ARCTIC SEA ICE–video of jet landing on cracked sea-ice–

This video, from the jet coming in for a landing, (likely on April 4,2016) gives one a clear idea of the state of the ice up there. Cracks can already be seen on the ice-runway. (Single frame of above video seen below)

Barneo 3D Screen-Shot-2016-04-05-at-16.21.20-831x560

Here is a ground-level picture of the further “cracking” on the runway which closed the ice-runway after the jet landed. (I think the jet took off again, and no jet is currently “stranded”.)

Barneo 3A 12963854_1012982345445530_8510285427436507738_n

This looks more like the formation of a “pressure ridge” than the opening up of a “lead”, which means, (if one wants to get into semantics), that the problem is that the ice is getting thicker, not that it is thinning out.

The ice remains active, even as they frantically work on a new runway nearby. This morning (April 6) a translation of the official report reads,   “He said that early in the morning seen from the eastern side in the distance a strong ridging, active processes of moving ice masses continues.”

It seems every available hand is working on the new runway.

These problems explain why some Russians are pushing for a sort of sea-ice aircraft carrier to be built. (It wouldn’t need to be all that much larger than some their humongous ice-breakers.) If such a beast-of-a-boat was built they wouldn’t need to bother with the fickle nature of sea-ice.

Below is a recent picture of an area where, rather than pressure ridges forming, leads are forming. In some places the ice is converging (pressure-ridges) and in other places it is diverging (leads). Both events are the status quo within what is, after all, an ocean, and always in motion. It also should be noted that even after the sun rises air temperatures have been recorded down near minus 40 (which is the same both in Fahrenheit and Celsius) so the new leads swiftly skim over with ice, because the exposed water is right at the freezing point. In the picture below new, slightly skimmed and skimmed-and-snow-dusted leads can be seen.

Barneo 3B 12916847_978986505503832_6932671061554628725_o515

Correction—The above picture is from the Barneo Facebook page, and, because it is beside a picture of a chef in the Barneo kitchen from two years ago, it may also be from two years ago.  I apologize for saying it was “recent” when I am in fact unsure when it was taken.

Explanation—The Arctic Sea is an “ocean in motion”, and the “speed and drift” of the sea-ice can be seen in the Naval Research Labs maps provided on their wonderful site here:

The most recent map, below, shows examples of both convergence (which will create thicker ice and pressure ridges), and divergence (which will create thinner ice and leads of open water.)

Barneo 3C arcticicespddrfnowcast

If you look at the above map at the site of Barneo, above the Pole, you can see the ice is slowing down. Light blue is turning to darker blue, and longer arrows are running up against shorter arrows. It may be helpful to think of traffic during a rush hour, and what happens when fast traffic comes to slower traffic, but imagine the bergs have bad drivers and no brakes. Pile-ups are occurring, called “pressure ridges”. All in all, the ice is actually getting thicker.

Then look north of Alaska, where strong winds are speeding the ice away from shore. Open water will appear between the shore and the departing ice. This open water is called a “polynya”, when it is next to shoreline, and a “lead”, when it is next to slower ice. (If you look ahead of the Alaskan ice,  you will see the red giving way to blue, which indicates a pile-up is occurring north of Bering Strait.)

Forgive me if this is boring, but I feel a need to educate the public, which is at times being grossly misinformed by sensationalist branches of the media. You may see pictures of open water and be told it is due to CO2, when it is in fact due to the wind. Then you may see pictures of thickening ice and hear it is due to a coming ice age, when in fact it is once again due to the wind.

Once you are educated to the true nature of the sea-ice you escape the attempts of the media to milk you as a chump, and can instead laugh at their pathetic attempts to bolster unsubstantiated politics with feeble propaganda. In doing this you will honor the belief our forefathers had that an educated public is a good thing.

I should add that, because winds can swiftly change in the arctic, the above map can change swiftly. Converging ice can become diverging ice, and then converge again. The Arctic Sea is an ocean in motion.




8 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE–video of jet landing on cracked sea-ice–

    • I’d say it is “active” ice. This means it is moving a lot. Where the debate gets going involves whether the ice is “piling up” over the long term, or “thinning out” over the long term.

      I subscribe to the notion that the sea-ice follows a cycle of (very roughly) 60 years. Since around 1980, when it was very “piled up”, it has been largely thinning. Right now it is in a period of transition, and soon it will theoretically start piling up again.

      A wrench in the works is the possibility that the “Quiet Sun” will throw things out of whack. Neither the PDO nor the AMO can be relied on to work like clockwork, and past events have shown external forces can mess things up. Perhaps the coolest examples were enormous volcano eruptions in 1810 and 1815 that seemingly made the jet-stream so loopy that roughly a third of the arctic sea-ice got pushed down the east coast of Greenland into the Atlantic. Whalers were reporting ice-free conditions up in arctic waters at the same time icebergs were grounding on the shores of Ireland.

      I’m not expecting the “Quiet Sun” to produce anything that dramatic, but it will be a handy excuse for blown forecasts.

      I’d say the ice is thinner this year, generally, than last year, but thicker than 2014. It is thinner towards Kara Sea and Barents Sea, but thicker towards the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea. On the North American side I’d say there has been a decrease of ice, but there is still more than at the start of 2014.

  1. Cool video of the jet landing. A landing that precise requires landing aids. I also noticed the lighting system for foul weather and/or night landings. The Russians are putting a lot into this!

    • As I recall that jet (AN-74) has some special sort of reverse thrust, so they don’t have to use brakes on the ice. It is a special sort of jet for the north.

      • Eggggsactly! In fact, most modern large jets have reverse thrusters. As you hinted, brakes don’t work too well on ice!

        The precision landing (lining up on the runway when you can’t even see the runway) is likely made feasible by some land-based navigational system such as:

      • Someone posted at another site that this is called a “vodka landing.”

        Flying isn’t the same as it once was, with auto-pilots and so forth, but pilots still tend to be a gutsy bunch.

  2. As usual, an interesting and informative read.

    I have been noticing that April has gotten off to an extremely cold start around Hudson Bay. Churchill has been averaging 15-20 degrees below normal for April. Their average high has been lower than their average low. This morning, a station on the southeast shore of Hudson Bay was an amazing (for April) -24F. That air is going to unload of the US this weekend with widespread record cold and snow as far south of DC.

    Does not sound at all like an imminent death spiral!

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