Norway I’d watch this storm carefully. Even though it might look like it will head north of Svalbard.  It could clout you.

The trough that dug down into Europe might now be “cut off,” but it can still grab storms like Baff and steer them southeast.

In any case, Baff will likely be big for a while, and its warmer side may very well again sweep all “baby ice” off the Barents Sea. It will be interesting to watch.

LOCAL VIEW   —IT LOOKS LIKE IT’S DECEIVING—

Let me stick a couple local maps up to begin with. (Click maps to enlarge)

0000z Nov 21 a prestorm pause satsfc (3) 

0000z Nov 22   a prestorm pause 2 satsfc (3)

You have to be an educated worry-wart to see any trouble brewing in these maps, and I am in no mood to worry.  I prefer to accent the positive, which is that a cold high is moving off the coast, a we will get a bit of warm-side winds before that next cold front gets to east coast of the USA.

Far to the north the storms Bliz2 and Fitz2son move off the edge of the map, and all we have to deal with blobs of dry air.  The gasoline of warmth and moisture has been suppressed south of Florida. You can see a hint of the suppressing front in the first map, but they don’t even bother note the suppression in the second.

However this nice and dry air does seem a bit cold, and when we look west for some Pacific air it is a bit disconcerting to see the benevolant looking warm front in the Canadian northwest does not move ahead, but rather sags in retreat.  A small low is rippling southeast on that front, bringing another batch of cold air.  That is a bit too much like 1976-1977 to completely ignore.

However, just for the moment, the cold air is relenting here in New Hampshire.  The very frosty and windless morning gave way to southwest winds and kinder air.

It will last 24 hours.  That isn’t much, but I figure it is best to count blessings, rather than to complain they are too small or that they aren’t everlasting. I’ll leave such complaining to the little ones at the farm’s childcare. Instead I’ll use the spell of kind weather to work my butt off.

You’d be surprised by how many think a blessing is a reason to loaf.

NOVEMBER 22   —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Nov 22 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 22 temp_latest.big (1)

Baff looks to be heading south of Svalbard towards mainland Norway.  How much warm air will it draw up into the Barents Sea?  How much cold air will it suck down and across to slam Scandinavia with?

(Little do people know that, when I have a far-away look in the morning, I am not contemplating profound and mystical glories, but rather snows in Scandinavia. )

Gotta hustle.

NOVEMBER 22  —DAILY DATA— Speeding south across latitude 77 degrees

The northeast winds have started roaring, and after yesterday’s brief pause we have again headed south, from 77.174°N to 76.633°N, and west, from 4.148°W to 4.948°W.  With steady winds topping 42 mph, we have picked up speed and crossed 39.58 miles, which I think represents a record distance for a day.

Even though “Baff” is moving away, pressure has fallen to  974.4mb, which gives a hint how swiftly that gale grew.  It is sucking down colder air, and yesterday’s balmy -3.3°C with no wind at 1500z is but a dim memory.  Today it was down to -15.2°C with 40 mph winds at 1800z, which is one heck of a wind chill.

It is sort of difficult, under such conditions, to think of our Forkasite as “melting,”  however we are not all that far from the edge of the ice.  The fact we are currently getting crunched to the west may prolong our precarious survival, however we have no way of knowing what shape the iceberg our equipment is planted upon is in.  It sure would be nice to have a camera with a floodlight.

NOVEMBER 22  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Nov 22B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 22B temp_latest.big (1)

“Baff” is now the deepest low in the northern Hemisphere, at around 960 mb.  Pretty good for a storm that basically didn’t exist 36 hours ago.  And another reason that salt-water ice-fishing has never caught on.

Most of the rest of the Arctic Ocean is quiet, and busily minding its business, which is brewing up cold air.

It looks like Baff will consume the balmy Atlantic breezes basking Svalbard beaches with actual above-freezing temperatures, at least in the short term. It will be interesting to watch Baff, for to the north it has those above-freezing temperatures, but to the south it is delivering an arctic slug towards Norway.  Which side will win out?

It looks like, at low levels at least, the Siberia-to-Alaska cross-polar-flow has been broken, for the time being at least.  However the Canadian arctic is loaded, and even way down here in New Hampshire we could get arctic temperatures by Sunday.

LOCAL VIEW   —OUR LAST NON-WINTERY WEATHER?—a prestorm pause 3 satsfc (3)

I’m just posting this map, to mark a grey November Day when temperatures were above freezing from the moment I woke all the day long.  It may be a while before we see that again.

A warm front pushed north, with showers of rain in the morning, but not all that far to our north there was snow.  Then it was a misty, foggy day, with the darkness only November has, for there is no snow to brighten the dim daylight with white.  As soon as there is snow the reflected light bounces heat back up to space, and temperatures are instantly some ten degrees colder, but it is not so dark.

The days are as short and dark as they are in mid January, but January is both colder and brighter.  Nothing matches late November for hues of charcoal gray.

I suppose it might be very depressing, however at some point I decided not to use the word “gray.”  I decided to call it “:silver.”  Somehow that changes everything.

NOVEMBER 23  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Nov 23 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 23 temp_latest.big (1)

“Baff” continues to be the biggest feature on the map.  It is interesting how it has swirled a bubble of above-freezing isotherms up to Svalbard, while the below-freezing isotherm is swept down to the north coast of Iceland and, despite the warming power of the Atlantic, right across to the northwest coast of Norway.

A weak flow from Bering Strait to Greenland continues to interupt the Siberia-to-Alaska cross-polar-flow, which might give North America a break in a week or so, however the Big area of high pressure over northern Canada is indicative of plenty of cold already delivered, and able to deliver arctic blasts further south.

The low over the Alaska side of the Bering Strait is likely to cross Canada south of the Arctic Sea, pushing some of the arctic cold back north ahead of it and dragging the arctic air back south in its lee.

For the most part the Arctic Sea will see a spell of calm, which tends to generate cold.

What grabs my eye is what Baff might be doing to ice in the Fram Strait, including our Forkasite. It is interesting to note how much further-than-normal towards Iceland from Greenland that sea ice currently is extending. It is very rare for the sea ice to actually touch the northeast coast of Iceland, but it has happened in the past.

NOVEMBER 23  —DAILY DATA—  Speeding South

Our Forkasite moved south from 76.633°N to 75.955°N, crossing 76 north latitude only a day after we crossed 77 north.  We also moved steadily west, from  4.948°W to 5.995°W.  Our total movement for the day was 50.08 miles.  Fifty miles!

“Baff’s” blew all day long, slackening slightly during the end of the 24 period, down to “only” 30 mph.  The winds were generally northeast, backing more to the east earlier in the period, and then backing thirty degrees to the north as the barometer jumped andf temperatures fell.

Temperatures rose, as another glob of Atlantic moisture was seemingly fed into Baff’s swirls, rising from  -15.2°C at 1800z yesterday to -7.6°C at 0900z today, and then falling back to -12.8°C at 1800z.

The pressure stayed down around 950 mb for much of the day, and then rose up to 1005.2mb during the final eight hours as winds shifted and temperatures fell.  It seems very much like some sort of front was wrapped around that gale, even down at the surface.

NOVEMBER 23  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS— 

DMI Nov 23B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 23B temp_latest.big (1)

“Baff” continues to be the big news, though likely past his prime and likely to fill and weaken as he heads east. It looks like a second center has formed, but I am going to skip the bother of naming it “Baffson.” (It’s pitch dark up there, and I figure no one will notice if I slack off a bit, but if you are into details and have the time, it is fun to watch these northern storms, for when they occlude they tend to wobble and move in a manner a bit like the dangerous boyhood toy (and tool used by South American cowboys,) called a “bola.”)

Each of these storms is different, and as unique as a snowflake, and it is interesting to watch how Baff differs from it predecessors Sneak and Combo.  They drove warm air right up over the Pole, but Baff’s warm air is in a tighter curlicue, with a blob of above freezing isotherms by Svalbard and another north of mainland Norway, but the Pole itself in the middle of a different swirl of very cold minus twenty-five isotherms.  Baff definately is raising a ruckus and keeping a lot of Barents Sea ice-free, but it is not making a spike on the DMI graph, so far.  In fact it is only slowing the plunge of temperatures back to normal, as the rest of the area north of eighty degrees latitude generates fresh cold air:

DMI Nov 23 meanT_2013 (1)

(This is not to say Baff cannot generate a slight spike, but it will be nothing like the spike that preceded it.)

You can see a weak invasion of warm air from the Bering Sea, curling north of the Bering Strait, however it only dents the minus-twenty isotherm, and above freezing isotherms stay south of the Strait.   Also the flow from that storm has already reversed, and no longer brings warmth north. (I haven’t named that storm, but I think it might be a faint reflection of an impulse I called “Chin-two” at some point.

Another impulse that moved through the Mediterranean, bathing an eruption of Mount Etna with snow,  was named Chin-three-Etna very briefly, but was shortened to “Chet.” I think Chet is cruising through central Asia, with a reflection on the arctic coast made of the memory of Sneak and Combo.  I will continue to call this weak low Chet, and have a sense it will become a more interesting feature, once he is done riding over the back of Igor.

In a general way, things seem to balance out, and you don’t usually have a big storm on one side of the Pole without having a sort of equal-but-opposite storm appear on the other.

BAFF’S “BACKWASH” HEADS FOR EUROPE

I’ve observed in the past how at times a surge north is followed by a surge south (and vice-versa,)  as if air masses charged north like waves up a beach, followed by an undertow and backwash.  Visualizing in that manner, its been interesting to watch various lows charge up towards the Pole, and the outflow of cold in their wakes.

I tend to focus on the warmth charging north, due to my interest on sea-ice, however perhaps I should pay more attention to the cold air pouring south in the wake of these storms.  Not only does it concern people in Europe, but it concerns our Forkasite.

In the current UK Met map you can see the isobars beneath Baff indicating a cold flow across the Atlantic towards Norway.

Baff UKMET 10244457

So strong is this surge that it seemingly is bringing everything to a screaming halt for 48 hours. The high pressure will stall over Ireland, and the Labrador Low  east of Labrador will actually back up to the west, (because Labrador lows are suppose to hang around Labrador, I suppose.) Meanwhile the latest Mediterranean bowling ball will do its best to cool off Mount Etna with snow.  (Click to heat your home.)

Etna Nov 23 etna_j03474

This bowling ball is actually an upper air pool of cold air, and in some ways what is left over from the southerly surges after Sneak and Combo.  Baff will try to do the same, but likely will not dig as deeply, as he did not shoulder towards the Pole as strongly. However you can already see the dent digging south towards the bowling ball, in Ryan Maue’s map of the 500mb flow (from GFS data.)  (Double click to fully enlarge.)

BAFF gfs_z500_sig_eur_1

If the more northern trough moves east more rapidly than the bowling ball to the south, the general flow created by the two features will become “positively tilted,”  and rather than the Baltic getting moderated cold air from across the Atlantic, it might get the real uadulterated Siberian curse, as  the northwest flow becomes northeast. However that is only a possibility, in the wondrous landscape of worry and fret we can make of our future.  Just dealing with the present, we can check to see if temperatures are above normal or below normal with yet another wonderful map Dr. Maue creates from GFS data at the WeatherBELL site:

BAFF gfs_t2m_anom_eur_1

This map shows the “old” cold air keeping things below normal down by Mount Etna, and also shows a green spear of “new” cold jabbing poor old Norway.  Eastern Europe and western Siberia are getting a break, (although “above normal” is by no means warm, and if the flow becomes northeast things could change there fairly rapidly.)

The trough created by Baff to the north will give the bowling ball a kick, and at least part of it will go rolling away to the east, as a fairly dry and not-newsworthy seeming dent in the west winds drifting sand and snow and waving the browned grasses of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles of Steppe, but something I should pay attention to (if I only had the time) because they mess up Igor’s plans, interrupt the cross polar flow (or intensify it,) and sometimes explode into giant storms the moment they touch the Pacific.  Therefore I should give this bowling ball a name.  As the last one (that I noticed) was Bert, this one I dub “Ernie.”

SOME WONDERING ABOUT THE ICE IN FRAM STRAIT

Last year, when the North Pole Camera got this far south, it was earlier and not as cold.  It was a good thing they rescued the camera when they did, or it might have drowned.

In 2006, a year when the camera was greatly delayed like this year, it sank before it got this far south.

However there were other cameras which survived quite a long time, and made it a surprising distance south.  I haven’t the time to look up the dates they drowned, but here is an interesting “drift map.” (click to enlarge.)

NP Drifts_thru_2006

The buoy from the year 2000, “JCAD-1 NPEO 2000,” whose track is marked by the turquoise line, is most interesting, for it did not hug the coast of Greenland, yet made it all the way south of latitude 70 north.

Although I began viewing the world through the North Pole Camera because I was interested in the Arctic Sea, and had little interest in the Atlantic, I have become more interested in the ice that exits via Fram Strait as time passes. It increasingly seems something we ought pay attention to. (I bet the captain of the Titanic wishes he did.)

One very interesting period of Arctic history occurred back during one of greatest disruptions to climate we know about, the eruption of Mount Tamboro back in 1815.  blast_main

This gigantic eruption deranged the climate in ways we don’t understand.  Some take a somewhat simplistic view that the ash dimmed the sun, and caused the “year with no summer.”  However it also may have caused very low amounts of ice in the Arctic Ocean, due to huge amounts being flushed down through Fram Strait.

This topic was discussed by many due to an article I wrote, which was accepted and printed at WUWT: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/08/1815-1816-and-1817-a-polar-puzzle/

Dr. Tim Ball got me thinking, with some ideas he shared at that site, about how volcanic ash may cause jet streams to move from a zonal flow to an extremely meridional flow. I also learned so much ice was flushed out through Fram Strait that bergs were grounding on the beaches of Ireland, and this may have so cooled the North Atlantic waters that it cooled the weather all over Europe.

Not that I expect anything like that this year, however more ice than normal is currently being flushed through Fram Strait. To know this is occurring is very frustrating, for now, when it would be most interesting to use our eyes and watch what is happening, the “black hole” created by 24-hour-darkness has expanded down to near its maximum at the Arctic Circle, and Fram Strait is hidden from our eye-in-the-sky satellites.

Sometimes we can only wait and wonder.

LOCAL VIEW  —THE ARCTIC INVASION—

It is amazing how swiftly things can change, in November.  I’ll post three local weather maps, (the first being a repeat,) to show how a benign seeming situation can swiftly change to one which, (back before cell-phones,) could kill a foolish hunter who headed out into the woods under-dressed.

However first I like to take advantage of a captive audience to brag about all I got done today.  A lot was due to swallowing my pride and hiring a young fellow. I hate to admit I’m not as tough as I used to be, especially when it comes to admitting I can’t work as hard as a young whippersnapper who doesn’t know diddle about hard work, but I’ve had to admit it.  However, as the young fellow wouldn’t work unless I was breathing down his neck like a drill sergeant, I’ll take the credit for all the work, even the work his brawn actually did.

I replaced the busted sheer pins and cleaned the carburetor of the snow-blower, (a job that has been on my to-do list since last April.) I reburied the cover of the septic tank which we had pumped in the back yard. I cleaned stables. I moved a large amount of firewood. I got two free deer-hearts from hunters, (as I like a stew made from such hearts.) I fed the goats, chickens, rabbit, dog, cats, and wood stove. I wrote posts for an obscure blog. I collected 21 eggs from a sideways chicken house. I resurrected a chicken house which the children at our Childcare had managed to tip over. I caught all the chickens and put them back where they belonged.  And last but not least, I repaired the leaky dormer of the old farmhouse.

The last was most satisfying, as both the “roller-roofing” and the tar one uses state it is impossible to work with such items when temperatures fall bellow fifty, but I managed it.  I’m sure it wouldn’t have been allowed on a Union job, or any job-site involving government inspectors, but on a hardscrabble farm you just have to get the bleeping job done, and “where there’s a will there’s a way.”

You need to take advantage of the fact the shingles are black, and the tar is black, and they absorb heat.  Even with the air at forty-four and dropping, the materials you work with get just warm enough.  I was able to unroll the roller roofing without it cracking, and cut all the sheets to the proper length in a nook protected from the wind, and the knife barely able to cut the stiff shingles.

The tar was a bit humorous to work with, because the temperatures plummeted to a point where rather than soft tar, I was working with a stiffening glue that was turning to rock-hard asfalt. The tar congealed to the sides of the ten gallon can, but I could scoop softer stuff from the center, and slap it in place with haste.  Next spring some tar may dribble out from under shingles when the weather gets warm, but the main thing is to keep leaks from happening right now, and I did that.

Best was the simple fact I got to work under the sky. Meteorologists pretend to be scientists, and interested in maps, but down deep they love to look at clouds, and are poets.

a prestorm pause 3 satsfc (3)a prestorm pause 4 satsfc (3)a  prestorm pause 5 satsfc (3)

 

NOVEMBER ROOFER SONNET

To work on a roof in the cold: What joy!
Though the wind swings north and gets bitter
And the hired hand below is only a boy
And cannot be called, “A wood-splitter,”

He’s after my daughter. She’s after him.
I’m mighty above:  Thor with his hammer!
A word to the wise! They part with looks grim.
(They don’t want to sleep in the slammer.)

Then I look up to what’s higher than I,
See the cruel, swift cirrus of November,
And know what the young don’t. And then I sigh,
And do what the rich can’t remember.

They speak. How they speak! From their false, false peaks,
Not high as mine, for they can’t mend the leaks.

NOVEMBER 24  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Nov 24 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 24 temp_latest.big (1)

After confusing everything with a cryptic sonnet, I find it is always wisest to beat a hasty retreat into some sort of mundane factoid, and therefore I’ll quickly close this post with the morning DMI maps, showing the growing cold over the Pole draining down Baff’s west-side winds, across the north Atlantic towards Norway.  

Here in New Hampshire we are getting blasted by bone-chilling winds from the north, making the brilliant sunshine seem like a liar.  I thought I could nip out to my car without a jacket to grab something, but one shot of the wind told me I’d made a mistake.  It definitely gets your attention. The good thing is that not even sleep-heads look sleepy.

I’ll be continuing my observations at:  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/11/24/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-thanksgiving-and-storms/

 

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA-ICE RECOVERY; THE DARKEST SIXTH (November 15-24, 2013)

  1. Caleb: Re the Azores warmth: it appears the warm flow over western Europe shown on the UK surface map is just temporary. A check of the GFS progs for Europe shows a deep upper trough dropping south through western Europe early next week and eventually forming one of those upper lows that takes up residence over the western Mediterranean and meanders from Spain to Italy for a week. Initially the upper flow into Europe is a straight shot from Spitsbergen and points north and later transitions to an easterly flow off the Eurasian heartland. This repeating cutoff low pattern (negative NAO) was responsible for the bitter winters in Europe the past 5 years and may the first indication of what’s to come. I noted that Joe Bastardi in a recent summary expected both the NOA and AO to become negative later in November. Maybe your recent comments regarding the grim winter of 76-77 will come to pass.
    Here in Asheville NC, that winter started with below normal cold in October, stayed below normal through March, reaching its nadir in January with the average temperature 13 degrees below normal and an average minimum for the month of 14 degrees. Asheville may be elevated (2100′) but that is darn cold for the south. Snow cover though was minimal and water lines 2′ underground froze and broke. The “oldest inhabitants” stated they had never seen the like. Perhaps like you the rapidly diminishing young part of me would relish a repeat, but the old bones say the contrary.

    • Thanks for that excellent analysis. I tend to over-focus on the east-side warm-flow of such lows, and how warm air might get brought up towards Siberia, and need a gentle reminder that such lows hold cold air aloft.

      I looked at the GFS 550 mb upper-air progs as you suggested. It is pretty amazing how that trough appears tomorrow out of a flat flow. It would be interesting to hear a knowledgeable meteorologist discuss the physical dynamics that produce such quick and deep dents in the flow. I sort of sense it will happen, when warmth and moisture are delivered up into the cold latitudes, but would like to know more about the ups and downs.

      It was interesting to hear about 1976-77 in Asheville. The busted pipes must have been a drag. Up here we bury them around four feet down, but I remember a particularly vicious December in 1989 froze down even that deep, because there was no snow.

      I spent 1976-77 living as a young mad-artist on a shack on a dock in Maine. The sea-ice made quite a racket below me at night, and by late January you could walk quite a way out to islands on Casco Bay. The tides go up and down twelve feet up there, so the ice near the shore was always smashed up, and it was risky getting out onto the firmer ice at high tide, because the ice near shore was floating, bobbing chunks. Low tide was much easier. Once you were out onto the flatter ice you could walk for miles, but had to have an awareness of where strong tidal currents made the ice thinner. There was something enchanting about being able to walk about anchorages and out to islands, where you needed a boat in the summer. I think it was the start of my fascination about how sea-ice forms and moves.

      I don’t like cold winters as much as I once did. However I figure it is better to find things to like about the misery than to just sit about being miserable.

      One of my concerns about this winter is how warm the water is off Cape Cod. That could fuel some mighty big storms. There are some winters in New England history I’m not sure I’d like to see repeated. The “Great Snows of 1717” is interesting to research. Luckily it happened late in the winter, and people were not buried by it for all that long. If it occurred early in the winter I wonder if even modern folk with modern snow-removal equipment could handle it.

      Thanks again for the interesting comments.

      • I enjoyed your commentary about walking on the sea ice during the 76-77 winter. I must say you are a braver guy then me, though I assume if you now mentioned doing so to your wife, you’d likely get a hard stare in return. I tripped over your superb website at WUWT last summer and thoroughly enjoyed the analyses and in particular the buoy pictures. My fascination with the Arctic ice can be traced to a college summer job (many, many, many years ago) stationed at Resolute in the Canadian Archipelago (some meteorological training but mostly camp resupply and repair). While there I managed to hitch a ride on the Canadian icebreaker the McDonald doing a supply run to Eureka at 80 north and I was mesmerized by the Greenland borne bergs in Baffin Bay, the glaciers flowing off the sow covered mountains of Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands, and the thick multicolored pack ice up Eureka Sound.

        It appears the upper flow over Europe is progressing as forecasted with a superb block forming over the mainland and doing what a block does…slowing/blocking the upstream flow over North America. Instead of transient waves moving across the continent, the eastern U.S. may get locked into a persistent trough for the next few weeks with New England experiencing its first real shot of winter by late this weekend. You may be lucky to break 20deg for a few days.

        It will be interesting to see if the warm ocean temperatures off the northeast coast further energize nor’easters as they develop in early winter. In his Saturday summary on Weather Bell, Joe Bastardi made a similar comment about the warm pool in the northeast Pacific, with winter storms intensifying and forcing an upper ridge to develop downstream over the western part of North America, with a consequent deep trough further downstream over the eastern part of the continent. It’s one of the factors he is using as a basis for his forecast of a cold winter in the east. It will be fun to watch.

      • Good tale. I always wanted to move to Alaska, as a young man, but never made it.

        I’m curious about what gives blocks the power to bring the west to east movement of atmospheric waves to a screaming halt.

        Hope to reply further after dark today, but with cold and snow in our forecast by Friday I have to use the daylight wisely.

  2. Some of the “cold air oozing down into Canada” has shown up pretty far south …. 15 right now in Calgary and the next 3 nights are to range -20 to -25 C. Very wintery and it is keeping the furnaces busy! I notice the cold shows up in Ontario tomorrow and then looks to spread south in your direction!

  3. And there was me last winter thinking i was brave but foolhardy walking across our parks (Matlock in the UK ) boating lake / pond ice covering . I have for thirty odd years wanted to try it but judged that the ice has never been quite thick enough to bear weight , last winter I proved it was by ignoring the ‘ danger thin ice’ warning board ( still rebellious after all these years LOL) and crossed the whole 100 feet ( accompanied by Misty the dog in case i needed to send for help – the water is about three feet deep so best take precautions I though ) – and felt really proud of myself . Then I read about you guys walking on the frozen sea !!!!! Sigh !

    • Thanks for sharing that. You made me laugh.

      And congratulations for daring to test the ice. Now you possess first-hand proof that last winter was not “one of the warmest.” Also you join a long line of adventurers who have, in a wide variety of ways, led humanity across waters and prevented stagnation.

      To be honest, I occasionally awake in a cold sweat late at night, recalling some of my more foolhardy adventures on ice. The real danger seems to occur, in my case, not when the ice is just forming, for one is incredibly careful when the ice is untested. Rather it when the ice has been tested and you have come to trust it that you become careless, and forget ice also melts. When the sun starts to get higher again in February you need to send a memo-to-yourself.

      Also I did a bit of learning-the-hard-way when young, but had the brains (and luck)to learn in water that was never more than chest deep.

      Now I have to watch small children at our Childcare at the farm, and see the foolhardy streak in five and four-year-olds. I absolutely forbid them even getting close to the pond and flood-control-reservoir until I have tested it. However they turn my gray hair grayer by sometimes trying to sneak. I ran at an incredible speed last year (for an old geezer) and grabbed a five year old as he moved out on ice only an inch thick. (He was showing a four year old “it was safe.”) I then demonstrated how it wasn’t safe by breaking through where the ice was less than knee deep, because I figured he was the sort of lad who thinks grown-ups are frightened old fools, and he wouldn’t believe me unless I gave him visual proof.

      Once the ice is safe we do have a blast, skating, playing hockey, and exploring places that are too muddy and mosquito-infested to have much fun in, during the summer. However that’s because it can stay below freezing for days on end. Usually it doesn’t get that cold in the UK.

  4. Weather has been terrible for the Arctic since the beginning of the november. Old ice is leaving through the Fram Strait because of those storms. There is probably less multi year ice right now than at the end of the september.

    • Most of the multi-year ice is over towards Canada and Alaska in the Beaufort Gyre, and only a little has been skimmed from the edge and flushed south through Fram Strait. However you are right about a lot of ice being flushed south since September. In fact the ice has retreated to a degree at the edge that crosses the northern Barents Sea. Some of that “baby ice” was smashed north, but also the edge of that ice has been swept west by the east winds north of gales, and then southeast by the “nor’easter” winds behind gales, right into Fram Strait. In fact in places Fram Strait now has above-normal ice extent, where it had below-normal extent in September.

      In fact your observation is so interesting I think I’ll do a quick post on it.

  5. You have mentioned that eventually the bitter arctic air will makes its break to the U.S. (and in particular New England). The first intrusion looks good for later this weekend with 2 more over the next 2 weeks. Here are 2 interesting obs to consider:
    After I retired from the Feds (National Climatic Data Center-NCDC), I was a contractor for a decade involved in the deployment of 114 NOAA climate stations for the Climate Reference Network. See:https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/crn/. The majority of stations in the West and Alaska are located in pristine and remote environments with hourly data transmitted and posted on the CRN website. Finding locations that met the siting criteria provided the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful areas of the U.S. and was undoubtedly the highlight of a 40 year career in climatology. Currently there are 13 locations in Alaska with 2 in the Tanana River Valley of southeast Alaska…Tok and Glennallen. This morning the Tok site (just off the AlCan highway) reported a minimum temperature of -44.5deg F, and Glennallen -41.4deg F, mighty brisk for mid November. It is interesting to see how cold the source regions can get so early in the winter season, and note that as the long wave pattern of ridge West/trough East gets firmly established, this air, though modified, will be at our doorstep.

    • Those pristine sites must have been wonderful to see. I think there should be some sort of law that requires all people to go spend a fortnight in such places. (of course, such places would be less pristine if seven billion people tramped through, but it would do wonders for the world’s psyche if people at least visited the edges.)

      At times I am amazed by how many of my fellow Americans move from a climate-controlled apartment to a climate-controlled car to a climate-controlled cubical at work. I’ve met people living in the north who hardly own a stitch of winter clothing. They want to have their children attend my Childcare, but when I explain the winter clothing their children will need they look puzzled, and a bit alarmed because such clothing is costly.

      I suppose such individuals live in such a climate-controlled world they wind up with the fixation that climate is something we actually control. They don’t get out enough. Get out in the wild and you understand we mere mortals are not much bigger than bugs, and don’t control nature. Our survival does not depend on controlling nature, but rather on respecting nature.

      I know you understand what I am ranting about, simply because you have visited some places that inspire awe. I envy you. When I was younger and constantly planned to leave for Alaska as soon as I saved up enough for the trip, I talked to many who traveled the AlCan highway, even in the dead of winter, and though I am still putting off the trip until next year, feel I’ve been there due to carefully listening to excellent story-tellers.

      It is very interesting to see minus-forty air building up there, especially as the cross-polar-flow has been hard-pressed to achieve minus-twenty. It is “home grown” cold, although I’m sure it helps to start with air around minus-ten to begin with.

      The “delivery” of this cold to the lower forty-eight is always interesting to watch. I’m personally hoping the models are wrong, as I have chores to do before we start to become snow-bound. However it does look like winter around the northeast USA will at least start out very cold and snowy.

  6. Thank your for your analysis based on my post here. 🙂 I was just looking at Barrow webcam and it is very interesting that there is still open water there. Quite unusual. I’m just wondering how thick the ice will get in coming months.

    • Its good to use your own eyes, and that Barrow webcam is one of the few cameras working in the north, now that the arctic night has fallen.

      I think the open water along the Alaskan coast may be a type of polynya, when the winds are offshore during the winter. (Here’s a quick overview on polynyas: http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/seaice/characteristics/polynyas.html )

      When the winds shift around and become inshore, the ice can come back to the beach and, if the wind is strong, grind up the beach and move a ways inland. (There’s some neat YouTube videos of this making a mess of a oil rigging supply depot, and even of a residential neighborhood near Buffalo getting damaged by wind-blown lake ice.) The grinding ice creates geological formations on arctic beaches that are quite different from beaches by open water.

      I think that levee of sand along the beach in Barrow may be there to protect the city. I’ve seen the Barrow webcam show ice in the water this winter, but mostly the floes seems to move parallel to the beach and not come straight in.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • You are right about Barrow. A few years ago I took some time off while surveying climate stations in Alaska and my wife and I flew to Barrow to join the Polar Bear’s Club.

        From the appropriately named Top of the World motel you looked across the dirt road at the Arctic Ocean and the levees (6-10′ high) were between the road and the ocean. Sadly on the morning of the attempt (the staff at Pepe’s billed as the world’s most northerly Mexican restaurant who verify you dunked) the first winter storm of the year..in early August…brought truck size rotten bergs ashore against the levees. We cancelled of course. We used the opportunity to take an off road vehicle to Pt Barrow…..magnificently remote and spectacular.
        ..

      • Thanks for sharing that story. One of these days I still hope to make the trip north. However even down near big cities a person can usually get away to a remote spot on a Saturday, and just sit under a big sky and remember the things we call important aren’t as huge as we sometimes think they are. Some might find this experience unnerving, but I always feel the better for it.

        Back when I was in my early twenties I took a plunge off a dock in Maine on a surprisingly hot day in early March when there was still a little ice in the water. I think I sprang out of that water faster than I went in. Rather than cold the water felt like it was burning my skin. The girl I was trying to impress wasn’t all that impressed, but she did get a laugh out of watching me. There is something very warming about young women, when they smile at you, and that likely explains why I didn’t catch pneumonia.

        I’m afraid no Polar Bear club would want me, these days. I avoid the cold like a complete wimp.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s