I apologize for being slow to update the sea-ice posts. The sun has set up there until March, and I suppose I’m a very visual person, (whatever that means), and when there is nothing to see there is no way for my lying eyes to inform my lips to blow the whistle on people who depend on models and never use their eyes or even step outside. This time of year I tend to drift away from drifting sea-ice, which is sort of an avocation, and to move more in the direction of my vocation, which is basically to survive. Survival is no easy thing this far north, which is why many pan handlers and bums head south this time of year, and why Syrian refugees are in grave danger when they head north.
One reason I work so tirelessly and unstintingly to recreate myself as a cantankerous anachronism is because modern people tend to be complete fools, when it comes to natural things such as winter. I push myself to be old-fashioned, and to have a pig in the freezer and firewood on the porch (and gas for the generator, for old-timers didn’t have freezers), because those old timers had common sense about things like winter. Also they had common sense about natural things like sex, and rearing children, which is what I’m attempting to write about on a “local view” post, but I’m not sure I’ll dare publish.
Common sense isn’t politically correct, you see. You need to make a sort of modern-day version of Archie Bunker out of yourself. If figure that if I walk on eggs, and accept the roll of fool, maybe I can write in a manner so droll and humorous people won’t tar and feather me. After all, in long ago times, who was it who dared tell the king the truth, when truth was difficult to swallow? Often it was the court jester.
In any case, that is what I’m busy with, when there are no sea-ice posts. My vocation, with which I eek out a minimalist existence, happens to be Childcare on a farm, and that involves all sorts of government red-tape that is basically nonsense, and far more like a wrench-in-the-works of caring for children than it is helpful, but government meddling always os phrased in a manner that twangs heart strings as it is “For the Children.” So that is what the Local View post will be called, “For the Children.”
Even when busy with my vocation, perhaps my vocation can leave me annoyed at times, and in need of distraction, so I do indulge my avocation and sneak peeks at the sea-ice situation, and it has raised my eyebrows a bit the past week, even though I didn’t write about it. Though it was pitch dark, a roar could be heard from the Pole.
Basically a long trough of low pressure developed, wider at the Atlantic side and dwindling to a peak short of the Bearing Strait on the Pacific side, and this trough created a two-lane-highway of opposing winds, although I suppose you could argue the winds both traveled west-to-east. The more impressive fetch was on the Eurasian side, as strong high pressure developed over central Siberia, but strong winds were on the Canadian side as well. On the Eurasian side west-to-east winds roared from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and on the Canadian side west-to-east winds roared from the Pacific to the Atlantic. On the Eurasian side the winds had more mild air, and on the Canadian side the winds were bitterly cold.
Here are the DMI maps of the situation developing and then starting to fade.
These maps do not show the cold air in Siberia, beneath the huge high pressure and south of the long west-to-east fetch along the Siberian Arctic coast. I thought the high pressure might press that cold air west towards Europe, but it never did.
The flow broke down when continental air was sucked up into the flow, breaking the long trough into two distinct systems, with the Pacific-side system now wrapping up its inflow of milder air, but cut off and likely to weaken, as the Atlantic-side system is likely to linger longer and attract more storms from the north Atlantic.
So what was the effect of the flood of warm Atlantic air? It pushed the edge of the sea-ice north in Barents Sea, and at the very edge of the snow in western Siberia, caused the snow-cover to retreat east to a degree where the edge of the snow is now “below normal.” But a glance at Dr. Ryan Maue’s map of arctic temperatures at the Weatherbell site shows that, first, the warming missed the core of the bitter cold in Siberia, and also rapidly cooled as it moved into the arctic darkness and left open waters for ice-covered waters.
These maps are in Fahrenheit, and the dramatic shift from Navy Blue to light grey represents the zero line. (-17° Celsius.) Two areas of extreme cold are in Siberia, (where the sky-blue turns to sky-blue-pink temperatures are below -40°, which is the only temperature fahrenheit and celsius agree about.) Between them is a “warm” sector with temperatures below -20° Celsius. In that area the snow is deeper than normal, and extends further south than normal, which can be seen looking at the same scene sideways, with an Asian perspective:
I tend to see the surge of warmth into the Arctic as a loss of heat. It shows up in the temperature graph: However “above normal” is temperatures that are down around -20°C, and well below the freezing point of salt water. Even with the roaring wind shoving the ice north in Barents Sea, the growth of the sea-ice doesn’t slow noticeably (which I actually expected.)
One reason the ice extent graph still shows growth is because, while winds roared north in Barent’s Sea, they roared south in Fram Strait. The sea-ice, which had been dawdling to the north and often manifesting “wrong way” flows, surged south. Far faster than the ice were the cold winds, which don’t show up well on the two meter maps, as the open waters warm the air close to the sea, while only ten or twenty feet up the air may be much colder. For example the above maps don’t show much cold air reaching Iceland, but not far inland temperatures there dropped to -20° C:
Then this cold blast curved east towards Great Britain, and Europe, blocking the milder Atlantic air south of the Azores, and keeping it from reaching the arctic unless it took a convoluted route through the Mediterranean, and even that route was blocked when the cold front from this blast reached the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. (I always like to bring Africa into a discussion of arctic sea-ice, if only because it so obviously annoys certain Alarmists.) Lastly, the cold air from this blast meant the air curving around and back up to Barents Sea was not as mild as one might expect a south wind to be. (It always pays to pay attention to an air mass’s source region, even though it may seem a bit old fashioned to label them on maps, as the old-time weathermen once did.)
The above map also shows the refreeze starting in Northern Hudson Bay, behind schedule to the west and ahead of schedule to the north. Once it gets going it usually proceeds pretty swiftly.Returning to Fram Strait, it is hard to find a map that gives a true picture of the situation, which involved multi-year ice only now starting south from the north, and much of the ice to the south home-grown “baby ice”, grown over the past few months by very cold north winds, and then crunched up against the coast, in places becoming a jumble that is far thicker than most think of baby ice being.
I sometimes think the only way to truly know the makeup of Fram Strait ice is to pay close attention on a day-by-day basis. We know the multi-year ice dawdled to the north because we watched it do so. We know the ice to the south is home-grown because we watched it grow.
Currently the O-buoy site is down, but we can watch Faboo (my name for the North Pole Camera) to see how that ice handled the blast.
On November 17 Faboo began to feel the roar, as winds remained between 20 and 26 mph all day, pushing the ice 17.14 miles nearly due south to 82.786°N, 6.041°W. Temperatures ranged from a high of -17.6°C at 0300Z to a low of -22.7°C at the end of the period (2100Z).
On November 18 the roaring lasted all day, with winds between 26 and 38 mph, peaking at 1500Z. The ice was barged 23.51 miles SSE. Temperatures in these gales ranged from a low of -23.8°C at 0300Z to a high of -20.9°C at noon.
On November 19 the roaring slowly faded away, as winds slowed from 26 mph down to 9 mph, and temperatures fell from -21.2°C at the start of the period to -26.4°C at the end. We traversed 14.51 miles SSE, finishing at 82.247°N, 5.149°W.
On November 20 calm descended, and the buoy only moved 6.76 miles, finishing at 82.153°N, 4.945°W. Temperatures remained very cold, -26.4°C for a low at midnight, up to only -25.5°C for a high at noon.
Though the buoy slowed, the 6.76 miles it moved on November 20 is still what we would have called a large amount, in September. In the five days of the roaring we moved further south than we did the entire month of September. And we are not a lone berg in open water, but a vast, flat area of ice with next to no open water beyond a few leads, which are likely freezing over swiftly, in this cold.
Faboo has now likely missed its very remote chance to be peeled off to the west and wind up in the Beaufort Gyre, and is now doomed to float south along the east coast of Greenland, and eventually melt. But remember the doom was not caused by “Global Warming” but by bitter blasts up to gale force that could freeze exposed skin in thirty seconds.