ARCTIC SEA ICE –Comparison with 2006–

I was listening to some Bach yesterday to mellow out my temper, but unfortunately was on a PBS station which injected a bit of Climate Change hoopla into my brain before I could change the channel, the result being I was anything but mellow. The editorial was so full of incredibly distorted news that I’m surprised the speaker’s nose didn’t grow so long it poked out through the front of the radio.

Just for an example, every El Nino makes the waters warmer around Australia, which allows waters to get hot enough, in the shallowest reef-waters, to “bleach” some coral. The coral dies, and then comes back after the water cools. I’m not sure what percentage gets bleached, but it isn’t all that high. I’m not sure how long it takes for the reef to recover, but it isn’t that long. Like a forest fire in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, “bleaching” is not pretty, leaves a short-term wasteland, but is a part of the natural cycle of things.

I know all this because there was a “coral reef bleaching scare” around ten years ago, and I paid attention to a degree where I actually visited Australian websites. Some fellows at resorts were irritated that they might lose customers because people would assume the reefs were dead, while other fellows thought tourists would come if the guides played on a theme of “see the reef before it is too late.” However I soon understood the reefs were not anywhere close to dying out; bleaching had occurred before, and the reef always recovered. Some websites frequented by scuba divers were downright contemptuous of the media, and how ill-informed the reporters were, and how some scientists were pandering for funding, to study reefs the scuba divers already knew about. The divers joked the scientists were looking for a paid vacation. In the end the scare blew over and the coral recovered.

The PBS editorial I accidentally listened to was replaying all the exaggerations of the old scare, based around this latest El Nino. For example, in an area of sun-baked shallow water up to 99% of the coral can die. That is a true fact. However it is a gross distortion to use the “up to 99%” figure for the entire barrier reef. Yet the editorial said something along the lines of, “A professor and his students were reduced to weeping because up to 99% of the Great Barrier Reef had died.” That may not be an out and out lie, if you parse the sentence with a lawyer, but it gives a false impression, and therefore PBS seemingly is misusing its funding. It is suppose to educate the public, not bleat propaganda. (The (unnamed) professor is suppose to do the same.) (Weeping isn’t scientific, and weeping is known to, in fact, cloud scientific objectivity. A bunch of bawling students is therefore not a sign of a good teacher.)

The editorial went on to do the same with other facts regarding sea-ice. My favorite involved blithely explaining away the cold hitting Europe as “cold displaced by the heat at the Pole.”

Joe Bastardi at Weatherbell site  posted a Dr. Ryan Maue forecast map of snow in Germany this week.

Germany April snow 2 gfs_tot_snow_eur_29(1)

I was curious as to whether the forecast had verified, so I checked back to the Weatherbell site, and Joseph D’Aleo was (as usual) right on the ball. I learned temperatures over Germany were ten degrees below normal.

Germany April snow 3 ncep_cfsv2_4_t2anom_europe(2)

And Pierre Gosselin reported to Joseph,

“Winter transforms Germany’s Thuringia Forest into a winter wonderland today. Massberg webcam photo 11.07 a.m.

Newsite Thuringia Antenne here writes that winter has returned and will stick around for awhile, reporting of icy roads, accidents and cold. Meteorologist Dominik Jung of forecasts 5 to 10 cm of snow across wide regions of Germany, especially Bavaria and Thuringia.

The Rheinbrecke at Rees had to be closed for over an hour and a half early this morning due to accidents from icy conditions, the RP Online reports here.”

Germany April snow. Winter_massberg_April_26_2016

While it is true Europe is smaller than the Arctic Ocean, (3.931 million square miles versus 5.427 million square miles), when you include the area of Atlantic Ocean covered by the cold hitting Europe you wind up with an area larger than the Arctic Ocean. Nor is the entire Arctic Ocean above normal. Slightly less than half of it is, in fact, below normal.

Germany April snow 4 gfs_t2m_anomf_arctic_1

None of this was mentioned in the editorial, of course.  In the end it basically dissolved into a diatribe against people who vote out Alarmists, such as Australians. What was most nauseating to me was its “science-is-settled” attitude, which accepted guff as gospel.

I have my doubts about recent record-keeping, due to some being polluted by  “adjustments”, but, using those records, we are indeed feeling the effects of a large El Nino, and the air temperatures of the world are at “record highs” as the sea-ice-extent is brushing “record-lows.” I don’t find this particularly alarming, as records are set all the time, when the period when the records have been kept is relatively short.  The last El Nino did indeed set a recent record, for the central Pacific, but didn’t for the waters just off Peru. Off Peru the 1998 and 1982 El Ninos were “the worst ever”.  In any case, I’ve been expecting a lot of hubbub to be made about this El Nino’s mildness, and the word “unprecedented” to be used a lot, and the PBS editorial didn’t disappoint me.

What is always interesting to do is to search the historical records we have from the period before modern records were kept.  They are full of surprises, and in fact it was my study of the conditions the Vikings in Greenland lived under that first alerted me to the fact that the word “unprecedented” didn’t include a huge swath of history.

I started poking around in the past, looking at low sea-ice extent, and I didn’t need to go far to find an example that surprised me. It was the year 2006, which most think of as a year with higher ice-extent, because most focus on September and not late April. I found a good site for making such comparisons, where you can erase all the years you don’t want charted, and avoid facing a hopeless tangle of graphed squiggles. I thought it would be interesting to compare 2006 with 2012, (2012 being the year with the lowest extent on record). Here’s the site, so you can do your own comparing:

What is interesting is that 2012 was above normal, while 2006 was at record-setting lows, at the start of May. By September 2006’s extent was barely below 6 million km2, while 2012 was well below 4 million km2. In other words, all the hubbub about how low levels now are might actually mean we are in for a year like 2006, rather than 2012.

At this point one runs into a lot of talk about how much more solid the ice was back in 2006, versus how flimsy it is now. So I did a bit of checking. People have been skiing from 89 degrees north to the Pole for over ten years, so I went and looked at the “final degree” diary for 2006. Temperatures were milder that year than this year, and April  17 had this intriguing headline.


Reading a little discovered this:

We have crossed difficult leads of open water today, where we also had to use our two large sleds as bridge to get across. This we can do on two-three meter wide leads. We lash the two sleds together to make a catamaran, and push them out in the water. This raft floats well and becomes a stable platform; we then crawl across to the other side one after another. This system works on small leads, but on wider leads we need to find a crossing point.

We did 15.5 kilometre on our ten hour long day. It’s now 46 kilometres left to the Pole, and it looks like we will make it with good margin. At the end of the day however, we came to an enormous lead, 3-400 metre wide. We made camp nearby this lead, and Thomas and I went out to look for a crossing point for tomorrow. Pressure ridges and large leads have one thing in common; they don’t last forever. When we meet such leads there is just one thing to do and that is to walk along it until we find a crossing point. They can be several kilometres long but sooner or later the lead will close. The good thing about such leads is that they take up a lot of the movement in the ice and we hope conditions are more stable on the other side.

OK, that is 2006, when the ice was “thicker”.

Now let’s evesdrop on 2016

From April 14

A long and hard day. Lots of snow on the ice, and a lot of rubble. Not extreme, but it’s there all the time…

Final Degree 1 in-the-ice

From April 16

Beautiful day, sunny but cold. Also today heavy walking, but nothing so bad that we have to turn back. The drift has changed direction and has almost stopped up.

Final Degree 2 ice-2

Now, if I was like PBS I would never mention that they later came across open leads. I’ve made my point: The ice was thick and piled up this year. However, because I am in love with truth, I’ll mention the leads.

From April 17

Just slightly some wind, and it was in our back. Temperature probably around minus 30-35.

And drift was almost zero. We got into better ice, less bulky and with hard snow. We followed a new lead that went straight north for almost an hour.

From April 18

We skied 18 Km, same as the day before. Lots of snow in the ice, but good conditions. A lot of large pans.

From April 19

Sunny, a bit wind from the back, warmer aprox 25 under.

We met an open lead right away in the morning. Struggled there for a bit, but came over. After that we had to jump several cracks, and did a couple more leads…

We then meet the mother of all leads just before camp time! Luckily it had one point that was possible to cross. We went over and came into camp at 20:15.

There. That is what real reporting looks like. You report truth, not just what supports your theory.

The “Race Against Time” expedition experienced the same arctic landscape. They started further south, experiencing some leads at the start, but then fought through a great deal of pressure ridging, which they described as “boulder fields”. Later they too came across the leads close to the Pole, and displayed their unabashed bias (apparent throughout the trip) by stating, “Strangely warm day around -10C. 8 hours trekking today. Reached a huge expanse of water, which is bizarre so close to the North Pole.”

They should have read up on 2006, for then they would have seen that the temperatures they experienced were colder than 2006 through much of their trip. Rather than “strangely warm” they should have stated 10ºC  was”temperatures like 2006″. Also if they had researched they would have known that the adventurers in 2006 also found leads near the Pole. Maybe they would have even researched to a point they would have known there were leads near the Pole in 1987.  It’s not so “bizarre” after all.

Barneo 6C 3-subs-north-pole-1987

I always admire the people who ski to the Pole. The oldest has been 69 and the youngest has been, I think, 10. However the “Race Against Time” crew got a bit too maudlin for me.  On one hand they had to promote how “delicate and fragile” the arctic was, but on the other hand they had to make it sound like they were up against hardships only supermen could endure, and this made them describe the pressure ridges they had to haul heavy sleds over as being like the Himalayas. Wrong.  Making pressure ridges sound huge is politically incorrect, if you want to promote the idea all the ice is melting.  They forgot the political cause, in their lust for self-aggrandizement.

Fool Ranulph

All I can say is, “Put on a hat, you fool!”

To return to more mundane matters, the last “whirl” faded away from the Pole, pumping a high behind it. This has cut off the export of cold down into the North Atlantic, but not before the trough mentioned at the start of the post was filled to the brim with cold. That trough will slowly drift across Europe to the east, and some milder temperatures will finally return to Europe from west to east as that trough moves to Russia.

It looks to me like Pacific air may try to generate the next “swirl” at the Pole, but the models suggest that low north of Iceland will be the next low at the Pole, splitting the high pressure in Frem Strait in half. Hmm. I guess we’ll see what we see.

O-buoy 13 has been experiencing dull weather, cloudy but with little snow, and steady temperatures at -10ºC.Obuoy 13 0429 webcam

O-buoy 14 has been producing the better pictures, and reminding me of what originally attracted me to these cameras. (Beauty). Temperatures have been going through a diurnal swing between -7ºC and -15ºC. It’s gradually clouding up.

Obuoy 14 0427 webcam

Obuoy 14 0429 webcam

Things remain fairly dull, usually, until the thaw starts, but perhaps the Alarmists will give me more to write about.



5 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Comparison with 2006–

  1. Sadly the nullschool site doesn’t go back to 2006 but I was playing around with it and figured I’d see what it looked like to grab a shot from the same day/time over the last three years.

    • Most interesting thing I see there, look at the canada side of greenland, and the edges of the ice, plus the neat effect that the big wall of nordic mountains cause.

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