ARCTIC SEA ICE —Northwest Passage Luxury Liner All Booked Up—

Luxury Liner 733

“1,700 passengers and crew” and an icebreaker to clear the way.  This is the holiday for me!

“Prices for the journey aboard the 14-deck luxury liner start at nearly $22,000 rising to $120,000 for a deluxe stateroom – and this year’s cruise is sold out, according to the company.”

Oh…well…who the heck wants to go up there, anyway.

In the wake of that ship will be the gray-water waste of 1,700 people, but in the bow people will clasp their hands and go on and on about how folk like me harm the environment, by staying home and working. Or…that’s what my somewhat grumpy imagination is thinking.

Guess who will be working as tour guides?

“Ice pilots, polar bear researchers, and veterans of other Arctic expeditions will be aboard to ensure passengers’ safety and to protect the local wildlife, environment and customs, the company said.”  (They may not call themselves “tour guides”, but I’m green with envy, so I do.) (I suppose that, if you love the arctic, you will do anything to avoid getting a Real Job down south.)

I sure hope nothing goes wrong. The big city of Nome, Alaska has only 18 hospital beds.

LOCAL VIEW –Sunny Gales–

The map shows the storm blowing up just after it passed us, to the right edge of the map.

20160329 satsfc

We got a drenching as the storm passed over New England in a weaker state, but today was dryer, and the wind hurried the drying, and the sky was soon filled with hurrying clouds. In fact there was something hurried in the air, though it wasn’t exactly hectic. At first the buffeting wind made you flinch, due to the winter-like cold, but the sun was soon high and the cold relented.

The children at the Farm-childcare are basically nuts. They have spring in their veins. As a so-called “Child Care Professional” (IE Babysitter) I attend state-ordained classes and learn a fair amount about how X, Y and Z make children hyper, but few remember the effect of spring. It is definitely a power all its own, and felt by the elders as well.

A few days ago a small boy happened to have an odometer attached to his belt as he got off the school-bus. Or, to be more scientific and precise, it is wrong to state he “got” off the bus. It is more accurate to say he “exploded” off the bus. I wouldn’t even let him indoors, except to use the bathroom, (and even that involved a brief time of pillaging and havoc amidst the smaller children). He is just the sort of a boy who should not be asked to sit at a desk for more than a half hour, and after six hours of first grade he needed to explode. He went racing about the playground, and the odometer measured his racing.  As a scientist I am sure I have whetted your interest. The boy covered 3.1 miles, in a fenced area about a third the size of a football field, in the 90 minutes he was with us before his parents arrived. (The widget on my cellphone (attached to my belt) tells me that today I walked 4,888 steps, or 2.38 miles.  And I’m expected to keep up with that boy!?)

He wasn’t the only one. He was one of eight who got off that bus, and all were equally berserk. I don’t pretend I have the ability to control that energy. Instead I dart about breaking up potential fights, a bit like a flea amidst a stampede of elephants. I happen to  be a very adept flea, but for the most part I set the children free, cursing beneath my breath about the school system that constrains them all day. I am of the opinion that six-year-old first-graders learn more running free than they do sitting constrained.

In a day at school a kid likely learns some six or seven one-word answers to questions. That doesn’t add up to a single conversation.

When they are all running about berserk I have to monitor their wild conversations. I don’t think there is any odometer that measures the mileage their conversations cross, but it is huge. Stick an elder in that mix, and maybe they can learn a bit more than that Concord is the capital of New Hampshire.  One rowdy boy, who was incapable of learning even that tedious fact in school, learned Concord is the capital of New Hampshire from me, for it somehow came up in the zany conversations.

Another boy, who back in politically incorrect times we would have called a “cry-baby”, surprised me by  laughing for an hour straight. He ran about with the others laughing in a way he couldn’t control, which was nearly sobbing at times, but never involved tears. I thought to myself that I could not think of a better example of spring in a child’s veins. (I will admit that laughing so much utterly exhausted him, and he eventually began sniveling, but even then laughter kept intruding. He just seemed tired.)

And that is on a dull day. On a day like today, when the wind is roaring and the sun is flashing in and out of purple clouds,  and the entire trunks of the pines are swaying, the berserk become berserker.  Nothing is stable, when the spots of sun slide over the earth with cloud-shadows at their heels, until you feel you are standing atop the energy of a Star Trek “transporter beam.”

Today’s spring gales mixed sunshine with purple
And entire trees swayed. Winter was mixed
With Spring, and yet dancing Spring had her full
Battle dress on. Her roving eyes were fixed
On you only a moment, yet white heat
Blushed like a boy. Then cloud-shadows hurtled
The sliding distance and purple gloaming beat
Against dented eyes. Exposed, then turtled
With armor of wool, and then again lured
Out, the roaring sunshine’s buffeting
Confused the staid, and yet completely cured
The dullard; and the mute learned how to sing,
And the sane saw it’s not bad being mad,
And grouches bit lips, to avoid looking glad.

ARCTIC SEA ICE —Barneo 2016 begun–

After some nervous discussions about not having a North Pole Base base this year, the Russians have apparently begun work on it.

Irina Orlova: Ice floe found for Barneo 2016 expedition


Ms Orlova, on March 18, two helicopters flew to find an ice floe on which the Barneo camp can be built. Did they find it?

I’ve just spoken with the head of the helicopter crew Yevgeny Bakalov who said they are going to drop equipment on a new floe. I don’t yet know its precise location but it’s about 70 km from the pole.

What kind of an ice floe can accommodate the camp?

A camp primarily needs a runway — 1,200 meters long and no less than 40 meters wide. It is pitched near the runway. So, an ice floe should be at least two kilometers long. Last year we found a very good ice floe, about five to three kilometers.

How do you deliver equipment for building a camp?

When a befitting ice floe is found, an IL-76 flies from Murmansk and delivers two tractors to it. They even out the runway where an AN-74 will deliver equipment. This is a technical flight and it carries an employee who approves the runway. Then the expedition center’s team begins building a camp. Some materials for the camp are just dropped while others are carried by next flights.

More to be found here:

No word yet about the planting of the North Pole Camera.

Local View –A choir of quackers–

Spring is way ahead of last year, for we have already heard our first quacker frogs. I heard them on March 24, and brought a small child who moved up here from Arizona to the side of the road to hear them. Last year I first heard them on April 16, and I remember there was still a bit of ice on the north side of the pond where I heard them.

They are not as shrill and overpowering as spring peepers, which is the first frog most notice. The quackers are more subtle, and when a car goes sighing by on the road the car drowns out the sound of them. In fact our Childcare usually drowns out the sound of them, which is why I brought the small girl to listen alone. If you bring many children they are too loud, and if you bring the dog it charges ahead and all you see is many ripples in the pools.

The quackers actual name is “wood frog”, but that is rather a drab name for an amazing critter. They can be frozen, and then come back to life. I can’t, though I’ve come close, and I always appreciate those who can outdo me, even if they are just a frog.

When I was younger I called them “banjo frogs”, (before I learned real banjo frogs live in Australia). The sound of their voices is somewhere between a banjo and a quacking duck. However all recordings I found make them sound much louder than they actually are.

Their entire strategy seems to be: To be done with the entire business of reproducing before the rest of the animal community knows what hit them. They breed in forest melt-water pools that are often dry by the end of May. Their eggs hatch into tadpoles that hop off as frogs in a matter of days. However in order to do this they have to be right in the woods, so they skip the bother of burrowing in the mud at the bottom of ponds to hibernate. They burrow down in the forest floor and allow themselves to be frozen solid. Or, actually, not quite solid. The center of their bodies contains some sort of natural antifreeze and never entirely freezes (or, if it does, they don’t survive.) If you’re interested, there is a fairly good post here:

And there is a melodramatic PBS YouTube video (with the overdone PBS music) showing a quacker thawing out here:

However in the actual woods there is no PBS music. Thank heavens. There is just the silence of a sunny day, with the forest floor brilliant as the closest thing to shade is the swamp maples, barely beginning to bud.Swamp Maples IMG_2154And on the sunny forest floor is what is barely more than a puddle, reflecting the sky. Wood Frogs IMG_2157And from that water you suddenly hear the soft, strange sound of something utterly unlike PBS music. It is reminiscent of a duck playing the banjo, however, as you’ve never heard a duck play the banjo, it a music unto itself, so soft that if the wind stirs leaves and sighs in the pines it can be drowned out. But when the wind quiets the sound stirs something in you, and you too are awakened. And it is then you cannot stay quiet, are inspired to write words to drown out the PBS music.

Before the geese make eyes wild by calling,
Before the first bluebirds make soft hearts weep,
Before spring’s strength is enthralling
The brown woods stir from their long, frozen sleep
And a strange music plucks from new, black mud
And ripples the waters of forest pools.

Too quiet to surge ones long unstirred blood
And too quaint to make austere men be fools
It is a background to a bright prophecy
Like a quiet herb in a warm mother’s love-soup.

I take a small child to hear it with me;
To watch her face, as time loops the loop
And see as she sees life’s not forsaking
The bleak; Instead the bleak are awaking.

LOCAL VIEW –The arrival of Robins–

(Photo credits: European Robin, (left)  Wivelsfield School @  and American Robin (right) Miss Young’s Art Room (1st graders) @ )

The first robin of spring is the subject of many poems and much folk lore, but is also the source of great misunderstanding between Europeans and  Americans, because we are talking about two totally different birds. One always needs to be careful, when dealing with symbols. After all, one man’s spider is a blood-sucking trapper, and is another man’s stringer of cobwebbed dewdrops at dawn.

The European’s fondness for robins may be due to the fact the little, pert birds like to hop about investigating the soil just behind a plow, and they are unafraid of humans and easy to tame. Before Christ they were said to be a favorite of the god Thor, and after Christ they were said to have been stained by Christ’s blood when they flew up to try to comfort Him on the cross, singing in His ear. That red breast was also said to be made redder because they took pity on souls in purgatory, and brought them water, and were burned by the fires.

American Robins don’t seem to have the same history and symbolic lore, but I refuse to get all competitive about it. I’ll merely mention our robins are twice as big, and can kick European robin’s butts any day.  Ours are edible, though we’ve become politically correct, (if not poetic), and not many people hunt them any more. Also European robins lay ugly brown eggs, while ours lay eggs of a beautiful sky  blue. Their robins are squeaky flycatchers, while ours are melodious thrushes, and John Keats never wrote poems about flycatchers. (What rhymes with flycatchers?) But I only mention this as scientific fact.

Anyway, our robins are back, and it is a great relief to me and a friend of mine, as we had noticed a scarcity. Usually a gang or two of American robins hang about all winter, usually in the swamps. They are so dull-looking that some once thought they were a separate species, and dubbed them “wood robins.” However they are just less dandied-up during the winter than they are when attempting to woo each other in the spring. (Just like humans.) They are also less polite. There is something about a gang of winter robins that hints at the mentality of a mob. However there were none to be seen last winter, despite the fact the winter was mild.

I figured that they had learned not to hang around after the previous winter, which was particularly brutal around here. I saw them in the swamps that winter, but not last winter. It makes no sense that a bird would hang around the north when the winter was bitter, and head south when it was mild. So I figured they decided they didn’t want to take the chance, and had headed south before winter even began. They all vanished during the final days of August

Some say birds can’t learn in this manner. They say birds follow “patterned behavior” and “imprint”. An example is that, when whooping cranes are raised by sandhill cranes (because the second egg of a whooping crane nest was placed in a sandhill nest, in an attempt to increase the population),  the young whoopers “imprinted” on sandhill parents, and became so convinced they were in fact sandhill cranes that they refused to mate with other whooping cranes.

I assert our robins are not so dumb as that, and it will be difficult to prove me wrong. (It is best to chose the high ground, if you decide to start a fight.) Others may assert there were no robins around this winter because the stay-north robins all froze, the prior winter. I just demand that they produce the corpses. They can’t, so I win.

However I was concerned by the lack of robins this spring, especially as both winter-robins, and the children at our farm-childcare, have a love of the withered apples on a crab apple in our pasture. The children, who will not touch good food prepared by loving mothers, like the apples because they are sour three degrees beyond inedible, and later, when they are too brown to eat, children like them because it is forbidden to pelt each other with them, and children are not known for always honoring rules. Withered Crab Apples IMG_1810

These crab apples are so amazingly sour that no bird will touch them all winter, even when snows are deep and famine makes foxes unfriendly. (Maybe they get sweeter after a winter’s worth of frost; I’ve never tried them once they turn brown.) Then, during the last week of March or first week of April, the robins descend.

The gang of robins is more like the Hell’s Angels than anything remotely poetic. For one thing, they don’t sound like thrushes, and just do a quick, clear chirp, their “alarm call”. For another thing, though no other bird has expressed the slightest interest in rotten apples, they chase other birds away. How the heck am I to write a “first robin of spring” poem about such unseemly behavior?  Consequentially, I never have.

I intend to make up for this shortcoming on my part, for, when I think of it, even among humans, spring is not noted as a season of good behavior.

This year, because I hadn’t seen a winter-robin all winter, I suddenly realized that this rowdy gang of birds was indeed a sign of spring, and, along with my friend, I worried about the chance something terrible had happened. As is often the case with worry, it was a waste of time, for yesterday a couple robins appeared, and today the entire gang descended.

During the summer robins are spread out, and chase each other from each others territories, so you seldom see more than two birds on a lawn. But today they were everywhere you looked. The pasture seemed covered with them, though I suppose there were only fifty at most, hopping here and flying there and chirping that alarm-call all over the place.

Robins arrive 1 IMG_2144

One slightly poetic thing they do, for no reason I can fathom, is to sometimes allow a few bluebirds to join their gang. It is likely sheer racism, as bluebirds are also thrushes. I hopefully looked about today, seeking a bluebird, because it is a heck of a lot easier to write a poem about a bluebird, than a pack of unruly robins. However there wasn’t a bluebird in sight. Robins arrive 2 IMG_2145

The crab apple tree is partially hidden by by the white object in the upper left of the picture above. That useless white object was erected for a wedding, and now sits there and gets in the way of my mowing, and makes people wonder if I’m some sort of Zen Buddhist. I’m not, nor are the first robins of spring.

They are in that crab apple tree and glutting themselves on the rotten fruit. I tried to take a picture, but few wildlife photographers run a Farm-childcare, and have a bunch of kids tagging along. Not that I want the kids to tag along, but small children have an amazing ability to see when adults are up to something interesting.

If I silently raised my camera to take a picture of a rare and endangered species, a child would bellow from far away, before I could frame and focus, “Whacha takin’ a pick-shoor uv?” Nor can I even get that far. Long before I even get close to the rare and endangered species, the children can tell, just by the way I’m walking, that there is something wonderful that they, (simply because they want to see it, and yell so loudly that they want to see it), will never see.

Unless…unless…I figure out a way to show them.

(As an aside, amazingly, we found a way to let small children see baby foxes outside their mother’s den, a couple of springs ago.   Even more amazingly, my amazing wife even got some pictures:      )

However there are times my wife’s brilliance seems to be the exception to the rule. The rule would be that if you want to take pictures of a landscape devoid of wildlife, run a Childcare.  And if you want to have photographic proof that robins never, never gorge themselves on rotton crab apples, walk in my shoes. I couldn’t get within fifty yards of that tree before the loud children scared the entire flock of robins, all chirping their loud alarm-calls, to the far side of the pasture.

So you can forget photographic evidence. You are going to have to trust me on this. There were a lot of greedy robins in that tree.

This brings me around to the conclusion that my mother didn’t raise me to be a wildlife photographer. She liked books, and I can only suppose she raised me to use something you are stuck with, when the camera doesn’t work:  Words.

I’d rather use a camera. A good picture of rowdy robins in a crab apple tree would be worth a thousand words. But it looks like I’m stuck with words, and must somehow compose a sonnet about how biker birds are a sign of sensitive spring.

(If there is a blank place below, it means I gave up.)

I don’t see what is so spring-like about
Robins. They arrive like a biker gang,
Chase winter birdsong away, and just shout
Their short, “Chirp! Chirp!” alarm-call. Give me the twang
And trill of red-winged blackbirds in the reeds
And I can thrill of spring. But these robins
Just bully about, and I have my needs:
My weepin’s; my wailin’s; and my sobbin’s.
Robins don’t understand poets like me.
They grub worms; then, worse than Adam and Eve,
They crab apples. So, unspiritually,
I hate them, and feel they only deceive…
…But then, after apples, they make poets blush
For they launch to treetops and sing like a thrush.



Camel startles child HAPPY

(I haven’t been able to find out who originally took this marvelous picture, in my searching of the web. They deserve credit. The timing is perfect. If anyone discovers who the original photographer was, please tell us in the comments below.)

(Apparently the photograph is from Mongolia. I bungled across the picture while researching the gloomy subject of the current Dzud in Mongolia, and it sure helped fight off my gloom.)

Sometimes intellectual arguments cannot reach us in the manner the above picture can. It is not that a picture is worth a thousand words; it is that no amount of words can persuade us to budge from a particular intellectual stance, for it not a matter of the head but of the heart. The word that describes being budged in this manner is “touched.” Our heart must be “touched”. The funny thing is that “touched” can mean “produce feelings of affection, gratitude, or sympathy in”, but (because it is beyond the intellect) it can also mean “slightly insane”.

My Dad had every reason to scowl
At the sun, but I was just a teen
And full of good advice. As round-eyed as an owl
I’d tell him that life was nice, for I’d seen
Sunny things. He’d then scowl at his son
But have to laugh. I’m not sure why. He’d say,
“A little bit of God is in everyone”,
And leave it at that, leaving me to pray
That I might understand how such a bitter
Man could beam, and be so spiritual,
Before I spoke my sermon. The glitter
I called proofs became strangely dull,
As the Dad who had been dark grew brighter.
My youth, and not my mind, was the enlighter.

Local View —Sap suckers—

If you linked to this post to learn about the woodpecker called a sapsucker, you can move on, because this post is about humans thirsting for the light after winter darkness, with that light seeming as vital to human survival as sap is to the buds of trees.

I am feeling elated about seeing another spring, mostly because I was downright maudlin in the autumn, and basically figured I’d be pushing up daisies by now. One of the benefits of being prone towards hypochondria is how darn good you feel when you don’t die.

One of the things I did last fall was to plant a mess of bulbs all over the place, thinking it was sweet of me to plant flowers I might never see, and that maybe I’d be fondly recalled when they came up and bloomed in unexpected places in the spring. In some cases I think it is the voles that are fond of me, as they got a free lunch, but here and there I can see a few starting to appear.  I’m glad to be here to see them.

We are not suppose to store up treasures here on earth, where moths can eat and rust can corrode, but rather we are advised to store up treasures in heaven. I’m not sure the tax collectors agree with that. They want us to sow so they can reap. At times I get fed up with them, for at times it seems doing the right thing is never a rewarding thing, here on earth. They have taxed my patience and taxed my philosophy, but I have seemed to come up with a bulletproof attitude in my old age. I know that, if I plant bulbs, the greedy will come to pick the flowers, but I also know where I have planted, and they don’t know about such things, for they don’t plant. They don’t know where to look. In many cases, by the time they register that flowers are blooming, and rush to pick them, the bloom is past its peak, and they wind up looking like ridiculous misers, hoarding withered flowers. I get my simple pleasures,  and they get to look like fools. I probably should pity them, but confess I do get a good laugh out of my way of looking at them, (even as they likely get a good laugh out of me).

In any case, considering I was not all that sure I’d be here, I’m getting a lot of joy from this spring.  It has occurred to me that a lot of the trees around here are my age, or even older, and this means I never planted them. I am the beneficiary of some one else, who I never knew, who planted them. In some cases it was a forgotten man, and in some cases it was a forgotten squirrel, or a wind I never knew blowing seeds through the air, but I do know it wasn’t me. I make sure to thank them.

I seem to be thanking a lot more than I used to, and am thankful even for the annoyance of this weather map and radar map:

20160321 satsfc 20160321 rad_ne_640x480

You can click these maps if you care to enlarge them, but they basically show a storm zipping up the coast of the USA, and giving us, on the first full day of spring, which happened to be a Monday and the start of a workweek, a picture like this:Spring Snow IMG_1976If you look at the picture you’ll notice signs that the driveway was hand-shoveled. I did it, which is pretty good for an old guy who thought he might be pushing up daisies by now. I just didn’t want the awful noise of the snow-blower, for only four inches of fluff. It was a joy to be out. When the drive was half done I mentioned, to an employee at the childcare, that I didn’t want to hog all the pleasure, and would trade jobs if she wanted to escape the kids and just enjoy the silence and beautifully white world. She jumped at the chance. It was a beautiful, brief time of whirling white.

At first the kids, who tend to only be half-wake when they arrive, only wanted to hear stories, or play with dolls or blocks, but soon they wanted out, and after the usual battle to dress them all, the silence outside was broken.

Sap 1 IMG_1981

However so high is the sun that by a little after lunch time the snow was shrinking, and the engineering of snowmen was downsized, because resources were shrinking and it was obvious they wouldn’t last long.

Sap 2 IMG_2068And so penetrating and brilliant was the sunlight that by afternoon the snow was completely gone by the south-facing wall, where the boys played with trucks (allowing us to clean the indoors before closing).Sap 3 IMG_2076

Of course the trees felt the sun, and the maple sap began flowing like gangbusters. My son, who has tapped 20 trees, can’t keep up, and now has 90 more gallons collected than he’s managed to boil on the back  porch.Sap 4 IMG_2089

I know how much work is involved, and my ambition has dwindled over the years, until now I only have a single tap, for the entertainment of the children at the Childcare. It never fails to amaze them how swiftly the sap comes dribbling from the tree, when you drill the hole, and they line up to take turns simply watching the drops tap the bottom of the bucket.Sap 5 IMG_2097

A lot of boiling is involved to make the syrup or candy. This late in the season it takes 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup, and a gallon of syrup only makes around three pounds of candy. The older kids were telling the younger kids how good the candy was, remembering from last year, but they had forgotten how long it took to boil all the water away. They wanted immediate gratification, so I told them we could skip the bother of boiling, and even could skip the bucket, and they could just drink the drops as they came out of the tree. Even though you can barely taste the sugar, the kids were amazingly enthusiastic, and lined up to take turns, and wanted “seconds” and “thirds”. Sap 7 IMG_2105Sap 6 IMG_2102

Even though I’ve seen all this before, I was strangely thirsty to see it again, because for some odd reason I seem to either be seeing it for the first time, or for the first time in fifty years.

How is it people forget how they craved
The spring when young; the way they sniffed sunlight
Like they’d gone prehistoric, preferring caved
Corners of south-facing cliffs to the bright
Nesting of their electric living-rooms,
And ran their eyes over greening tree tops
Like fingers through hair. Reborn from the tombs
Of midwinter gloom their eyes sought snowdrops
In dead garden leaves, with the sun so intense
Even the dead leaves made eyes squint happy,
And even without flowers one sniffed incense,
And even without poems one was sappy
As the wanted light filled ones very veins.
I cannot forget it, while this pulse remains.

LOCAL VIEW –Rejoicing Over Wrinkles–

While looking at the ravages time carved onto the face of Robert Frost I decided plastic surgery is for fools.  I suppose some, who are maimed, might require such surgery, to avoid repulsing people with an unpleasant superficiality, but most of us are strangely improved by the battering of our features time gifts us with. This seems especially true of people who retain their sense of humor, and of beauty, despite hardship. Crafted into each wrinkle of their face is a hint that God is real, and death is not.

Robert Frost knew much about desperation, despair and darkness. He outlived his wife and four of six children, and had witnessed those dark landscapes made of a pain far worse than physical pain, misnamed “mental illness”, even experiencing a son’s suicide. How he got through it all is his secret and his triumph, and is written in his face more clearly than in any poem.

The best and most beautiful poem is but an attempt to express the self that already exists. I have no idea why it feels so sublimely satisfying to do this, for it is merely to copy. In fact I was always scolded for copying, when in school. However there are few things so fulfilling as speaking your heart, in a sense tracing what already exists with a tracing paper called “poetry”. Later, when the tracing paper is removed from the Truth you attempted to copy, you see all the imperfections. However when you first are focused on what the Creator has already created, it is completely absorbing, and you forget all your problems, even when you are tracing a problem called a heartache. That is why there is such a rhapsody in singing the blues.

An old face is no different from any other old object; it has a sort of patina that gives it value, as an antique.  A young face is sort of raw, in comparison. It lacks something very beautiful the old have earned.

I was looking at my face critically the other day, noting how amazingly aged a couple of hard winters have made me, and I started to stretch my skin smooth, making the face in the mirror look like those bizarre old people, quite common in Florida, who have paid money that might have fed the poor to make themselves look weird.  I burst out laughing. And when I laughed all the wrinkles gathered and made my face have far more character than I had when I was young, and was little more than a pretty boy poet.

Call it sour grapes if you will, but I suddenly felt sorry for the young, and glad to be wrinkled. Usually I cut off my beard when the weather warms, and a free scarf is no longer necessary, but this year I may keep my scruff, for a gray beard makes me look even older, and age is no disgrace. It is a badge of honor, given by the Creator. If nothing else, this attitude will save me a lot of money, and my boycott may put plastic surgeons in the position where they will have to save lives rather than egos.

One reason my attitude towards wrinkles has changed is due to sitting my granddaughter in my lap, and seeing her attitude toward wrinkles. I gather you have to become older than she is to be scared by age, for she finds wrinkles fascinating, and her observant eyes search my face as her little fingers poke. In a sense she reminds me of a student probing a poem, searching for the meaning in the lines.

Another reason may be that spring is absurdly early this year. I’m not fooled, for I’ve seen many a warm March give way to April snows, but one seed that can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked is peas. Usually we plant them on Patriots Day, April 19, and I’ve often planted them in snow, but this year I thought I’d see if it was possible to kill even a tough plant like peas, by planting them more than a month early, on March 16.

Planting peas IMG_1927

Of course there is something about spring and planting seeds that seems alien to wrinkles. Maybe it reminds the old of sex, when they were young, and tempts them to gobble that plastic surgery of the penis, Viagra, popping some Prozac as well to plasticize the brain.  However here too I burst into laughter, which was what Abraham and Sarah named the child they made in their old age. That is the only real reason for sex: Procreation. All the other reasons people give are proof they are using sex as a poor excuse for genuine poetry. If you really want the sublime self-forgetfulness of creation, make a child if you are young, but write a poem if you are old.

I never really wanted to be worldly.
I wanted to space out, and be away
From schooling that abused me, and then hurled me
Out onto a world of greedy gray.
My teachers had no clue of how men make a buck.
They dwelled in ivory classrooms, stuffed with must
And never dared depart from muck, when stuck,
And clung to coins that hoped, “In God we trust.”
Me? I roamed a world which didn’t pity me
And toiled with bleeding hands and bleeding heart
Facing worldly responsibility
Though I disliked this world right from the start
Until now, life ebbs, and laughter stings
For I’ve become a man of worldly things.

ARCTIC SEA ICE —The 2016 Maximum–(March 13-29, 2016)

We are approaching, as taxpayers, a crucial moment during the “warmest year ever” (which is only “warmest” according to adjusted statistics involving a thin layer of air, and only includes recent years).

This moment is not really crucial, however if the “warmest year ever” can’t make a considerable dent in the amount of arctic sea-ice, then the entire concept of a “Death Spiral” of sea-ice will look even sillier than it already looks. And then it will be that much harder to convince people that “Global Warming” is really a reasonable excuse to take away people’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In fact, rather than Global Warming seeming like a danger that should inspire us all to sacrifice for a common cause, it will look like an evil fraud perpetuated by power-mad, imbecilic idiots.

I understand “idiots” is a harsh word, but the consequences of abusing the public’s trust are, by nature, harsh.  History demonstrates over and over there is a price to be paid for abusing power.  Tolkien used “the Ring of Power” as a symbol for what is a psychological, political and spiritual reality:  If power is a thing you seize (rather than accept), you have sold your soul to the devil, and the devil will have his due. Only an idiot would chose such a fate.

When I was young I was in many ways just such an idiot. Rather than honoring elders I distrusted them, (“Don’t trust anyone over thirty”), and I resented the fact they had power I lacked. I refused to see that much of the power (money) they had was gleaned through decades of very hard work, and assumed I could have the same power through hardly working. I felt I could “seize power”, through what I called “The Revolution.” It took me years to be educated,( by being knocked about by the School of Hard Knocks), to a degree where I saw that what goes around comes around, you reap what you sow, and the power you receive in life is, for most of us, quite modest (and yet often is more than we can handle).

Some would like to be young again. Not me. I don’t want to go back to that ludicrous mentality, where you think you have the right to boss teachers around. I shudder to think of how close I came to being like Mao’s “Red Guard”, and part of what was basically a riot that robbed China of a generation of its teachers. The sad thing is: In many  cases it was those very same Chinese teachers who fostered the very mentality that led to their own demise.

At times I fear the same could happen to the teachers of the United States. Youth holds great power simply through its youthfulness, and when youth feels their trust has been abused by false teaching, and they have been “suckered”, their wrath can be frightening to behold. “Global Warming” is only one of a number of issues which youth is increasingly aware they have been misled about. They feel suckered. To burden them with college loans larger than a mortgage, and, after promising them college would get them a high-paying job, to give them no job better than dish-washing, is not conducive to moderate politics, (especially when the teachers themselves have jobs and pensions and insurance and long vacations).

Therefore, to return to the topic of sea-ice, we can see what is “crucial” is not the well-being of the planet. What is “crucial” is keeping the fools fooled. If the fools wise up, (as I once wised up), there are many who will face a down-turn in their political and financial fortunes. It thus is important to perpetrate the myth of the “Death Spiral”. Sea-ice is not “crucial” because it matters a hill of beans in reality, but rather because it matters to the fiction of a con-job. Therefore Truth is the enemy of some, and the Best Friend of others. In conclusion, as we blather on about sea-ice way up where nobody lives, it only matters because it is the tip of an iceberg.

Let us glance at the data, for what it is worth, and see what the “warmest year ever” has done to the sea-ice. Looking at the DMI ice-extent graph, we see the extent is low, but it isn’t the “lowest” extent.DMI3 0314B icecover_current_new (1)When you look at the MASIE extent graph, you again see that last year there was less ice.


This is somewhat surprising, because the El Nino we have just been through has warmed the planet’s thin layer of air a lot. Avoiding the “adjusted” temperatures, and simply using the actual data they feed into the weather computer for its “initial” run (and this data had better be accurate if they expect the following runs to produce accurate maps) the spike in temperatures is obvious.Record Surface warmth cdas_v2_tropics_2014

CORRECTION, (March 15). The above graph contains a glitch at the end, which exaggerates the warming. Hat tip to Chris Beale (@NJSnowFan) for pointing it out. The correct graph is below:Temperature Correction cdas_v2_tropics_2014(Please note I do not hide my blunders, like some whom we could mention, and this demonstrates I am quite noble (most of the time).)

If you have been following my observations on this site during the past winter, you will have seen how often this relatively milder air seemed to rush up to the Pole, as if in a hurry to be lost to the dark skies and and chill of outer space. One would assume this air spiraling up to the Pole, largely through the North Atlantic, would have led to less ice. It continues even in the most recent DMI maps

DMI3 0313 mslp_latest.bigDMI3 0313 temp_latest.big

.DMI3 0314 mslp_latest.bigDMI3 0314 temp_latest.bigDMI3 0314B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 0314B temp_latest.big

In the temperature maps (to the right) one can see the wedge of milder air pushed up towards the Pole through Barents Sea, and the isobars (the maps to the left) suggest south winds pushing the sea-ice north as well. Yet the MASIE data suggests there is more ice in Barents Sea this March than last March.

Here is where it gets interesting, for other maps suggest differently. For example, below are the NRL maps for ice-thickness for this date (March 14) last year (left) and this year (right).

Thickness 20150314 ictn2015031318_2015031400_040_arcticictn.001 Thickness 20160314 arcticictnnowcast

(The best comparison is seen by opening each map to a new tab, and then clicking back and forth between the two tabs.)

I notice three things. 1.) Less ice in Barents Sea. 2.) Thicker ice on the East Siberian and Laptev coasts of Russia. 3.) A huge increase of sea-ice on the east coast of Russia in the Sea of Okhotsk. Where is the Sea of Okhotsk?240px-Sea_of_Okhotsk_map

In some ways the sea-ice from the Sea of Okhotsk is a unimportant figure, for the ice is thin and will be gone by the end of May. Also a single storm out there can have a huge effect, and look what is brewing up, out there, in the next 24 hours. Top map is now; bottom map is 30 hours from now. )

Okhotsk 1 gfs_mslp_uv10m_npac_1Okhotsk 2 gfs_mslp_uv10m_npac_6

Besides showing you how swiftly storms can blow up in the North Pacific (and Atlantic) this also should demonstrate how the political futures of those banking on the “Death Spiral” can hinge upon a single storm’s winds shifting 50 miles east or west, and whether they swing to the northeast or northwest. This storm close to the Sea of Okhotsk, (and not CO2), could make a big difference in the sea-ice extent, and this year’s “maximum”, over the next two days.

In like manner, if you look up to the DMI maps, you’ll notice a low pressure drifting from Canada towards Russia, past the Pole. As that low sinks down through the Kara Sea and moves ashore in Russia it could get quite strong, bringing gales south across Barents Sea. Besides giving Scandinavia some cold weather, this could shift ice south in Barents Sea, increasing the sea-ice extent and causing politicians great suffering.

I’ll update further over the next few days, but my main point for tonight is that what is crucial for politicians isn’t necessarily crucial for the climate, or for us mere poor, taxpaying  mortals.



The Tuesday morning DMI map shows the polar low stalling and weakening as a secondary cruises towards Kara Sea and gets stronger. The winds in Barents Sea are still west and strong, and are not yet spreading out the ice, and the ice-extend graph continues to drop.

DMI3 0315 icecover_current_new (1)However watch how winds swing around to the north in Barents Sea over the next 36 hours, and stay stuck in the north, as that storm goes ashore in the Kara Sea and stalls there. (These are Dr. Ryan Maue’s wonderful maps from the “models” tab of the great Weatherbell site.) (7-day free trial available.)

CURRENT MAPBarent Flip 1 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1   36 HOURSBarent Flip 2 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_7   72 HOURSBarent Flip 3 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_13

At the very top of these maps you can see the Pacific gale nibbling away at the ice at the edges of the Sea of Okhotsk, but it will be countered by sea-ice being shoved south into Barents Sea. What happens to the sea-ice extent over the next few days will be interesting to watch.

As the winds stay north over much of Europe, (a high pressure will park over Britain and refuse to budge), temperatures will crash, especially to the east over Russia. Finland will tough it out, as they are not yet in spring mode, but to the south of Russia the spring wheat is already poking up, and the apricots are blooming, and the cold will be bad news. Look at how much colder it gets by next week.

6 HOURS FROM NOWBarent Flip 4 cmc_t2m_arctic_2  144 HOURS FROM NOWBarent Flip 5 cmc_t2m_arctic_25

This seems to demonstrate how, when a big push of Atlantic air punches up to the Pole, the cold gets “nudged” south. Another blob of cold is heading down into North America, and in a week we could be having a snowstorm here in New Hampshire, though the crocuses bloomed outside the local bank last Saturday. Crocuses IMG_1901


Those who have been watching the sea-ice along with me are familiar with the flow of ice down the east coast of Greenland. This flow is opposed to the Gulf Stream and the Coriolis effect, and is commonly seen in-close to east coasts of oceans.  Cold in-shore currents from the north are seen all the way down the east coast of the USA, though they get less dramatic as one moves south. Only to the north do they contain ice bergs. They often are indicative of locally severe winters, and can chill coastal waters significantly.

Perhaps the most wild example occurred after two enormous volcanic eruptions (noted in the ice cores in Greenland) around 1810 (from an unknown volcano) and 1815 (from Tamboro) caused such a disturbance in the ordinary weather patterns that a massive amount of the North Pole’s ice was discharged down the east coast of Greenland, causing icebergs to ground in Ireland and (apparently) so chilling the North Atlantic that Europe suffered “The year without a summer”, but whalers enjoyed nearly ice-free arctic waters.

Last year we saw such a in-shore current ground bergs on the inner side of Cape Cod, after a brutally cold winter.

The in-shore chill that resulted did not seem to last all that long, but I wonder if it didn’t dilute the warmth of the Gulf Stream and contribute to the “Cold Blob” currently seen in sea-surface temperatures south of Iceland.

A similar flow pushes large amounts of ice down the east side of Baffin Bay, and contributes to the tourism of Labrador by dotting summer waters with big bergs (that likely are not true sea-ice but chunks that broke off glaciers).  It would be interesting to see if there is any correlation between Atlantic surface temperatures and the amount of ice exported from Baffin Bay.

There is also a lot of ice exported down the east coast of Asia from Bering Strait. This winter, which has seen less ice exported down the east coast of Greenland, has seen a lot more ice exported down the east coast of Asia. (The Sea of Okhatsk is tucked away behind islands and is largely protected from this flow, though it may contribute to the ice on winters like this one, when it has a lot of ice.)

The blogger “geran” sent me a link to some superb pictures provided by NASA  of a chunk of the dense ice north of Bering Strait breaking off and joining the flow. This ice is part of a highly mobile flow I’ve watched this winter, from east to west, from the mouth of the Mackenzie River along the coasts of Canada and Alaska and across the mouth of Bering Strait, and piling up against the north coast of Asia south of Wrangle Island. It is densely packed, with the waters between the chunks of sea-ice frozen by temperatures that have ranged between 20 and 40 below all winter, and is on average around 6 feet thick. The ice you can see south of Bering Strait is subjected to less cold and is on average 2 feet thick. Just as thicker ice than is produced locally comes down the east coast of Greenland, and also Labrador, this ice is starting its way down the east coast of Asia. The chunk that is breaking off is roughly the size of the (tiny) state of Rhode Island.

Bering Break-off March 10 artic-ocean-ice-chunk-side-by-side-bering-strait-sea

This addition of slightly thicker sea-ice in the flow doesn’t show up very well in NRL thickness maps. However the thirty-day-animation below shows the speck pushing south of Bering Strait, and another speck the size of Rhode Island that is crimson, (12 feet thick) whisking towards Bering Strait along the north coast of Alaska.

(For some reason the March 30-day animated map failed to show here. Instead an animation appeared from February, so I deleted it. To see the correct map  go to    Look for “ice Thickness” on the left side, and click “last 30 days”) (This is a great site, by the way.)

If I were a businessman seeking specks, which might influence my business interests, I’d be wondering if the addition of this extra sea-ice in the flow down the east coast of Asia might chill the water, and counter the effects of the “warm blob” in the Pacific.  I’d want the Truth.

However, if my business was dependent on a false interpretation of the Truth, because I was selling wind turbines and solar panels and other unwise investments, I’d speak of the above pictures as proof that the “warmest winter ever” was causing the arctic to “calve off” a Rhode Island sized portion of its “immobile glacier” into the Pacific. This would be an absurd portrayal of how sea-ice actually behaves. It would be a misrepresentation of Truth, and you’d likely think no person could ever slink to such a low level.


Read this from the “Business Insider” website, and weep.  (Of course, the writer looks at the above pictures, and, after displaying gross ignorance concerning the nature and fluid movements of sea ice, and proving they have never bothered use their lying eyes to actually watch what happens, the inevitable conclusion is, “If this isn’t a wake-up call, we don’t know what is.”)

All I can say is “we” do know what it is, and that businessmen who turn to the above website for the “inside scoop” are likely to be the sort of sucker that is supposedly born every minute.  But I wasn’t born yesterday. This sort of lame proclamation is getting old. Here is an absurd example of Michael Mann making just such a proclamation last winter.

In the end, these poor fellows simply cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

My attitude is now to watch and wonder. I am not going to allow the misbehavior of some to spoil my enjoyment of the majesty, which the Creator shows those who keep honest eyes open, and simply witness.


(As an aside, as the old low over the Pole fills in, watch to see if the air temperatures get colder. Even in the summer, in 24 hour sunshine, I have seemed to notice that filling storms “create cold.”)

The ice-extent graph is showing a tiny uptick.DMI3 0316 icecover_current_new (1)

Without fresh imports of Atlantic air, the air at the surface of the Pole is swiftly cooling.

DMI3 0316 meanT_2016

Blocking high pressure will form a wall between Britain and Iceland, preventing mild Atlantic air from coming north and east.UK Met 20160316 32568453

The cool-down in Europe, especially to the east in Russia, will make headlines by Sunday, as to the north sea-ice is pushed south in Barents Sea. (Colder temperatures in the maps below are represented by deepening shades of pink and rust. )

CURRENT MORNING MAP   Europe cold 1 gfs_t2m_eur_1SUNDAY MORNINGEurope cold 2 gfs_t2m_eur_17


The gale’s winds are from the cold west to the south, drawing ice off shore. Only to the north is the ice compressed. The strongest winds are outside of the Sea of Okhotsk, and the storm will move away to the west and rapidly weaken. (Interesting new gale exploding south of Alaska.) (I’m wondering if it will teleconnect to a gale exploding off the east coast of the USA this coming Sunday, but never mind that.)Okhotsk Gale 1 gfs_mslp_uv10m_npac_1

Okhotsk Gale 2 gfs_mslp_uv10m_npac_3


Far from the sea-ice, the snows continue in Mexico, as they have all winter. I don’t claim to fully understand how the cold gets down there, but note the sheer loopiness of the pattern. One could note down a sort of general maxim, “When the mildness assaults the Pole, look out below.” 1 jalisco-snow-4 (1)Mexico 2 jalisco-snow


Another place that has seen a rough winter is Turkey. A spring mild spell brought out their almond and apricot blossoms, and now late snows dust those trees. This is occurring even before the current blast works its way south from Finland.

Turkey Spring Snow 2034039

To learn about these southern snows, which the mainstream media prefers to be blind to, it pays to lurk at the Ice Age Now site.

However what I’d be most interested in is a discussion of the meteorological factors involved in the loopy pattern, especially the creation of the snows in Mexico. I haven’t found any.


The low over the Pole continues to fade as the low over Russia grows, and the winds remain north over Barents Sea. As of now there is no upturn in sea-ice extent. High pressure is building over Canada. I’ll watch for south winds in Bering Strait, and look to see if any remnant of the Pacific gale moves north from the Sea of Okhotsk to the very top of these maps.


The narrow slot of open water north of Svalbard should not last long, with the ice coming south, and the ice in the Sea of Okhotsk looks likely to spread west.Speed and Drift 20160317 arcticicespddrfnowcast

You should be asking yourself whether it really makes that much of a difference, if the same amount of ice is moved to different places. It makes a difference in terms of the “extent” graphs, which typically measure the area of the ocean that is “ice-covered”, and call the ocean “ice-covered” even if it is only 15% ice and 85% water. Therefore a small area of 100% ice can be spread out to a much larger area of 15% ice, and cause a jump in the extent graph, and a jump in the heart-rate of those who want the extent graph low, in order to prove a “Death Spiral” is occurring.

In actual fact when the ice spreads out it creates more open water, which loses its heat to the atmosphere, which loses its heat to outer space. That water then swiftly skims over with a thin layer of fresh sea-ice due to the extreme cold up over the Pole, which persists right into May. In such cases the 15% ice swiftly becomes 100% ice which, if dusted with snow, has the same “alebdo” as much thicker ice, though it is so thin it can kill unwary Climate Scientists, who walk on it and fall through (as sadly happened last year).

So far the ice-extent graph is showing no rise, but it soon should. If no rise occurs, we will have to look to see where it melted away elsewhere.

FRIDAY UPDATE  —Slight Rise In Ice-Extent—

DMi3 0318 icecover_current_new (1)

The DMI Maps continue to show the low south of Kara Sea pumping north winds down over Barents Sea, likely shifting ice south. The fading low over the Pole continues to cool, but air over towards East Siberia is less cool, as the weakening low stalled by the Sea of Okhotsk has pumped Pacific air on east winds into East Siberia. This is the first time in a while that south winds  moving out into the Arctic Basin from East Siberia are less than bitter cold.

The low south of the Kara Sea has managed to pull a tongue of its warm sector air up into the central Kara Sea, but the Kara Sea is still colder than it was in the maps we looked at as we started this post, when it was invaded by Atlantic air. Any open water will be freezing, with temperatures well below the freezing point of salt water.


With the polar sunrise still four days away, the Pole still “creates” cold, and without an Atlantic invasion temperatures are dropping up there.DMI3 0318 meanT_2016


It continues to get colder over the Pole, with the ironic possibility that the coldest temperatures of the winter won’t occur until the first day of Spring. Strong high pressure is building over the Pacific side. (That blue area isn’t an ozone hole,but rather is pressures above 1050 mb.) Winds continue northeast over Barents Sea, but the sea-ice extent continues rather flat.

High pressure  continues to block the North Atlantic, with the arctic air exported down over Europe. They can have it. We have enough of a blob of cold coming down our way in North America already, that was nudged south last week. At the moment the only milder air being imported to the Pole comes overland, either Pacific air that has to cross cold East Siberia, or vastly moderated Atlantic and Mediterranean air that forms the warm sector of the storm milling about south of the Kara Sea, (with a secondary now in Barents Sea). For a while all northern storms will need to be home grown, for it won’t be until Tuesday that an occluded Atlantic storm tries to squeeze by the blocking high pressure on the north side of Iceland.

UK Met 20160319 32642946

As we teeter at the maximum ice-extent, it is interesting to compare the current situation with the highest extent in recent years, 2012. (2012 is to the left).

The most obvious difference is that there was more ice south of Bering Strait, due to the cold PDO at that time. The ice had been thickening at the surface for several years, and I did not at all expect the ice extent the summer of 2012 to be the lowest we have seen in recent years. What was not apparent, looking only at the skin, was that there was a layer of milder water that had slid in under the ice like a card into a deck, retaining its identity due to its salinity, so that when a summer gale churned the waters that milder water melted the ice in a most amazing fashion.

What I don’t know, and can’t see with my lying eyes, is the current state of the stratification of the waters of the Arctic Sea. My hunch is that those waters are more churned and less stratified, but that is purely a guess. They have new and interesting thermometers that run up and down cables beneath buoys in the arctic, and likely there is data for a few locations for the past few years, but I haven’t been able to lay my hands on the data. Perhaps it is hoarded like a miser’s gold. If anyone knows where it can be obtained, I’d owe them a debt of gratitude, (but only pay some pork chops from the freezer, if they can manage to drop by the farm.)


There looks like there is some disagreement about the ice-cover of certain areas, even within organizations. For example the NRL Thickness-map shows thin ice filling the water north of Svalbard, while the Concentration map shows that area as open.

The main loss of extent occurred in the northern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, where strong east winds crunched the ice to the west. If you open the thickness map to a new tab and squint, you can even see a pressure ridge formed as that ice was heaped up (thin dash of blue at 150E). It may be the same amount of ice, but when it is crunched into a smaller area it reduces extent. It looks like this decrease may have countered the increases as ice moved south in Barents Sea.

High Pressure remains parked over towards Bering Strait as the storm continues to mill about in western Russia. Slight warming is occurring at the Pole due to very modified Pacific air moving all the way across East Siberia and then north.

The DMI ice-extent graph’s update has been released, and shows a dip in the ice-extent. I figure that, if the north winds in Barents Sea couldn’t supply a final peak, we are over the hump and past the maximum. (My saying that may hex things. Once the clouds clear away they may adjust for what they can actually see, and there may be a late peak.)DMI3 0320B icecover_current_new (1)One thing apparent from the above maps is that the air streaming north from Siberia does not have its murderous chill anymore. Not that it is warm, or even thawing, but the fact days are now as long as nights, and getting longer, forbids the power Siberia had in January to generate super cold high pressure. As an aside, look at the difference in East Siberia now between night (left) and day (right).

(If this stuff interests you, the best way to compare these Dr. Ryan Maue Weatherbell maps is to open them to new tabs, and then click back and forth.)

We are still a long way away from the actually melting of the Siberian snows, and the amazing floods of northern Russian rivers into the Arctic Sea. Those rivers are still so frozen the water barely flows, and in places the ice is frozen right down to the riverbeds. However we can no longer count on Siberia for super-cold air, and are reaching a point where, though the arctic is still cold enough to kill, it is less so. Consequently the sea-ice stops expanding, and begins to shrink.

It is at this point I usually joyfully await the instillation of the North Pole Camera.  You can imagine my deep despair when I heard it might not happen this year. You can see the bad news in the face of an arctic-loving  Russian fellow who appropriately does not have the name of “Warmingarov”, but rather “Chilingarov”. In the pictures below happier days are to the left, and the current gloom is to the right.

The gloom is because Russia may not fork out the money for a base at the pole this year.

Maybe Chilingarov is gloomy because he gets a kick-back from all the tourists paying between $15,000.00 and $40,000 to visit the base (Google “Barneo”) but I prefer to think he simply loves arctic research like you and I. In which case we all need to boo this fellow, who seems to be gumming up the works. His name is Sergei Donskoi.Sergei Donskoi 221213

Boo!  If we don’t get a North Pole Camera this year it will because this guy is a penny-pincher. Boo!

Someone needs to inform Sergei that if Russia doesn’t want the 200 tourists paying tens of thousands of dollars to camp at the Pole, then Norway or Canada or perhaps even Finland will do the job for them, and, because they have the base at the Pole, maybe they will be able to claim that they, and not Russia, deserve to call the Pole “their territory”.

(Territorial ownership of the Pole gets some Russians more interested in spending money than a more altruistic love of Truth, regarding the motions, growth, and thawing of sea-ice.)

In any case, if there is no North Pole Camera this year, I’m up shit creek, considering that is what this post is based about. I’ll have to be like a Global Warming Alarmist, to get people to visit this site, for I’ll have to attract them to something that doesn’t exist. Oh! The irony!

MARCH 22 UPDATE  —A QUIRKY LATE MAXIMUM—DMI3 0322 icecover_current_new (1)This small uptick in the ice-extent graph is most likely due to ice being shifted south in Barents Sea, and also by the fact winds have slackened over that sea, allowing the cold air brought down from the northeast to skim open areas with ice. Also the thinnest ice is close to slush, and it is difficult to see, from outer space, whether it is open water or ice. When a dusting of snow falls it can change how an area is viewed.

Of course, in the total situation such skims of ice are a fleeting phenomenon, quick to disolve back to water or be crunched up between thicker bergs into pressure ridges, which reduce area and extent graphs, but not volume.

Although ice starts to melt away at the edges of the arctic around now, the ice towards the Pole is still getting thicker, and continues to get thicker in some cases right into May. So, in terms of Volume, the ice can still be increasing, even when it starts shrinking in terms of area and extent.

Ice is also expanding south in the Bering Sea south of the straits.

The high pressure that has been blocking the Atlantic is starting to fade south, but it looks like the North Atlantic will become a mess of stalled and relatively weak storms, rather than invaded by a monster. The big storm will be off Newfoundland, and only slowly work its way south of Greenland towards Iceland by the weekend.

One interesting aside is that the persistent off-shore winds have apparently created a polynya along the shore of the Laptev Sea. That Sea is a great exporter of ice, but hadn’t exported as much this winter. Now there will be skim of very thin ice along the coast, which will swiftly become open water as the melt season begins. However temperatures won’t be warm enough for that until May.

Another interesting aside is that the big, north-flowing rivers will be especially prone to flood this year, due to deep snows in Siberia. These rivers effect the melt of sea-ice, especially in August and September. Most people are unaware of the tremendous power of these little-known rivers. For example, the Lena River is nearly frozen to the bottom right now, and only a small percentage of its yearly flow occurs in the winter months. Once the snow starts melting from south to north the waters start riving, and the water can be 60 feet deeper in August, when as much as a third of the yearly flow charges down the river all at once.

Besides planning a major engineering endeavor, which is to bridge the Lena River in the north despite these floods, Russia is also planning to engineer a platform that can survive the stresses of sea-ice, freely floating in the Arctic Sea. Russia plans 100 arctic expeditions a year by the year 2031. “In addition, Russia plans to implement a self-propelled ice-resistant platform project in the Arctic. Scientific stations deployed on such floating platforms will make it possible to conduct year-round research.” Thus says our friend Sergei.Sergei 2 155397

To this I say, talk is cheap. All I really want is one small North Pole Camera. 

Not that I have time to study as much as I like. Spring arrived Sunday, and Monday morning the entrance to our farm-childcare looked like this:Spring Snow IMG_1976Yes, I did shovel by hand, as the 4 inches of snow was light and fluffy and I was looking for an excuse to avoid doing my taxes. But now I have to face them.

MARCH 24 UPDATE  –Awaiting the downturn–

The sun is up at the North Pole, though still so low on the horizon that it cannot penetrate any open water in any leads it may find. The albedo of glassy water is actually greater than even that of pure, white snow, when the sun is right on the horizon. Therefore the Pole is still quite capable of “creating cold” (losing heat). But the likelihood of deep blues on the DMI map decreases, as the lands further to the south increasingly are warmed, and that milder air increasingly comes north.

This is especially noticeable in the air coming north from Siberia.  In January such air can be far colder than the air over the Arctic Sea, which is “warmed” even through thick ice by water slightly above freezing, while the bottom can fall out of temperatures over Siberia. At times the air pouring north can be down around -70 degrees. However those days are done. If you have ever been outside when the sun peeks over the horizon after a winter night, you know the effect of its light on your face is immediate. Of course, your face is tilted to catch the light, while the flat ice and snow is not, but the sun never sets at the Pole, and down in Siberia the days are swiftly growing longer than the nights. The air coming north on the Siberian side of the Pole, in the maps below, is far less cold than we’d see in January.

The big low over the Kara Sea is winding down, and the high pressure blocking the North Atlantic is being squeezed south, and the north winds between the two are fading away. While they did bring some cold to Europe it didn’t make it as far west as I thought, as a decent little storm rolled through the Mediterranean. What is odd to me is how the cold gets shunted southwest rather than west, and cold temperatures are seen in the Middle east and north Africa. (But that is a side-track in discussions of sea-ice.)

The huge low south of Greenland is actually  the little low that zipped up the east coast of the USA a few days ago. I’m glad it waited before becoming so enormous. It will turn the North Atlantic into a tangle of occlusions over the next week. A lot of arctic air is being drawn south into North America behind it.

The ice-extent graph is teetering at the brink. There is still a chance for another late uptick. Not that it matters much, except in terms of gloating rights for those who become involved in the hoopla about the graph. Last year was humorous, for there was a lot of hoopla about how low the maximum was, and how early it had happened, and then the graph stopped dropping and rose to a later maximum. Live and learn. It is likely best not to venture forecasts about what the ice will do, unless you don’t mind humble pie.

DMI3 0324 icecover_current_new (1)

EASTER EVE UPDATE  –The Calm of Dawn–

This post has gotten rather long, but the the ice extent refuses to turn down, and there still is a chance, albeit small, that there could be a final uptick, surging us up to a late “maximum.”

DMI3 0326B icecover_current_new (1)One thing conducive to a late maximum is the calm that has descended over the Pole. I’ve often noticed a stillness at dawn where I live, between night breezes and daytime gusts, and I don’t see why it shouldn’t happen at the Pole, though at the Pole there is only one sunrise a year. Though there was an invasion of somewhat milder air from the Pacific, it was well below freezing after its overland transits, and now is cooling further in the calm.DMI3 0326B meanT_2016


The stillness shows in the lack of isobars at the Pole in the DMI maps. The only big gale has been down by the southern tip of Greenland, and all our northern home-grown storms have faded away.

Calm conditions might allow a thin skim of ice to form where winds would otherwise stir up the waters and dissolve any ice.  Such fragile ice might not mean much in any scientific measure of how strong and lasting the arctic ice might be, but it does effect the ice-extent graph, and therefore the politics of the Global Warming idea.  It is a case where calm can shake the foundations of the mighty.

EASTER SUNDAY UPDATE  –The End Of Ice Expansion In Sight–

As has happened so often  this winter, another nudge of Atlantic air seems to be being sucked up to the Pole. Although perhaps less dramatic than others, the DMI maps seem to again show the north winds in Barents Sea giving way to south winds, which will likely push the sea-ice north and reduce the extent. Again we see the mild wedge poke north over the Pole.

The culprit behind the change is low pressure that was finally able to shove high pressure south and battle its way across the North Atlantic to the waters off Norway. You can see the wedge of milder air penetrating right up to the Pole in the temperature maps. However perhaps a hint that this was coming is the letter “S” made of deep blue cold temperatures in Saturday’s final temperature map. To me that is indicative of some sort of spiral, perhaps a whirlpool, draining the planet’s heat up to outer space. Such a whirlpool would be situated in a position where it would assist the lows in the North Atlantic, and in a sense create the in-flow of more warm air, to also be lost to outer space.

I must confess I just made this idea up. Or, to be more accurate, it again occurred to me. It has occurred to me many times this winter that the Pole is squandering the heat given to the planet by the El Nino. If the El Nino is the faucet pouring heat into the atmosphere, the Pole is the drain, letting it out.

This is just a perception I have, watching the highly meridienal flow this winter. Likely my idea is too simple, and can be shredded by more qualified scientists, but it seems that the obvious needs to be spoken in these days, when qualified scientists have to share the airwaves with politically-minded buffoons in white coats. The buffoons create such a murk and confusion with computer models that it takes a simpleton like me to remind people of what is occurring outside the models, in a place called reality.

People seem to focus only in two directions, the Pole and the belly of the Pacific where the El Nino is occurring. Both are warmer than normal. However the milder air nudging up to the Pole keeps bumping colder air south into the spaces between the milder Pole and the Milder El Nino. To a layman like myself this has seemed to cool the waters between the two milder areas. Perhaps this is merely a temporary situation, but look at last week’s map of the ocean’s temperature anomalies. SST 20160324 anomnight_3_24_2016

The El Nino is still apparent, but look at the north Pacific. What has happened to the “Warm Blob”?  And look at how the modest “Cold Blob” south of Iceland has expanded.

It is important to understand that sea-surface-temperatures (SST) can be fickle. A week of strong sunshine can change the maps. However at this point it looks like there was a price to pay for having the cold air bumped off the top of the earth. And when you add to that the fact the El Nino is in rapid decline, and a La Nina may turn the equatorial parts of the Pacific swiftly to a shade of blue, you can see why a layman like myself might suspect the air temperatures at the surface of our planet may plunge.

With an election coming up, there may be an attempt on the part of some buffoons in white coats to “adjust” temperatures in a way that would “hide the decline,” for purely political reasons.  However their past “adjustments” have already stressed more honest scientists to the breaking point. It could be unwise to try to completely hide what could be a steep decline.

Most of us have been in positions in our life where we push our luck. Then we reach a point where we are not willing to push our luck any further. (In my own case, it is because my wife gives me a certain look.) I think the politically-minded buffoons in white coats are aware they have reached this point.

Some buffoons will say they are captains who are going to go down with their ship, and will accuse other buffoons of being rats who desert the ship. However others, even if they are rats, will wonder which ship is more likely to go down: Will it be the ship of political nonsense, or the ship of scientific truth? Even rats have a shred of common sense, when they are cornered, which is why they are so seldom found on sinking ships.

In any case, it will be an interesting summer, and likely be full of furor. Enjoy this quiet while it lasts, as the ice-extent hesitates before its yearly plunge.DMI3 0327B icecover_current_new (1)


Irina Orlova: Ice floe found for Barneo 2016 expedition


Ms Orlova, on March 18, two helicopters flew to find an ice floe on which the Barneo camp can be built. Did they find it?

I’ve just spoken with the head of the helicopter crew Yevgeny Bakalov who said they are going to drop equipment on a new floe. I don’t yet know its precise location but it’s about 70 km from the pole.

What kind of an ice floe can accommodate the camp?

A camp primarily needs a runway — 1,200 meters long and no less than 40 meters wide. It is pitched near the runway. So, an ice floe should be at least two kilometers long. Last year we found a very good ice floe, about five to three kilometers.

How do you deliver equipment for building a camp?

When a befitting ice floe is found, an IL-76 flies from Murmansk and delivers two tractors to it. They even out the runway where an AN-74 will deliver equipment. This is a technical flight and it carries an employee who approves the runway. Then the expedition center’s team begins building a camp. Some materials for the camp are just dropped while others are carried by next flights.

More here:


The DMI ice-extent graph still refuses to crash.DMI3 0328B icecover_current_new (1)This has allowed the ice to reach the “average” for the past ten years, (the blogger “ren” posted this graph on another site. The date is March 23)DMI3 0328B ren sea_ice_only

I notice this is MASIE data, so I hurry over to Ron Clutz’s site “Science Matters”, because he is good with MASIE data, but he has only updated to March 25.


In any case, three days ago the ice was expanding at a time of year it usually starts to shrink. Likely when Ron updates we will see the levels flattened out, but still that would make the ice “average” for the past decade, despite the fact we have experienced a strong El Nino and the planet’s air temperatures have been through a warm spike. The question then becomes, “Why hasn’t the extent decreased?”

It is sort of entertaining to watch the Alarmists wriggle. I imagine we soon shall see them start popping out excuses like a schoolboy with his homework undone.

Meanwhile I confess to being surprised the decline hasn’t begun. It seems a decent nudge has pushed towards the Pole from the Atlantic, and that usually crunches up the ice and reduces extent. It also often nudges a big blob of cold air south towards the USA, and using the highly scientific technique of checking the weather on my cellphone I moan slightly, for the cold looks like it will come back down here next weekend, with snow on Sunday and Monday.

Grumble. Grumble. It is not so entertaining to have to listen to all the schoolboy excuses for April snows when the snows are happening out your window. By the time April rolls around I’m completely convinced Global Warming is a good thing.

April is actually a fun time to study the sea-ice, because there are actually days and nights, unless you stand exactly on the Pole. In the summer it is all saylight, and in the winter it is all darkness, but in April there is a sort of daily whiplash, which shows up in the temperature charts of the O-buoys that still work (even if their lenses haven’t yet melted clean.) For example, look at O-buoy 14 temperature graph for the past week. The only sign of level temperatures is on cloudy days.Obuoy 14 0328 temperature-1week

Even though it is still very cold up there, there is a mildness swinging around and around the Pole with the sun. It introduces an interesting complexity, as you look at maps, for you need to calculate where high noon is, and where midnight is. In the DMI maps noon is at the top of the map at 0000z, and at the bottom at 1200Z.

In the above maps you can see the cold grew north of Alaska. Don’t get too excited. In the first map that area is in the height of afternoon, and in the second it is in the wee hours of the night. Meanwhile Svalbard looks warmer in the second map, but it may only be because it is midnight there in the first map and noon in the second.

It looks like the North Atlantic low is looping the loop and stalling over Svalbard. Ice ought be pushed north in Barents Sea and flushed south in Fram Straight. Apparently, in terms of ice-extent graphs, they are balancing each other out.

FINALLY!  The Downturn begins.

DMI3 0329 icecover_current_new (1)The DMI Maps show low pressure stalled over Svalbard, with a decent flow down through Fram Strait. The weak low across the Pole has been persistent for its size, but will gradually fade and be replaced by high pressure.  The Altlantic low (or lows) will wander east, and the flow between that low pressure and the high will generate a cross-polar flow from Siberia to Canada.

Here’s a picture of the ice-extent at its peak.

Concentration 20160327 arcticicennowcast

You could write a blaring headline, “Ice Extent More Than Doubles!”  However that wouldn’t be politically correct, so instead we’ll hear Mark Serreze (who made the term “Death Spiral” famous),  going on about how the ice was at its lowest levels ever.

And here is a fine rebuttal:





LOCAL VIEW —March Gladness—

Tax Time 1 IMG_1880I escaped from the madness of my taxes to the gladness of my garden, muttering to myself about how the farmers who made our nation great likely had next to no paperwork or financial records to deal with. They wanted all Americans to learn to read and write, but it was not to torture them. Americans were suppose to read and write inspiring and uplifting things, not to create bureaucratic busybodies.

Just about the only redeeming thing about sorting through the complete mess my wife and I make of our financial records is that I find all sorts of poems I scribbled on the backs of envelopes. The envelope may contain a threatening letter stating the electricity will be turned off, but rather than frightened I think up a rhyme, scribble it down, and toss the envelope in the to-do-later pile. Twice last year we only paid the electricity bill to the guy who came to shut it off, (which involves a $15.00 “collection fee”, but it is well worth it. My time is worth far more than $15.00 an hour, and I had better things to do than open envelopes.)

It is not like we are lazy. It is just that at our Farm-childcare we have 17 children, 7 goats, 2 pigs, chickens, ducks, a rooster, a garden, leaky roofs, snow-storms, mowing, shoveling, and disgruntaled customers to deal with. Who has time for paperwork? Then the State Childcare Inspector drops by and is horrified that our record-keeping is messy. A parent forgot to sign in while dropping off a child, so we get “written up” by the State Inspector. And then the insurance adjuster comes by with nothing better to do than dream up dangers all over the place. So we get “written up” by him as well.  And we also have a family and a church and a blog to attend to. Lazy? That isn’t us.

But it is embarrassing when tax-time comes around and I have to start figuring out our business expenses, starting out with the electricity. This involves locating 12 envelopes, only three of which were ever opened, for the farm house, and 12 more for the barn area, and 12 more for our home. They are in six heaps of paper, in various places about the house. Then I add them all up, trying not to be distracted by the poems on the backs of the envelopes. (When my wife hears me chuckling she knows I’m not working.) Yesterday it took me four hours to simply get that far.  Embarrassing?  Yes, especially because every year we say we are never are going to do this again, and will be tidy and pay our bills when they come…but we never do. However I just figure it goes along with being an artist and an airhead. Poets are suppose to suffer, and that is why God created bureaucrats.

This suffering does make me feel poetic, so I look over my shoulder at the pile of papers and head outside.Tax Time 2 IMG_1881Daffodils IMG_1878Will you look at that! One day of warm temperatures has brought the daffodils shooting up! You have to admit that is a lot more interesting than old electricity bills. And something so wonderful simply should not be ignored. That would be ungrateful.

Again green spears of daffodils thrust up.
Again the lifeless landscape comes alive.
The fisted hand relents, and fingers cup
Clear waters to my thirst, as my hopes thrive
And wonder at the beauty made so plain;
The healing spread like balming over pain;
The sanity consoling the insane;
The dawn informing dark it can’t remain.

God knows every star and each one’s name.
Creation shows His art is infinite.
How did He fit together, craft and tame
My world so I can walk around in it?

As He knows all, He needs no further knowledge.
We’re made by One who never went to college.

(This post should explain to you why, when taxes are not due until April 15, I start them in early March.)