I am not sure how much of the buoy-operations to the north are dependent on solar power, but things tend to close down when the darkness descends. The thermometer also descends, and perhaps batteries do not work as well, once temperatures drop below -20°C. Or perhaps there is simply much less to see, when it is dark all the time. In any case, the data received from our various polar cameras tends to decrease as darkness descends, and we must wait impatiently for the light to return in the spring.
Unfortunately the light may not return next spring. (Forgive me, I can feel a rant coming on.)
We have been witness to a golden age in Arctic Sea-ice research, when enormous amounts of money became available to those willing to endure the risks of the arctic, ranging from swift death due to falling into sub-freezing salt water, to being lunch for a polar bear, and mere discomforts such as subfreezing winds and walking in tundra so thick with mosquitoes that toilet paper is unnecessary. The gutsy scientists who have gone out into the field to do these studies have gathered amazing data, and also have devised amazing gizmos and gadgets that study sea-ice from beneath the water and overhead from outer space, and all this intense work allows the lazier sort of scientist, and even the layman like myself, to laze in a warm room by a warm computer and think they have the slightest idea what the arctic is like.
Sadly, all the money for research was not without strings. Sinister characters who care little for Truth, (called politicians), lurked in the background, and they did not wish to see science discover things that were unknown, but rather knew exactly what they wanted science to confirm; namely: “The Death Spiral”.
At the risk of sounding suspicious, I feel the entire “Death Spiral” idea was more political than scientific, and was an attempt to generate a threat that would justify galvanizing the public, and instituting the sacrifices one associates with a war. During a war the public is willing to sacrifice many freedoms, because they know survival is at stake.
Unfortunately for the sinister characters, not only was there a failure of the “Death Spiral” to manifest, but there was no way to “adjust” the pictures coming from the Pole. (There also seemed to be a certain stubbornness on the part of arctic scientists, [perhaps due to the courage it takes to endure the harshness of arctic field studies], when it comes to being bullied by benefactors to a degree where actual data is altered.) In any case, seen from the political side, the vast amount poured into arctic sea-ice research had very little bang-for-the-buck, and in fact was having a negative effect, It was in fact making certain politicians, and their spokespeople, laughing stocks. This simply isn’t done, in polite circles in Washington D.C. You are suppose to know which side your bread buttered upon. And if you fail produce a square wheel when they say a square wheel is wanted, and instead are honest and say a round wheel is better, guess what happens to your funding?
There are rumors that the O-buoy pictures we are getting will be the last, because the funding is being cut. I will conclude this rant by expressing my compete disdain for the people responsible, because I assert the O-buoy program produces actual data and actual results which have actual bearing on Truth, whilst the people who will not see their budgets cut produce nothing that has the slightest bearing on Truth, (unless it is to be a shadow that highlights brilliance.)
To return from my rant to the facts of the matter, there is little to report for the next four months except it is wicked cold and wicked dark, and the ice is growing outwards, and growing in thickness. Very little of the information we ponder comes from the cameras and buoys locked into the ice, as they largely enter a period of suspended animation. Even the visual satellite view sees a expanding black hole that extends out to the arctic circle on the solstice, and then only begrudgingly retreats. Our lying eyes must take a vacation, as we become increasingly dependent on conceptual stuff such as “microwave imagery”, which require a degree of tweaking by the dreaded bugaboo called a “modle” before producing the maps we study.
Because there is little to report for the next four months, these Arctic Sea Ice posts will likely become shorter, and more sparse. I’ll continue to post the DMI maps, and perhaps annoy people by naming storms, however my posts will become less wordy, as my energy will be directed more towards Local View posts, which are likely to become interesting as a major gas pipeline is proposed to basically destroy my little town, and I may be able to document the destruction of much beauty, and also how Washington D.C. responds to an entire community of quiet geeks being turned into frothing NIMBY’s.
What I likely will do is continue to update the Arctic Sea Ice posts for two weeks before starting a new one. It will be hard to find them among all the Local View posts, and therefore you may want to in some way bookmark them, if you are interested in the updates.
I’ll start this post with the news from “Faboo”, which is my name for this year’s North Pole camera. Faboo’s lens has been obscured with frost, the co-locate Mass Balance Buoy has stopped reporting, and we hadn’t received any weather and GPS data from Faboo in days. Meanwhile we knew from maps a big surge of milder, Atlantic air rushed up that way. Now at last all the stored data has been downloaded.
FABOO REPORTS AFTER TIME SPENT AWOL
Last Thursday Faboo hinted it might be ending its “wrong way” drift and starting south, and indeed on Friday it did drift as far south as 84.501°N at 0300Z before resuming the “wrong way” drift to the north and west, finishing the period at 84.551°N, 7.375°W, which placed us another 5.19 miles NW of Fram Strait, where we are supposedly heading. Temperatures were very mild, rising from a low of -2.6°C at midnight to -0.2°C at 1500Z (which was tantalizingly close to a thaw and cleared camera lens) before slipping back to -0.8°C at 2100Z and the end of the period. Winds were apparently very light, though the anemometer may have spent some time hoarfrosted to a standstill.
On Saturday there was little wind, as temperatures crashed amazingly over twenty degrees, and Faboo went as far west as 7.531°W at 0300Z before starting east, and reached 84.586°N at 0900Z before heading south to 84.576°N at 1500Z and then rebounding north to end the period at 84.583°N, 7.228°W. Despite all these antics, Faboo barely budged, ending the day 2.41 miles northeast from where it began. However it was Saturday’s temperature antics that were most likely to raise eyebrows. The high was at the start of the day, -0.9°C at midnight, and the low was at the end of the period, -23.2°C. For temperatures to crash like this with winds below 5 mph surprises me.
On Sunday Faboo resumed a more normal southeast drift, ending the period at 84.561°N, 6.913°W, which was 2.55 miles the “right way”, towards Fram Strait. The anemometer may have frosted up, for neither wind nor wind direction were reported, and temperatures stayed very low most of the day, achieving a low of -25.4°C at 1500Z, before rising sharply to -16.7°C at the very end of the period.
(It should be noted that other North Pole Cameras, by this time, have been down in Fram Strait and heading south, sometimes at more than 20 miles a day.)
DMI MONDAY MAPS (Will discuss tomorrow.)
DMI TUESDAY MORNING MAPS
DMI TUESDAY AFTERNOON MAPS
“Flingson” continues to sit atop the Pole, looking a lot like a mid-latitude low with no line of latitude to travel along, because 90° North is just a dot. It has the classic warm sector, and the classic cold front, which we saw pass over Faboo when the temperature dropped 25 degrees. Because it can go no further north, it is in essence serving as a chimney for the planet’s warmth, uplifting and venting it into the darkness of outer space. A pipeline of warmth swings up through the north Atlantic, cold to the west and milder to the east, and along this flow a series of lows is forming, Which I’ll just call “Fling3”, (south of Svalbard), “Fling4”, (southwest of Iceland), and “Fling5”, (southwest of Greenland towards Newfoundland).
I’m expecting this series of lows to create a strong northerly flow behind them, and start the more normal flow of ice down the east coast of Greenland. This is partially due to the fact that, in the autumn of 2013, I got excited about the North Pole camera dawdling to the north, and wondered if it might be sucked into the Beaufort Gyre rather than being flushed south through Fram Strait, and as soon as I made these speculations the normal flow flushed the buoy south. Having made of fool of myself once, I’m less eager to predict Faboo might get sucked into the Beaufort Gyre this year. Here’s the old post where I speculate, back in 2013: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/arctic-sea-ice-minimum-the-darkness-decends/
The difference between the two years (so far) seems to be the storm track this year goes right up to the Pole, whereas two autumns ago it went marching west-to-east along the Siberian coast. While the above maps do show a northerly flow start to be established in Fram Strait, it isn’t that strong, and by the final map the flow is meandering and even has some southerly elements.
The temperature maps above show that the air being sucked north from Siberia ahead of the warm sector is cold, the reason being that Siberia itself is snow-covered and generating a cold all its own, which shows up quite clearly in the Dr. Ryan Maue map from the Weatherbell site.
This maps shows that it is even colder to the south of the warm sector than it is to the north. The land breeze, which was warm in the summer, is now frigid and starting to build coastal sea-ice.
Another interesting thing in the above maps is the Fling4, southwest of Iceland. So far this autumn that has been a place where storms lurked, with their east winds ramming inland over Greenland, rather than north winds running parallel to the coast. Having these east winds uplift moist Atlantic air to the icecap, up over 10,000 feet, has apparently resulted in above-average snowfall. For what its worth, rather than Greenland’s ice-cover melting away, it is building at an above-average rate, so far this fall:
Having all that moisture turned to solid snow releases a lot of latent heat, and because it is released up over 10,000 feet atop an icecap I imagine this is more heat lost to outer space.
Faboo made some headway towards Fram Strait, traveling 6.2 miles in light winds to 84.471°N, 6.154°W. Temperatures reached a high of -12.1°C at 0300Z, achieved a low of -21.2°C during a brief down-spike at 1500Z, and then swiftly recovered, with a temperature of -12.7°C at 2100Z. There are still no clear pictures available.
O-BUOY 9 REPORT
Temperatures have slid down to -15°C and winds are light.
WEDNESDAY MORNING DMI MAPS
Flingson is flattening, with a pronounced Laptev Sea to Canadian Archipelago flow developing. This flow is tapping into some cold air over Siberia, and the ice is growing quickly in the Laptev Sea, both on the shore side and the sea side. (The ice freezes quickly close to shore because the amazing Lena River summer floods [the river can rise 60 feet] create fresher water close to shore, which freezes quicker.) Though the ice attached to shore is called “fast ice” it often breaks sose and, on a cross-polar-flow like this, heads for a pile up in the Canadian Archipelago. Here’s a view from the Russian side of the growing ice along Russia’s north coast.
Despite the strong flow on the Pacific side of Flingson, the flow in Fram Strait remains weak and confused. Fing3 and Fling4 can be seen following along a sort of arcing cold front, with Fling5 off the DMI map but seen on the UK Met map.This string of storms is expected to coalesce into a single big gale southwest of Svalbard by the weekend, and finally give the Greenland coast some strong north winds.
THURSDAY MORNING DMI MAPS
THURSDAY AFTERNOON DMI MAPS
It has been a long Thursday, and I feel especially in need of escapism. Now are the times that try men’s souls, but I’m not in the mood. Give me sea-ice. My hotheadedness requires some cooling, and indeed craves it. Give me some views of blue and sky-blue-pink, and a solid, white plain so different from land, with land’s silly fences and land’s silly no-trespassing signs, because it is in fact a sea, and laughs at fences.
The above maps show “Slingson” got weary of its long string of trailing hanger-on-ers, and cut lose, a bit like Thidwick just before he shed his antlers, (and, just in case you are unaware of the great American poet Dr Seuss, here is a picture of Thidwick just before he shed his antlers:)After the band snapped, a fading “Flingson” headed towards the Canadian Archipelago, leaving “Fling3”, “Fling4” and “Fling5” taking a more normal route across the North Atlantic towards the arctic coast of Eurasia. But things are different this year, and I don’t expect the three lows to cruise along the nice highway of relatively milder coastal water between sea-ice to the north and bitter cold tundra to the south, gradually weakening as they get to the East Siberian Sea. Instead the first two will melt from the maps, as “Fling5” becomes a gale over Svalbard, and north winds howl in Fram Strait. So say the models, which are usually pretty good in the short term. (I distrust the long-term, which suggest gales will howl from the south in Fram Strait by the end of next week.)
One thing messing up the ordinary west-to-east flow of storms along the coast of Siberia may be the swift freezing of the Laptev Sea, even as the Kara and Barents Seas are much more wide open than they were last year. This is one of those chicken-or-the-egg things, wherein it is hard to say whether the pattern created the sea-ice or the sea-ice created the pattern. However once it is created, I imagine they work hand in hand. Storms don’t want to go where it is cold, and would rather hang back where it is warmer, and if they hang back from the ice-covered Laptev Sea that sea experiences south winds, but they are not the balmy winds of summer; rather they are as bitter cold as an ex’s lawyer, which only increases the ice on the Laptev Sea. This likely means something for Europe, but I’m still adding it all up on my digits.
As Flingson sinks back down to the Archipelago it came from, the high building over the Pole from the Pacific Side is actually a surviving lobe of “Nuhi”, which, as it is a new new high, I will dub “Nunu.” (I understand that silly name may cost me some long-time lurkers, but if they can’t take a joke, you know the rest.) I expect Nunu will create some very cold temperatures under its clear skies, and indeed the buoys over that way are hinting at a fall below -25°
Faboo continues to be less than picturesque, and lens befoul-ment is afflicting our other buoys as well. O-buoy 13 reports temperatures of -23° with 5-10 mph winds, and shows a smear.O-buoy 15, north of the Chukchi Sea, has seen a warm-up to -8° with 5 mph winds. and also shows a smear, When I turn to O-buoy 8b, expecting its usual smear, I get a surprise, for over north of The East Siberian Sea it is -18°, winds are 10 mph, and dawn is breaking on a brief day. Across the Pole at O-buoy 14 the brief day is ending, winds are slacking off, and temperatures have crashed to -24°C.Over in Fram Strait, O-buoy 9 hasn’t sent us a picture in two days. If the camera has quit, it is likely because it has been functioning without a bit of human maintenance in extreme conditions for over two years. It deserves a standing ovation, but I miss it. The weather station continues to work, and reports it is -13°C with 10 mph winds, and we’ve finally made it down to 79° North latitude.
On October 20 Faboo drifted steadily southeast to 84.400°N, 5.720°W, which covered 5.69 miles. Temperatures fell from a high of -12.8°C at midnight to -20.3°C at 1500Z, and then rebounded to -13.0°C at the end of the period at 2100Z.
On October 21 Faboo continued to the southeast until it reached 84.397°N at 0600Z, when it decided to head northeast until it reached 5.641°W at 1800Z when it decided to head northwest, winding up at 84.410°N, 5.651°W. This curve wound us up 0.83 miles northeast from where we began. (Faboo waits for the coming gales with bated breath, thinking it will be cool to cover 20 miles in a day.)
SATURDAY MORNING DMI MAPS
As forecast, Flingson settled down into Canada, and Fling3 faded north of Europe as Fling4 filled in over Svalbard, and Fling5 grew into an Autumnal gale over Iceland. Now Fling5 is elongating and has a second “zipper” center where the occluded stops occluding to the northeast. I’ll call that second center “Fling5zip”. Rather than loop-de-looping it is expected to take the old storm-track along the Siberian Coast, but rather than the storm-track becoming established, a high pressure will build in the wake of Fling5zip, deflecting the following storm south towards Britain.
Originally midels showed this blocking high pressure creating a southerly gale in Fram Strait, but some have backed away from that idea, and now show a sort of aimless mess of isobars in Fram Strait, so your guess is as good as mine, concerning which way the ice will move next week. For the moment there is a good surge southward, which is normal for this time of year.
On the Pacific side Nunu has not created the cold I expected, as it slides towards Canada. It will try to develop a ridge through Fram Strait, linking to high pressure over Scandinavia, but the failure of this ridge to become established, (or the failure of models to figure out what in blue blazes is going on), is creating the aimless mess of isobars in future maps.
Faboo is not yet reporting the northwest winds. Our last report is from October 22, when, midst the last aimless mess, Faboo slowly drifted northwest to 84.438°N, 6.063°W, which was 3.37 miles the “wrong way”. The wind-vane and anemometer are likely coated in hoarfrost, as neither is reporting. Temperarures rose to -9.7°C at 0900Z and then plunged to -20.8°C at 2100Z.
HUDSON BAY REFREEZE STARTING
Hudson Bay is now totally surrounded by snow, with cold air pouring south from the Pole to its waters. Usually such cold air is warmed by the waters, but the waters seem to have less heat to give up this year, likely because the ice was so late melting last summer. This does not bode well for me, as a warm Hudson Bay buffers us from cold north winds, down here in New Hampshire. (Temperatures in the map below are in Fahrenheit. The freezing point is shown by a shift from blue to pink [except in the middle of Greenland. where pink represents -50°F].
Of course, we are only talking about 1% of the Bay being frozen. Yet once the Bay starts to freeze it can proceed with astonishing speed. Last year the bay went from being ice-free to totally covered in something like 21 days. The tiny, little bit of ice can now be seen creeping out from the west coast. Watch to see how fast if grows in coming weeks.
In the upper left of this map is the Beaufort Sea. Notice “The Slot” has vanished, and ice is starting to creep out from the coast of Alaska.
THE GHOST OF THE BEAUFORT SLOT
“The Slot”, which was such a fascinating feature of late summer maps of the Beaufort Sea, has completely filled in with ice. Now we see a more normal slot of open water along the coast. It was this sort of slot which once trapped whaling ships that lingered up there too long. (A few ships got trapped up there on purpose, to make an early start in the spring.) The concentration map below shows the sea-ice just starting to link up with the shoreline ice northeast of Barrow, and again north of the Mackenzie River Delta, creating a new “lagoon”.
The above map does not show how thick the ice is. When we look at the same secene with a thickness map, the view gets interesting.Ordinarily the ice would get thinner (lighter purple) as we moved towards the youngest ice at the edge, however this year we can see some deeper purples towards the edge, which is like a ghost of the “reef” that once existed on the south side of the “lagoon”. Considering these maps tend to “average out” small areas of thicker ice, the reef may be more solid than the above map suggests, and contain some bumps that are sizable bergs. It is something to keep in mind, when we watch how this ice behaves this winter. I imagine the thinner ice in the old “lagoon” will be more likely to crumple into pressure ridges, and also the existance of larger bergs in the “baby ice” to the south will act like sails, and that ice will shift more in strong winds than would be the case is it was all flat.
Besides showing that Hudson Bay is now completely surrounded by snow, the snow-cover map shows the snow is unusually far south in the west of Russia, down past its southern borders into Kazakhstan. The Russian city of Omsk, down near the border, received 16 inches of snow, which basically closed them down.
You may be saying to yourself, “Big deal; it may be southern Siberia, but it is still Siberia.” However something to remember is that as you get further and further south the climate become more and more of a desert. Desert snows are usually thin and dirty, mixed with dust, where it is cold. To get a deep snow like this creates a deep snowpack early in the winter. If it is not melted away by the Russian version of “Indian Summer”, it could create a larger than normal area of radiational cooling, and create some nasty cold for Europe, if winds turn east. (One reason Tolkien may have located Mordor to the east, and had the east a direction of dread, is because Europe’s cruelest and coldest blasts come from that direction, (and it also brought waves of barbarians, but never mind that).
On October 23 Faboo stopped going entirely the “wrong way”, swerving southwest for most of the day, and reaching 84.424°N at 1500Z before twitching back to the northwest, and winding up at 84.427°N, 6.570°W, which is 3.47 moles SW of where we began. The change in direction may have been caused by the passage of a micro warm front, for temperatures were very cold through much of the period, reach the lowest temperature of the season, -25.0°C, at noon, but then bumping up to -13.8°C at 2100Z.
This is a photograph of
A.) Faboo telling us it is as cold as Jupiter.
B.) Faboo spinning very rapidly to stay warm.
O-BUOY 14 MAY BE FACING TROUBLE
Of all places for a lead to threaten to form! Temperature is -22°C.
SATURDAY NIGHT DMI MAPS
SUNDAY MORNING DMI MAPS
SUNDAY AFTERNOON DMI MAPS
Fling5zip continues to slowly drift east of Svalbard, with decent north winds back into Fram Strait.
Those winds will slacken as a new Baffin Bay Baffler develops. I’m not exactly sure what to name it, for it contains the ghosts of a number of lows, including “Looter”, which drifted across Canada from the Aleutians, “Nairzeetwo” which drifted down into Alaska after crossing from the East Siberian coast, “Fingson” which came south from the Pole through the Canadian Archipelago, and a more typical North American low I never named which came up through Hudson Bay. Hmmm… Because it is an amalgamated mess, I’ll dub it “Malga”.
In any case, as the south winds ahead of Malga counter the north winds behind Fling%zip I expect there will be total, utter and complete confusion in Fram Strait, which will be interesting to watch next week.
Unfortunately we are getting no reports or pictures from Faboo, though the co-located Mass Balance Buoy has kicked back into life and reports a slow drift south and west, with very cold temperatures below -29°C. Further south O-buoy 9 still isn’t sending pictures, and stopped sending weather reports for much of the weekend, but the GPS worked and showed it made more rapid progress south. In fact O-buoy 9 has traveled farther south in the past 5 days than it did in the prior 50 days.
This swift movement is already slowing, for the weather station licked back into life and reports the winds have slackened from gale force yesterday to less than 10 mph. Temperatures have been cold and are getting colder, now below -15°C.
Despite the cold temperatures the ice is likely breaking up. This is bound to happen when the ice further north is only creeping south as O-buoy 9 zooms south. The speedy ice leaves the slower ice behind, and open water appears (and swiftly skims over with fragile and thin ice).
The only maps I can find that can “see” such a subtle break-up, (subtle if you are viewing from a satellite, but darned meaningful if you are on the ice), are the Norwegian Ice maps from http://polarview.met.no/regs . (The top map below is from October 21 and the bottom is from October 25, and you can see a few holes appearing in the solid red areas of “very close drift ice”).
Thanks to the Polarbearscience.com site for alerting me to these maps. (And by the way, these maps show what pregnant polar bears already know: There is no ice around Svalbard, and therefore the expecting bears will either head to Franz Josef Land, or north to the Sea Ice of the Arctic Sea, to dig their caves in ice-bergs, where they hibernate and bear their cubs. Therefore there will be few cute cubs to see in Svalbard in the spring. So don’t buy a ticket to go there to see them. Also don’t be alarmed by news reports about “:plunging polar bear populations” in Svalbard next spring. The bears have simply moved to a smarter place to bear their bears.)
The way O-buoy 9 has started to move once again shows us how mobile the sea-ice is, even when temperatures are well below the freezing point of salt water, and even when the ice has had a long period of time to “freeze solid”. Many novice ice-watchers think the polar ice is static.This is one of the first misconceptions I had shattered when I began using my lying eyes to see what actually goes on up there.
This was also shown by the crack that abruptly appeared right before O-buoy 14, despite nearly a month of temperatures below the freezing point of salt water, and current temperatures close to -30°C. Temperatures have struggled to get up to -20°C, and the water in the new crack is swiftly freezing over, (or “healing”, as I like to say). And that seems a good point to conclude this post, making the point that if the darkness and cold doesn’t close down the show our cameras put on for us, the grinding, shifting ice might do it.
And also northern China
And “thousands” of tourists have been trapped in a valley on the northern Pakistan section of Kashmire, due to heavy snows in the mountain pass leading to the valley, and are reduced to eating nothing but boiled potatoes.
The entire concept of “Global Warming” looks more and more like humbug. What is amazing to me is the zeal with which those who adhere to such nonsense keep their eyes glued firmly closed.