Some Rough Sledding IMG_1607

I didn’t much want to be a drag over Christmas, nor be one of those tiresome old men (and women) who bore your eyeballs out by talking tediously about the slow decay of their bodies, as if they were play-by-play announcers at a sporting event called “Increasing Decrepitude”.. So I kept my bad health to myself, which is pretty darn melodramatic. It’s a bit like that old Crosby, Stills and Nash song, “Almost Cut My Hair.”

I almost cut my hair
‘Twas just the other day
It was gettin’ kinda long
I could-a said, it was in my way
But I didn’t and I wonder why
I want to let my freak flag fly
And I feel like I owe it to someone

Must be because I had the flu for Christmas
And I’m not feelin’ up to par
It increases my paranoia
Like lookin’ at my mirror and seein’ a lit up police car
But I’m not givin’ in an inch to fear
I promised myself this year
I feel like I owe it to someone

When I finally get myself together
Get down in some sunny southern weather
Find a place inside to laugh
Separate the wheat from the chaff
‘Cause I feel like I owe it to someone.

And to be honest, I’ve always been pretty good at melodrama. For years I was sure every cold was lung cancer, (likely due to some internalized guilt I felt over the huge enjoyment I got from cigarettes). At age seventeen I was sure I was going to die at age seventeen like the poet John Chatterton. At age 26 I was going to die at 26 like Keats. Then I was going to die at 29 like Shelley, and then at 36 like Byron, and then at 39 like Dylan Thomas. However by then it was starting to get a bit old. One can only flop around like a dying fish for so long before people stop taking you seriously.

This is not to say I myself wasn’t still serious. Life is never quite so beautiful as it is when it is tenuous, and slipping away through your fingers. And anyone who knows anything about all the crud I’ve been through over the years has to admit it is a miracle I’m still alive.  However, for the most part I’ve quit the melodrama of flopping about like a fish. For one thing, I’m too old to die young. Where’s the glamour of dying at 62?

Though I privately view each dawn as a bit of a surprise, (as I don’t expect to still be here), and though privately I may view each new liver-spot on the back of my hand as melanoma, publicly I now deem it best to avoid anything that looks like complaining. I have no business complaining, as I can still wield a maul and spit wood at age sixty-two, as my pals get their knees replaced. However I did complain to my doctor. (I think, in some ways, that may be what doctors are for.)

Over the past six months I felt like my get-up-and-go got up and went. I might have shrugged that off as aging, but also I seemed to lose a quarter pound every week, despite eating well. It triggered my old habit of assuming I had lung cancer, especially as I seemed to catch every cold the kids had at our Farm-childcare, whereas for years I’d seemed totally immune despite being slimed constantly by their runny noses. When the most recent cold led to congestion in my lungs I decided to pester my doctor. Imagination isn’t always a poet’s friend, and it is good sometimes to get the smack-down of, “You are perfectly healthy. Stop being such a fool and worrying so much!”

Unfortunately he didn’t say I was perfectly healthy this time. I had chest X-rays, and they showed a “shadow.” So he scheduled a Cat-scan, which gave me a week or so to worry, before the Cat Scan was analyzed and my lungs looked OK. Then I was on cloud nine, but later my doctor called me back, because way down at the bottom of the Cat Scan he’d noticed a bulge on my left kidney. There was a second Cat Scan, and then a biopsy of my kidney, and cancer was discovered. Part, or all, of the kidney has to come out. Merry Christmas.

Oh well. I figured it was a sort of Christmas miracle that the cancer was discovered, when I had absolutely no complaints about my kidneys, and wasn’t looking in that direction in the slightest. Still, it was hard to bite my tongue and muster the proper cheer for Christmas.

I didn’t even tell my wife, at first, but there’s no fooling her, as she tends to read me like a book and can see phony cheerfulness in me even when I have myself fooled. And also I am part of a bunch of old coots at my church, and we pray together and are honest about our heartaches. And one of those fellows turned around and prayed with his family, and his son happens to know one of my sons, so that son soon knew, and before you could shake a stick everyone knew. A small town is proof that the only secrets that stay secret are those that are known by one person alone.

It wasn’t so bad. Some people did get awkward, and some did behave as if cancer is contagious, but I’m old and expect no better from my fellow mortals. What I didn’t expect was people I hardly know, and didn’t think of as prayerful people, to come up to me and tell me they would be praying for me. I am not always the most courteous of people, and can be a bit brutal with the Truth, and if I expect any sort of prayers it might be the prayer that I get hit by a truck. It was really touching to receive unexpected expressions of caring.

For the most part I just went on dealing with details, which will be a bit harder as I am not suppose to do any heavy lifting for five weeks after the operation. This will involve some serious adjustments to the routine of the Farm-childcare, not only because a farm involves grunt-work, but small children like to be hoisted, and like to take flying leaps and land on your stomach without warning, when you are reading a story on the couch.  I’ll likely have to hire people and take a hit to my profits, right when I need to come up with six-grand (as that is the “deductible” in my insurance.)  An operation doesn’t mean you do less, it seems.

It would be nice if insurance companies would go out of there way to make things easier for the client, but apparently they need to make all sorts of extra work to justify their existence. When my father first started work as a surgeon in 1946 he had a single secretary, and many country doctors wrote out their own bills. Much of the increase in medical costs has nothing to do with medicine, and everything to do with parasitic lawyers, and countless layers of bureaucratic confetti. Rather than cathedrals, our cities tallest towers are built to the false god of insurance, which I tend to grumble only ensures we are more miserable than necessary.

Of course I had to go through my own gauntlet, which all too many are quite familiar with. Here is part of an email I sent to friends:

The surgery was all set to go on January 5 when Obamacare stepped in, and I had to deal with a series of insurance-company-voices on the telephone that would have made me angry, but the bureaucrats sounded so much like characters on “Saturday Night Live” that my sense of humor kicked in. Basically they were telling me that due to clause 20446B (or something) of my policy I couldn’t use Catholic Medical Center, where my surgeon does 95% of his operations, and instead I had to wait until he could do the exact same operation at a different hospital, which might not be until February. I stressed this might not be a good idea, as the cancer could spread farther during that time. I was assured it was a good idea as it would keep rates lower, (and so forth).
The discussion was made all the more difficult by the fact I never could get the same person on the phone twice, and had to go over everything from the start again and again. But this did allow me to make my story better and better. Maybe I even started exaggerating a bit, which I assume the Lord will forgive me for, given the circumstances. I didn’t say it was a fact that the cancer would spread, but implied that if the surgery wasn’t done on January 5 it might cost the insurance company a heck of a lot more. The mention of money did seem to impress them, and I got sent to other people, who sent me to other people, (with long intervals spent listening to bad music on “hold”,) until I finally talked to someone who did mention there was such a thing as a “waiver”, which might allow me to use Catholic Medical Center. All I needed was fifteen forms filled out by my Family Doctor’s office, and for Doc himself to find time in his busy schedule to personally call them and grovel a bit.
At this point they were wearing me down, and I was deciding maybe it was God’s Will to put things off until February, but I did mention the situation when I was up at Doc’s office, and this is where a “God-sighting” occurred. At Doc’s office H—- (who he has had to hire to deal with insurance and nothing but insurance) was none too pleased to hear I had learned about the “waiver”, for she had been on the phone herself, but hadn’t been able to get anyone at the insurance company to release this secret information. Now she abruptly had a full head of steam, and went charging into the Obamacare bureaucracy like an NFL fullback.

In the old days it was the men who wore the shining armor and were the heroes, saving the maidens in distress, but times change, and in a hopeless bureaucracy perhaps it is the women who are the heroes, and save distressed old geezers like me. My Oh my! How the fur did fly! It would take too long to go into all the funny details, but in the end H—–, and a woman named D—– at the surgeon’s office, took on all the Saturday-night-live-voices at the insurance company and basically left them in an exhausted heap. I was filled with gratitude, because we had run out of time, and everything had to be done in four hours to still have a chance to do the surgery on January 5, and there was no way I could make all the phone-calls myself. It was simply a case of a rescue coming right out of the blue, when I never expected it, and I thank God for working through H—– and D—–, (and have thanked both of them profusely).

(In case you are wondering, a “God-sighting” is when, in a loveless world where most people seem out to make life more difficult, you run across an unexpected example of love and kindness and generosity or (sometimes) sheer good luck that makes what you expect to be difficult far easier.)

In any case, this is just my long-winded way of explaining why I won’t be posting much for a while. If all goes well I may be going nuts in a couple weeks, suffering cabin fever and itching to do stuff like shovel snow (that I used to complain about) but all I will be able to do is go for walks, and post too many posts. So let’s hope all goes well.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –In The Ink–with Freak storm update (Dec 12-31, 2015)

The days are not just short at the Pole; they don’t exist. The entire area north of the arctic circle is now sunless, 24 hours a day, and in terms of the planet’s heat budget the area is spending like a drunken sailor. Colossal amounts of heat is being exported upwards to Alpha Centuri, where they don’t need it.

What our president should do (as he is a madman who thinks he can control the weather) is to make it illegal for any warmth to go north. It is a complete waste to send warmth north this time of year. Keep the warmth down south where the people are. Let the north get so cold that it freezes the arctic sea-ice thick, and has no further warmth to squander, even from the Arctic Ocean. In terms of the planet’s energy budget, it can be fifty below up at the Pole, and all it means is we are not wasting our warmth. Unfortunately our poor president doesn’t have a clue, when it comes to budgets.

In actual fact whomever of the Creator’s angels is in charge of the weather has kept a lot of the cold up there recently. The O-buoys 8b, 13, 14, and 15 (with blinded cameras) have been reporting temperatures down near -40° C.  This has occurred because, on the Asian side of the Pole, we have seen something close to a “zonal flow”, where winds describe a nice, neat circle around the Pole, and the jet stream doesn’t form the grandiose loops south and north that can bring snows to Florida even as cherries bloom in Scotland.

On the North American side the jet stream did loop south, bringing record snows to places like Denver, but from the Atlantic to the Pacific over Eurasia the flow was fairly flat. Great surges of relatively mild Atlantic air surged west to east. I called one a “javelin” in another post, but they were more like snowplows, pushing the Siberian air left, right and forwards. The supercold air that went right became involved in a counter-current, east-to-west, and also involved more moisture than cold deserts usually see, so there were record snows from northern China and the Gobi Desert in Mongolia back to Turkey. There was even winter in Uttar Pradesh in northern India.


This demonstrates that it is not just the Pole that is squandering heat. Areas south of the Arctic circle may see some sunshine, but a four hour day cannot make up for a 20 hour night, especially over Siberia when the snow-pack is deep. All that nice Atlantic air heading west-to-east gets colder and colder as it moves into and across Russia. All the Atlantic air  does is supply unusual moisture and make the snow-pack deeper. However the thrust of Atlantic air does shove a lot of cold air to the left, north towards the Pole, and -15°C is better than -60°C, if you happen to live in Siberia. I’m sure they appreciate lower heating bills, the same way everyone else does, and with so much cold trapped up at the Pole, it has been a Christmas Miracle to the poor in the eastern USA and much of Europe to pay so little staying warm.

In order for a zonal flow to persist it has to be even all the way around the Globe. Otherwise some of the very cold arctic air moves south and comes in contact with nice, juicy air over the Atlantic or Pacific, and “bombo-genesis” occurs, and you abruptly see an enormous gale on the map. The gale is so huge it tends to bend the jet stream north and south, and before you know it your nice, neat zonal pattern has been utterly messed up, and becomes a meridenal pattern.

This seems to be what has happened recently. A huge gale blew up in the Aleutian Sea, followed by a teleconnected gale in Fram Strait. I hope to find time to post all the maps tomorrow, but for now will merely mention that Faboo (the North Pole Camera) has experienced winds over fifty mph, has made it south of 77.5° latitude, and (somewhat amazingly) the cameras are still functioning and producing regular photographs of ink.


A tip of the hat to the bloggers Craigm350 and lectricdog, who sent us these links.



The gale, with hurricane force gusts, is described as the worst to hit Longyearbyen in 30 years.

Svalbard snow storm and avalanche, svalbard apocalyptica l snow storm, snow storm svalbard norway, weather apocalypse svalbard norway, snow storm and avalanche svalbard december 2015, hurricane svalbard 2015, strongest storm in 30 years svalbard december 2015


Before I even start these maps I should show what the super-gale winding down, south of Bering Strait, off the first map.Aleutian Storm gfs_mslp_uv10m_npac_1I likely missed the lowest pressure this storm achieved; the lowest I noted was 943 mb. Computer models were suggesting it could get down to 930 mb briefly, so of course some Alarmists pounced on it as evidence Global Warming was producing “unprecedented” weather. (Actually other storms have likely maxed-out at the same levels up there, out to sea where nobody can measure them.  It is unlikely for such storms to peak as they come ashore, as the land destabilized the perfected requirements. Even as they peak they use up their energy swiftly, and while still remaining monster storms, see their pressures rise.)

I bring up this particular storm to illustrate the massive amounts of mildness and moisture brought north,  to be squandered in the ink. In the following DMI maps you can see the milder air push north into the Pacific side of the Pole, even as very cold East Siberian air oozes north and across the Pole to Canada, and then the Svalbard Bomber blowing up in the Northernmost Atlantic.

DMI3 1212B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1212B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1214B mslp_latest.big DMI3 1214B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1215 mslp_latest.big DMI3 1215temp_latest.bigDMI3 1216 mslp_latest.big DMI3 1216 temp_latest.bigDMI3 1216B mslp_latest.big DMI3 1216B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1217 mslp_latest.big DMI3 1217 temp_latest.bigDMI3 1218B mslp_latest.big DMI3 1218B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1219 mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1219 temp_latest.bigDMI3 1219B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1219B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1220B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1220B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1221 mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1221 temp_latest.big

For the moment the upper air map shows a nice, neat quasi-zonal pattern, with lows rotating a high parked at the Pole, but the pattern is in self-destruct mode, and will look very different in a matter of days500 mb Polar 21051221 gfs_z500_sig_arctic_1

A lot of the arctic cold, when it hasn’t remained trapped over the Pole, has poured over the Pacific east of Russia and then made its way south to the Western USA. More has flooded south down either side of Greenland, occasionally crossing the Atlantic to chill northern Scandinavia, however mostly it has been ocean waters that have borne the brunt of winter rather than people.  This looks like it will change. Though there is no snow in the eastern USA the snowpack has built in Ontario south of Hudson Bay, and the snowline looks likely to leap southward at the start of the New Year. Europe may dodge the bullet a bit longer.


The weakest ice around the Pole is the newest baby-ice, perhaps only three inches thick, extending outwards at the edges, and the one thing that can discourage the growth of such ice is a roaring gale. We have seen two, if you generalize. If you want to count the gale’s secondary gales the number is higher. Such roaring winds can take a square mile of sea-ice three inches thick and crunch it like an accordion to a far smaller area of jumbled slabs.

It is strangely similar to what happens to a flat summer beach, long merely lapped by gentle ripples, when it is hit by several autumnal gales and hurricanes. It is flat no longer. A big dune rises just inland, and a big off-shore sandbar rises just out to sea.

In fact, if you look at the very edge of the sea-ice when the sun first returns to the north it is uncanny how smooth the edge looks, as opposed the more usual blocky look of broken-up sea-ice. It has all the curls and capes and inlets of a sandy shoreline, and hints at how pulverized and fluid the ice became during storms in the ink of winter dark and winter gales. During calms it expanded out as thin baby ice, but during storms it was reduced to many small chunks, basically a soup of slush.

If you pay attention strictly to “sea-ice extent” without paying attention to what the sea-ice is undergoing, you will be puzzled by times the extent shrinks even when temperatures are below, and sometimes far below,  the melting point of salt water. Once you pay more attention you expect the charts to dip, or at least flatten when the ice is subjected to super-gales. And indeed we have seen the extent flatten, both in the DMI 15% extent graph and in the DMI 30% extent graph.

DMI3 1222B icecover_current_newDMI3 1222B icecover_current

I try to keep two things in mind, during such occurrences. First, there may be just as much ice, but it is heaped up into a smaller area, like an oceanic sand dune, or like all the snow on your driveway being shoveled to the edges. Second, the creation of more open water cannot result in any warming of the water when the sun doesn’t even shine. In fact the water is often churned and chilled to a considerable depth by the howling gales, and this process will continue until either the water is sheltered by a roof of ice, or the sun starts beaming over the horizon and rises high enough to penetrate the surface.

In any case, calculating the energy budget of arctic waters is no easy thing, and one should avoid the knee-jerk reaction of certain simpletons, who see a dip in sea-ice extent as a sure sign of warming.


Faboo (my name for the North Pole Camera) may only represent a small chunk of a vast Arctic Sea of bergs, however I feel that the study of Faboo’s antics at least gives us an iota of an idea of what is going on, where we otherwise might see only ink.

On our last post on December 12 Faboo had slowed down a lot, and drifted another 5.81 miles SSW to 78.494°N, 8.274°W. Temperatures had dropped to -28.5°C, and the hoarfrost had grown so thick that apparently both the wind-vane and anemometer were immobile. The cameras likely had encrusted lenses, and produced nothing but pictures of ink.

On December 13 the buoy sped up, moving 12.21 miles nearly due south (but slightly west) to 78.317°N, 8.292°W, as temperatures nudged up to a high of  -21.5°C at 1500Z.

On December 14 Faboo crossed 15.31 miles a little west of due south, reaching 78.098°N, 8.471°W. We can assume the winds were picking up. Temperatures were basically flat, with a low of -22.5°C at midnight rising to a high of -20.1°C at 0900Z before creeping back down again.

On December 15 we veered a bit to the SSW, covering 11.34 miles and arriving at 77.935°N, 8.602°W. Temperatures crept down to a low of -24.5°C at 1800Z.

On December 16 we experienced a bit of a lull, moving only 8.24 miles to 77.953°N, 8.588°W. However in Fram strait such lulls, combined with the fact temperatures steadily rose to -18.8°C, make me suspicious warm air is surging north and a storm is brewing.

On December 17 the Svalbard Bomber began to blow up. Faboo picked up speed and veered SW, moving 14.1 miles to 77.740°N, 9.713°W, as temperatures, -18.3°C  at midnight, rose to -12.0°C  at noon and then -3.4°C at the end of the period. (2100Z) However the real hint was that the winds grew so strong the anemometer blasted free of the hoarfrost, reporting steady winds of 42 mph at the end of the period. (Please note that, although so far the ice Faboo is on has traveled more than 60 miles south in this report, towards eventual melting, it has had little to do with warming, and has in fact involved temperatures so cold you might think (as I once thought) that the sea-ice would be locked rigidly in one place.)

On December 18 the Svalbard Bomber had steady winds of over 40 mph for most of the day, peaking with a steady gale of  51 mph at 0300Z. There was an interesting lull at 1500Z, when winds dropped to 13 mph. Temperatures at that point had fallen steadily to -9.2°C, but at the 1800Z report they’d sprung up to a high of -1.5°C, and winds were back up to 40 mph, and ended the period at 45 mph.  We moved an impressive 27.93 miles SSW to 77.429°N, 10.921°W.

On December 19 the gales blew all day, only slacking to 38 mph at the end, as temperatures steadily fell from -3.0°C to -13.3°C . Faboo charged another 31.71 miles SSW to 77.004°N, 11.716°W.

On December 20 the Svalbard Bomber faded east, and winds slowly decreased from gales to a strong breeze of 20 mph at the end, as temperatures remained fairly flat, with a low of -13.7°C  at noon and a high of -12.6°C at 1800Z. Faboo moved 21.1 miles further south, arriving at 76.710°N, 12.090°W .

On December 21 winds faded further, down to around 11 mph, and the flat temperatures took a plunge to -21.5°C at the end. The ice began to rebound to the east, after being crunched up against the coast of Greenland, which makes me nervous, because it was during such a period of rebound, after a gale, that we lost O-buoy 9. I imagine leads open up. Despite the slackening winds Faboo moved another 11.4 miles south to 76.547°N, 11.970°W.

What amazes me is that the cameras are still reporting. They may be face downwards, but they send their pictures, four times a day. I even think I can detect a slightly less inky ink at noon. (Though the sun doesn’t rise down towards the arctic circle, the twilight gets brighter at noon.)

If I could have a Christmas wish, it would be that at least one of the cameras survives long enough to have its lens thaw, and that it then sends a few pictures of the mess we can’t currently see. You can bet the ice isn’t as flat as it was up at the Pole last April, when we got our first pictures. However that ice must be surprisingly stable and strong, for the cameras to have survived such gales. (The instrument that measures how thick the ice is quit working back at the end of November.)  (The ice was roughly a meter thick at that time.)


The gales up in the arctic have done a good job of compressing and chewing away at the outer edge of the sea ice both on the Atlantic and Pacific side. Despite the cold winds blasting off east Siberia and down either coast of Greenland, there has been little chance to grow the fragile ice at the edges, and graphs focused on the extent (or area) of the ice show a slump or leveling-off, both on the DMI 15% and 30% graphs.icecover_current_newicecover_current

Besides the compression of sea ice, there has also been warmth that has been a blessing to those who pay heating bills, eroding the snow-cover in the east if the USA right up across the border into southern Ontario and Quebec, and across Europe right into Russia.Snowcover 20151224 snowNESDISnh(11)

Of course such mildness holds moisture, and once such mild surges move a certain distance across northern landscapes temperatures can be above normal but chill to a degree where they still build the snow-pack, which has happened in the rest of Russia, and also in northern Ontario and Quebec and even Northern Maine.  Also such surges, in Eurasia, have led to an interesting backwash the other direction, a sort of counter-current bringing snows to India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, and even Romania and the Italian Alps.

That snow-pack is a winter-breeder, as it reflects the wan winter sunlight during the short winter days, and during the long nights radiational cooling is at its yearly high. Deep snow to your north is not a friend, if you yearn for a mild winter.

In like manner, frozen over lakes and bays are not a friend, as open water is an amazing buffer against a cold wave. This year the Great Lakes have not chilled as swiftly as last year, and on his excellent blog at the Weatherbell site Joseph D’Aleo posted a Dr. Ryan Maue map which does an amazing job of showing how arctic winds passing over the Great Lakes are significantly warmed, to the benefit of areas downwind of the lakes. (In this case the frigid winds are west-to-east, and it is areas to the east that benefit.) Great Lakes downwind cmc_t2m_east_33

At the very top of the above map is southernmost Hudson Bay, which is only slightly warming the air, for the big bay is about frozen over. Even the Canadian Ice Service map, (which seems to be the last to show ice freeze in the fall and the last to see it melt in the spring, perhaps because they have a finer grid), shows the bay nearly completely frozen over. Hudson Bay 20151226 CMMBCTCA

Besides Hudson Bay, Canada has its “other” Great Lakes, plus a vast number of smaller lakes and ponds, which show up as yellow specks (indicating they are frozen over) in this map.

Snowcover 20151226 ims2015359_alaska

In conclusion, all those nice buffers, waters holding summer’s heat and steaming in the first cold of fall, have lost their ability to be the protectors of southern lands. Rather they help worsen the radiational cooling during the long winter nights, and have switched sides, turning from a foe of cold to a friend.

It is for this reason that temperatures show no sign of uplift, as the shortest day passes and days start getting longer. Until those ponds, lakes, bays and seas start to melt a slight increase of sunlight not only has no effect, but the cold gets worse.

Which led to the wisdom of a bit of old, Yankee doggerel:

When the days begin to lengthen
Then the cold begins to strengthen.

Which means we will see sea-ice continue to grow past current levels:Consentration 20151226 arcticicennowcast


On December 22 Faboo continued another 8.53 miles a little east of due south, finishing at 76.425°N, 11.881°W.  This is pretty good progress, considering the winds died down from a breeze of 11 mph to slight draft of 5 mph. We never saw Faboo move so far when winds were so light in the summer, however at this point we are seeing a sort of accumulated momentum; the ice and sea-water remembers the gales of the past week, and now forms a current down the east coast of Greenland. It is sort of like when you stop stirring a cup of tea, but the tea keeps moving.  The sea-ice is not frozen to a halt by sub-freezing temperatures, for Faboo saw a high of -21.5°C at the start of the period and a low of -25.3°C, and those extremely cold temperatures didn’t seem to slow Faboo a bit.

On December 23 the winds started to pick up a bit, from 6 mph at the start to 20 mph at the end, and temperatures reached a low of -24.0°C at 0300Z and crept back up to -21.8°C at the end of the period (2100Z). We were shifted primarily south, with our eastward drift ceasing on  11.684°W at 1800Z and then starting westward again, as we wound up at  76.207°N, 11.702°W, which is another 15.31 miles further along.

On December 24 strong breezes and cold temperatures lasted all day, with the breeze between 18 and 25 mph and the temperature between -21.4°C and -24.1°C. The buoy traveled another 22.19 miles, finishing at 75.890°N, 11.934°W.

On Christmas the strong winds began to slack off in the late morning, gradually ebbing from 22 mph to 11 mph. Temperatures remained cold, sinking from -21.1°C at 0600Z to -24.1°C at the end of the period. Our westward progress halted on 12.100°W and we began to be nudged east again, as our general motion continued to be for the most part due south, finishing at 75.592°N, 11.978°W, which is another 20.56 miles on our way.

On the past six days we have moved a hundred miles south from where this map shows Faboo located, back on December 20.2015D_track 20161220 (1)

We are actually getting down to that next circle of latitude on the above map, which represents 75° north Latitude. We sure have been zooming, especially when you consider how long it took us to get across 85° north, and how there was even some doubt we would get into Fram Strait, or whether we’d get sucked west into the Beaufort Gyre.

Well, all doubt has been removed, for now we are officially through Fram Strait, and farther south than the most southern point of Svalbard. In which case, you may ask, why follow Faboo any longer? There can be no doubt the buoy is on its way to to melting in the Atlantic south of Denmark Strait.

Well, one reason to follow Faboo is that there seems to be a misconception about ice moving down the east coast of Greenland, especially because, in terms of “extent”, the ice forms a narrower and narrower band along the Greenland Coast. The misconception is that it is becoming a narrower band because it is melting away.Fram Ice 1226 general_20151223

If you open the above map to a new tab and then click it again you can get a very enlarged version. The orange lines are isotherms indicating the temperature of the sea-water, and show a lot of that sea-water is below the freezing point of fresh water. This includes the northern Barents Sea, the area of open water northwest of Svalbard, and the water moving down the east coast of Greenland. In fact the current moving south along the Greenland coast is one of the coldest in the world, as water that cold usually takes a dive, as it is so much denser than the warmer waters it moves into.

The question should then be, why doesn’t this Greenland current take a dive?  Well, it actually does, further south, but at this point (where Faboo reports from) it doesn’t dive because it is fresher water, and also is not moving into warmer water yet. It is extremely cold salt water that could literally freeze your blood solid, and when it is blasted by steady winds of -20° to -25° there is no way any melting is going on. In fact every bit of ice in that water is like a candle’s wick being dipped in wax as it is made; it is growing, not shrinking. It is also (this year especially) piled up against the coast rather than spread out over the sea, which creates a jumble of thicker pressure ridges. In fact, compare the thickness of the ice along the east coast of Greenland last October 28th (top map) with today’s(bottom map).

Thickness 20141028 arcticictnowcastThickness 20141227 arcticictnowcast

You may want to open these maps to new tabs and then click back and forth to compare them. What is clear is that a lot of the ice on October 28 is a lilac hue, indicating it is thin, only around a foot thick. Now it is a sky blue, indicating it is 5-6 feet thick, and even red right along the coast, indicating it is 12 feet thick. In conclusion, the ice moving down the coast of Greenland is not melting, though it is compressed to a narrower and narrow band along the coast, much of the time.

This ice, as well as the ice moving down the east side of Baffin Bay and then along the coast of Labrador, has a power the water lacks. The cold water takes a dive, under milder waters, but this ice floats right over milder waters, which swiftly become colder, as does the air. (Mixed in with this sea-ice are calved-off chunks of Greenland glaciers, which make them especially dangerous to ships like the Titanic). Such ice-water currents also can mess up carefully prepared models of how colder and milder currents should behave, for they are in effect a cold current that refuses to take a dive.  If a sizable raft of such bergs heads south they can create pockets of very cold water where, in theory, only milder water ought be, and if that water takes a dive much further south than models expect, you can imagine the frightful mess is makes of all the neatly drawn currents.

(My youngest son told me that when they were first engineering metal ships they did not calculate correctly for how much metal would shrink in such cold waters, and how brittle rivets would become, which was one reason the Titanic sunk so quickly, and was a reason early battleships developed unexpected major leaks. Live and learn…if you are an engineer…but if you are like some climate scientists, you live and never learn.)

The amazing thing is that Faboo is still somehow surviving to a degree where it still transmits pictures, though they still only show ink….though… perhaps… the late afternoon picture is a little less inky than the noontime shot? Arctic twilight peeking under clouds?NP3 1 1226A 2015cam1_2NP3 1 1226B 2015cam1_1


Below you will see why true meteorologists have been known to sneak off during all sorts of important events to glance at maps, for I missed a few due to Christmas and an investigation of Obamacare, and I can see I missed a crucial switch from the cold air being penned up at the Pole to the Pole becoming a whirlpool sucking up our planet’s warmth.

—–Missing Christmas Map—–

—–Two Missing Maps—

This is likely not the end of the whirlpool, for the GFS model shows a second influx of Atlantic air surging up to the ink of the Pole, where it vanishes into outer space. (These superb maps are produced by Dr. Ryan Maue from GFS data, and are available at the Weatherbell site.)

Initial (1800Z December 29) Whirl 1 gfs_t2m_arctic_118 Hour forecast (December 30 1200Z)Whirl 2 gfs_t2m_arctic_436 Hour forecast  (December 31 0600Z)Whirl 3 gfs_t2m_arctic_754 hour forecast (Happy New Year!!!)Whirl 4 gfs_t2m_arctic_10

In the final map a new, smaller swirl is forming north of Greenland, as the major swirl collapses and fills in. What is most impressive is the huge amount of air chilled. Don’t forget it begins above freezing, so you need to add in all the latent energy released, first as the water vapor becomes liquid, and then as it freezes. Also a lot of uplift is occurring, so the heat is raised up to the tropopause, which is lower at the Pole.

Perhaps the situation is analogous to a big, fat guy running to a swimming pool and doing a cannon ball at the center, and the splash being so big the pool winds up empty. Or maybe not. (I just like that image.) In any case what goes up must come down, and with all the air rising and cooling at the Pole air has got to be sinking around the edges. The situation aloft is very different from when we started this post. The “Polar Cell”, (if it exists at all and has not been replaced by a displaced “Ferrel Cell”), has been shunted down to Scandinavia.Whirl Upper gfs_z500_sig_arctic_1

Once I start peeking and prying into the doings of the upper atmosphere I am outside my pay-grade, and basically should either shut up, of simply express wonder and awe, however I will note what I have noted, and that is that when lows roll up to the Pole, Cold gets spilled south, (like water in the Pool a fat guy cannon-balls.) And our mild December has ended here in New Hampshire with our first snow.

Note the high pressure poking up from the Pacific into Alaska, in the above map. On the east side of such highs, arctic outbreaks can roar south. So I want it to go away, and kids want it to grow and bring more snow. So I check the map for midnight, when people in England are all shouting “Happy New Year!!!”Whirl Upper 2 gfs_z500_sig_arctic_10Yuk. Sure looks like that high is building, and the flow will be north-to-south west of Hudson Bay. But maybe Chinook air will get sucked in, or maybe the outbreak will veer towards Labrador and out to sea.

But how about that huge high north of Europe, at this 500 mb level? That may bring mild air to the Pole, but south of it, wouldn’t cold Siberian air start seeping east-to-west? In Europe, an east wind can come straight from Mordor.


If you are interested, the hoop-la can be found here:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/12/30/freak-storm-has-pushed-north-pole-to-freezing-point-50-degrees-above-normal/

It includes these maps, which I do believe are Dr. Ryan Maue maps, and were lifted from the Weatherbell site without proper credit being given:

I suppose they have to refer to the Icelandic storm as a “freak” to generate interest. It is the same thing as calling it “unprecedented”.  But they are careful to give no links to Weatherbell, or one might get all sorts of historical examples of similar situations with similar storms. That makes everything seem a bit humdrum, and I suppose some think no one will pay any attention if it has been seen before, and is actually used as an analog, to make Weatherbell forecasts.

This is absurd. When an F5 tornado is heading down your street towards your house, it makes not a cotton-picking bit of difference if it is the first F5 tornado ever seen on earth, or the 94,612th.  What matters is your survival, and the survival of those near and dear to you. What matters is what is actually happening. What matters is the Truth.

For the Washington Post to refer to a impressive Icelandic low as a “freak” storm may increase the dwindling circulation of the rag, but anyone who has paid any attention to the North Atlantic knows that, if you call that huge gale a “freak”, then the North Atlantic is full of freaks.  Even the brief period of NOAA records that the Post article refers to notes two storms with lower pressures. And one needs to be cognizant of the fact often the lowest pressure isn’t actually measured, but is estimated by a computer model.

In 1977, when I lived in Maine, I met a man who had served aboard a Liberty Ship during World War Two. Liberty Ships were tough but lumbering cargo vessels that wallowed across the Atlantic, bringing supplies to England under the constant risk of being sunk by German U-boats. They also often got clobbered by North Atlantic Gales. This old man told me the ferocity of the gales was beyond description, as was the way they appeared out of nowhere, in areas where the weather map showed nothing but an innocuous-looking low the day before. They made the Liberty ships wallow nearly 180 degrees, from side to side, and a few ships simply vanished.

Such ships were hastily built and not entirely well-designed, and the man had served on one ship where you could not get from the rear of the ship to the front without crossing a short stretch of open deck. During one stupendous gale he was ordered to come forward by the captain, so he had to cross the open deck. He tried to time his dash between waves, but was staggered by a blast of hurricane force winds and then a wall of unexpected water from an unexpected angle, and then, even though he tried to grip the railing with both hands and knees, was torn from the ship and hurled into the freezing cold water.

He said he knew he was a goner. There was no way the ship could even think of stopping to look for a man overboard (it was not allowed due to the threat of German torpedoes, even if weather made it possible). He looked up the black side of the ship, seeing the dim light of the deck high above, and thought of his young wife back home and his parents and then, very suddenly, he was not looking up at the ships deck, but looking down at it. Then with a slam that broke his arm he was smashed right in front of the doorway to the forward part of the ship, and scrambled through to report to the captain.

This is a good tale because it demonstrates that even the cruel sea has a merciful side. Quite incidentally it also demonstrates humongous gales have raged in the North Atlantic for decades, and the recent gale is no “freak”.

Nor are the above-freezing temperatures surging up towards the Pole “unprecedented.” All you need to do is look back over my notes covering the past two winters to see other examples of warm air surging north.

Not that I don’t think interesting stuff is being revealed to us. It is just that the Washington Post is, I fear, too seduced by the political agenda involved in the Global Warming hoax to see what is actually occurring.

So what is actually occurring? What seems to be happening is unusual cold at the Pole, caused by unknown reasons, is clashing with unusual warmth in the Pacific, caused by unknown reasons.

And yes, yes, yes, I know people like to think they understand the unknown reasons by sticking a name on it. It is like thinking you understand a spaced-out student by calling him autistic. You don’t really understand, but if you call the warm Pacific “the El Nino” or “the Blob”, then you can strut around like a school psychiatrist, pretending he understands the next Winston Churchill or Thomas Edison, when he doesn’t really have a clue.

In like manner, the cold Pole can have a name stuck on it, and be called “due to the Quiet Sun.” And maybe that is a beginning of understanding, but we should not pretend we are authorities when, in actual fact, we are all novices.  We should be more humble.

However the people at the Washington Post apparently do not believe humbleness sells papers. I disagree, but they will not even attempt my approach. I say humbleness sells, but they insist hoop-la sells.  And they are richer than I am, in terms of filthy lucre, so they think they are justified. (I am richer than they can even imagine, in terms of intangible stuff, so I feel I am justified.)

The weather doesn’t care a flying flip about such debates, as far as I can see, and just proceeds on its own path. So…what is actually occurring?

For one thing, a huge amount of heat is being squandered  up at the Pole. The Washington Post may exclaim about temperatures above freezing, fifty degrees above normal, rushing up there, but if you look at the maps I posted above you will see how quickly that heat is lost to outer space. If you watch the maps over the next few days you will see temperatures over the Pole go down and down.

For another thing, the bitter cold that was safely corralled up there is now dislodged south. Big changes are coming to Europe, which are described in detail by Joseph D’Aleo in one of his excellent blogs at Weatherbell. To put his detailed analysis in a nutshell, look at the two maps below, the upper map showing how above-normal temperatures could be in Europe, when the cold was safely corralled at the Pole, and the lower map showing the below-normal short-term future Europe faces, now that the cold is dislodged.Hoop la 3 ncep_cfsv2_80_t2anom_europeHoop la 4 ecmwf_t850a_eur_29What I hope you see is that the Washington Post is guilty of myopia, when it focuses on above normal temperatures at the Pole, without looking elsewhere.

However I do think the surge of warmth north is very interesting, and well worth watching. And I do think that, while me may be novices, there is something to be said by those who suggest we are watching a war between above-normal temperatures brought about by an El Nino clashing with below-normal temperatures brought about by The Quiet Sun.




(south of) ARCTIC SEA ICE –Turkish Delight–

One of the more surreal bits of history is the start of World War One, which we now can see, with 20-20 hindsight, was a complete disaster for Europe, especially the Victorian royalty. At the start,  the English and German thrones held two grandsons of Queen Victoria, and the Czar of Russia was married to a granddaughter.  The entire slaughter could have been avoided if the family had been a bit more functional, and had put their foot down on the lesser powers who were starting the war up. However the English royal family referred to the Kaiser of Germany as “that dreadful cousin Willy”, and when push came to shove they seemed to think of war as a sporting event. In September 1914 the public was assured, “It will be over by Christmas”. The first troops marched off on prancing horses in absolutely gorgeous uniforms with feathers and shining helmets, as if they were off to a jousting tournament in medieval times, and not on their way to meet machine guns.

By Christmas many were waking up to the realities of modern warfare, but the leaders, who sent others to die charging machine guns, still seemed to hold the idea that the dying troops were like football players put on “injured reserve”, a sad aspect of a jolly good sport. They decided to hold a Christmas Truce, when they could meet with their fellow officers on the opposing side, toast the holiday with fine bandy, and exchange helmets.

Christmas Truce 1914, as seen by the Illustrated London News. However the troops refused to be left out, and they too fraternized with the enemy, breaking ranks to drink, sing Christmas Carols, and play soccer with their sworn foe.

Armistice Day football match at Dale Barracks between german soldiers and Royal Welsh fusiliers to remember the famous Christmas Day truce between germany and Britain PCH

Armistice Day football match at Dale Barracks between German soldiers and Royal Welsh fusiliers to remember the famous Christmas Day truce between Germany and Britain PCH

You can hardly blame the troops. After all, they had been promised the war would be over by Christmas, and it was Christmas. What’s more, they proved the war could be over, if only the leaders would behave sanely. However the leaders did not. They banned Christmas truces for the rest of the war, by which time the royalty of Germany, Russia, the Austrio-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire had lost their power, and Britain was greatly weakened. In the view of the English poet Wilfred Owen it was as if Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, and then, when God offered a ram, caught by its horns in a thicket, to be used instead of Isaac (or Ishmael if you’re Muslim), Abraham had refused the substitution, and insisted on killing his son.


So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

                                                       Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen was machine-gunned dead a week before the war ended. His mother got the news even as all the church-bells were ringing, rejoicing that the “War To End All Wars”  was at long last over.

So now here we are, 101 years later, and are we any wiser for all the horror we have seen? Sadly, I think not, for we seem on the verge of a new slaughter between the Islamic and the non-Islamic. The royalty on either side may be different, and may not focus so much on their lineage, but they are as brainless.

It seems proof that money cannot buy happiness. Who has had more money than the Arab states, with their oil revenue, but do they use this surplus to make happiness, or to brew hate and war?  And, when you look at the West, has money led to reason, or to greater greed? When you look at Hollywood, has money and fame led to goodness?

The good people, in my humble opinion, continue to be the troops in No Man’s Land, which in modern terms are the slums, and the factories, and fast food restaurants, and rural wastes, and any place the helpless abide. They yearn for leaders, but the leaders are fools. They yearn for guidance, but the guides are lost. They yearn for teachers, but the teachers only parrot nonsense. Who is there that will help them?

Basically, they have to count on themselves. If you want to see kindness and not hate, or generosity and not greed, or purity and not lust and gluttony, you are more liable to see it among the poor, for, while they have the same bad qualities all humans own, they have no where else to turn but to each other, for goodness.

This is a disgrace to all others who claim to represent goodness. Why don’t the poor trust them? Because the poor have seen all Temples, Churches, Mosques, Parliaments, Thrones, and Madison Avenue Agencies be too caught up in their greedy battles for power, wealth, and acclaim (and even mere self-gratification) to be free of the all-pervading perversions that make them liars, and liars can’t represent Truth. The poor can’t turn to them.

Truth doesn’t die, though people ignore it. It whistles in the bitter winter winds the poor endure, as the rich close coal power plants for falsified reasons. It smiles with the sunshine of unexpected thaws. Perhaps this is why so many talk so much about the weather. The weather, at least, is not a liar. It is what it is.

Autumn is ending with kindness for the eastern USA and much of Europe, as mild winds have surged from west to east. It is a Christmas miracle for many poor people, to have heating bills be so low.  Of course, Global Warming fanatics manage to make misery of good news, by suggesting it would be far better if the poor were cold, but the Truth ignores them, and temperatures over most of Europe are far above normal, (as is shown in the anomaly map Dr. Ryan Maue makes possible from GFS data at the Weatherbell site).

20151215 gfs_t2m_anom_eur_1

This warm surge may be followed by a second even stronger surge, and perhaps a third, which is a kindly truth for Europe, at the very start of their winter, although the end of winter may be very different. However a weather pattern that is kindly for the poor of one area may not be so kindly for other areas, and in this case you should look to the bottom right of the above map, where temperatures are below normal in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Now, before you get too caught up in the oncoming war between the Islamic and non-Islamic, and snicker “it serves them right”, I should mention cool weather is a cause for celebration in some of those lands. The poor, who cannot afford air conditioning, don’t need it.

However Turkey is too far north, and as the milder air rams east it is like a plow that shoves some Siberian cold north to the Pole, but other Siberian air south, where it is part of a backwash or counter-current that brings amazing snows to Turkey. The poor there can’t be too happy, as hundred of villages are cut off.


Now, when an area is hit and buried by snow, people tend to slip and fall down in the snow. We can chuckle about the situation because, just as the warm sun falls on rich and poor alike, the snow can make a young, strong, healthy and relatively wealthy guy lose his dignity. However suppose the person slipping and falling is a poor and elderly woman. It is not so funny, then. And who will stop to help her? The young, strong, healthy and relatively wealthy guy with lots of dignity? Or a scrawny, little Red Riding Hood?


This is not an example of Christmas Spirit, as Turkey is a Muslim nation, and they don’t celebrate Christmas,  but I like to think Jesus would smile at the above pictures. In like manner, I like to think that Mohammad would smile at how I behave, though I do not live in a Muslim nation.

For it is not the prophets who are to blame for hate between peoples. Nor is it the poor.

The ones who bear the blame are obvious. They need not be named. They rule with greed, hate and lust, and attempt to inflame such irrational reasoning in the people they lead. However perhaps the poor are reaching a point where they will simply feel enough is enough, and be sick of it.


Longfellow MTE5NDg0MDU1MDQ0NTg5MDcx

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow saw his share of darkness during his time on earth, as we all do, and had to fight the battles we all fight to light candles in the darkness. Especially sad was the loss of his first wife, while he was touring Europe with her, when they were still in the blush of first love. He recovered from that to find a second love, and for a time enjoyed a happy marriage with six children, five of whom survived, before tragedy again struck him.

His wife was sealing up a letter with sealing wax, as was usual in 1861, when her dress caught fire, and despite her husband’s desperate efforts she was so badly burned she died the next day.

That was such a blow that Longfellow had not the heart to write any more poetry. A great darkness decended upon his life, made worse by the onset of the civil war. Then into that darkness came news that his eldest son, seventeen-years-old, had run off to join the army.Longfellow son pic

The son, Charles Appleton Longfellow,  was severely wounded in the battle of New Hope Church (irony), with a bullet passing so close to his spine paralysis seemed likely. Longfellow hurried south to see his son, who clung to life despite all the problems with infection in those days before antibiotics, and Longfellow brought the teenager north to try to nurse him back to life.

Perhaps it was having to fight for a son’s life that revived the old man’s poetic powers, but, while facing the darkness of December and a Christmas made black by the ugliness of war, Longfellow produced this poem:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

The defiance of despair in the face of cruel fate, which manifests in this poem, is one of the most beautiful qualities of the human spirit, and in my humble opinion is proof there is something good in mankind, despite our amazing capacity to make misery when we could make peace.

(The son did survive and walk again, though he did not recover enough to rejoin the army, which he wanted to do.)

This is my favorite version of Longfellow’s poem put to music:


ARCTIC SEA ICE —The Cruel Pool– December 7-13, 2015

Sometimes I simply sit back in awe and wonder over weather features our Creator brews up, especially when they take forms that in some ways are outside of our ordinary expectations, and defy the constructs our small minds come up with to grapple with something as giant as “weather”.

I tend to see things in simplistic terms, and one construct I fall back on is the idea of a “storm track” with nice and neat low pressure areas rolling along this track like trains. However the recent surge that crossed the Atlantic and dove across Europe into Siberia seems in some ways like a javelin of energy. It wasn’t really marked very well by nice, neat circles of isobars marking nice, neat storms rolling along,  but rather ripped through all my nice, neat preconceptions like a spear through tissue paper.

I’ve poked about, trying to get the take others have on what was occurring, and noticed Piers Colbyn suggested the sun hit us with extra energy, (perhaps as a TSI spike).


I sort of like the idea of some sort of trigger hurling the javelin, which caused the flooding in Scotland as the spear of moisture passed through:

Spear 1 screenshot_2015-12-07-17-36-29-11

As this javelin plunged into the cold, dense air parked over the tundra and taiga of Siberia’s vastness, it shoved the cold aside and forward like a snowplow. I’ve already remarked on how the cold got pushed south to give snow to Persia:Persian Snow 151207113212_snow_in_iran_640x360_isna_nocredit

The poor nation of Syria was hit by cold which set a record for the entire month of December, not even ten days into the month, with Damascus hitting -9°C.


A lot of cold air was plowed east, pouring out into the north Pacific, which will (perhaps) shift the Aleutian low south and west, and (perhaps) cause the jet stream to pour arctic air south into Canada. But how cold is that air, out over the Arctic Sea?

Now that is where my wondering gets tickled, for apparently the javelin didn’t merely plow the cold south and east, but also plowed it north, up over the Pole.

That isn’t all that unusual, and is one reason the Laptev Sea leads all coastal arctic seas, when it comes to the creation and export of sea-ice. The cold air created by the snow-pack over Siberia does what cold air is inclined to do, namely sink, and creates high pressure as it presses down, but it can only press down so much before it presses outwards, and on the coast of the Laptev Sea this creates south winds that are anything but warm. They are the coldest south winds north of the equator, in fact, and roar north with such ferocity that they rip the sea-ice away from the coast, creating polynyas of open water even when the winds are as low as -70°C. This open water rapidly freezes, and then it too is pushed out to sea. Enormous amounts of ice are created in the Laptev sea, even though the ice there never gets all that thick. And, considering this outflow from Siberia happens even in ordinary circumstances, it will be all the more likely to occur when encouraged by a javelin plowing through Siberia.

As I watched the DMI maps the past week, the cold air pouring north from Siberia was obvious, even if the origins were beyond the edge of these maps. The high pressure I dubbed “Igor2” was pumped up, on the Pacific side.  Of interest was the fact that the gale I called “Tip3” was sucked east by (apparently) the surge associated with the “javelin”, while the gale I called “Tip4” behaved like a leaf swirling about in the wake of a race car, loop-de-looping back to Greenland.

DMI3 1208 mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1208 temp_latest.bigDMI3 1208B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1208B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1209 mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1209 temp_latest.big DMI3 1209B mslp_latest.big DMI3 1209B temp_latest.big DMI3 1210B mslp_latest.big DMI3 1210B temp_latest.big

The last map shows a decent gale off the coast of Norway, but in fact that is a “zipper” and associated with the occluded mess Tip4 created when he retrograded to Greenland. You get some idea of this mess by looking at the UK Met map.UK Met 20151210 29951109 The UK met map shows the “javelin’s” isobars still remain strongly west to east across Britain, Scandinavia and into Siberia, but not much of a “storm track” in the North Atlantic, where everything has bogged down to a stalled, occluded mess. In fact the low to the lower left of the map (which we might as well name “Tip5”) is likely to dawdle towards Spain, before perhaps probing up towards the English Channel. In terms of invading the arctic, the Atlantic is not much of a threat. A slight flow is pushing towards the Pole from the open waters of Barents Sea, but it is nothing like the surges we have seen.

Without invasions, the Pole swiftly chills, and this can be seen by the recent plunge of the DMI temperatures-north-of-80° graph. (The recent slight uptick is due to the air from Barents Sea.)DMI3 1210B meanT_2015

It makes me nervous when temperatures become “normal” over the Pole, because it represents a reservoir of nasty cold, a truly cruel pool. It wouldn’t be so nervous-making if the flow was zonal, for then you would know the cold would be trapped up there, which is where it belongs, as far as I’m concerned. However the flow has been meridenal, which tends to suggest the cold is just winding up before a pitch, or rearing back before an uppercut, or (add the sports metaphor of your choice).

Some of the cold air has been leaking down the east coast of Greenland, which may chill the Atlantic and cause future troubles, but in the short term is good news for places like the USA and Europe and China. However a lot of wicked cold is simply remaining up at the pole, as a building threat.

I mentioned earlier that the cold air spilling from Siberia into the Pacific might relocate the Aleutian low, and cause the jet stream to aim down into North America. Cold already is oppressing the north of Alaska and Canada,  but so far hasn’t started south:Spear 2 gfs_t2m_noram_1 Mr. Bastardi, over at the Weatherbell site, seems to suggest this ferocious cold is likely to roar down the Rocky Mountains into the west of North America, which will not effect me right away, which is fine with me. I prefer reading reports from Calgary of bone-chilling blasts. Or from Colorado. Or even from Texas or Phoenix.

I figure we here in New England payed our dues last winter. (Of course, I am not the guy who figures out this thing called “dues”. Some celestial angel does those calculations, which is why I never get the millions I figure I’ve earned by being so charming all my life.)

My hope is that we get a winter for softies, here in New England, and I don’t have to attend to ice on my driveway, and therefore have lots of time to attend to ice in the arctic.

Something very odd has been happening in the DMI ice-extent graphs. Rather than explain it I’ll just let you look at the two graphs. The first is for 15% coverage, and includes “coastal areas”, and the second is for 30% coverage, and has coastal areas “masked out”. (Click graphs to enlarge and clarify)

DMI3 1210B icecover_current_new DMI31210B icecover_current How two graphs, produced by the same agency, can give such differing impressions, is beyond my capacity to explain. The first will be loved by Alarmists, as it shows less ice, as the second will be adored by Skeptics, as it shows more ice.  (My own take, for what it is worth, is that the thicker and denser ice is increasing, even as the ice that doesn’t really matter so much, at the edges, is diminished.)

Tomorrow I hope to find time to catch up with the doings of Faboo (the north Pole Camera) which is hurrying south along the east coast of Greenland. The cameras are still sending pictures, and it has moved so far south that some of the pictures are lighter than others, but apparently the lenses are still very obscured by hoarfrost, so all you see is black for night and purple for day.

However the main emphasis of this post is the cruel pool building over the Pole, and the pondering about who will get that cold air, when an arctic outbreak sends it south. (I hope it hits some poor boy yearning for a White Christmas, and arrives on Christmas Eve,)


I’ve just been noting the passage of what I called either a spear or javelin through Siberia. It has now reached the Pacific and is still milder than the air both to the north and to the south (though it has been cooled a lot crossing the deep snow-cover of Siberia, and “milder” is now 10°F)(-12°C):Javalin 3 gfs_t2m_arctic_1

So far the javelin seems to be deflected a bit further south than I expected by the (so far) stubborn cold (-55°F; -48°C) lodged over east Siberia. However what is an interesting “coincidence” to me is the massive gale computer models see blowing up in the Bearing Sea tomorrow (Sunday).

Javalin 4 gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_5I am not qualified to say whether this super gale, at the very bottom of the above map, is actually related to the impulse that gave northern Britain its recent floods. My eye has just been following something east, and a qualified meteorologist might be quite correct to call any connection between the two events an optical illusion. But, as an observer, I figure I should mention it. (For those with home barometers, 933mb is like your barometer reading 27.55 inches.  IE Super-dooper typhoon.)


The weak remains of Tip4 and secondary and tertiary elements have drifted east to the Kara Sea, bringing some slightly milder air to the Pole, but not the true Atlantic moisture that comes in surges all the way up from the Azores. In a sense this is home-grown Atlantic air, polar in origin.

Across the Pole Igor2’s high pressure continues to mark some very cold air that is pouring north from East Siberia and across towards Canada. Some is exported down the east coast of Greenland, but North America is increasingly in danger of an onslaught from the north.

A Pacific storm is off the map south of Alaska, and the Pacific super-gale hasn’t developed yet.


On December 7 Faboo (the North Pole Camera) was blown south to 78.879°N, 8.174°W, which was another 18.75 mile to the SSW. Temperatures were fairly flat, with a low of  -21.4°C at 0600Z and a high of -18.1°C at 1500Z. Breezes fell off from the prior gales, but remained strong, slacking off from 25 mph to 15 mph.

December 8 saw the winds fade away to a calm, as temperatures fell from -18.7°C at midnight to -26.1°C at 1800Z. The buoy’s movement slowed to 6.14 miles, to 78.790°N, 8.186°W. There was a slight wiggle to the SE at 1500Z,  midst the SSW motion.

On December 9 calm conditions continue, and likely hoarfrost froze up the anemometer and wind-vane. Movement slowed further to 3.22 miles, to 78.744°N, 8.143°W. Temperatures crashed to -29.2°C at 0900Z and then recovered to -21.0°C at the end of the period at 2100Z.

December 10 saw movement of 6.63 miles to 78.648°N, 8.119°W, wobbling east, west, east and west as it proceeded south. Temperatures rose to a high of -17.7°C at midnight and a low of -23.1°C. at noon. Winds were not reported, likely due to hoarfrost.

December 11 saw the buoy move back west, as it continued south, to  78.577°N, 8.201°W, 5.02 miles further south. Temperatures were at their highest at midnight at -21.7°C and sunk to -27.3°C at 1500Z. No wind reports.

On December 12 Faboo drifted another 5.81 miles SSW to 78.494°N, 8.274°W. No wind reports, and temperatures remaining very cold for Fram Strait at -26.3°C at midnight down to -28.5°C at 1500Z.

Faboo is still well out in Fram Strait, and somewhat amazingly the cameras are still functioning, though the hoarfrost is likely so thick on the lenses that all we see is blackness. The slab of ice it is on is likely still fairly solid, or at least one of the cameras would be sunk. Much of the ice moving down into Fram Strait is solid, and the air has been very cold with few mild incursions. Of we could get some gentle south winds we might get a lens thawed, and get a few decent pictures from Faboo before it gets crunched. (As the ice moves south it tends to compress against the coast of Greenland. In fact all the thin “baby ice” from earlier this autumn has vanished from the NRL thickness map, turned into a much thicker jumble along the coast, south towards Denmark Strait.)

Further east there is still open water all around Svalbard, but we are likely to see Svalbard freeze swiftly, for it is entilerly surrounded by water that is now below 0°C, and only remains liquid due to its salt content. (Click to enlarge, and click again to enlarge further.)Fram Ice 1212 general_20151211Further west Hudson Bay is rapidly freezing over.Hudson Bay 20151212 CMMBCTCABering Strait has also frozen up.Concetration 20151212 arcticicennowcastThe only area with much below-normal ice-extent continues to be Barents Sea, which is likely to see an increase of ice on the Svalbard side over the next week.

Half-horsepower Persian Snows

A strong west-to-east flow across northern Europe is driving polar Atlantic air deep into Siberia. (Maps below are created by Dr Ryan Maue from GFS initial data, and are among thousands of maps he makes available at the Weatherbell site.) (Click maps to clarify and enlarge.)

Persia 1 gfs_mslp_uv10m_eur_6

This air is actually quite mild for December (although below freezing by the time it gets to Russia. Below freezing appears as pink on the map below.)Persia 2 gfs_t2m_eur_1

To get a feel for how above-normal the air actually is a temperature anomaly map is helpful. The map below shows temperatures are most above normal in Finland.Persia 3 gfs_t2m_anom_eur_1

This surge of relatively mild (but still below freezing air) will extend far across Asia, but does not represent the very cold (-40°C) Siberian air being warmed, but rather replaced. The displaced air is pushed north into the Arctic Sea, or west into the Pacific, or south and then east by a sort of backwash under the west winds. You can see the cold appearing in the lower right of the map above.

What this means is that places like Persia, Lebanon, Syria and Israel are seeing very cold conditions. Even the ordinarily hot and desert dry United Arab Emerites are seeing cold rain and temperatures down near freezing. UAR Cold Rain 3820661127

This is often an unexpected side effect of mild west winds across the Baltic and into Russia. Siberia is a huge place, larger than the USA and Canada put together, and its tundra and taiga create huge amounts of cold air. It is difficult to comprehend the enormity of this reservoir, or how impossible it is to warm this vastness in the dark days of December. It is only when a fringe of this cold comes east as a sort of backwash, and snows fall in the holy land, that one glimpses a hint of how gigantic the area of cold is. It perhaps can be shoved aside by a surge of air from the west, but it doesn’t just vanish, and I was particularly interested in pictures of the snow in Persia (Iran). Persian Snow 151207113212_snow_in_iran_640x360_isna_nocredit

It is a bit stunning to realize that the displaced Siberian air has it colder south of the Caspian Sea than it is way up in Finland. (One thing to realize is that the relatively milder air rushing east past Finland is constantly losing heat, and will be quite cold after a week or so over the deep snows that cover most of Siberia this autumn.) In fact it is so cold over Persia that things are running at half-horsepower.1931874(1)

OK, OK, I admit it is a bad joke, but I actually thought this statue was so cool that it deserved an entire post just to share it. It just goes to show you that you never know what you’ll discover, when you wander the web looking for news.



LOCAL VIEW —Christmas Homesickness—

December has been snowless so far, and I’m rather enjoying it. Last year we’d already had enough snow to shovel, and I was numbering the storms. Even though a warm wave was in the long range, and it turned out we had a green Christmas (with bluebirds and robins in the yard as the yearly Christmas miracle), it also seemed down in my bones that we were in for a test, and spring would be a long time coming, and I was right.

This year has been kinder, (though I feel the end of the winter may have a lot of snow). I actually am rotor-tilling the spring garden, and we’ve gotten some late house painting done. Considering I work a lot more slowly than I used to, I like having extra days to be ready for the time the snow clamps down and life becomes more limited.

I don’t relish storms the way I once did.
Perhaps this simply goes with aging.
I’m in the driver’s seat, don’t want to skid,
And have burdens enough without raging
Winds and whirling snows. When you’re young the blows
Fall on others, streets are cleaned by magic,
Hot water comes from the shower and flows
Over you, and you need not get tragic
About how you must cut wood to heat it,
Nor even think much about food on the table.
So the ease gets boring, and to defeat it
Youth makes problems, challenges it’s able
To feel vain about conquering, until years
Teach that life’s best without brewing such fears.

One thing I deal with every day, because I run a Childcare, is the problems modern parents have doing something as normal and natural as to have children and raise them. To me family seems more like a “given”, than a “problem”. To call family a problem is like calling the ground we walk upon a problem. Family is simply there, and it is amazing to me the degree some are able to make it not be there.

Often both parents work, and their child is dropped off at Childcare at 7:00 AM and then not picked up until 5:30 PM. To me it seems so much time is spent working to pay for a house that hardly any time is left to make it a home.

The kids seem to get especially homesick during the dark days of December. Perhaps the homesickness happens because the all-pervading, ever-present Christmas music is so suggestively sentimental about home, with songs like “I’ll be home for Christmas”, but I also think it is during the dark days that a warm hearth, and keeping home fires burning, becomes especially meaningful. During the long days of summer the outdoors is welcoming, but during the early dusk of December a warm place by a fire, (hopefully with cookies and cocoa), becomes a solace to the human spirit, especially if you are a little child, in a big and sometimes frightening world.

Parents sometimes seem to spend even less time at home around Christmas, as they work overtime to afford presents, and then go to malls to shop for the presents, seemingly quite unaware that small children can have just as much fun with a cardboard box as what comes in the box, and have a deep craving for the parents themselves.

What the kids seem to need most is the interactions. But parents get fooled. A kid who has been happy for hours may throw a fit as soon as the parent arrives to pick them up. It is as if the child has been saving all sorts of grievances up, and dumps on the parent the moment they appear. The parent is fooled because all they hear are demands for chocolate and dolls and bikes and computer games and what-have-you, but that is not what is really important to the kid. What is important is the interaction. What is important is the parent. Parents need to be told this, because they too often tend to feel their child only cares about stuff, and not them.

I get to see what the parents don’t, which is that sometimes a child is homesick and sulking, and is asking over and over, “When is Mom coming?” or “Is it soon that Dad will be here?”

During these dark days I often build a bright and cheery fire in the pasture, as much as for the light as for the warmth, but today the final kids were not all that cheered by its flames.

Boy by Fire IMG_1511

What I heard from the kids was basically, “I want to go home,” over and over. To a certain degree I could distract them with gathering wood, and making an especially big fire, and stirring the coals and making showers of sparks rise into the purpling sky like fireworks. But, as I thought, watching the kids, I got to thinking about how “I want to go home” is such a powerful part of Christmas, even when one gets old like me.

She was dying but didn’t really know it
And as I visited her the past seemed
More present than the present. She’d show it
By how she saw me as one dimly dreamed
About, while her childhood home’s least detail
Was vivid. It made me think about how
We launch from the nest, yet strangely fail
To ever leave it. Her old, care-worn brow
Had ever fretted over slung arrows
Of worry, and yet now mere memory
Soothed and smoothed it. I wonder what narrows
Our lives, and what it is that sets us free?
For the farther we wander and restlessly roam
The more we are yearning to find a way home.

Of course, I don’t subject small children to my sonnets. (I’d likely get arrested for child abuse.) Instead I decided that, if I couldn’t beat them, I’d join them, and I started to sing songs about wanting to go home. There are a lot of them.

They liked “Sloop John B”, though you would think children couldn’t relate to sailors getting thrown into jail for being too rowdy in Nassau. However kids always surprise me with their ability to regurgitate adult music that you might think was miles over their heads. (I knew one small girl who, at age four, had what was seemingly a photographic memory, when it came to country music she heard on her father’s radio, and, in a sweet, piping voice, would sing about picking up babes at a bar.)

Abruptly a memory came back to me of the first Christmas after my own parents split up, and of how at age eleven I memorized a song miles above my head, that was a hit on the radio at that time, and could belt it out at the top of my lungs. The kids liked it as much as “Sloop John B”.