ARCTIC SEA ICE –Yet Another Swirl–

Well, it is happening again. Warm air has swirled up to the Pole, where of course it rises, and forms low pressure right where the textbooks say the air should be sinking, and there should be high pressure. At the risk of boring those who visit this site often, here is the textbook idea:

Polar Cell cells_mod

This winter there has often been rising air, rather than descending air, over the Pole, because the Creator doesn’t need textbooks. In fact He never bothered go to college, because according to stuff I’ve read He was something called “omnicient” even back before He invented time. I wouldn’t know about that, because I do need to study, and even then I don’t know all that much. But I do know when the textbooks are wrong.

I think they have been wrong this winter because the El Nino pumped a lot of extra heat into the atmosphere, and, because our planet is always trying to smooth out the difference between hot places and cold places, the jet stream had to become more “loopy” (meridienal) to transfer the heat to the Pole. Rather than low pressure parading around the Pole in a nice, orderly “zonal” manner, lows have headed right up to the Pole itself.

At times it is possible to use the above textbook diagram, even with a low sitting atop the Pole. You just assume the descending  air has been displaced, and look for a high pressure area away from the Pole, and call that the “new center” of the above diagram. But the problem is that sometimes there are two, three or four high pressure areas, and they actually seem to be parading around the low pressure at the Pole, as if the above diagram needs a fourth circulation and a fourth cell, (to the left of the polar cell) called the “super-polar cell”, for at times the theoretical “high pressure at the Pole” has a hole of low pressure in the middle, like a doughnut.

Other times I think that towards the Pole the Coriolis effect is different, and the atmosphere can’t be bothered parading around in circles. If it has a job to do, it takes the shortest route. If it has El Nino heat to be rid of, it just heads to the Pole and gets rid of it, and to hell with the textbooks.

The current map has a bit of the “doughnut” look, with a ridge of high pressure being pumped across the northmost North Atlantic behind the polar swirl, though the storm will not linger at the Pole long. The “swirl” shows up nicely in the temperature map.

Be that as it may, everything is about to change. Even before we have figured out what happened we’ll be busy figuring out a new thing that is happening. First, we are approaching a very small window of time when the Pole isn’t constantly losing heat, but briefly gains heat from 24 hour sunshine, (and winds have to alter to get rid of the extra heat, for a few midsummer weeks). Second, the El Nino is no more, and a La Nina is rapidly appearing, which will greatly decrease the amount of heat the atmosphere has to get rid of, by sending it north to the Pole. If less heat heads north, what might the effects be?

In other words, the swirl we are seeing may be the last one. One feels a certain melancholy, as if saying goodbye to an old friend.

As this low swings up to loop near the Pole and then falls away towards Siberia I’d like to point out a few things Alarmists seem to miss, in their joy over El Nino effects. (They are pleased because the meridienal flow brings warm air up to the Pole, and slightly decreases the extent of sea ice at the edges. This seemingly, and perhaps only briefly, verifies their theory that the Pole is warming, is in a “Death Spiral”, and the Arctic Ocean will be ice free and absorb so much sunshine that we’ll all suffer terrible consequences.  Why this pleases them I don’t know, but it does.) (Maybe “misery loves company”.)

The problem is that a meridienal flow doesn’t just bring warmth north, but also brings cold south.  There have been snows in places that don’t see much snow, such as Saudi Arabia and Mexico, the past winter. And even when such places melt away the snow in a single day, the “albedo” of snow is particularly gigantic in southerly places where the sunlight is intense. In fact Saudi Arabia reflected more sunshine back to outer space in five minutes last January than the entire North Pole did in the months of December and  January. When this data was plugged into an Alarmist computer model, the government threatened to cut off their funding, (or so I have concluded, perhaps unfairly.)

This last fling of the fading El Nino, with its final low at the Pole, seems to not only be bringing snows to France in April, but even to me, here in New Hampshire in North America. Even if the snow only whitens the landscape for an hour, the amount of sunshine reflected as it melts will make all the “albedo” models change their conclusions, or they would change their conclusions, if the people plugging in the data were allowed to include all the data.

For what its worth, here’s the radar shot of the  snow and sleet  over New Hampshire this morning.

20160426 rad_ne_640x480

And here’s a forecast map of the frost (pink) over Britain, France and Germany tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

Europe Frost April 27 gfs_t2m_eur_5

The simple fact of the matter is our planet has myriad ways of balancing things out.

The meridienal pattern has also made the arctic stormy, and winds have shifted the sea-ice about and caused much cracking of the ice. Open water has appeared even when temperatures were down at midwinter depths, approaching -40°.  Alarmists like this, as they assume this shows the ice is weak, and will melt more easily in the summer. In actual fact exposing the sea to the cold may warm the midwinter air, but it cools the sea, and also creates more sea-ice.  You see, a lead five miles wide cannot form without piling up five miles of ice at some other spot in the arctic, and at the same time exposing sea-water to freezing, forming five miles of new ice in an area which, if it was protected by a roof of ice, would have formed far less ice. In actual fact, in the past we have seen that a lot of lead-formation (which seems to prefer the Beaufort Sea), actually creates so much extra ice and so cools the waters that the summer melt is reduced, not increased.

Lastly, Alarmists seem to rejoice when north winds flush sea-ice south into the warm tendrils of the Gulf Stream that enter the arctic either side of Svalbard. They are happy because you can see the sea-ice melt very quickly, with satellite views. What they do not seem to calculate is how much colder these currents become, if forsed to melt so much ice, and what effect that may have on the current’s ability to melt the bottom of the sea-ice, when the current gets farther north. Furthermore, the same north winds that bring the sea-ice south to the milder currents are bringing cold air to ruffle the top of the currents, not only chilling the top-most water, but reversing the direction of the topmost water.

Alarmists should hope for south winds between Norway and Svalbard, to hurry the tendrils of the Gulf Stream north. When those waters see north winds, as are blowing now, the Gulf Stream is not being assisted. Its waters are being chilled, and the topmost part of the current is actually blown south, which creates all sorts of interesting turbulence between south-moving surface waters and north-moving depths.  It is not a situation conducive to hurrying warmth north and speeding the melt of sea-ice.

In Conclusion, I’d say the effects of the El Nino are nowhere near as simple as some make them out to be. Already I’ve been proven wrong about some of my assumptions. Who would ever assume increasing the heat in the atmosphere would give Kuwait its first snowfall we have records of?

And, if increasing the heat can increase the snowfall in an ordinarily hot desert, might it not increase the sea-ice in an ordinarily cold sea? I’m not saying it will, but I am being humble and saying I’m not sure the after-effects of the El Nino will decrease the sea-ice extent this summer. In fact I’m betting my nickle that the sea-ice extent minimum will be the same as last year, next September, (and I think anyone who bets more than a nickle is a fool.)

The coming La Nina will decrease the heat. We need to be humble about our certainty (or lack of it) about the effects that will have, as well. If the atmosphere becomes more zonal, than general cooling will make sub-polar regions warmer.

By the way, O-buoy 13 shows moisture is being drawn north through Bering Strait. This will dust the black-ice of the new leads with white snow.

Obuoy 13 0426 webcam

The moisture hasn’t made it further east to O-buoy 14, so new leads near it will still have black ice.

Obuoy 14 0426 webcam

With black ice here and white ice there, can you imagine how difficult it would be to create an “albedo” model that was truly accurate?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Yet Another Swirl–

  1. This will make your head hurt (mine too … I used to know this stuff forwards and backwards but that seems like a long time ago … and it was 😉
    The Coriolis force is greatest at the poles and 0 at the equator. The Coriolis parameter is given by:
    f = 2*w*sin(phi)
    Where w is the rotation rate of the Earth and phi is the latitude in question. By optimizing this, you see f is greatest when |sin(phi)| = 1, which means phi = 90 (or -90).
    The reason why it’s greatest at the poles is because of the fact that as you go closer to the pole, your axis of rotation is decreasing and your tangential velocity is “increasing” to make up for this.

    The Coriolis force arises from the fact that the solid Earth is rotating underneath a fluid on its surface. Because of this, you get differences in centrifugal force and/or a conservation of angular momentum which acts to deflect the fluid based on the direction it is traveling. Ok, that mumbo jumbo is out of the way.
    As you move closer to the pole, your angular momentum must be conserved. Since the radius on your axis of rotation is decreasing, you begin to increase your velocity to keep angular momentum constant. Imagine a bird on the equator. Its tangential velocity is equal to the radius of the Earth multiplied by the rotation rate. This tangential velocity does not change throughout the flight. As it begins to fly northward, the Earth appears to rotate slower than the bird (the axis of rotation is decreasing, because you’re going closer to the pole). Since the Earth has a slower tangential velocity at that point compared to the bird, it appears to an inertial observer that the bird is curving Eastward (but the bird thinks it’s just flying straight towards the pole). This is because of the difference in tangential velocity between the bird and the Earth. At the pole, the tangential velocity is zero, so the bird is traveling more Eastward than it has at any other point.
    The effect is greatest at the pole because as your axis of rotation decreases (N-W motion), the object will make up for it with an increase in E-W velocity (to an inertial observer). Once you’re at the North Pole, all of your initial velocity you got by standing at the equator is most apparent as you don’t have any rotation of the Earth to detract from it. That is, the bird’s tangential velocity no longer has the Earth’s tangential velocity to subtract from it (since it’s zero).

    • Tell me if I have this right.

      In theory, the closer you got to the Pole the quicker your curve would be. Therefore your map should produce smaller and tighter lows and highs.

      In the virtual world of models I often notice these tiny whirls on the maps. In reality, however, you still get the ordinary-sized lows and highs.

      Hmm. Does not compute. I need more coffee, and to skip work if possible.

      Thanks again for helping me to focus my thoughts, at least slightly.

  2. Caleb my man, I could swear I showed you this before, but given the weirdness with the polar jet streams and such it seems like a very apt time to share it again.

    http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/500hPa/orthographic=-87.71,81.99,512/

    Click the “earth” text and it gives you lots of options to change from the 1000 hPa ~ 25 hPa altitudes, or switch to temperature or precipitable moisture or whatever, there’s even a wave/current tracking option in there. Go play with it!

  3. (Omni = All) + scient (Origin of scient. Middle English, from Latin scient-, sciens, present participle of scire to know.) = Omniscient = All-Knowing.
    again it’s meridian>meridional, not meridienal f.y.i.
    I don’t think the coriolis force has as much effect on large scale cyclonic and anticyclonic weather flows in the atmosphere as it has on the water going down the drain in the N. or S. hemisphere,
    not sure why, but the large scale probably has a lot to do with it.

    I also believe the restive Sun with its less energetic Solar Wind has a lot to do with the increased prominence of (loopy) meridional jetstream, as opposed to periods when the Sun is more active, with consistently stronger Solar Wind which leads to a more zonal W. to E. flow pattern and more benign weather. These patterns also relate to cooling and warming cycles both on an annual basis, and longer term. Notice that as Summer builds, the N. hemisphere loopiness decreases, and becomes more prominent in the S. hemisphere[I saw this in the jetstream maps last year]. In between seasons(springN, FallS/FallN, SpringS), the meridional flow is currently evident in both hemispheres. The loopiness is related to a cooling atmosphere with its greater occurrence of weather extremes, while general warm and active Solar periods(as in the 50’s-60’s) saw a more consistent Zonal flow pattern.
    Interesting is that the Equator is the dividing line between the coriolis’ effect on the large scale Lows and Highs, which spin oppositely in the N. and S. hemispheres. What happens if a High pressure from the North crosses the Equator? does it suddenly become a Low pressure system? And what about the opposite?
    Does this mean that Equatorial weather is usually on the nice side? Are Equatorial Highs and Lows nearly identical to each other? Somehow I doubt that, but maybe it’s true? Uhh, except for those big tropical storms… 😉

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