There are still three weeks before the sun actually rises at the Pole, but the sky is already starting to brighten. Sunrises linger a long time when the day is six months long, and now is when we start to get our first peeks at the condition of the ice. Unfortunately we have already seen two cameras knocked out of action, and the other two have obscured lenses. However even with O-buoy 15 we have the ice-thickness data from co-located Mass-Balance Buoy 2015G up to February 17, and see the ice was thick and getting thicker when whatever-happened occurred.
My guess is that a pressure ridge piled up the ice, and buried the buoys. We’ll have to get a good satellite shot to see the condition of the ice in the area near 83.33N, 175.100W. There may also be some leads involved, which will be rapidly freezing over with temperatures well below the freezing point of salt-water.
The DMI Maps show high pressure again building north of Canada, but weakened by some Pacific air pulled north which develops a weak low pressure. The general south wind over Barents Sea has reversed to the north, but for the most part the Pole is gathering a new pool of coldness.
Though temperatures are colder they remain above normal. The ice-extent graph that people love to focus on remains well below normal. This may be a lot of fun over the next few weeks, especially if the winds remain north in Barents Sea, and ice slides south in that sea. In 2014 it led to a late maximum-ice-extent, which embarrassed a few who had proclaimed a record low extent too early. At this late date the small peaks and valleys in the graph don’t mean much, as they usually involve thin ice at the very edges. A large part of recent increases has been due to ice outside of the Arctic Ocean, in the Sea of Okhotsk off Russia’s east coast. Strong, very cold west winds have extended that ice far out to sea, yet it is for the most part a mere skim a foot or two thick. Sea-ice from Bering Strait gets shoved south down Russia’s east coast the same way ice gets swept south down the east coasts of Greenland and Labrador, but the Sea of Okhotsk is tucked away behind a string of islands, and is able to grow a brief skim of ice nearly every winter, which is usually gone by May. Perhaps it has an effect in terms of “albedo” equations, but I never can understand why it gets included in such equations while sea-ice off the east coast of the USA (For example in Delaware Bay last winter) isn’t. Also snow cover often isn’t included, especially when it is a here-today-gone-tomorrow snow over southern landscapes. It seems to me that if you are going to take the albedo effect seriously you need to include events over southern landscapes where the sun is especially bright.
I like to compare the above map of ice thickness with last year’s, at the same date, to see how the winter’s individuality has effected the growth of ice. In fact I’ll do so below.
2105 is to the left and 2016 to the right.
In a general sense it seems less ice has been exported from the Laptev and East Siberian side over to the Alaskan and Canadian side. More ice has been pushed north in Barents Sea, and Kara Sea has exported more ice than usual to the north, and has had the polynyas of open water usually seen on the coasts of the Laptev Sea, this winter.
What impressed me last year was how effective the “blob” was at sending milder water north to melt the thick ice north of Alaska from the bottom up. The reds and yellows in the above map looked like they could stand up to an onslaught, but didn’t. The maps below compare February 28 with September 9. (While much ice was melted, I should note some was pushed north.)
The question this year will be: Will the warm “Blob” persist? It does seem to be weaker, but waters up towards Bering Strait remain above normal.That backwards letter “C” of orange in the North Pacific, surrounding blue, is the signature of a warm PDO. I really flubbed my forecast, for I thought the warm “Blob” would be much briefer, and the PDO would have turned cold again by now. (That is what occurred in the past, but the past did not have a “Quiet Sun” throwing a wrench into the works.) I feel very reluctant to guess what the above map will look like a year from now, especially as the El Nina may very well collapse into a La Nina. Or will it? Below is a graph of the PDO. That first peak was suppose to be the “spike”, according to me, and it was suppose to be back in the blue by now.
You’d be amazed what a difference a cold PDO made, in terms of how much sea-ice melted north of Bering Strait, just before this warm period started in 2014. If I get time I’ll post some maps later. Oh heck, I’ll do it now. Left is September 9 2013, and right is September 9 2015.
In other words, keep an eye on the Pacific.
I hope to add more later.
I think this may be an amusing melt-season, though hard to bear at first, for the Death-spiral crowd will see signs that will encourage them, and they’ll be in full chorus and likely call fellows like me all sorts of bad words, before things flip around and they have to take back what they said. That will be amusing, because nobody likes to take back what they say, and Alarmists are even worse than most.
One thing that should please Alarmists, and contribute to less ice in the Barents Sea, is that AMO, which has been wobbling like a top (likely because it is towards the end of its “warm” phase and about to become “cold”), has swung back strongly “warm”.The AMO seems likely to remain “warm”, and be less of a “spike” than the last warm spell, as there is no sign of it yet falling, using the above graph. But that is where it gets interesting, for this AMO is different. Just as the current El Nino is an El Nino Madoki (“Madoki” is, I understand, a Japanese word that means “the same but different”), this stage of the AMO should likely be called an “Warm AMO Madoki”.
Joseph D’Aleo posted about this on his blog on the Weatherbell site. To simplify his more thorough explanation, a more usual and typical warm AMO has water temperatures describing the backwards “C” like this: Notice how warm it typically is south of Iceland. But the current reality shows it is cold south of Iceland:Just to confuse things a bit more, there are differing ways of measuring the AMO. The grand old master of hurricanes, Bill Gray (now passing the baton on to Dr. Klotzbach) adds the factor of barometric pressure to sea surface temperatures, and while his graph usually is much like NOAA’s, recently it has plunged towards “cold” as NOAA spikes “warm”. (Just be wary about this, so you don’t get sucked into arguing about whether the AMO is currently warm or cold, when it is actually just two different ways of looking at the same thing and the same data.)
In conclusion, I think we are seeing a new and different situation, likely brought on by the “Quiet Sun”. Just when we think we have the cycles figured out, a wrench gets thrown into the works. Perhaps a good analogy is the slosh a small child can get going in a bathtub by moving his butt back and forth. The slosh is very predictable, but when the mother’s footsteps approach the child changes the frequency of the butt-sliding, and the slosh is disturbed and will hopefully vanish, when the mother pokes her head in the door. Currently the “Quiet Sun” is altering the frequency of the “butt-sliding”. (Aren’t you glad to see science made so poetic?) In any case, I think few have a clue what will happen next, and we are in for some surprises.
One thing I will be watching for is much less sunshine up at the Pole. I noticed this last summer. Although most of the melt comes from underneath, it does make a difference if there is less sun and more snow at the top, especially in terms of “albedo”, which can effect the local air temperatures even on a sunny day.
Here is the February 26 (most recent) NASA map of sea-ice. What is interesting is the light orange line, which gives you an idea of how much the sea ice can expand in Barents Sea when the AMO flips (Also notice the now slightly above-normal ice across the globe in the Sea of Okhotsk; it was well below normal only a month or so ago.)
By the way, there is some concern about the accuracy of the NOAA and NASA maps:
FRIDAY UPDATE —Expect Whiplash—
Already I’m seeing some Alarmist “I told you so’s” as I peruse various websites, and I can’t say I see any reason to deny them their day in the sun. Their conclusions may be all wrong, but this is a very mild period we are experiencing, in terms or the world’s temperatures, and the levels of sea-ice are quite low in both hemispheres. The “Sunshine Hours” site produces some good graphs of sea-ice extent:
The graph below shows that the combination of sea-ice in the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere reached a record low level briefly, this winter.The low total was achieved because Antarctic ice dropped from record high levels last year. This may merely be due to the warming effect of the El Nino to the north, or it may be a more significant sign, and not of warming and a “Death Spiral” in the arctic.
I haven’t heard a good explanation, but for some reason when ice increases in the the Antarctic it tends to decrease in the Arctic, and vice versa. The fact the levels of ice in the Antarctic are dropping may be a sign of a flip about to occur to the north. This summer may be the last hurrah for the “Death Spiral” crowd, before the whiplash hits.
The Weatherbell site has a great selection of maps and graphs produced by Dr. Ryan Maue. A seven day free trial is available. http://models.weatherbell.com/
One great graph is the graph of world temperatures created from the “intial” data used for model runs. It avoids all the silliness of “adjustments”, which corrupts other temperature graphs, because the models are based on actual data from actual weather stations, and they want to make sure that data is as accurate as possible, or else the model will screw up even more than chaos already causes it to. After all, a mere butterfly flapping its wings can have repercussions in the future, so the last thing they want to do before running a model is “adjust” reality. Therefore this graph is likely one of the most accurate we have, based on surface temperatures.
This graph is showing the current El Nino has the planet more than a degree above normal, which is a record for recent times. It is warmer than the 1997 El Nino.
I will have my nose rubbed against this graph by certain people I debate, I’m sure. The thing of it is, a whiplash is liable to occur here as well, as we flip from El Nino to La Nina. On his blog at Weatherbell Joe Bastardi raised my eyebrows by showing one of the better models was showing a flip of major proportions.
To tell you the truth, I think the model must be overdoing it. As I recall, the strongest La Nina we have on record is around -1.8. If it really got to -2.64 we’d be in “unprecedented” territory.
Of course, even if a major La Nina caused world temperatures to drop two degrees, once the word “unprecidented” is involved the Alarmist will pull out their “cooling due to warming” card. Let them. It is then they look particularly silly.
My suspicion is that the whiplash is due to the quiet sun, and isn’t “unprecidented” because it likely happened during the Maunder Minimum. However we have next to no records from that time, and some have the attitude that if it wasn’t recorded by modern gadgets it never happened.
I am thinking that the way this winter has flip-flopped to and fro between extreme mildness and extreme cold in my area (New Hampshire) this winter does have a sort of whiplash feel to it. I continue to be nervous about a final big blizzard, for the “Blizzard of 1888” occurred after a winter with many mild periods, on March 17.
The last “nudge” up at the Pole did bring some cold air our way, though a lot got shunted east into the Atlantic south of Greenland. The cold air seems more broken into blobs as spring approaches. I think one is suppose to speak of “shortening wavelengths,” but I liked the meteorologist Eliot Abrams’ way of called the blobs of cold”bowling balls”.
The DMI maps show cold is building again at the Pole, and according to my “nudge hypothesis” that means we should get a break from arctic outbreaks. It was 12°F yesterday morning and 17°F this morning here, but by next Wednesday it is suppose to hit 60°F. (Nudge hypotheses verified.)
The wind has swung back around to the south in Barents Sea, but so far some sort of front seems to have set up and prevented a true nudge from charging across the Pole.
Because the wind has swung around to the south, the sea-ice that was being spread out in Barents Sea is likely being all crammed back to the north. With sea water and temperatures so cold up there, the actual amount of ice is likely the same, but the “extent” is less.