The arctic continues to warm rapidly, as is usual this time of year, but it remains below normal.
Currently low pressure rides along the Russian coast, and high pressure along the Canadian coast.
The snow cover is mostly gone in Alaska, but remains in Siberia.
Notice how much colder the snow cover makes Siberia, compared to Alaska. (Admittedly part of the difference is because it is Afternoon in Alaska and Morning in eastern Siberia, in the map below.)
(As an aside, the colder air is currently towards the Atlantic, where the AMO is in its “cold” phase, while the milder air is towards the Pacific, where the PMO is currently in its “warm” phase. I expect more melting on the Pacific side than the Atlantic side this summer. The air temperatures will be interesting to watch.)
O-buoy 9 is in the colder air just north of Greenland, while the other three o-buoys are in the Beaufort Sea, which has seen some cooling after a recent thaw.
O-buoy 9 continues to show the lead in the near distance close. It was quite wide and open, but now is crunched together and frozen over. Temperatures are slowly rising, as is expected in May.
If you have two minutes to spare, I recommend watching the O-bouy 9 movie at http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#buoy9/movie from the 24:00 time onward to the end at 25:45. It takes the O-buoy people a while to update the movies, but they just updated O-buoy 9’s up to May 23. After 24:00 there are some very cool views of the mountains of Greenland way off in the distance, when the weather is clearest. Then the lead forms at 25:12, during a very windy and stormy time, and gets wide and freezes over before again closing.
The thin ice over the leads is ice that would not form if the water was not exposed, and also represents heat lost to the atmosphere up there, which makes it all the more surprising that temperatures are below normal. Then, when the lead closes, all that thin ice gets crushed together and adds to the volume of the arctic ice. The only time this process doesn’t occur is during the period of roughly 60 days when temperatures are above freezing.
O-buoy 10 has been wandering in circles out in the Beaufort Sea since it was placed out there in late August 2013, and is an old friend. Currently its view is a bit boring, as all the details of the ice are hidden under snow. It saw some thawing last week, a cold snap (down below -7° c) over the weekend, and currently is just below freezing.
O-buoy 10 is apparently on a particularly solid chunk of ice, and gives the somewhat false impression the ice is more stable than it actually is. The ice in the Beaufort Sea is best thought of as fragmented. This is shown by the fact O-buoy 11 was placed north of where O-bouy 10 now floats last October, but now O-buoy 11 is well to the south east of O-buoy 10. The ice floes and bergs often move in a manner which demonstrates they are independent. Small floes with pressure ridges are like a boat with sails set, and can move much faster than a large, flat berg.
O-buoy 11 has been frustrating, as an interesting lead formed in the middle distance, but the lens has been covered with snow a lot, and it was hard to witness what followed. The lead apparently slammed shut, and became a pressure ridge which blocks the view beyond, to a certain degree, and makes it hard to see what the lead is up to. It looks like the lead may again be opening up a little. It too experienced the recent thaw, but now is back down around -4° C.
Lastly, O-buoy 12 is located further to the west, and, because it is north of Bering Strait, it is liable to be the first buoy subject to the warm PDO’s milder waters invading through the Strait. I am expecting to see a lot of action from this buoy, in terms of ice crumbling, leads forming, and the sort of general break-up of ice that Alarmists love to see for political reasons, and I like to see because it is more interesting than watching ice just sit there and stay flat.
We definitely missed some action last winter, for when O-buoy 12 was placed last October it pictured ice that was flat, but when the frost melted off the lens this spring a pressure ridge had appeared right in front of the camera’s nose, extending away. It likely was a close call, for I have seen pressure ridges topple cameras and make them dysfunctional. (On the other hand, these O-bouy cameras can fall in the water and they just bob around, continuing to take pictures.)
Nothing much is happening at the moment, but I include a picture from O-buoy 12 because it is just, plain beautiful. (That is actually a reason to sit around watching ice melt. Watching icw also is cooling to me, and it is 90° here in New Hampshire, today.) At the buoy it is hair below freezing, after being a hair above earlier. They had less of a freeze over the weekend, this far west.
And that’s the news from O-buoy land, for now.
It was pointed out to me that one of the Mass Balance Bouts is showing melting . It is 2015A. located right on the coast of Alaska, here:
If you refer back to the start of this post it can be seen that the coast has no snow-cover. Temperatures can be considerably warmer over the tundra once it is bare, under sunshine that lasts 24 hours a day, north the Arctic Circle, and nearly as long south of it. Incredible clouds of mosquitoes breed in pools of warm water, with permafrost not many feet beneath, and temperatures even in Siberia rise above 70° and have been known to approach 100°.
Tundra experiences extremes Antarctica doesn’t dream of, and the warmth of summer tundra explains the melting of inshore waters. Buoy 2015A: will allow us to watch it as it occurs.
Not that it is all that warm there right now. It is reporting a whopping +0.12° C, however when the sun stays up hour after hour, and temperatures remain above freezing, melting will occur, as can be seen. Here is a picture from when Bouy 2015A was set in place back on April 26:
It will be interesting to see if this inshore ice can survive even to July. I hope Buoy 2015’s camera can float.