It has been wonderful, once again, to sit about watching ice melt for another summer. As always the beauty of the views has been at times staggering. As always it is a cooling retreat on hot summer days, and a splendid escape from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  (When it comes to playing the wailing violins of self pity, I likely could thrash the most weepy, loan-wheedling mother-in-law, however over the years I’ve noticed people tend to head the other way when you play those tunes too much, even when you call yourself a “suffering poet”. Therefore I found a better poetry in just shutting up, withdrawing, and watching the skies.)

It has been a special summer for we had, at the start, two North Pole cameras, four O-buoy cameras, and two Mass Balance cameras. We’ve had views we once could only wonder about, of the Alaskan coastal ice melting in June, of the mountains of Greenland looming in the distance, of the yearly Beaufort Sea break-up, and of the chaos in Fram Strait.

Also, as a sort of side-interest, we’ve had a view of the fracas Alarmists and Skeptics make out of a process you might think would be safe, serene, and incredibly boring: Watching Ice Melt. People in the future will not believe that eyes could start from purpling faces with bulging veins over something that we didn’t even know about, when I was born.

In the end both sides wound up basically jaded and disappointed. Alarmists hoped there would be less ice than 2012, but there was more, as Skeptics hoped there would be more ice than 2006, but there was less. The sea-ice refused to be dramatic, and make a decisive statement. All the hoopla was about this graph.DMI2 0919 icecover_current_new

This graph is great fun, especially as there are vast cheers from one side as it quirks up, and vast cheers from the other side when it quirks down. I always enjoy the thrill of a crowd at a sporting event. However the graph, by itself, doesn’t mean all that much. What it shows is that more than half the ice melts every summer, and then the extent more than doubles every winter. The only thing it has definitely shown, over the decade I’ve been watching it, is that the entire idea of a “Death Spiral” is disproved.

The “Death Spiral” suggested that a process existed that would feed on itself, and that warming would create a positive feedback creating greater warming. It would be a vicious cycle, ever downwards. Sturdy ice would become “rotten ice”, and the Pole would become ice-free by 2013, or 2014, or 2015. If that theory is not challenged by the above graph, then it is threatened by the graph that measures the volume of the remaining sea ice.

Volume Sept 15 BPIOMASIceVolumeAnomalyCurrentV2.1

While the “extent” graph shows we lost more than last year, the “volume” shows we didn’t lose as much as last year. For this to happen, the ice that remains must be thicker, which throws a wrench into the works of the idea that the ice that remains is fimsy and more “rotten”.  All in all, the “Death Spiral” is failing to fit the definition of “a spiral”, and few are attempting tackle the problem the “Death Spiral” is facing:

Slinky tangled 8532040475_67e4f48a27_b

(A hat-tip to the blogger “lectricdog” for sending me this picture.)

In actual fact I don’t pay too much mind to these graphs, or to the people who, if they find one graph displeasing, comb the web for other ways of looking at the arctic, until they find a graph more to their liking. Some then rush off drop the graph like a stink-bomb into a quiet web-conversation,  delighting in the negative attention they receive, and displaying the troll-attribute of an obstinate refusal to do the polite, sane and caring thing: Explain why their graph differs from other graphs.  All they care about is “differing”.

Usually the differences have reasons, and you can find out what they are by emailing the authors of the graph and politely inquiring why their graph differs. Busy men,  it may take time for them to respond, but often they are glad to do so. They are glad to find someone interested in their graph, and glad to see someone notices their graph is special, and different. Before you know it you are learning from a really knowledgeable person. It is much better than simply “differing”.

It turns out that when science is dealing with something huge, vast, and magnificent it cannot always do the sort of stuff we expect from science; IE: give us a nice, neat answer that isn’t rounded-off. Once we are dealing with multiple variables at different levels of the ocean and atmosphere even a “grid” as small as a window screen feeding into a computer as big as the moon would miss seeing certain gnats that would sail  right through the window screen, cause perturbations downstream in the data, and screw everything up. And, of course, we are dealing with a grid far larger, a grid so large that a thunderstorm can pass through unnoticed, and a fleet of icebergs able to sink twelve Titanics can go sailing through a sea called “ice-free”.

As we become aware of the limitations involved, and notice graphs differ, there is a tendency to suspect the scientists involved are torturing the data, and fudging the results to fit a bias of either a personal or political origin.  Unfortunately there are some scientists who deserve such suspicion, (if not more), and they have dirtied the reputation of all other scientists, including some who create graphs that differ for completely innocent reasons.

When science approaches vast, “chaotic” systems it is a bit like a man approaching God with a tape measure. There is no way to package Infinity, but, before we say science is involved in an exercise in futility, we should recognize it has produced decent five-day-forecasts even with a bulky grid that can miss entire thunderstorms. In other words, science can have value even when it isn’t always precise, and is in some ways merely an estimation.

Yet as soon as science starts to involve estimation it is trespassing on my turf, the landscape of an artist. Perhaps it should learn some of my rules.

Suppose three artists walked into the same field to paint the same cow laying down in the summer shade of a big, spreading pasture oak. Would the paintings be exactly the same? Or might one focus on the oak, one on the cow, and one ignore both the oak and the cow and focus on the interplay between sunshine and shade? Would it then make any sense to argue about which painter was “right”? Or is it more sensible to recognize that the beauty of Creation is so vast no one person can grasp it all, and that each painting is a sort of “estimate”, and we are better off and more able to comprehend the Entirety (with our hearts if not our minds) when we have multiple views?

It is actually great fun to be with a group of painters (it doesn’t matter if they are skilled or all under age six), and to listen to them discuss why their paintings differ though they were all painting the same object.

In like manner it is interesting to be with a group of scientists and to hear them discuss why their graphs are different, though they were all graphing the same Infinity.

Such discussing would be the proper thing to do, and would be civilized. When people develop a sort of myopia and can only “differ”, a sort of schizophrenia enters the discussion, and when a person advocates the imprisonment, punishment, and even murder of those who hold different views, it is definitely a sort of insanity.

There you have it:  Although God gave us two eyes so we might enjoy the wonders of depth perception, some cast that gift aside and prefer the myopia of a cyclops. They have a dread of two views, seeing it as a form of schizophrenia, and it never occurs to them the truly mad thing to do is to poke one of your own eyes out.

I myself prefer to use the two eyes God loaned to me and to gaze amazed at the marvelous vastness and beauty of the Arctic. No two years have been alike, and in fact each year has an amazing individuality.  This year’s most interesting feature has been “The Slot”, which has made a wonderful mess of all my ordinary ways of thinking about the “edge” of the ice in the Beaufort Sea.

Ordinarily warmer and often less salty water develops away from the ice, due to the warming of shallow coastal ice-free (since May) waters, and the influx of water from the Pacific and the Mackenzie River and smaller streams. Because it tends to be warmer and fresher it forms a “lens” at the surface which moves north to clash with ice at the surface.

The fact ice floats tends to make a mess of calculations based on the temperature and salinity of water. Things would be Oh so much easier if the darn water would just stay water. Then you could figure out a complicated model that demonstrated where water would sink because it was cool, and where it would sink because it was salty. The problem with ice is that it is coldest, but refuses to sink.  Where cold water heading south would take a dependable dive under warmer water, ice blithely breaks the rules and floats right over the top.  In the process it cools all the water it floats over, and makes a total mess of your model.

“The Slot” involved a large wall or “reef” of ice heading south, leaving a lagoon of open water in its wake. This open water was different in nature from ordinary open water, because it was sheltered by the “reef” from influxes of warmer coastal water. It was therefore colder and dotted with bits of ice, which could act as sort of seed crystals for ice to grow during the summer cold snaps.  Each time even a skim of ice formed it would exude some salt that would change the surface salinity, and then when the skim promptly re-thawed fresher water would be change the surface salinity back towards brackishness. If you had a model that had water rising and falling with each of these changes the computer likely would start smoking and perhaps blow up. The irregularities were amazing, and I sure was glad I could just watch without having to figure it all out.

The models confidently predicted the “reef” was too flimsy to withstand the warmth of the coastal waters, and would swiftly melt away, yet for some reason I am at a loss to explain it has refused to melt. It persists, as does the lagoon.DMI2 0920 arcticicennowcast

“The Slot” is, I suppose, the closest thing to a split personality and schitzophrenia  we can come to in nature although, of course, we can’t really call it madness, because it is natural. However it sure does make a confusion out of my preconceptions, especially now that the refreeze is starting. I’m not sure if the refreeze will extend ice south from the north side of the lagoon as the south-side reef melts away, or the ice will extend from all sides, in which case a huge part of the Beaufort Sea would freeze over with “unprecedented” speed (though I doubt you’d see any headlines, except here.)

Our view from O-buoy 10 has been suggesting the powers-of-refreeze are winning out over the powers-of-thawing-bottom-melt. Temperatures fell to -10°C on Friday and haven’t been able to get above -5°C since, and the wind has died down and isn’t mixing the surface water as much, giving the slush a greater chance to grow and not merely wind up pasted to the sides of bigger bergs as they come barging by. Obuoy 10 0919 webcam Obuoy 10 0919B webcam Obuoy 10 0920 webcam

What is needed, to see a final break-up of the Beaufort Sea before refreezing, is a Pacific storm to come up through Bering Strait with a couple of big, bulging pockets of mild air, but what seems to be happening is odd, little, home-grown “Frammerjammer” storms drift north from Greenland, tap into mildness and moisture aloft, and become decent lows over the Pole before fading away as they drift down to Canada.

The Atlantic storms that last year seemed to like to charge up north of Norway and bring south winds over Scandinavia are not so speedy this year; they stall to the south and seem to be hinting at a storm-track further south this winter.

In any case I bet my nickle that the Beaufort Slot will freeze over fast.

I’ll add more later, but will close with some views from O-buoy 9 at the top of Fram Strait. (O-buoy 9 is still refusing to head south, and in fact is drifting northeast at the moment. Usually North Atlantic storms create a roaring north wind in Fram Strait, and the ice is flushed south like gangbusters, but not yet, this year.  Temperatures are at -5° and winds at 5-10 mph.Obuoy 9 0919 webcam Obuoy 9 0920 webcam


Friday Faboo continued its slow drift southeast, reaching longitude 8.781°W before twitching more to the southwest,  and finishing the day 2.29 miles SSE of where it began, at  85.117°N, 8.860°W. Temperatures reached a low of -13.9°C at midnight, rose to a high of -5.0°C at noon, before falling back to a now low of -14.7°C  before ending the period at -13.6°C.  Winds were barely enough to stir the wind-vane about. The spike in temperatures at noon may have been due to bright sunshine hitting the side of the Buoy from the side, also glancing off the fresh snow, and it also may have been assisted by the formation of hoarfrost, which releases the latent heat of a double-phase-change, from vapor directly to solid.

On Saturday the wind vane and anemometer may have been frozen up by the hoarfrost for much of the day, for they didn’t work until temperatures rose a bit at the end. Faboo barely budged, drifting east as far as  8.831°W at 0600Z before heading back west, and heading south as far as 85.108°N at noon before heading back north, and finishing the day .001° further north than where we started,  2.73 miles nearly due west, at 85.118°N, 9.325°W. Temperatures hit their low of -16°C at 0300Z and then slowly rose to their high of -6.9°C at the end of the official report at 2100Z.

Unofficial reports show we continued this very slow drift west while backing a little south again on Saturday, with temperatures fairly level around -7.5°. I can never recall a North Pole Camera being so far northwest on the Solstice. Hopefully the low sun will melt the lens clear of hoarfrost before the long lights descend, but at the moment the view isn’t too hot.NP3 1 0921 2015cam1_1O-buoy Reports

O-buoy 8 reports light winds and cold temperatures between -15°C and -10°C, with hoarfrost forming on the side of the Buoy and the open water in the background pretty much frozen up. If there was any sunshine, the fresh snow and hoarfrost would make the ice’s albedo high.Obuoy 8 0921 webcam

O-buoy 9 shows we stopped drifting east after passing 5° W, but it continues to surprise me by heading back north.  By now a “line-storm” usually has a north wind howling in Fram Strait, but instead we are seeing rather gentle breezes from the southwest, and now southeast (though they are picking up a bit, to 10 mph.)Obuoy 9 0921 latitude-1week

Temperatures remain down around -5°C despite the southerly winds, though the shift to the southeast may bring us some Atlantic air eventually. The new ice looks solid, and is now dusted with snow, as an active lead shows big bergs grinding by in the middle distance. This ice will not “freeze in place” or sit still, for we are talking about Fram Strait, after all.Obuoy 9 0920B webcam Obuoy 9 0921 webcam

O-buoy 10 reports light winds and temperatures up to -2°C dropping back to -5°C, but hasn’t clicked any pictures since their local sunset yesterday. The water contiues to look slushy.Obuoy 10 0920B webcam


It appears to be at the western entrance of the Northwest Passage, 70.5 N, 122.6 W. Winds 10-15 mph, temperatures just below freezing. Lens?  Frosted.


DMI2 0920 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0920 temp_latest.bigDMI2 0921 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0921 temp_latest.bigDMI2 0921B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0921B temp_latest.bigDMI2 0922 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0922 temp_latest.big

Hopefully I’ll find time to go over maps later. Another Frammerjammer is forming between Greenland and Svalbard. Quite a temperature clash between Svalbard and Pole.


Beaufort ice 0920 beauforticennowcast


Occasionally even a person of vastly superior intelligence such as myself must condescend to altering my superb opinions just a smidgen.  For example, when I noticed the new O-buoy 13 produced this picture:Obuoy 13 0922 webcam

“Gosh!” I said to myself, “Doesn’t that look like a view of the sky, such as I saw when young when I was suppose to be hard at work. Why would they install O-buoy 13 flat on its back?  So you suppose the blame thing fell over?”

Because I am of superior intelligence, it occurred to me I should check to see if the buoy had experienced flattening winds, but it hadn’t. Somewhat listlessly, feeling defeated , I checked the GPS, and saw this:Obuoy 13 0922 latitude-1week

How obvious. A calamity associated with Global Warming has flung the buoy 2 full degrees of latitude (120 miles, roughly) in a couple of hours. The acceleration must have been so severe the buoy got flattened.

Now I’m sure some of you will suggest the buoy is actually still flat on its back on an icebreaker, and hasn’t been deployed yet, but that is because you are only of ordinary intelligence.


Before I left for work, in the dark of night, squinting through the arctic gloom, I saw evidence that defied logic:  Despite temperatures below -10°C and light winds, open water had appeared. Impossible. Yet, after work, the stark daylight revealed the bane of all sea-ice calculations based on temperature.  A midwinter lead, more befitting February than the time of the September sea-ice minimum. (And a growth of hoarfrost to the right of the camera lens.)Obuoy 8 0922 webcam Obuoy 8 0922B webcam

Already the lead is slushing over with new ice, but the above shows what will continue to occur even when it is too dark for the camera to see. Far-away winds will pull and push the ice, twisting it and torturing it until, even in a dead calm, there is a loud crack and open water appears. This has nothing to do with warming. It can happen when temperatures are -40°. We are fortunate to see such an example before the sun sinks.

O-bouy 9 has a frosted lens, and shows the sun was up in Fram Strait long before I was, and starting to rise a second time even before I go to bed. Temperatures have crashed to -10°C, and winds are steady at 15 mph. We have finally stopped heading north, short of 80° latitude, and have started drifting west back towards 5.5° west longitude.Obuoy 9 0922 webcam Obuoy 9 0922B webcam

O-buoy 10 has seen temperatures hovering below freezing, (around the freezing point of salt water), with winds in the 5-10 mph range. It isn’t warm enough to thaw but isn’t cold enough for a flash freeze.  So the slushy sea remains in a slushy status-quo.Obuoy 10 0922 webcam Obuoy 10 0922B webcamOver on ice north of the Northeast corner of the Chukchi sea, the pictures are fairly dull, but the temperature graph shows a solid shot of cold arrived.Obuoy 15 0922 temperature-1week Obuoy 15 0922 webcam


After backsliding as far north as 85.120° at midnight, Faboo turned southwest on Monday and headed 3.11 miles to 85.078°N, 9.570°W. Winds were very light and hoarfrost may soon freeze up the vane and anemometer. Temperatures were milder, with a high of -4.4°C at 1500Z falling to a low of  -7.2° at 2100Z . Faboo’s camera lens continues to be frosted over.


The maps show what may be the final frammerjammer of the current pattern heading up through Fram Strait. As it fujiwhara’s with the last frammerjammer that is now weakening over the Pole, a new low is liable to be sucked north from East Siberia, and join the dance, which will effect the Pacific side. Back in the Atlantic side the next storm is liable to transit Greenland employing what I call “morfistication” (much like a Pacific storm hitting the Rocky mountains and briefly vanishing before reappearing out on the Great Plains.) As it first appears on the Atlantic side some models see “wrong-way” winds becoming surprisingly strong in Fram Strait by next Sunday.. That is an interesting solution, but I’ll have to see it to believe it. In any case, it looks like the current pattern is likely to undergo a “switch”.

DMI2 0922B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0922B temp_latest.big

I doubt I’ll have the time to devote to the study of the maps over the next few days that they deserve, and urge interested people to study on their own, for I think the “flip” will be very interesting.


DMI2 0923 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0923 temp_latest.big


DMI2 0923B cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI2 0923B cmc_t2m_arctic_1


DMI2 0924 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0924 temp_latest.big


DMI2 0924B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0924B temp_latest.big

I guess I’ll just call the newest frammerjammer “FG4”,  and the low that came up from East Siberia north of Bering Strait “ESib1.”  I haven’t had time to give them attention and they are strangers in a way, so don’t deserve familiar names. In any case they are doing a Fujiwhara dance on the Pacific side,  pulling some mild air north yet allowing both inland Alaska and Siberia to get quite cold. Rather than merging ESib1 looks likely to get flung east along the Alaskan Coast and cross Canada, redeveloping as it gets north of Hudson Bay, as FG4 wobbles down to the Siberian coast and then redevelops after some reinforcements arrive.

What is most interesting to me is the failure of a strong northwest flow to develop in Fram Strait. It continues to look like a storm will attempt the transit Greenland’s icecap, (over 10,000 feet tall), and as it moves downslope into Fram Strait its east side will give a period of “Wrong way” winds from the south, keeping the ice to the north right into October.


DMI2 0925 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0925 temp_latest.big

FG4 and ESib1 are dancing over by  Bering Strait as a weak low pushes from Iceland to Norway, taking the northern route to Barents Sea, but without all the stormy power of other years. Call this low “Weakie”, because it is so weak. Beneath it is a nice high pressure for southeast Europe this weekend, and this high pressure will extend north behind Weakie, and the winds on the west side of this extending ridge will create the “Wrong Way” winds in Fram Strait.

It has been a busy week at work, with my wife and I managing to squeeze a little time for our 25th anniversary into the midst of it all, but I have managed to save some pictures from the O-buoys as the time flew by, and I should find time later to catch up on that news, later today.


DMI2 0925B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0925B temp_latest.big

Not much new in these maps, with the main feature that jumps out at me being the growing cold over the Pole. The tongue of minus-five isotherms across the Pole has vanished, and it is all below minus-ten. Also the milder air towards the Chukchi Sea has been shoved south, while shifting over towards Alaska. The brief “warm-up” over the Pole has ended.DMI2 0925B meanT_2015Of course, when we are talking about a “warm-up” now we are talking about temperatures over ten degrees colder than even a month ago. Thaws have swiftly gone from being the norm to a rarity. The sun sulks low on the horizon at noon, and the darkness swiftly grows at night, and 24 hour darkness has even begun, at the Pole itself, (though some will say it doesn’t count, because it still is twilight. They will formulate calculations for radiance bouncing down from the twilight sky, and I can only say I’ve never gotten a sunburn after the sun’s set.)

There is something very final about the end of the melt season at the Pole. In some ways it is downright spooky, as if Halloween comes early up there. However I think it is all based around a very simple fact: Once ice doesn’t melt water no longer is of much use to Life. And when it freezes at the Pole it does with a finality like the slamming of a door. There is not really even a prayer of warming for six, solid months.

As the darkness grows there is less and less to watch, besides darkness, and the cameras tend to one by one shut down. I think they must be solar powered, with back-up  batteries that need to be saved for the spring. It might be nice to have a camera with a flash, to take pictures in the midwinter darkness, but the drain on batteries is likely prohibitive.

Therefore the pictures we now see are to be cherished as the last glimpse we will get of the refreeze, which is something less visible than thawing, as it happens under the cloak of darkness.


O-buoy 10 reported wind getting higher, and higher, until they were over 20 mph, when, with a final picture, the reports abruptly ceased.Obuoy 10 0925 windspeed-1week

As contact was lost the wind-direction was in the midst of a shift of at least 75 degrees, and perhaps more, and temperatures were at -5°, and the final picture shows the new ice cracking up around the feet of the camera. Obuoy 10 0925 webcamMy conclusion is that there was a pile-up of ice, with our faithful buoy in the midst. The GPS is still functioning, and shows the drift to the south abruptly became a drift to the north.  There tends to be a pile up in such situations, and if you don’t believe me you can experiment for yourself by abruptly shifting into reverse and heading north in a southbound lane of your local freeway.

Because the GPS is still functioning, I hold out a crumb of hope the fellows in charge might be able to reestablish contact. More than a decade ago I used to home-school my children with supplementary assistance that came through a satellite dish,  and after storms I can remember freezing my buns off tweaking the dish, attempting to regain the signal. The slightest breath of a difference made a huge change in the quality of the signal. Perhaps it is that sort of situation. I don’t forget we lost contact with O-buoy 10 for a month earlier in the year.

The GPS gives no hint that an icebreaker paused to pick this tough old buoy, the veteran of more than two years’ worth of sailing and being battered, from the ice.

It is a pity to lose this view, as the Beaufort Sea is the subject of so much political hubbub. There is a certain degree of dispute about whether it is as depleted as some say. O-buoy gave us evidence for our lying eyes. Now we have to resort to less direct satellite views, and do some filling-in-of-blanks. Here is the latest NRL view of ice-concentration on the Beaufort Sea, which can be compared with the view above from two days earlier.Beaufort ice 0923 beauforticennowcast

(It may be helpful to open both this map and the map from earlier in this post to new tabs, and then click back and forth between the two tabs, comparing.)

Of great interest to me is the western extension of the “reef” on the southern edge of the “lagoon”, which appears as three islands between 170°W and 180°W and between 74°N and 76°N.  In the map of two days ago nothing was there.

It is highly unlikely three such sizable islands could appear in truly open water, for in open water chilled water simply sinks, because it is denser.  It is far more likely preexisting ice allowed the chilled water to expand crystals from a sort of seed crystal of ice. Then the question becomes: Why didn’t the pre-existing ice show up, and where else might such preexisting ice exist, but be invisible?

It should be noted that models thought the southern “reef” would melt away, and ice would only expand from the northern edge of the “lagoon”. In the past few days the southern reef has not only refused to melt away, but grown more concentrated.  If this trend continues, (and don’t forget we are currently experiencing “mild” conditions due to air coming over from the Chukchi Sea), we could see the entire “lagoon freeze over from all sides towards the middle in a big hurry, leading to a very large up-tick in the “extent” graph.DMI2 0925B icecover_current_new

Even if we lose O-buoy 10’s superb views, we have seen that an area that looks like open water in the above map, 75°N and 140°W, looks far from open at ground level. This is why our open eyes are called “liars” by some who have eyes but don’t look.


After a tease with thawing on the solstice O-buoy 9 has seen temperatures closer to -10°C most of the time. Obuoy 9 0925 temperature-1weekHowever it usually doesn’t matter how cold it gets in Fram Strait, the ice gets flushed south to where it is warmer. Or so I state, but  I’m looking like a bit of a dope, as this particular buoy made it well south of 79°N back in August, yet currently is having a hard time getting back down to 79.5°N. Here’s the past month’s latitude graphed:Obuoy 9 0925 latitude-1month

I still think this ice will eventually be flushed south, but its current obstinate behavior means there is less ice further south along the east coast of Greenland, which reduces the total ice in the extent graph and gives Alarmists something to yippee about. However if there is a single place Alarmists should want to see ice increase, it is off the east coast of Greenland, for all such ice heads south to certain doom, and also is ice subtracted from the totality of the polar cap. What is happening instead is that there is a short-term balking of the cap at the verge of Fram Strait. It is jamming up and refusing to proceed south, which subtracts nothing from the totality of the cap,  and may even lead to an increase, for as long as it stands in the way other ice can’t come south.

Now that we are drifting south again we might expect the ice to spread out a bit and open water to appear, but the forecast for Sunday is for decent winds from the south, so we might get rammed north at least one more time.

Obuoy 9 0924 webcam Obuoy 9 0924B webcam Obuoy 9 0924C webcam Obuoy 9 0925 webcam Obuoy 9 0925B webcam


Off the west coast of the Canadian Archipelago around 83°N, we call -5°C a warm spell, and have already seen temperatures down close to -20°C.Obuoy 8 0925 temperature-1week

I did have hope of seeing some action when a lead opened in the middle distance, but it swiftly froze over. Already it is looking like winter, with the days swiftly shrinking to a degree where I’ll have to take care or I’ll miss the lit pictures, (and then the great darkness will follow). Note the snow sticking to a different side of the buoy in the final picture. This far north, no matter which way the wind blows, it is cold.Obuoy 8 0923B webcam Obuoy 8 0924 webcam Obuoy 8 0924B webcam Obuoy 8 0924C webcam Obuoy 8 0925 webcamObuoy 8 0925B webcam


That nice, mild air over the Chukchi Sea left at the solstice, and since then temperatures have been…well…arctic.Obuoy 15 0925 temperature-1weekWith o-buoy way over at 170°W and up at 81°N, and the nights swiftly growing longer than the days, I have to be on my toes to catch the daylight, but confess I’ve been flatfooted. Every time I check, it is twilight over there. (I just realized it is because they haven’t updated the picture in three days.) Not that there is much to see, but a flat landscape in dwindling daylight and rewindling cold.Obuoy 15 0925 webcam


As these two bupys have identical coordinates, I assume they are aboard the same icebreaker, which is currently busy with something other than deploying these two buoys. It will be interesting to see where they are placed, but I suspect all we will see is a few shots of flat ice before they are shut down, to wait for the sun’s return in the spring.


This is all Faboo has been seeing for the past few days:NP3 1 0925 2015cam1_1

With the sun so low and weak, I’m not sure we will be able to melt the hoarfrost from the lend. Instead we only have the official data to tell us what Faboo is up to, or down to.

On Tuesday Faboo made some decent progress 7.5 miles SSW to 84.970°N, 9.717°W, and temperatures that touched a high of -8.5°C at midnight a low of -10.0°C six hours later. Winds likely were decent to move the ice so far, but the vane and anemometer were likely frosted up, and reported a calm.

On Wednesday we made even better progress 11.19 miles SSE to 84.810°N, 9.406°W, with the low -11.3°C at 0300Z and the high -8.8°C at 1500Z. The anemometer reported 2 mph winds a while, but may have been encrusted.

On Thursday Faboo slowed down, and progressed only 2,57 miles SSE to  84.778°N, 9.194°W. Temperatures were down to -10.2°C at midnight, and then only slowly rose to -9.2°C at 1500Z before falling to the low of -11.4°C at the period’s end.

Unofficial Mass Balance reports suggest Faboo continued slowly southeast today. It will be interesting to see if Faboo heads back north when south winds are forecast, Sunday.


 DMI2 0927 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0927 temp_latest.big

DMI2 0927B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0927B temp_latest.big

Just because I am forsed to take a break from studying these maps is no reason for the maps to take a break, and I can see they’ve been busy since I last looked.  Where WSib1 and FG4 were doing a demure Fujiwhara dance towards Bering Strait it looks like someone spiked the ouch and they got rowdy, and FG4 flung ESib1 right off the dance floor and along the coast of Alaska, as it staggered backwards down to the coast of Siberia. I guess it is a sort of “mash pit” pattern.

Mwanwhile, back in Fram Strait, the slow development of a ridge of high pressure up the middle of the north Atlantic, and the resultant “wrong way” flow in Fram Strait, has proceeded with somewhat annoying slowness, as it was suppose to be started by now but is just getting going. Some milder and and moister air will surge north in this flow from the south, and as it clashes with the very cold up at the top of Fram Strait it will fuel the redevelopment of a low that has undergone morphistication, transiting Greenland, and this low will be the next frammerjammer.  As it departs it may reverse the winds to north in Fram Strait, or it may close the top with winds from the west. That  will be interesting to watch, However this low, (which I might as well call “FG5” even though its origins differ from the prior four),  will curl up to the Pole from the Siberian side and likely be the big shot on the top of the planet by Friday.

I’m not sure how O-buoy 9 will handle all the shifting of wind and ice,  At this point it is our lone surviving O-buoy from the spring, as O-buoy 10 shows no sighs of coming back to life. Therefore enjoy O-buoy 9’s pictures, as they be its last.Obuoy 9 0926 webcam

Obuoy 9 0926B webcamObuoy 9 0927 webcam

I would conclude this post with a report on Faboo, but even faithful Faboo has been afflicted by the mash-pit mentality of the autumnal Pole, and we have no official reports since Thursday, and a picture that continues to show a seriously frosted lens. Therefore we will conclude with a snowcover map of the north, showing we cannot hope to escape winter this year, as already snow is starting to blanket both Siberia and Alaska. Fairbanks Alaska reported a snowfall of over six inches, which is early for them, as their average high temperature now should be up around 45°F (+7.2°C).

Icecover 0927 ims2015266_alaskaNotice that the above map not only shows “The Slot” on the ice-cover of the Beaufort Sea, but a couple of smaller “slots” north of the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea. Perhaps the slots are the true schitzophenia of the Poles this autumn. The center of the Pole is thicker and firmer, as the coastal waters are ice-free and milder, but between the two is a wilderness of two minds.


12 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE —THE SCHIZOPHRENIC POLE—Sept. 20-27, 2015 Concluded.

    • No audience/followers hopefully not cratered, I’m here because the progress of the freeze up is most interesting. The various versions of the “notch’ in the Beauford Sea (NRL, Environment Canada, DMI, NSIDC, etc. ) will sooner or later resolve, and I’m predicting a big jump in the numbers, which should make the September wrapup reports interesting as well. There’s also PIOMAS – with only a little ice flowing out of Fram Strait (if the bouy is to be believed), I’m guessing the ice volume will be up as well.
      Caleb, keep up the good work, we are watching!

      • Thanks for your interest. I’ll keep posting my observations, though they may become fewer and farther between, There’s not as much to talk about once the cameras shut down.

        I do think the center of the Pole is becoming more solid. There may be a decent storm centered on the Pole next week, but, even if the ice gets cracked up, at this late date it will only contribute to the build-up of ice in leads and the piling up of new pressure ridges.

        The only thing that could really reduce extent, next summer, would be a series of storms that flushed large amounts of ice through Fram Strait during the winter. And that would chill the north Atlantic as a side-effect, and likely cool Europe’s summer, and Barents Sea.

        What I have seen is that every year is different, and the only real surprise would be no surprises.

    • Hi Stewart,

      People can’t comment when I’m too busy to write much.

      Yes, there is a dwindling of visits at this site after the minimum. The peak of interest seems to be in August. It isn’t a sudden crash, however. It just slowly fades away. There is a slight revival around the time of the maximum, but that doesn’t get the same press, so it tends to be small. Rock bottom seems to be in April, which seems a little odd to me, because the Pole gets really interesting then, with daylight returning and the Russians opening their tourist trap at “Barneo”, with people paying over $10,000.00 a pop to fly up there in a jet and cross-country ski, or participate in the world’s most northerly marathon, or even wobble about on mountain bikes. Also there sometimes are some half-crazy adventurers posting their exploits on Facebook. That all ends with the first slush of May, when “Barneo” shuts down.

      Last year things quieted to around 40 visits here a day in April, and then shot up to a new record of 711 visits one day in August, and now we are settling back to just under 200 visits a day. I’ll keep up the Sea-ice posts, but like to branch off into more local topics during the winter. I’m not sure what my focus will be this winter.

      I was a big fan of Jethro Tull, as a teenager, and had the good fortune of seeing them before they became superstars, at a place called “The Boston Tea Party” where the crowd was only around 150, and I could watch Ian Anderson from around 25 feet away at eye-level. What a wonderfully mad performer he was!

      I actually think that band peaked before “Aqualung”. They were more of a band, but then the bass-player left (I think to form a group or compose an album called “Wild Turkey”), and some important part of their chemistry was lost. The group became more of a display of Ian Anderson’s intellect, and lost the indefinable magic wherein the group is greater than the sum of its parts.

      Not that I didn’t wear out my Aqualung album listening to it. It was a bit sad and depressing, but then so was I, at the weary old age of seventeen. Both Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin had died, and, as a young burn-out, I knew I’d better shape up my act if I wanted to see age twenty. I bought the album in London before Christmas, and walked the streets thinking that looking like a tattered, depressed bum was wonderfully poetic, and would look good on my resume. Then I went to my Mom’s for a nice Christmas dinner. (It was good to be young and have that option, which we don’t have when we become old bums.)

      People in Europe endure a winter darkness that makes me feel ashamed for ever complaining, this far south. One of those winters was enough for me, even though it wasn’t all that cold or snowy.

  1. Hi Caleb!
    I much appreciate the work you put in here and look forward to your new blog entries.
    Quirkily written but perfectly formed they are a joy to read!

  2. Caleb,

    Those last series of 0-Buoy 9 photos are stunning beautiful!

    Nature is beautiful. Baseless propaganda spewed by funding/agenda crazed “climate scientists”, not so beautiful!


    • I’m glad you can see the beauty. Some people seem strangely color blind. You have a gift.

      Truth doesn’t need our agreement to be true. and beauty doesn’t need our applause to be magnificent.

      We are given gifts, and it is sad some do not appreciate what is so freely given to us.

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