We have passed the halfway point of the summer thaw, and from now on the periods of thaw tend to slowly be interspersed with periods of freezing. Ar first the downturn of temperatures is very gradual, but as time passes the sun sinks lower and lower, and when it touches the horizon in September the downturn becomes dramatic. (Green line in graph below.) (All illustrations in this post can be clicked to clarify and enlarge, or opened to new tabs when comparisons are desired.) This is not to say a summer thaw can’t extend more than a week longer than usual. A good example occurred in 1964, long before “Global Warming” became a topic outside the most rarefied circles. Many felt this summer’s graph should look like 1964’s, if not warmer, due to more than a year of warm El Nino conditions in the tropical Pacific. Instead, while milder than the past two summers, it has still been below normal most of the time, so far. (Red line, top graph). Adding to this puzzle is the fact the ice-extent graph, despite beginning the melting season with a head-start, compared to other years, has failed to melt away as fast as many expected. This post, like its predecessors, is merely observations on a scratch pad, as we watch what is occurs, plus some wondering as well. One cannot help but wonder, when seeing what wasn’t expected, but for the most part I try not to pretend I am an authority, and to merely be a witness.
I find the DMI pressure and temperature maps of the area north of 60° latitude helpful. The world looks different, when viewed from the top, and one gains a unique perspective on how weather systems operate.
Recently we have seen a textbook pattern, where the “Polar Cell” squats on or near the Pole, orbited by small low pressure systems which mark the boundary between the Polar Cell and the Ferrel Cell.. In the DMI pressure map below, the Polar high pressure is the yellow area just above the Pole, and I have dubbed it “Pohi”. (You’ll have to forgive me for naming systems; I’ve never been good with numbers). It is surrounded by six lows. “Beau” is north of Canada and weakening; the stronger ” Karazip” is well inland, in east-central Siberia; “Karason” is nosing into the Kara Sea, very weak “Laggard” is between Norway and Iceland, and its far stronger secondary, “Laggardson”, is off the map moving up from France towards the Baltic Sea, but most interesting to me is “Kara”, a retrograde low moving east into Fram Strait.
Most of these lows move west to east, seemingly propelled by the Ferrel Cell, but when they occlude they seem to hook up with the Polar Cell’s circulation and loop-de-loop back west. Occationally one, such as Kara, breaks out of the loop and continues merrily west. A few others assault the Pole itself, in which case you can throw your textbook out the window, for the Polar Cell becomes a doughnut, with a hole of low pressure in its middle.
What is interesting about the current textbook situation is that the ring of low pressures have created a ring of sub-freezing temperatures around the Pole. (The deepest shade of green on the temperature map.) These cold temperatures, and also the gloomy cloudiness associated with the lows, are situated right at the edge of the sea-ice, where melting is ordinarily liable to be fastest. I wonder if the slowness of this year’s melt might be partly explained by the storm tracks.
Our on-the-scene reporters are the various cameras bobbing about on the sea ice. My long-time favorite is the North Pole Camera, which I call “Faboo”. This year Faboo has been far slower to come south to Fram Strait, which has always been the graveyard of North Pole Cameras. Rather than a “pulverized pole” like last year, the ice Faboo is on seems more solid this year, and more difficult to flush south. Yesterday it traveled 6.92 miles SSW, which is more than usual, because winds were a stiff breeze up to 15 mph, whereas we are more used to seeing conditions with winds down around 5 mph, if not complete calm. Temperatures didn’t vary much, reaching a low oif +0.2° at 0600Z, and a high of +0.7°C at noon, before slipping back to +0.5°C at 2100z at our final report. (This data always comes in a day late.)
Faboo’s view was glorious sunshine and thaw a week ago, but this week has been mostly gloomy, with a little wet snow and a lot of drizzle. (I call the melt-water pool to the right “Lake Faboo”, in honor of a larger pool two summers ago that the media dubbed “Lake North Pole”, until it drained away overnight into a crack.) The first picture shows the first shreds of blue sky seen in a long while, but the second shows the drizzle is back.
Despite a long period of thaw, a fair amount of liquid precipitation, and now some stiff breezes, the ice pack shows no signs of breaking up. Usually you can see some leads and pressure ridges, at least in the far distance, but this year the solidity is noteworthy.
For action you have to head south around 360 miles, where O-buoy 9 has, after a drift of nearly two years from the Eurasian side of the Pole, crashed into the chaos north of Greenland and is in the process of being flushed down into Fram Strait. It is aboard a berg of dwindling size, and every picture it transmits is very different from the prior view.
Hopefully I’ll find time to add the other cameras tomorrow morning, but it is past my bedtime, so good night!
SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE
The focus I have continues to be the low Kara, which is weakening and filling in Fram Strait, and the high pressure Pohi, which is now extending towards Eurasia, with an arm extending down towards northern Scandinavia and then west towards Iceland, curving around Kara like a guy making his move at the movies on a date. (How’s that for an image?)
I am watching the temperatures carefully, because I’ve noticed cooling associated with these arctic storms, when they weaken and fill. It doesn’t make sense to me, for my simple logic tells me that when lifted air has rained out its moisture and then descends, it should be warmer, like the descending air in a Chinook. I’ve also been assured the air doesn’t radiate much heat upward into outer space, especially in 24 hour sunshine in July.
The tight gradient of isobars between Kara and Pohi has greatly slackened, and I look for light winds and calm between Fram Strait and the Pole. Meanwhile the cold air on the Pacific side persists, and is larger than it was yesterday. (Remember that in the 0000z maps noon is at the top and midnight at the bottom. Even though the sun doesn’t set, as you move away from the Pole it does get higher and lower in the sky, and there is a slight diurnal swing in temperatures. In the map below it is the warm part of the day up towards the Pacific, which makes the sub-freezing area all the more noteworthy.)
Conditions at Faboo must be windless, for the drops on the lens have only gravitated downwards slightly. They are all in the same position and only the smallest have dried up, so humidity must be high. It looks like a dank, grey day.
Down by Greenland O-buoy 9 also sees gray and calm conditions, with temperatures just rising back up to thaw after a dip below freezing. The calm is accented by the mirror-like reflections in the water, and the fact the small berg that has grounded on our berg hasn’t washed free in over half a day.
South of there in Fram Strait Buoy 2015E: is reporting +0.36°.
I’ll discuss the buoys over in the Beaufort Sea after church.
BEAUFORT SEA DISCUSSION
This area has been an embarrassment to me this year, as I was expecting mildness and melting due to the “warm” spoke in the PDO, and we haven’t seen much yet.
We are blessed with three cameras this year, where we only had one last year. Furthest south and furthest east, at roughly 76° N, 139.5°W, sits O-buoy 11. It resides on ice roughly 5 feet thick, but is interesting as just beyond a pressure ridge in the near distance is a lead that had repetitively opened up and then slammed shut, sometimes increasing the size of the pressure ridge with the violence of its slam. Today it slammed shut and then reopened. Winds have been around 9 mph, and temperatures barely poked above freezing before dipping back down.
Moving north and west from there we arrive at O-buoy 10, which was the lone buoy we watched last summer. It has been describing erratic circles the past year, as it is near the center of the Beaufort Gyre. Currently it is roughly at 77.5° N, 143.8° W. Today its view has gotten breezy, with winds at 15 mph, and temperatures just dipping below freezing after a day spent with temperatures a hair above freezing (and a raindrop on the lens of the first picture.). It has an impressive meltwater pool I call “Lake Beaufort” in the center of today’s view, but the camera drifts in a pool of its own, and tomorrow the camera may look in a different direction. Lake Beaufort seems no deeper, but is eroding its shorelines by melting them. Far to the west, at the boundary of the Chukchi sea, sits O-buoy 12 at roughly 77.5 N°, 164.3° W. Here is where I expected the warm PDO to have its greatest effect, as this buoy was closest to Bering Strait. However as soon as I made that forecast it drifted north away from the strait, and also experienced temperatures consistently below normal. I am convinced this buoy holds some sort of grudge against me and is out to make me look like a jackass. Lake Chukchi (the melt-water pool to the left) even started to skim over with ice right in the middle of the thaw season, but today we got back to thawing, and the breeze has stiffened to 18 mph, so maybe the ice will break up and the smart-Alex buoy will at last get its comeuppance.
The noticeable thing about the views this year is that the sunny pictures which I like are few and far between, and it is cold. The melt-water is ordinary, for the time of year, but on other years the ice has been thinner, and more fractured. In fact a few summers ago O-buoy 12’s view would have been open water.
The open water resulted in another source of on-the-ground reporting, which came from adventurers taking on the Northwest Passage. Some wanted to be the first to do so by row-boat, or kayak, or ski-do. Often they were sponsored by people concerned by the prospect of an ice-free Pole increasing the rate of Global Warming, and often their satellite pictures and postings were filled with the violins of pity for the planet, even as they ran into increasing ice and accidentally showed the Pole still had plenty of ice.
This year I’m still awaiting the first pictures from the passage. The NOAA ice map does show some open water along the northern coast of Alaska. And the satellite view suggests it might be possible to thread that needle. (East is down in this view, and the coast is to the left, with ice off shore.) Therefore I’m wondering why no one has started. Perhaps they know a shift in the winds can bring the ice south in a hurry, and one might suffer the fate of the fellow who got trapped for ten days on the ice last July. (It wasn’t sitting still that bothered him as much as it was the 1500 pound polar bears wandering about the boat, looking at him, and licking their lips.) And you have to admit it makes a fellow blush when, after talking a lot about Global Warming and an ice-free Pole, he needs to be rescued by a coast guard icebreaker. However I sure hope people aren’t letting a little thing like that discourage them. We need our on-the-ground reporters. If anyone knows of any, please alert me, because I do enjoy watching, from the safety of my armchair.
BRIEF EVENING REPORT
Yesterday Faboo swerved more to the west, traveling 3.19 miles to 86.016°N, 8.054°W. Temperatures rose from a low of +0.4°C at midnight to a high of +0.9°C at 1800z before falling back to +0.6°C at 2100Z The breezes slacked off to around 5 mph. The weather remained grey, with the drying drops on the lens looking odd, as if they might have frozen and then sublimated at the very end. We’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s data to know about that, as the Mass Balance Buoys are not reporting. Down at O-buoy 9 we are drifting to the east, passing 12° longitude again, in light winds of 5 mph and with temperatures just below freezing. I’ll discuss the maps tomorrow. My eyes are closing on their own.
MONDAY MORNING UPDATE
Kara is fading away north of Greenland, but retains just enough identity to create a weak southerly flow in Fram Strait.
Need to get to work. Mondays…….bah!
MONDAY EVENING UPDATE
Yesterday’s data shows that Faboo flinched, and actually backed away from Fram Strait, moving northwest 2.1 miles to 86.043°N, 8.257°W. The furthest south we got was 86.015°N at 0300Z Yesterday morning. We’ll have to carve a notch there and see how long it takes to get back that far south.
It is no small thing to stop the huge amount of ice involved in the transpolar drift, and set it all back on its heels. I always wonder if there are a lot of strange noises heard, as the ice changes direction, and all sorts of leads and pressure ridges formed. Apparently there was some sort of front involved as the ice changed direction, as the wind swing around over 100 degrees, roughly from NE to SSE, and the wind picked up from 4 mph to 13 mph. There was an odd plunge in temperatures just as the wind shifted, from +0.6°C to -0.1°C at 0600Z, though it rose right back up to + 0.6°C at 1500Z. Those temperatures represented yesterday’s low and high.
The view continues gray and monotonous. With winds swinging around to the south you might think we’d be getting warmer, but it doesn’t look like it will be right away. The current unofficial Mass Balance report has Faboo at -0.02° C, while down in Fram Strait at 77.74° N, 8.51° W Buoy 2015E: is reporting a surprisingly cold -1.68° C. Also south of Faboo, O-bouy 9 looks like it is down close to -2°CThis all fits in with my observation that fading arctic storms mysteriously generate cold air.
O-buoy 9 hasn’t been moving south, but has drifted east all the way to latitude 11°. Winds picked up to around 10 mph for a while but have slacked off to 5 mph. The first picture shows we finally, (perhaps helped by the breeze), shook of the hitchhiking freeloader-berg, which is drifting away, and the second picture shows we have run into a traffic jam. Over in the Beaufort Sea the O-buoys are generally seeing cold temperatures nudging up to a diurnal high at, or just above, freezing, with a breeze around 10 mph.
The DMI maps show Kara has nearly completely faded away north of Greenland, as Laggardson swings up from Scandinavia, but will be deflected south by an arm of Pohi, who is jealously defending the Pole. Pohi should be looking behind his back, however, for the inoculous-looking Beau, north of mainland Canada, may get a second wind. The temperature map shows warmer air at the west mouth of the Northwest Passage getting ready to clash with colder air just to its north.
A lot of what happens in Fram Strait depends on whether it remains in a southerly flow generated by the east side of Beau, or switches to a northerly flow generated by the west side of Laggardson.
There is more sub-freezing air around Fram Strait than we’ve seen in a while, especially at noon.
TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE
Not much new that I notice. Warm day at Svalbard, but warmth not making it north in Fram Strait. Circle of sub-freezing around core of thaw at Pole. Faboo’s view continues gray. To the south O-buoy 9 continues cold and relatively calm.
At O-buoy 10 Lake Beaufort looks larger, and perhaps ready to drain downwards. Thaw is at height. At O-buoy 11 the lead in the distance has reopened yet again. O-buoy 12 has really given me something to ponder at work today. A decent chunk of ice has grounded on the shores of Lake Chukchi, to the left, which makes me wonder what is going on off camera to the left. A lead may have opened in that direction, out of sight, and Lake Chukchi may now be a bay on the lead’s side. TUESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE
Yesterday’s data is in for Faboo, and shows we continued NW 4.65 miles to 86.109°N, 8.463°W. Air temperatures remained flat, slightly thawing, with a low of +0.4°C at the start and end of the period, and a high of +0.8°C at 1500Z. Winds were a breeze of 13 mph from the SE, swinging slightly to the SSE. The gray conditions persisted.
TUESDAY EVENING UPDATE —All Mass Balance Buoys report below freezing.—
You don’t see this all that often at the height of the summer thaw:
Buoy 2015B -0.82 C
Buoy 2015D -0.80 C
Buoy 2015E: -1.68 C
Buoy 2014F: -0.41 C
Buoy 2014G: -1.21 C
Buoy 2014I: -0.37 C
Buoy 2013F: -0.21 C
OK, OK, the latest Buoy 2015E report did just come in and show it just got above freezing down in Fram Strait, but that news would spoil our headline, wouldn’t it now?
GLITCH IN HUDSON BAY NRL THICKNESS DATA?
The NRL (Navel Research Lab) maps have always been great, but this year I suspect some glitch is effecting the thickness maps. At least those thickness maps don’t make ice vanish, where it still exists, as some other maps do, however they seem to show ice as being far thinner than it actually is. For nearly a month it has been showing the remaining ice as being quite thin in Hudson Bay, only six inches thick in places, as other maps and charts produced by the Canadian Ice Service tell a different story.
This is a picture of the the CCGS Pierre Radisson escorting the oil tanker Havelstern to Iqaluit on July 17, so the people there can have heating oil for the coming winter. That ice does not look as thin as the NRL maps suggest. Ice breakers ordinarily have the summer off in Hudson Bay, and can be hired by scientists. The fact scientists had their research interrupted by the very real needs of very real people resulted in some sarcasm on the part of Skeptics.
Actually this possible glitch is a matter of concern. If the thickness data is seriously under-estimated, and is put into the concentration forecast, then the ten-day-forecast can quite logically be expected to predict the ice will melt away within ten days. And this is exactly what the forecast been doing since June.
The glitch shows up quite clearly when you compare the NRL thickness map for this year with the map for the same date on the record-setting year of low ice extent, 2012. According to this comparison, we have significantly less ice this year, (Hat tip to poster “Jusse” over at “Real Science” for creating this comparison.)
If we truly have so much less ice than 2012 then we are about to see Alarmists become very happy, for the extent graphs will take a dive below even 2012. However if it is a glitch, it should be fixed before the embarrassment becomes too keen.
O-BUOY PICTURES FROM EARLIER
The O-buoy cameras aren’t reporting, but here are some pictures I saved in the afternoon. It is cold atop Greenland, and looks like they are getting slushy snow in Beaufort Sea, with clearing over towards Bering Strait and O-buoy 12.
WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE
“Laggardson” is starting to fade in the North Atlantic, drifting down towards Iceland rather than invading Fram Strait, and it looks like in its lee “Nolag” will take a similar route, up through the Baltic and then loop-de-looping back into the Atlantic, at first towards Svalbard and then back down towards Iceland. Some milder air does invade Barents Sea, but looks like it will primarily be swept west and not north. For the time being the circle of sub-freezing temperatures stands strong around the “Pohi” and the Pole.
The storm of most interest to me is “Beau”, which is now strengthening in the Beaufort Sea. This looks like it will sneak in behind Pohi, and be the closest thing we’ve seen to a polar storm in a while. Currently it is not forecast to deepen much below 1000mb, or have winds much above 20 mph, however it should budge us into a new pattern. Pohi looks like it should retreat to Eurasia and the Atlantic side.
It is midnight in the second (lower) temperature map above, and it should be noted the area of sub-freezing temperatures has significantly expanded. The question not troubling world leaders in capitals across the globe is, “Where did the heat go?”
It will be interesting to see Faboo’s official data from yesterday when it comes out this afternoon. The unofficial Mass Balance reports have had it dipping below freezing and drifting northwest, at -0.70° C at last report. The weather continues to be a tedious grayness. Lake Faboo looks glassy, so the breeze pushing us north has likely died down to a calm. For excitement we have to head south to O-buoy 9 off the northeast tip of Greenland. Winds have picked up to 15 mph, our ice has stopped drifting east and has lurched west, temperatures have risen to just below freezing, and another chunk of the berg we ride upon has fallen away. The ice has eroded dangerously close to our camera, and we could be bobbing in the drink soon.
South by southeast of there Buoy 2015E: is reporting +0.10° C, and may be already in the drink as it is reporting an ice-thickness of -8 cm. Negative thickness is a new concept to me, and I am having a hard time getting my mind around it, perhaps because, until my first coffee kicks in, my mind is afflicted by negative thickness.
Over in Beaufort Sea both O-buoy 10 and O-buoy 11 look like they are starting to feel the effects of the developing low pressure “Beau”, as both have had teary lenses. Both have seen temperatures just below freezing. O-buoy 10 has seen the stronger breezes, with winds at 20 mph, and has recently cleared its eyes. It’s view has swung around to the left of Lake Beaufort.O-buoy 11 has gone all weepy on us and is sharing a fairly useless view, with winds at 11 mph.O-buoy 12 is of interest to me. Lake Chukchi has significantly expanded. Because small bergs beached on the shore to our left, and then drifted away, I’m tempted to say there is a lead and open water behind us, however Lake Chukchi itself does not behave like a lead, for the ice on the far side does not move in relation to where we view from. We also know that, while the lowest part of Lake Chukchi may have punched through to the sea, it has a bottom and shallower areas. You can see why a satellite might have a hard time differentiating between open water and ice covered by water. There is still a chance Lake Chukchi might abruptly drain, and prove to be pure melt-water, but I never recall seeing melt-water pools with individual bergs drifting in them before.
August and early September tend to see a lot of breaking-up of ice in the Beaufort, Chukchi and East Siberian seas, and we may be seeing the start of it here. I actually was expecting it earlier in the summer, due to the “warm” spike in the PDO, but this rascal buoy had to wait until I ventured that maybe it had drifted far enough north to avoid the break-up, before doing it. I tell you, this buoy has a grudge against me, though I haven’t a clue what I ever did to deserve it.
WEDNESDAY EVENING UPDATE —Faboo continues north—
Faboo continued to regress north towards the Pole, now slanting a little east of north. The furthest west we reached was 8.484°W at 1800Z Monday. Yesterday we traveled 6.03 miles, which is decent progress for summer, but in completely the wrong direction if we intend to get to Fram Strait before nightfall in September. Our position at the end of yesterday’s report was 86.195°N, 8.220°W. We were blown north by a southerly wind that veered slightly to the SSW, blowing a steady 16 mph for half a day before slacking off to 11 mph at the end of the period. Strangely, the south wind brought cold temperatures, with the day’s high at the very start, +0.3°C at midnight, before sinking to -0.7°C at 0600Z, rising to a second high of -0.2°C at 1800Z and then falling slightly to -0.4°C at our final report at 2100Z. This was not merely pools of cold air wafting about in calm conditions. This was a steady, cold, sub-freezing wind. The unofficial Mass Balance reports showed we continued below freezing this morning, but made it back to a very slight thaw at +0.17° C later. The camera continues to gaze forlornly over a gray landscape, with the reflection in Lake Faboo suggesting yesterday’s winds have abated, or the water has glassed over (which I doubt).
To the south Buoy 2015E: is at +0.01°, and may be far enough south to be touched by Laggardson’s winds.
O-BUOY’S WITNESSING CRACK-UP OF ICE
On the northeast corner of Greenland O-buoy 9 has only a fragment of its foundation berg left, and has been through strong, 20 mph breezes that have pushed it south and west, with temperatures right at freezing. I can’t ever recall a camera bobbing on so small a platform before.
Over in the Beaufort Sea O-buoy 10 is the one camera still seeing fracture-free ice, as the winds of “Beau” come north. Temperatures have been below freezing, but it the wind that does the damage, and winds were up at 27 mph earlier, before falling back to the current 15mph. The camera has swung right around and Lake Beaufort now lies behind our back. O-buoy 11, further south, has seen the ice crack up right at its feet with temperatures below freezing and winds rising to 18 mph. The swiftness of the crack-up has been impressive. Over towards the west O-buoy 12 continues to remain stable midst its crack-up, with less water and more ice apparent now. In fact, if I didn’t have the earlier pictures I could draw the wrong conclusions, and assume Lake Chukchi was draining. Temperatures are back up towards freezing after taking a dive earlier to around -2.2°C. Winds have risen again to 16 mph.
O-buoy 12 seems to be situated on a fairly solidly-packed, old pressure ridge which may allow us to enjoy a long ride before we get dumped, Once these cameras get dumped the pictures are all over the place and from erratic angels as the buoy bobs, and can give you a case of whiplash.
The break-up of the ice is a yearly event, and usually is a time of rejoicing for Alarmists, and gloom for many Skeptics. It doesn’t show up much on the extent graph, as the ice can be as little as 15% of the area and still “make the graph”. In fact sometimes the extent can actually increase as the ice breaks up, as it can spread out more and cover a larger area. The current dip in the extent graph may be more due to the opposite happening north of Fram Strait; ice that was spreading out is being pushed back north and consolidating. In any case, the graph does continue to plunge every year for another 30 days before it even starts to think of bottoming out. Even though “Beau” is weak, as polar storms go, it is forecast to wobble about the Beaufort Sea for a week, and models suggest it will get two new infusions of energy, and rather than simply fading will get a second wind, and then a third wind. It may be able to churn the seas a bit, now that the ice is breaking up, and this will tell us a lot about the temperature of the water under the ice. If the “warm” spike of the PDO has been able to slip a layer of warmer water under the ice, like a playing card slipping into a deck, then the ice may vanish swiftly as it did the summer gale of 2012. However if the water under the ice is not stratified and is colder, the ice will be churned about by storms and not melt all that much, which occurred when a gale spun atop the planet during the summer of 2013. It will be interesting to watch. Among other things, I’ll be watching the location of the lows center, to see if that has much to do with the break up of the ice, and I’ll also be watching to see if the low “creates cold.”
The DMI maps, with noon at the bottom, shows the sub-freezing air gone from the Atlantic side, but impressive on the Pacific side.
THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE
“Nopo” getting shifted towards the Atlantic by “Beau” over the Beaufort Sea as Larggardson weakens east of Greenland. Nolag moving up into the Baltic to follow Laggardson. Mild air drawn north through the Canadian Archipelago towards the Pole.
Faboo is in a cqalm area between competing systems. Conditions continue gray, with temperatures either side of freezing.
O-buoy 9 continues its precarious ride on a surfboard of ice. O-buoy 10 sees slackening winds and temperatures just below freezing. It is close to “Beau”.A very pretty picture from O-buoy 11, which I think is drifting on its own now, free of an ice foundation. Temperatures are just below freezing, with Beau’s winds slackening.O-buoy 12 is coldest of our buoys, with the drifting ice currently crushing together but definitely broken up. Winds are slackening here as well.I may not have time to post later. Temperatures are heading up to the 90°s here in New Hampshire again, and there is nothing like dealing with a mob of kids in heat to keep a man busy and humble (but hopefully not too crabby). My plan is to turn on the hose and keep them wet. In the back of my mind I’ll be thinking of sea-ice.
THURSDAY EVENING REPORT
Faboo slowed down as the winds died down to a complete calm yesterday. We only traveled 1.53 miles, but it was away from Fram Strait. We moved northeast, with our most eastward longitude 8.190°W at 0300Z, and then traveled northwest, with our northernmost latitude being 86.215°N at noon, and then floated due west, with our final position at 86.214°N, 8.393°W.
Yesterday’s data showed us complete a period of 24 hours with temperatures below freezing, with our low at -0.4°C at the start of our data at 2100Z Wednesday, (and still at -0.4°C at midnight, if you insist on starting the day there), and still right at freezing at 0300Z. Then we popped up to the days high of +0.4°C at 0600Z, but were back down to the freezing mark again at 0.0°C at 2100Z.
For the most part the view was gloom, gloom, gloom, but Fabootwo (the second and inferior camera, did catch just a hint of clearing, minutes before midnight yesterday.
Faboo, however, remains in a blue funk: O-buoy 9 saw rthe winds die to a calm, with temperatures right at freezing.O-buoy 10, co-located with Mass Balance Buoy 2014F, is reporting temperatures about a half degree below freezing, and the ice is srill four feet thick, but must be under duress as winds have picked back up to 20 mph. The darkness of the clouds on the left horizon may be due to those clouds reflecting the hue of open water. Obuoy 11 is now sailing free, though likely getting bumped a lot by bergs. If an icebreaker is available they will likely pick this buoy up. Temperatures remain just below freezing, and winds are picking back up to 18 mph. O-buoy 12 is on the south (Bering Strait) side of Beau, and in some of the coldest air over the arctic. It’s companion buoy 2014G last reported a temperature of -1.12°C. This is not conducive to summer thaw, nor is the lack of sunshine conducive to warming waters. It seems likely that the ice broke up because, after crunching north for a considerable period, Beau’s winds started to blow the ice south, which allowed for many leads to start to open up. (There is no way to be sure that O-buoy 12 and 2014G are on the same piece of ice, and they could drift far apart. For the time being I’ll be assuming they are close together, but it is an assumption.) The DMI maps show midnight at the top and noon at the bottom. The area of sub-freezing air on the Pacific side has enlarged over the past 24 hours. The remains of “Karazip” (and some additional Pacific energy) are likely to cross Bering Strait and supply a spoke of additional energy to Beau, giving it a second wind. “Karason” has generally stagnated south of the Kara Sea, but pumped mild air north into an easterly flow from the Kara Sea clear to Iceland, but the mildness can’t seem to penetrate north of Svalbard (so far). “Laggardson” is fading fasr south of Fram Strait, and is now little more than an appendage of “Nolag”, which is looping up off Norwa. A Johny-come-lately low is joining the fray, crossing the Atlantic beneath Iceland, (I’ll call it “Lately.”) Last but not least, (and perhaps worthy of my focus tomorrow), downright hot air surged north to the ice in Hudson Bay, and has clashed with the cold up there and is brewing up a new storm, over at the left (nine o’clock) of the map. I’ll call it “Clash.”
The mildest invasion continues to be through the Canadian Archipelago, on the “warm” side of Beau. The Pole is warmer than the Beaufort Sea.This mild invasion passes right over the Northwest Passage, and hopefully will encourage some adventurers to attempt the passage, so we have some on-the-ground reporters.
FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE
“Pohi” is now basically a ridge separating “Beau” on the Pacific side from “Nolag” over Scandinavia. Noon is at the top of the maps, and the warming on the Pacific side is likely diurnal, as is the appearance of sub-freezing air north of the Kara Sea and Fraz Josef Land. The ridge creates calm in Fram Strait, and Faboo looks to again be in a very slight southerly flow, though it did shift very slightly southeast overnight, according to the unofficial Mass Balance report, with temperatures rising from -0.10°C to +0.29°C. The view continues gray, though perhaps there is hope of a change in the weather in the central distance. O-buoy 9 sees near calm, fog, and temperatures just above freezing down at the northwest entrance to Fram Strait.O-buoy 10 seems to be swinging around to look at “Lake Beaufort”, with temperatures nearly a degree below freezing and winds of 15 mph. It may have wet snow in its eye.O-buoy 11 continues to bob in a strong breeze of 18 mph, (notice slightly tilted horizon) with temperatures dipping back below freezing.O-buoy 12 continues to experience sub-freezing temperatures and a steady wind around 9-12 mph. It rides a berg with a pointed bow like a battleship. “Beau” has been pushing us south into waters with more elbow room, and it looks like this spreading-out of ice along the Beaufort-Chukchi boundary will continue for as long as Beau mills about to the northwest. This can create upticks in the extent graphs, though of course there is no increase of actual ice.
FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE
The official data reports what we already knew: It was calm at Faboo yesterday. We again barely budged, floating largely west but slightly south 1.14 miles to a final position of 86.203°N, 8.579°W. Winds were light from the north, dropping to a dead calm at the end of the period. Temperatures began right at freezing at the start and rose to a high of +0.7°C at noon, and only dropping to +0.6°C at the end of our reporting period at 2100Z. Likely we are in the milder air brought north by “Beau”. The Pole is warmer than areas surrounding it.
Faboo saw the sun come out at long last. The “snow bow” was a nice touch, but hints at colder air. To the south Buoy 2015E: is now firmly in the control of the south-bound current, and saw daytime temperatures rose from +0.15°C to +0.97°C. It likely is in calm conditions, still north of the flow of air brought all the way from Central Siberia, across the Kara, Barents and Greenland Seas.
O-buoy 9 continued to teeter at the brink of heading down into Fram Strait, heading east (seemingly more by tide than by wind, as it was fairly calm) to 10.5° longitude, and sending us beautiful pictures of sea-ice. This is what I like to look at on hot summer days. Check out how much ice is under water. Then check out the big berg in the distance of the second picture, and consider how much of that sucker is hidden. (These pictures can be clicked to enlarge and clarify.)
The final picture is from at midnight local time, and shows you that at 80.5° latitude the days of midnight sunshine are drawing to a close. O-buoy 10 has seemingly recieved a remarkable summer snow, for an area which is in some ways a desert, or at least semi-arid. The melt-water looks milky and likely has been made slushy with snow. The camera has swung back around and in the final picture we are looking at Lake Beaufort. The island in it is called “Casper Island” for some reason. You can see it is furry with new snow, which can make extent graphs jump up. Fresh snow has the highest albedo of anything except aluminum foil. This ice is under duress, as the breeze has been steady and strong, and recently up to 27 mph. Temperatures have been at freezing or just below. O-buoy 11 is further east and south, and winds are not as string (18 mph) nor has there been obvious snow, though it sure was foggy earlier. It is cold, and the the fresh-water puddles atop bergs look like they are glassing over. (Note the slush in the seawater in the third picture, at the very bottom of the photo.) O-buoy 12 has veered and niw ic cruising SE rather than SW. It continues to experience the coldest temperatures of all our buoys, even though it is so far south it isn’t included in the SMI arctic temperatures graph, which only includes temperatures north of 80°.
The DMI maps show the “midnight” expansion of cold air on the Pacific side. The small pockets of sub-freezing air on the Atlantic side, north of Greenland and north of Franz Josef Land are a bit surprising, as it is noon down on that side.
SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE
Noon is at the top of the above maps, and the chill holds even during the “warm” part of the day over the Beaufort Sea. It looks like reinforcing energy is moving up into “Beau” to keep it spinning. It is not much of a storm, compared to other summer gales, but it has kept the sun from shining and has dumped summer snows in places. Currently its pressure is over 1000mb, but it may dip below 1000mb after gobbling up the reinforcements.
Pohi continues to exist as a ridge separating Atlantic from Pacific. On the Atlantic side Nolag has loop-de-looped back west and is weakening northeast of Iceland, but has kicked energy east across Finland. There is a long easterly fetch from the Kara Sea all the way to Greenland, and I can’t help but wonder what that does to the flow of warmer surface waters into Barents Sea. Perhaps it blocks the import of milder, northern tendrils of Gulf Stream waters, if it is a long-duration event.
Off the map, a tight little summer gale has departed Newfoundland and making the Atlantic crossing, and could be a newsworthy gale west of Scotland tomorrow evening. I’ll dub it “Tite”.
Faboo gives us a nice picture of midnight sun, with light wind and unofficial temperatures dipping to +0.15°C. The pictures from Fabootwo show an alien robot popping in on the right side to wave at the camera, and then vanishing. I think that may be the Mass Balance Buoy, and also a fine example of how these buoys can make their own private pools.
To the south O-buoy 9 is bobbing about, bumping into bergs, with its camera swinging wildly about. In pictures an hour apart we first look away from the sun and then towards it. The first picture looks east, and I think the horizon may hold a distant view of Greenland. Winds remain fairly light ant temperatures are just above freezing. Over in the Beaufort Sea all three cameras make it look gray, stormy and perhaps snowy. “Beau” is having an influence. I think I’ll conclude this post now, and start another. I hope I haven’t stressed you out too much with the wild excitement of watching ice melt. You have to admit it has been an incredibly exciting week, with a polar storm, the ice-break-up, and two buoys into the drink. Who knows what next week will hold? Stock up on tranquilizers.