ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barneo Politics–

After a silence we have a report from Barneo, which suggests the Norwegians made it impossible to use Svalbard as base of operations. The key sentences are these:  “Then on April, 7 we got further problems from the Norwegian authorities. Trude Petterson, The Independent Barents Observer reporter, found a threat to national security in our conventional activities.

As best as I can tell, the Russians have had to shift to Franz Josef Land as a alternative, and will likely do so in the future, if they continue the Barneo bases. It will be rough on the economy of Svalbard to lose the tourists, I imagine. I’m not sure what has happened with the tourists this year, or heard anything about the planting of this year’s North Pole Camera.

The ice appears to be sound, though there are a lot of pressure ridges.

Barneo 8A 13083366_1023415584402206_7795010859968768566_n

Barneo 8B 13051705_1023415624402202_4868506117936992761_n

The Barneo site continues to drift south towards Fram Strait.

Barneo 8C 13087629_1023415681068863_8066820128088290364_n

The red line at the top is the “Race Against Time” expedition, which originally was planned to travel from the Pole to Canada. Likely all the delays caused them to back out of that plan, and take an easier route. I find their site a little amusing, for they are stressing how warm the Arctic has been this winter, but describing how the ice is thicker than it was when Mark Wood crossed the same area two years ago. There are many more pressure ridges, which they describe as “boulder fields”. It is no joke hauling sleds over such barriers.

It is worthwhile to compare this years ice with last year’s. (If you open each map (link)  to a new tab you can then switch back and forth to better see the comparison.) (2015 is to the left; 2016 is to the right.)


It is clear that the ice is thinner in Barents and Kara seas, but largely because that ice has been exported, and crunched over to the Pole. Ordinarily a pressure ridge is too small to be seen in these satellite-derived thickness-maps, as a pressure ridge gets averaged-out, however in the above 2016 map a long curving “mountain range” of ice averaging nine feet thick curves directly over the Pole. In order for this to not be averaged-out, it must consist of  numerous smaller pressure ridges, some which obviously would be more than nine feet thick. So far I have been unable to get a good view of this feature from satellite pictures, due to clouds. It curves all the way down to the area north of Greenland’s northeast corner, and is likely bound for Fram Strait. Ice is pushed closer to the northwest corner of Svalbard this year, and likely is chilling the tendril of the Gulf Stream that enters the arctic there, as it is melted.

The Polynya northwest of Alaska is larger this year, as are the polynyas along the North Slope coasts of Alaska and Canada. The ice missing from these areas has largely been swept over towards East Siberia, which has thick ice piled up on its coasts, and thicker-than-last-year ice out to sea. This area will likely be slower to melt this summer, especially as the Pacific seems colder. It will be interesting to watch the Laptev Sea in August, when the freshwater floods from the Lena River reach their peak, as the floods will likely be greater (and perhaps colder) this year due to deep snows inland in Siberia. These surges of fresh water have a big effect on that coast of the Arctic.

One feature I watched last summer I dubbed “The Slot”, north of Alaska. A feature-of-this-feature was “The Reef”, which formed The Slot’s southern edge. This never completely melted away, as it originally consisted of some huge pressure ridges, and I’ve watched it all winter as it was swept around all the way to 160 degrees east longitude. It likely forms a considerable pile of ice-chunks over there. The ice north of Siberia is by no means flat “baby ice”. It is a pity we lost our two O-buoy cameras that were over that way.

In order to have all the ice piled up towards Russia it needed to be exported from the Beaufort Sea, which the satellite views show as being crisscrossed by a web of leads and frozen leads, some quite wide, and some frozen-over quite thickly. That sea’s water has been losing heat all winter through these leads.

O-buoy 13 continues to be swept east north of Alaska, and pictures a cold and windswept scene, with temperatures showing a diurnal swing between -10°C and -15°C.

Obuoy 13 0423 webcamObuoy 13 0424 webcam

O-buoy 14 is further east, has finally melted its lens free. We were lucky to not lose this buoy over the winter, as a small pressure ridge grew right at its feet. Note the Mass Balance buoy tipped  (and likely not reporting) to the lower right.

Obuoy 14 0423 webcamObuoy 14 0424 webcam

This buoy’s thermometer seems more effected by sunlight, and over the past few days has shown a diurnal swing between -22°C and -7°C, with the high temperatures less high when the wind picks up. (Judging from shadows, there are some decent pressure ridges off-camera to the left and behind our left shoulder.)

This should be a very interesting summer, as the El Nino is rapidly fading, and cracks of blue, below-normal water are already showing up off the coast of South America, indicative of a La Nina coming on. The North Atlantic is cooler,  and “The Warm Blob” is largely gone from the North Pacific, (though some residual heat from the El Nino may be heading north past Japan).

SST Anomaly 20160421 2016anomnight_4_21_2016

There will be a “lag time” before any La Nina coolness effects the Pole, but the Scripps model is showing an absolute whopper of a La Nina. Likely it is overboard, and things will not be this extreme (for it would set records) but usually Scripps is a fairly decent model, and the situation does bear watching.

Scripps 0423 Screen_Shot_2016_04_23_at_4_17_56_AM


4 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barneo Politics–

  1. Excellent catch to spot that thick, curving ridge of ice …. not bad for a formerly cancerous geezer 😉 … I like to think, as another formerly cancerous geezer, that I’m allowed such comments!
    Tax time in the great white north and so I am grumpy like you were a month ago!! And not too white up here as temps have stubbornly stayed much above average until yesterday. Look here there will likely be a payback sometime for all this early season warmth with snow in May or other such torments.

  2. It was nice to see that curving ridge become big enough to “see”, in the NRL “thickness” map. Sometimes simple common sense tells you ice is compressed into an area, but the sensitivity of the NRL map isn’t good enough to show it.

    I try to memorize these sort of common-sense observations, and to keep them in the back of my mind. Sometimes they turn out to be a sort of ammunition in debates with Alarmists. Often people who don’t make a habit of gazing at sea-ice look at maps and charts that lack sensitivity, and jump to authoritative conclusions that are quite wrong. Also, (as we saw last year in Hudson Bay, and with O-buoy 10), areas can look “ice-free” on certain maps when they actually have ice.

    I don’t mind being called any sort of geezer. “Geezer” is a title I have worked many years to obtain, and I wear it as a badge of honor.

    My health is good at the moment, and I hope yours is the same. If doing taxes doesn’t make you sick, nothing will.


  3. How this El Niño/La Niña episode will play out should be most interesting. A few questions I would like to ask Warmists–1) Why are we concerned about AGW when the planet can so effectively cool itself? 2) How can all this heat from the ocean escape when the atmosphere is supposed to be “trapping” heat?

    And, if the Scripps forecast is anywhere near close, 3) how does AGW produce a record La Niña?

    (The answers would, of course, just be more of their imaginative pseudoscience!)

    • If the Scripps forecast is even close to correct, then the Alarmists will be in the position I often found myself in before my Math teachers. They wanted the math, but I hadn’t done it. Rather than simply confessing I hadn’t done my math, I came up with wonderful excuses. Both my teachers and classmates found me entertaining, even more entertaining than math at times. However it meant I was an entertainer, not a mathematician.

      In like manner, the public will slowly see “dawn break on Marblehead”, and understand pseudoscience is not science.

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