I am in catch-up mode, because business has to come before pleasure and sometimes I don’t have time to do justice to the ongoing story of this year’s sea-ice melt. Sorry if this report seems sloppy.
There have been some huge and (from afar) beautiful super-typhoons rolling towards China and Japan in the Pacific, and then curving north, which is typical of El Nino situations. I haven’t been paying proper attention to them, as I have only so many brain cells left after a misspent youth, and they get used up attending to mundane stuff. After all, I can’t be everywhere and pay attention to everything.
Just because I can’t pay attention doesn’t mean I can’t (in a sense) delegate attending to others. I don’t have to pay these delegates, for often they don’t even know they are attending for me.
An example of this involves my goats. I might be taking them out for a walk to a place where they can chow down on something they like, such as acorns, and my mind may be engrossed in significant things (such as thinking up a word that rhymes with “typhoons” to put in this post’s title), however I keep an eye out for any sign the goats are noticing something I’m not. Often they do, and alert me to things I’d never notice: A fox in the distance, or the signs in the dirt that a bear also likes acorns, and has been by recently.
Actually that is a lousy example, because it makes it sound like I am calling a brilliant meteorologist a goat. (I am always accidentally offending people with impudent innocence.) However when Joseph D’Aleo pauses to scrutinize a typhoon on a map at his Weatherbell site it is in some way like when my goats stop to scrutinize something I don’t see. It wakes me up to the fact I’m missing something.
These typhoons aren’t quite behaving the way El Nino typhoons are suppose to behave. They are suppose to translate into huge north Pacific gales that roll into the Gulf of Alaska. Instead they run aground off Kamchatka. Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps from the Weatherbell site are showing it happening yet again. High Pressure gets in the way, and the gale that develops in the Gulf of Alaska is not directly related to the typhoon, although teleconnected. The typhoon is blocked from curving east.
TODAY TOMORROW FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
The energy of the blocked typhoon may blurb over the top of the ridge using mysterious powers of teleconnection, but to a bumpkin like me it seems a lot of the actual moisture and convection cannot make it east, and comes north towards us at the Pole. In fact I have a hunch the low northeast of Bering Strait in the first map is left-overs from a similar blocked-typhoon situation a while back, and even as this low fades in the Bering Sea, we should expect a copy to evolve from this current typhoon in ten days.
In any case quite a ruckus is going on on the Pacific side, and I think it may be pushing Polar weather over to the Atlantic side. I think I’ll name the low in the Beaufort Sea “Ruckus”.
On Monday Faboo dawdled around the same spot until noon, and then began inching south, while constantly drifting west, ending the day at 86.190°N, 12.717°W, which is 2.68 miles the wrong way (west) if we want to get to Fram Strait. However the real news was the temperatures, which crashed from a high of -1.0°C at midnight to a low of -4.9°C at 0600Z, and only could recover to -3.3°C at 1500Z before ending the period at -4.1° Cat 2100Z.
Yesterday Faboo continued southwest to 86.168°N, 13.157°W., which is 2.53 miles from where we started. Unless we work back east there remains the slight chance we will be the first North Pole Camera ever to get sucked into the Beaufort Gyre. Temperatures remained cold, dropping to -5.0°C at 0500Z, which is the coldest we’ve seen since Spring. After that there was steady warming, but only to -2.9°C at the final report. Judging from unofficial reports, we could soon go a week without thaw. (Remember that it takes time for the cold to chill downwards through four feet of ice. As cold as it is, the underside of the ice is not yet reached by the cold, and is still melting away.) Up on the top, all Faboo can see is cold landscape with no signs of thaw.
O-BUOY 9 STARTING SOUTH
It may look like the buoy is hesitating, but I think it is too far gone to stop now.With temperatures crashing to -5°C, I once might have thought the buoy could be frozen to a standstill, but such things do not happen in Fram Strait. It could be -20°C and still the ice surges south. The pictures remind us we are not talking about a stable icecap. We are talking about a stormy sea.
BEAUFORT BUOYS HIT BY RUCKUS
Ruckus could be our “summer gale” this year. O-buoy 10 is showing signs of the ice breaking up. The first image shows a lead opening up below the horizon to the left, as the camera stops moving south and lurches north in south winds.The next image sows signs of thawing in the south winds.The next image shows the sun actually sets, south of 80° latitude, but Ruckus has brought south winds of 20 mph and thawing.The final image shows our camera has swung around counter-clockwise slightly in its private melt-water pool, as thaw continues. Ice break-up seems near at hand to me.
O-buoy 11 also has experienced 20 mph winds and thawing, but rather than ice being dispersed and melted the buoy has traveled north back into the pack ice. Wind have recently dropped, along with temperatures, towards calm and freezing.
O-buoy 12 may have run into trouble, as winds increased to gusts likely of gale force and temperatures that dropped below freezing. It too was pushed north to pack ice, but then lurched south. The camera is currently blank, and the weather information delayed, but the GPS still is working.
Maybe it just got really, really foggy. Not that I’d mind all that much of O-buoy 12 was sunk. It has been making me look bad all summer. Not that it is all that hard, considering even my goats see things I miss.
With the typhoons jamming up south of Bering Strait, I really should have seen this storm “Ruckus” coming. The only good I can see in the situation involves the fact I’ve thought of a word that rhymes with typhoon.
O-Buoy 12 Flattened.
The screen continues to show white, but perhaps the pitch and roll graphs tell the story:
Unless the heavy seas somehow broke the keel off, these buoys are designed to bob back upright when flattened in open water. Therefore I surmise open water is not involved. This seems an incident of titanic proportions. (Ha Ha) Some collision with sea ice seems likely, which seems an odd fate for a buoy some maps show as being in open water.
One accidental benefit of falling behind is that I get to see these maps as more of a sequence, and can spot progressions more easily.
The big news in these maps is the arrival of Ruckus from the Pacific, however Dawdle south of Iceland may also be interesting to watch, as it may develop a secondary on an occluded front north of Norway on Sunday, and that secondary may in turn develop a secondary on its occlusion that makes a charge for the Pole next week. The high pressure “Hichuk” over the Pole is getting it from all sides, and likely will fade. In fact we are seeing a pattern switch. I suppose it was to be expected, for when you build a nice cold pool over the Pole it is bound to fuel some action.
O-BUOY 10 EXPERIENCES ICE BREAK-UP
It broke up in a hurry, once it got started, likely due to the winds of Ruckus pulling the ice in different directions.
O-BUOY 12 FACE PLANT
The fact the picture is different at all is a good sign, though I’m nervous those thin lines might be a broken lens. The “roll” is still at 90 degrees, which suggests the buoy is horizontal and taking a break. (Someone tell the boss.) I imagine it is looking up, due to the brightness of the picture. There is still no readout from the weather instruments.
THURSDAY FABOO REPORT
Yesterday Faboo continued south and west 4.77 miles to 86.124°N, 13.952. Temperatures continued cold with the “daytime” high -3.7°C at noon, and the low -5.6°C at 1800Z. Unofficial reports suggest we have continued the southwest motion and cold temperatures today as well, with a dusting of snow. As the Pacific side gets bashed apart by “Ruckus”, the Atlantic side looks as solid as rock.
O-BUOY 9 REPORT
Light southwest winds are drifting us back north and east, as temperatures climb back up towards freezing. This buoy, at least, is seeing some nice weather. Hopefully the sun will melt the slush from the right corner of its eye.
O-BUOY 11 REPORT
O-buoy 11 is experiencing lighter winds, and has stopped drifting north and drifted south slightly, as the calmer center of “Ruckus” passes. Temperatures are just above freezing.
I apologize in advance for the fact postings may be sparse over the next few days due to the fact I am busy and also need to post from a foreign computer, as this old, faithful pile of junk needs work.
SATURDAY CAMPGROUND REPORT
I am taking some time off, but before I go fishing in a lazy, sandy-bottomed stream I figured I’d see what is possible with an alien laptop.
Well, that took too long. It shows Ruckus is still wreaking ice in the Beaufort Sea, and Dawdle has kicked Dawdleson up towards Norway to lead an attack on the Pole from the Atlantic side. Hichuk sits on the Pole like an officer who thinks he is directing traffic but who is about to be run over.
The temperature map shows Ruckus lifting mild air up over the Pacific side, and mild Atlantic surge fighting north over Scandinavia. Less obvious are the outbreaks of Polar air, which I can’t emphasize without access to Weatherbelle and Dr. Ryan Maue Maps.(This alien computer requires a password I can’t remember off the top of my head.) I do remember East Siberia was colder than usual for this early. When warmth invades the Pole there is always cold blurbing south somewhere else, if you look for it.
Before I go fishing I am going to try to download an essay on rotten ice that insomnia allowed me to write
WHEN ICE CAN’T BE TRUSTED
I did say it looked like the ice O-buoy 10 rode on appeared likely to soon break up, and it did promptly break up, so I figure I deserve a pat on the back for that. I don’t get things right all that often. The thing that puzzles me is why it was such an easy call. It is not enough to simply say that I have spent years walking on ice in New England, and that, in the spring, a day comes when you eyeball the ice and simply don’t trust it any more. That isn’t science. That is experience.
A couple of times I have been curious enough to walk on the Ice when I no longer trusted it, making sure to do so in shallow water I could wade in. It seemed the ice lost its structural integrity. It goes from being a solid block to being many small crystals with the consistency of corn snow. As boys we noticed this spoil the ice hockey during a January thaw, though in that case it was only on the surface, (and it didn’t keep us from playing and winding up sopping wet). It is when the ice reaches a certain temperature from top to bottom that you simply cannot trust it. It then becomes what some call “rotten ice”.
There are scientific instruments that take the temperature of the sea-ice from top to bottom, and it is interesting to see the changes the ice goes through.
In the dead of winter it is usually coldest at the top, and warmest at the bottom. At the top, when blown free of snow, the ice can be nearly as cold as the winter winds, which can get down to minus forty at the center of the Pole, an colder where winds roar off the tundra. At the bottom the ice is at the freezing point of salt water. The heat is constantly moving upwards through the ice, but when the supply is less than the demand the ice get colder, even at the very bottom, which is why it is able to freeze the water it is floating on. The only exception to this rule is when winter storms suck milder air north over the ice, and then the ice briefly experiences springtime conditions.
In the spring the ice increasingly may be colder than the air blowing over it. At first the ice may be at -30 and the air at -20, in which case, down at the bottom, the supply of heat in the seawater is still too small to meet the demand from above, and the ice keeps expanding downwards, even though the ice is starting to be “warmed” from above.
As time passes the air above the ice warms until, while still below the freezing point of salt water, a profile of the ice shows a sort of sandwich, with the coldest ice in the middle. The exact point at which the ice at the bottom stops growing and starts shrinking involves nuance of thermodynamics I don’t claim to understand, but the tipping point seems to have more to do with the temperature of the middle of the ice than what is happening up at the top. It also matter whether the water is coming from a warm source or not. I have seen ice grow at the bottom despite thaws at the surface, and ice shrink at the bottom despite flash freezes at the surface.
It always seems to take a long time for thaw season to begin, as heat must move down to warm the ice beneath. Also the heat moving up from the bottom reaches a point where its supply exceeds the demand, which does not necessarily show as the bottom melting, but will show as the ice in the middle being warmed from beneath. The sandwich-effect fades in the ice profile, as the middle-ice is warmed from both above and below, until the ice arrives at the “rotten ice” stage, where it is at the freezing point from top to bottom.
Whether that “rotten ice” then breaks up or not depends most on whether it experiences calm conditions, or strong winds, and also whether the wind converge, pressing the ice together, or diverge, spreading the ice apart. To a lesser degree it depends on whether the refreeze can create enough of a crust on top of the ice to increase the structural integrity. This is not so easy to do, and I have observed ice break up even after the refreeze was well underway. Lastly, the break-up is more likely if the water under the ice is warmer than usual due to the “warm” phase of a PDO or AMO.
The break-up of O-buoy 10 seemed likely because it was moving south into relatively open water (diverging) and that water was warmed by the “warm” PDO. That break-up was delayed but not denied by flash freezes and calm conditions. When thaw resumed and winds increased, the ice disintegrated swiftly. It had met the criterion for structural weakness.
Faboo has not yet met that criterion, and remains the only buoy left on sound ice. Until (and unless) Faboo moves down into Fram Strait that ice is likely to remain firm, though the Atlantic is now hurling some late-season challenges north.
FABOO REPORT Westward Ho!
The above graph demonstrates how the bottom melt continues despite a solid week of very cold conditions at the surface. It will take a while for the cold to penetrate to the water, however the surface is likely firmer, and any open leads between floes will be freezing over.
Faboo has continued to creep south and slide west. Thursday’s report had us move 6.31 miles southwest and reach 86.062°N,14.940°W, and Friday’s had us move 5.10 further southwest and wind up at 86.026°N, 15.890°W.
FABOO SOUTH OF 86 DEGREES
On Saturday Faboo progressed 4.35 miles southwest to 85.996°N, 16.687°W, which is the furthest south it has reached all summer. This is still further north and west of most North Pole Cameras. If a polar storm doesn’t soon blow it southeast it may be sucked into the Beaufort Gyre. Conditions remain cold.DMI MAPS SHOWING MINUS FIVE ISOTHERM
WEAK LOWS CROWD HICHUK OFF POLE
Photo credit: http://passportamericaclub.blogspot.com/2014/04/ashuelot-river-campground-swanzey-nh.html
FABOO TASTES WINTER
Faboo continued southwest 5.72 miles on Sunday, arriving at 85.933°N, 17.455°W. Temperatures remained cold, with a high of -2.6°C at midnight and the coldest we had seen to date, (since June), of -7.3°C at 1500Z. On Monday the westward motion stopped at 0900Z at 17.663°W and motion wobbled back east, as Faboo continued south, slowing to 4.03 miles south-southwest and arriving at 85.876°N, 17.639°W. Temperatures recovered to the period’s high of -3.6°C at midnight, and stayed in that general vicinity until the very end of the period, when the official record shows an abrupt drop to -10.7°C.
I can’t help but wonder if that is a glitch. That is impressive cold for the last day of August. Someone with more time than I have might look through old records, to see if this is the earliest any North Pole Camera has seen -10.0°C surpassed. It raises my eyebrows, and fuels a suspicion I have that we are not properly accounting for some way the arctic atmosphere loses heat.
The unofficial Mass Balance reports show we recovered to -4.81° C, which we would have called very cold a week ago. However, as the skies clear there can be little short-term hope of warming, with the sun sinking so low at midnight. Notice that Lake Faboo has vanished under fresh snow. September 1 is early for the melt-water pools to vanish. I suppose one could say Faboo is much further north than other North Pole Cameras have been, but there is no avoiding the fact the starting points were the same, and this ice is more solid.
COAST GUARD ICEBREAKER “HEALY” CRUSHING TOWARDS POLE
I thank “Bit Chilly” for alerting me to the fact that, even as we have lost the eyes of O-buoy 12, we have gained the vision of USCGC Healy as it crunches its way north through ice 4 to 5 feet thick towards the Pole. Here’s a good picture from yesterday of re-frozen melt-water pools.
As of 3:00 Shop Time today they had reached Lon: -179.803568 ° Lat: 87.511580 ° and the air temperature was -5.67 ° C. You can track them yourself at http://icefloe.net/uscgc-healy-track-map
Their webcam gives hourly pictures and can be accessed at http://icefloe.net/Aloftcon_Photos/index.php?album=2015
The most recent picture is from !:00 AM tomorrow, which suggests ship time may be Greenwich Mean Time. Here’s the view up near the Pole:
There has been a lot of discussion about whether these icebreakers hasten the ice melt by breaking up the ice. My own view is that they only do so at the edge of the ice, where the ice is very slushy and can disperse. In springtime harbors and channels icebreakers could speed the time it takes for those waters to be safe for other boats. However where the ice is refreezing and not entirely slushy they has the effect of a flea. Boats following them need to stay close or they will be frozen in by the ice “healing” the artificial lead they create, and when the ice pinches in from either side the icebreaker itself can be stopped. The track of Healy shows a quirk at Lon: 174.867200 ° Lat: 83.674818 ° on August 27 where I imagine they avoided some thicker ice.
Of course the enormous Russian Icebreakers such as “Fifty Years Of Victory” can crunch through much thicker ice, and this time of year make money bringing tourists to the Pole. If you want to go sign up at Quark Expeditions, at http://www.quarkexpeditions.com/en/our-ships/50-years-of-victory for a jaunt on this ship:
As huge as the Russian ships are, they are still fleas in the scheme of things. Remember that. even during the coldest part of winter, leads many miles wide can appear in the arctic sea-ice, be covered by a skim of ice a couple of feet thick, and then be slammed shut with all that skim of ice becoming a pressure ridge that sticks upwards over 20 feet, and downwards over 180 feet. No icebreaker comes anywhere close to such power.
I missed these pictures most, as I escaped escapism. For some reason (which I didn’t bother to figure out) the laptop I used couldn’t seem to download anything beyond the GPS of these buoys.
O-buoy 9 is drifting back north in Fram Strait, which is not correct behavior. I’m sorry, but it simply isn’t done, nor should the south winds nudging it north be below freezing. In Fram Strait all heads south. In fact, because the ice has less of a sail, it likely headed south with the current, as this idiotic buoy used its mast, and headed north into open water, aiming for the ice hesitating at the mouth of Fram Strait. All the water you see is being chilled towards the freezing point of salt water, but even if it froze, it would slide south.
If this buoy thinks it is headed north it is a Nutkin taunting an owl.
O-buoy 10 and 11, which ordinarily would be experiencing colder temperatures, are at the end of a salty-thaw, which is where temperatures are above the freezing point of salt water, even if not always above freezing. The winds of Ruckus have faded away, and the broken ice drifts in a sea soon to be slushy. O-buoy 10:
O-buoy 11:O-buoy 12 likely bit the dust. What tends to happen is that smashing bergs sheer off a sensor up on the mast, and the opening allows saltwater in, to corrode and short-circuit the wiring. We can hope O-buoy 12 reestablishes contact, but the hope is slim.
It is interesting to note that O-buoy 6, which abruptly lost contact on October 25, 2012 in Fram Strait, was recovered this June off the Faeroe Islands, between Iceland and Scotland. They hauled it ashore to examine, saw it had sensors sheered off, took it apart, and now know all about corroded stuff. (WARNING: Following image contains graphic degradation of buoy) This is the tragic fate that awaits all Nutkins who taunt the owl of Fram Strait, or even Bering Strait. Not only would O-buoy 9 do well to take a hard look at the above gruesome image, but Faboo should stop acting like such a smarty pants as well. O-buoy 6 was also once a survivor of slush season, and frozen so solidly in ice north of Fram Stait you’d think nothing could touch him, but if you watch the movie you’ll see how the owl’s talons snatched him south and his throat got gripped on October 25: http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#buoy6/movie
I should add that these camera-buoys are not cheap, and they try to rescue them with icebreakers if they can. Many have been saved and are being recycled. Buoys 13, 14 and 15 are ready to deploy, and already are capable of transmitting pictures:
Sadly, deploying the final three buoys will scrape the bottom of the barrel, in terms of funding these views of the arctic for our lying eyes. There will be no O-buoy 16. The politicians in control of purse strings would rather pay six-figure salaries to pseudoscience-fools who spew pure propaganda, than cut ten of such social leeches from the budget so we can have an O-buoy 16. Rather than pictures of the ice you’ll get to look at their yammering faces. Why? If we must cut our budget, which should suffer arrested development?
To have a clue about what is going on you must pay attention to maps even when fishing. I didn’t, so I won’t pretend I have a clue what is going on.
WEDNESDAY DMI MAPS
Ruckus looks like he slid southeast towards Hudson Bay, yet flung a sort of feeder-band of milder and likely moister air north towards the Pole even as he plunged south. The coast guard icebreaker Healy is reporting only a degree below zero as it approaches the Pole, in that band of mildness. Yet my experience is that such feeder bands breed weak low pressure which does not warm the Pole, but rather has the opposite effect.
Dawdleson swirls in Barents Sea, as his father Dawdle seems to have become lodged in the North Sea, and will dawdle there for days. The high pressure over Iceland is unusual, and too far north to be called an Azores High.
Hichuk has deflated to a weak area of high pressure over northern Greenland, and no longer directs traffic. This is giving a resurrected Chuck new life over the Laptev Sea.
All in all things are fairly chaotic, and we need a new high pressure system to step in and direct traffic.The models seem to recognize how indecisive things are and are flip-flopping their forecasts. I’m forecasting nothing, but am watching to see if all the weakrming storms “create cold”, and also to see if the typhoons send a copycat of Ruckus north from the Pacific.
FABOO BETTER BEHAVED
Faboo is making a belated start for Fram strait, and progressed 6.22 miles southeast to 85.808°N, 16.820°W. Temperatures fell to a surprisingly low -11.2°C at midnight, and then rebounded to the period’s high of -5.1°C six hours later, and slid back to end the period at -6.4°C. The tongue of mildness hadn’t made it to Faboo yet.
HUDSON BAY’S ICE
If you click on the above map, and then click it again to enlarge it further, you can see the final bit of ice in Hudson Bay, in September, which is rare. In fact that hue represents one-tenth to three-tenths coverage with ice, and there are plenty of bergs floating in the waters shown as clear. This is demonstrated by polar bears wearing radio collars staying out in waters shown as being ice free. They would swim for shore if there was no ice, as they are not creatures of the open sea. However as long as there are a few bergs to clamber up on, they prefer the sea to the shore. This makes sense. Guys who worked on pipelines up there say the mosquitoes are so bad you don’t need to use toilet paper. At this time of year the bears fast, for the most part, and you could see why they’d prefer that mosquitoes fast as well. There are no mosquitoes out on the waters, so the bears will stay out there even it is only 1% ice-covered.
WEDNESDAY O-BUOY REPORTS
O-buoy 9 drifted north into a field of bergs freshly coated with snow, experiencing continued temperatures down around -5°C and light winds and an occasional clout to the side of the head by a larger berg.
The Beaufort buoys are still in relatively mild air, and still see ice and not the open waters some maps show.
The slot has grown large, but is still dotted with ice and bounded by thicker ice, so that it will be swift to freeze when temperatures drop.
THURSDAY MORNING DMI MAPS
POLAR BEARS AREN’T STARVING
The armchair speculation of Alarmists was that there was no food away from the continental shelf to feed cod, which feed seals, which feed bears. Apparently this is untrue. Enough green slime grows on the bottom of the ice to feed cod which feed seals which feed bears, so that when the Coast guard sends icebreakers such as the Healy towards the Pole the bear they find far from the shore are, if anything, obese.
Lying eyes beat armchair speculation.
THURSDAY AFTERNOON O-BUOY REPORTS
O-buoy 9 is drifting slightly west, but continuing to resist getting sucked south into Fram Strait, midst winds that continue light and temperatures that continue below the freezing point of salt water. It survived a collision with a larger berg, and is currently bumping midst flatter and thinner bergs covered by fresh snow.
O-buoy 10 continues through light winds and temperatures just either side of the freezing point of salt water. The first picture shows how the darker waters absorb sunlight in September. /sarcThe second picture is interesting because it shows the sort of slushy water that often is called “Open”. While it is true you wouldn’t attempt to walk on such slush, it is not “Open”, the primary reason being it is far easier to freeze than truly open water is. Open water demonstrates how salt water differs from fresh water, in that colder water always sinks, so that it is hard to get the surface cold enough to freeze. It involves frozen spray or snowflakes of windblown powder, to supply “nuclei” for ice crystals to grow. Slush has those nuclei ready-made.
I fear O-buoy 11 took a blow to the chin. It first saw black, and now is seeing white light. I don’t know if you have ever taken a shot to the chin, but the brain tends to produce some odd stuff. O-buoy 11 recently reported a temperature of +300.0°C. Maybe it is just that Global Warming they are talking about, but it aparently made things very steamy, for O-buoy 11 is also reporting humidity of 200%. Now, that is HUMID!
FABOO THURSDAY EVENING REPORT
Yesterday Faboo continued south and east another 6.34 miles towards Fram Strait, finishing the period at 85.732°N, 16.119°W. It apparently is feeling a bit of the mildness thrown north by Ruckus, as temperatures rose from low at midnight of -4.3°C to -2.2°C at 0900Z, which is the warmest we’ve seen in over a week. Then there was one of those odd down-spikes during the part of the day when the low sun should be at its highest and nudging temperatures up, and we had to erase the old low for the day and write a new one of -5.8°C, at 1500Z. Then temperatures recovered to -2.5°C, at the end of the period at 2100Z.
These down-spikes make no sense, according to the principles I have gleaned from study, and continue to sting me, constantly rubbing my fur the wrong way by suggesting I am missing something rather fundamental.
Faboo showed more gloom, which we have seen a lot of this summer. The entire albedo-theory is a bit absurd when the sun hardly ever shines. Today’s last picture showed more snow and a frosted lens. Temperatures may have nudged above the freezing point of salt water briefly.
As I began this post talking about typhoons, I should mention that there are three in the central Pacific as I conclude this post, even as the two we looked at to start this post fill in further west than is usual during an El Nino. (The GFS model can’t handle the very low pressure at the tightly wound centers of typhoons and hurricanes, so ignore the too-high central pressures in the Dr. Ryan Maue Weatherbell-map below.)The thing that bothers me about typhoons is the same thing that bothers me about summer thunderstorms. It seems obvious to common sense that they uplift warmth and lose it to outer space, but common sense is, I have been told, wrong. By the time air is uplifted to the top of a powerful typhoon it has been chilled to -70°C, and air that cold has no heat left in it to lose. They can measure it with satellites, and the satellites show cloud tops at -70° are not radiating heat like a cloudless desert baked to +110°. It makes sense to me. Obviously a cold stove does not radiate heat like a stove that is cherry red.
However my common sense simply doesn’t give a -bleep-. It knows a thunderstorm cools a summer day, and that is that. I don’t care if satellites can’t see any heat escaping. It is gone. (We have been going through a late summer heat wave here in New Hampshire, and a passing storm brought us wonderfully refreshing breezes today, even though the storm didn’t hit us.)
In like manner, my common sense knows typhoons cool the planet. Maybe I can’t explain why, but some things you just know. A small child might not understand electricity, but after sticking a fork into an outlet one time, the child has enough common sense to not repeat the experiment.
This morning I pointed out polar bears don’t care if scientists state there is no food out beyond the continental shelf, they go out there and get fat. In a way bears are smarter than scientists. And in a way I was nearly as smart as a bear, at age ten.
A half century ago my gang was faced with crossing thin ice, and many doubted the ice would support our weight. I was a ten-year-old leader, oldest and wisest. Somewhere I had learned ice can support more weight if you spread your weight out, so I lay down and slithered across the ice spreadeagled on my belly. Flush with success, I turned, raised an index finger, and grandly pronounced, “This ice is safe!” I also was so filled with confidence that I stood up, and promptly plunged down waist-deep into ice-water, to the joy of the rest of the gang, who didn’t always approve of the egotism involved in my leadership.
Polar Bears may be worse egotists, for all I know, but they do not raise index fingers and make ridiculous pronouncements, most likely because they don’t have index fingers and can’t talk to the verbose degree we can. Scientists, on the other hand, do have index fingers, and make a lot of scientific pronouncements, and can be verbose.
After making careful measurements of the load-bearing ability of ice, and the weight of a polar bear’s massive paws, and consulting engineers who know far more about such stuff than they do, they pronounce ice cannot hold up a bear. (They are much like my gang once was.) The bear doesn’t care. Even though they often swim ice water that would freeze a man in 300 seconds, and have been known to cross hundreds of miles of open water, they apparently don’t always like to get wet, if they don’t have to. So, when they get to thin ice they do exactly what I did at age ten:
(Photo Credit: Patrick Kelly)
In short, some scientists need to get out more. They have no actual experience of the outdoors. They spend far to much time glued to computer screens, and despite the exactitude of their measurements, Polar Bears are smarter than they are.