ARCTIC SEA ICE –Remaining Calm–

You have to be careful discussing the factors involving this year’s ice-melt up at the Pole, for at times 90% of what is discussed has nothing to do with Sea-ice.

In my view all the furor and hoop-la spoils the serenity of watching the ice melt, so I do my best to avoid it. Unfortunately nothing makes people more irate then speaking these two words, “Calm down.” (If you don’t believe me, try using them on your wife or husband…but strap on a helmet first.)

In actual  fact things do grow more calm to the north this time of year, which is why, (as we remember heroes on this Memorial Day), we remember D-day was planned for June 5, 1944. The North Atlantic was suppose to be at its least stormy in June. But, as is often the case with the weather, things did not proceed as forecast,  and a storm hit. One of the reasons D-day succeeded was because the Germans didn’t think the Allies would invade in a storm, but the Allies only delayed until June 6.

It is perhaps foolish to predict anything, especially anything involving the vast, silly storm called “Global Warming”, but I have done it. I predicted furor and hoop-la, and that part of my forecast has been 100% correct. The rest of my forecast is as follows:

The ice-melt will get off to a fast start, but slow as the summer proceeds, and in the end the minimum ice-extent  will be about what it was last year. I base my  guess on the following:

1.) During the winter the ice was very active, and sea-ice was compressed towards the center of the Arctic Sea. Also there was less cross-polar-flow, with less ice exported from the Siberian side to the Canadian side, so the ice is thicker towards Siberia. This suggests that, when the ice-edge melts back to these areas of thicker ice, the retreat of the ice-edge will slow.

2.) The fact the sea-ice was active involved the opening of many  leads in the Beaufort Sea. The exposure of the water to  cold winter winds likely chilled the water under the ice, and disturbed the stratification of seawater into various levels, with warmer but more saline waters less able to sneak under the ice northwards. Therefore I assume the water under the ice is colder.

3.) The waters south of Bering Strait were two degrees colder than 2015 throughout much of the winter, which suggests any water sneaking north through the strait would be colder, (and therefore less able to melt ice from beneath), than last year’s (very effective) waters.

4.) The export of ice south through Fram Strait was fitful, and at times even reversed, during the winter, which resulted in more sea-ice being left behind up at the Pole. As this export slows in the gentler winds of summer, more and thicker ice will be left behind, slowing the melt on the Atlantic side.

5.) The melt will begin rapidly, not due to the actual melting of ice, but because polynyas formed where the ice was pushed away from shore. This off-shore wind exposes water to cooling, but also results in up-welling of slightly warmer water by the shore.

6.) Even where up-welling doesn’t occur, huge arctic rivers pour snow-melt-floods north into the Arctic Sea, and, even though this water is ice-water, it is warmer (32F) than the ocean’s ice-water (29F), and it is also less saline until it mixes with the sea. This creates a “lens” of milder water along the coasts, speeding the ice-melt. As this “lens” pushes out to sea it becomes more mixed, and loses its effectiveness, in terms of melting.

7.) As the summer proceeds the warming effect of the El Nino will start to fade, and the effect of the “Quiet Sun” will become more apparent.

There you have it. I have already been told, “Caleb, you ignorant slut”, for making my forecast, so no one needs to say that again. In any case, I won’t know if I am right, wrong, or (most likely) partially correct, until August. Therefore I am simply going to stay calm, and sit back, and enjoy the show.

I had a tap on my shoulder and was reminded what really matters on  Friday evening. My wife’s brother was in a bad accident during the last snow of April, when a car came sliding across the road and crushed in his car’s driver’s side door. After an insurance hassle and physical therapy he got things back together, and was driving his brand new truck on Friday when a car came across the center line, smashed the vehicle in front of him, and managed to flip and once again crushed in the driver’s side door of the vehicle he drove.

Craig crash 20160527_165110

There was about a three hour delay between the time the wonders of the internet produced the above picture and the time I heard from the hospital that my brother-in-law was bruised, royally pissed off,  but otherwise OK.  Three hours is long enough to contemplate how much sea-ice really matters, in the scheme of things.

Not one hell of a lot. I wouldn’t even know it was there, if it weren’t for satellites, the internet, and fools who think it matters more than the practical details of ordinary life for ordinary people.

Generations upon generations have  lived their lives without a clue about what was occurring in the arctic, with the ice coming and going. It didn’t matter that sea-ice was at times nearly absent at the Pole, and at other times sea-ice grounded icebergs on the coast of Ireland, unless you lived on the coast of Ireland, or were a whaler seeking rich hunting grounds.Whaler 3 AmericanWhalersCrushedInTheIce

In some cases those whalers were hunting up in waters that people now completely freak out about, when they are open water rather than ice-covered. The history is available for those who bother to look. The whalers were glad the arctic was more ice-free on summers when the ice allowed them to sneak north. They didn’t freak out about open water in the mid 1800’s, so I want to tell people who freak out now, “Calm down”, but, like I said earlier, that doesn’t work. It especially doesn’t work when billions upon billions of dollars are involved, as people attempt to control the weather with hocus-pocus (when a Hopi priest could likely do a dance that would be more effective, far more cheaply).

The people most prone to hysteria are those who’s entire livelihood is based on the hysteria; ranging from honest professors to dishonest professors, from honestly ignorant idealists to snake-oil salesmen, from honest politicians representing deluded constituents to corrupt politicians lusting for power and gold.  The world has gone bonkers, and has forgotten common sense even to the degree where people can’t agree girl’s bathrooms are for girls, and what really matters gets ignored, until you get a tap on your shoulder. Then you remember. And then it seems most sad we are spending billions upon billions on dust in the wind.

In any case, there is little I  can do but take my own advice and “Calm down”.  I can point out that the current uproar about the polynya northeast of Alaska is about a situation we have seen before.

Poly 3 bathurst-and-w-beaufort-polynyas_1975-vs-2015_polarbearscience

I will likely be then told, “Caleb, you ignorant slut, it is much worse this year”.;2015-05-27/6-N75.7439-W143.49899

The above link takes you to a really a cool site, for it lets you slide about the arctic and zoom in and zoom out, noticing things Alarmists don’t mention, such as a bit more ice in the west of Bering Strait this year, and that it was more green inland in Alaska, last year, but it is not worth arguing that there is more ice north of the Mackenzie River delta this year, for there isn’t. And considering you are given the link to focus on that specific thing, it is impolite to focus elsewhere. And it is especially rude to tell a kind person who gives you a link that they are an ignorant slut. Therefore I usually avoid that.

As a general rule I find Alarmist put me in the shoes of defending the indefensible, but find it is best to traipse lightly by that trap, enjoying the wonder of a new spring with unique weather. Nothing irks Alarmists more than embracing the very thing they think will devastate you, and instead rhapsodizing about how wonderful it is.

And it indeed is a genuine wonder how smashed up the Beaufort Sea is, after all the winter storms. I think the El Nino created a very meridienal flow, and its lagging after-effects are keeping the temperatures merely normal, rather than giving us the below-normal cold waves we saw up in the Beaufort Sea last May and early June, (that, with a sheer guess, I think were due to the “Quiet Sun”.)

To compare two years with different weather patterns is a bit like comparing apples with oranges, but pointing out last year had ice increasing when it usually melts makes this year look less alarming, when you compare a 2015 map with a 2016 map.

Then I expect to hear, “Caleb, you ignorant slut, can’t you see how warm the water is north of the Mackenzie Delta?”

SST 0528 arcticsstnowcast

I like to nod and enthusiastically agree. It is really wonderful! Alaska had a mild winter (even as Mongolia had record cold) so the Mackenzie River is pouring out a nice freshwater lens. Also the off-shore winds that created the polynya also created up-welling. How cool! There may even be some sunshine slightly warming the water, though the sun has been dim the past week.

Obuoy 14 0529 webcam

At this point I scratch my jaw and say, “Odd”. Then I wait, until asked, “What? What’s odd?”  Then I shrug and say, “Oh, I just noticed the NRL map above shows -1°C where Obuoy 14 is located, but the buoy itself is reporting -5°C. I suppose the buoy is reporting the air, and NRL is reporting the water under the ice.  But…odd…”

Obuoy 14 0529 temperature-1week

“What? What’s odd?”

“Oh, it’s just that the picture shows the Mass Balance Buoy at that location is trashed. I just wonder how anyone knows what the temperature of the water under the ice is? It’s such a pity the buoys were so poorly placed and badly maintained, because they are so handy to have, when it comes to double-checking satellite data. But maybe they’ll rehire that guy they had last year, who was so good at recontacting buoys that went periods of time without signalling. It would be nice if we could get O-bouys 8b, 13 and 15 back, as well as Mass Balance Buoys 2015G, 2015I, and 2015J. Oh well, at least we have Mass Balance Buoy 2015F, reporting -4.31° C.  But…odd…

“What? What’s odd?”

“Well, its just that it seems cold over the ice…

Arctic 0529 cmc_t2m_arctic_2

…and high pressure seems to be blowing that cold air right towards the Mackenzie Delta…

Arctic 0529 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_2

…And…well…you’re so concerned that the less-cold water north of the Delta might melt the ice, but wouldn’t those cold winds cool that water? ”

“Caleb, you ignorant slut.”

“Calm down.”


2016 to 2015

 2016 to 2014  

2016 to 2013  

2016 to 2012

 (Aside: In 2012 there was much less fracturing of the Beaufort ice and the water beneath was very stratified, with lots of warmer water available under the ice, which became very apparent during the polar gale that summer, when a great deal of ice melted in a matter of days.)

27 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Remaining Calm–

  1. All we can really do is watch and wait, knowing that even a totally ice free Arctic will not kill us all, at least not right away. At least we can then all agree that global warming is settled science. Look on the bright side, if it is truly settled science like gravity or the earth rotating around the sun, there would be no reason to waste billions researching something that is settled.

    But I have faith that no such obvious settlement of science will manifest itself. You will end up either partially or more or less totally correct with your excellent, interesting analysis.

    In the meantime, we can ponder the eternal question, how many pixels can dance on the head of a pin?

    • Likely enough ice will melt to encourage the Alarmists, as enough ice remains to encourage the Skeptics, and the result will be like kissing your sister.

      I am thinking of a new approach. It may appear initially to be an if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them attitude, as I root for a total melting of the ice cap, but actually I’ll be rooting for a return of the Medieval Warm Period, along with all its many benefits, and therefore I’ll be completely opposed to the end-of-the-world doom-and-gloom.

      Pretty sly, aye?

      • Caleb how dare you post a photo of Obuoy #14 with a bleak sky and no melting to be seen & then to follow it up with a temp graph showing a week of May temps ranging -6 to -4 C.
        CFwhatever will be some pissed and will be here soon telling us deniers to smarten the heck up and realize the ice is melting from below and the sky is falling and our deaths are imminent but we are too flat earth minded to know it 😉
        Tell ur brother in law it is better to be pissed off than pissed on!!
        Be good, folks … I’m enjoying the beautiful summer weather but remember the days start to get shorter in just 3 weeks as the long slide into winter starts.

      • I sometimes think they’ve been sending drones up to take out those O-buoys. They don’t like on-the-ground reporting, I imagine, when I’m most grumpy.

        The ice melt-from-the-bottom was pretty remarkable last summer, but I think that was due to an infusion of “The Warm Blob” up through Bering Strait. A blip in the warm PDO stuck colder water south of Bering Strait through much of last winter, so the infusion very well could be colder this year. I’m a fool to forecast, but it would not surprise me if the folk who are so confident that the melt-from-the-bottom will be identical to last year’s will be surprised when it is slower. Very few things in weather are identical, year to year.

        I do love the longest days, and try to suck up the light like a sponge. I also feel a bit of a pang when the days start getting shorter, in only three weeks. However, just as the coldest part of winter hits when the days are already starting to lengthen, the hottest past of summer hits even as the days get shorter. So don’t put on your mittens too soon.

        I’m not sure about the Canadian Rockies, but we often get blazing hot summers here when El Ninos shift to La Ninas. It was 95°F here yesterday, before a cooling back-door front (actually a glorified sea-breeze) brought us a refreshing fog today.

        I think my blood was too thick for that heat. I could barely budge from my butt. The Old-timers would drink some sassafras tea, to “thin the winter blood.” The New-agers prefer to rave about Global Warming. Therefore you can expect a shift in headlines from the Arctic to heat-waves in New England, if the ice doesn’t melt as much as expected.

        Just sayin’….

  2. 4.) The export of ice south through Fram Strait was fitful, and at times even reversed, during the winter, which resulted in more sea-ice being left behind up at the Pole. As this export slows in the gentler winds of summer, more and thicker ice will be left behind, slowing the melt on the Atlantic side.

    I am curious, what has led you to make your conclusion regarding the transport of ice through the Fram Strait?

    • Observation, experience, and sheer guessing.

      I just have a habit of watching what the ice does. The North Pole Camera always tended to head down into Fram Strait, and last year O-buoy 9 made the trip. The NRL speed-and-drift map is a another clue, and sometimes I just watch the animations of the NRL thickness map until my eyes glaze over. If you’re in the mood you can go to the NRL site at:

      “Thickness” box is second down on the right, and in the box click the “Last 12 months” and you can watch the animation, if your computer can handle it. (Mine sometimes freezes up.) That gives you a general feeling of how the ice is pulsing. I’ve been watching for years, and no two years are ever the same.

      The satellite pictures see finer details and let you follow specific bergs. If they head down the Greenland coast they stay in a cold current and get down to the southern tip, but if they head east and cross Fram Strait they butt into a warm current and melt further north.

      I don’t claim to make accurate measurements. I confess to simply arriving at judgement gauging by eye. But when someone throws me a ball or Frisbee, I don’t use a slide-rule to figure out where to go to catch it.

      This past winter the ice would surge down towards Fram Strait, but then get held back and pushed west by contrary winds, and one result was the creation of a pressure ridge that must be pretty big, to show on the NRL thickness map. It’s a green stripe curving from near the Pole down into Fram Strait. It is pretty neat watching it form in the animation.

      • Not drift…the ice is moving a tiny fraction of a mm per day when scaled to your screen size

        drift distance in km
        velocity =v
        v x (60x60x24)/10000
        then you need the scale of the map to calculate the relative distance of ice movement on your screen.
        That is why you have a problem understanding the scale of ice loss through fram. Because of 3 cyclones in the N Atlantic this winter there has been a large infusion of warm water into the arctic and the ice has melted out before it could journey all the way along the coast of greenland. Jim Hunt had the best coverage of these storms.
        Don’t believe me….learn to use the artico explorer tool for MODIS I gave you.and see for yourself.
        Those images prove that Heller is wrong, don’t be a sheep and a follower. Prefer knowledge over blind faith
        Read first…Comment later…is the best policy

      • Read first my posts containing observations of the movement and behavior of sea-ice going back on a nearly daily basis to June 2013…..before commenting… the best policy.

        If you want to find naivete in my work read my early posts. I was ignorant and honest about my ignorance, and received a lot of good corrections.

        In order to learn you have to be open to all sides of the Truth, both the feel-good sides and the feel-bad sides. The feel-good sides agree with our thinking, and we find them agreeable. The feel-bad sides disagree with our assumptions and force us to change, so we initially find them disagreeable, though in the long run changing broadens our minds and gives us an expansive sense our outlooks are vaster.

        If Jim Hunt is your guru, I pity you. He hides half of the Truth while focusing on facts he finds “favorable”, but unfortunately, even when his facts are part of the greater Truth, to only show a half-truth can actually be an enemy of Truth, the Whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.

        For example, he has shown you 3 facts, in the form of 3 storms, and a further fact in the form of warm currents that are tendrils of the Gulf Stream moving north either side of Svalbard. Using these tidbits of Truth he has leaped to a conclusion you have apparently swallowed hook, line and sinker, namely: “There has been a large infusion of warm water into the arctic and the ice has melted out before it could journey all the way along the coast of Greenland.”

        First, the North Atlantic is notorious for gales, and there were more than three last winter. Second, those tendrils of the Gulf Stream are there when the AMO is warm, and only vary slightly due to the winds of storms.

        Third, what do you suppose happens to a warm current when a large amount of sea-ice is blown across Fram Strait, from the cold south-bound current to the warm north-bound current? Do you suppose that warm current continues on its merry way north as warm as it was before?

        I ask you to consider the possibility that not only does the cold of the ice chill the current, but going through the phase-change from solid to liquid, as the ice melts, involves a large amount of available heat becoming latent heat, which is sucked right out of the current. Is it not possible that the current goes on it’s merry way north significantly colder than normal?

        If Mr. Hunt failed to mention that possibility, it wouldn’t surprise me.

        As far as I’m concerned, there is still much to learn. We have strings of buoys across these currents, but few north-south strings of buoys to gather important data involving levels of salinity and temperature. This data is important because as the “warm” current slides past Svalbard to its west it is so salty that, even though it is warm, it sinks under the colder but less saline arctic waters. However, if a lot of melted ice makes the current less saline, it may proceed further before sinking, and be exposed to more cold winds, and be significantly colder when it dives beneath arctic waters. This would make for colder water under the ice, and less melting-from-beneath.

        Is this the case, this year? Hell if I know. That is why I am watching, wondering, and waiting. I want to learn.

        Regarding the movement of ice, buoys placed on the ice give their latitude and longitude. It is a simple matter to find out how much the ice has moved, each day. If you read my old posts you will see I labored to document the movement of chunks of ice day by day, week by week, and month by month. I documented when ice basically stood still, and when it moved over forty miles a day.

        Therefore, when you insinuate I don’t know how ice moves, I can only assume you don’t know me very well.

        Thanks for challenging me and asking for an explanation.

      • BTW, I went to high school in the late sixties and was taught plate tectonics. Apparently things in the great white north were a bit more enlightened than south of the border. The reason continental drift wasn’t accepted as science was because the theory offered no scientifically valid drive drift.

      • I went to high school at the same time. In Junior High I had the ability to tell an authority, my science teacher, that she was wrong, because I had access to the new data gathered that proved continental drift was real. What a joy!

        The evidence first began to appear when they took cores, and dated them, either side of the mid-Atlantic-rise, around 1960. They didn’t really understand (and still barely understand) the mechanism driving the drift, but had the evidence it was happening.

  3. Hi Caleb. Got a question of sorts. Having read most of your posts these past couple of years – didn’t know about your website before that – I was wondering, since Joe Bastardi’s constant blatting about the ice extent being smaller this year, if the compacting of the ice by the storms has actually increased the ice mass thickness even as the extent has shrunk. That is, is following the ice extent fluctuations important if you are not also following the total ice mass, since compacting can hide a greater ice mass? An example might be 500,000 sq miles of ice averaging 6 feet thick would be more actual ice than 600,000 sq miles of ice averaging 4 feet thick.

    On another front, I have never read a valid “mechanism” for plate tectonics, but I do see validity in an expanding Earth causing what appears to be continental drift. Now that opens a nice can of worms!

    • My sense is that the ice is crunched in to the center of the Pole.

      There are various thickness maps, and “volume” graphs, but the devil is in the details, and there is a lot of debate about how accurate the maps and graphs are.

      Area is much easier to see and figure out.

      I’m glad you have joined me in watching and wondering about the ice. It truly is a fascinating subject. In fact I’m tempted to write a twenty page reply to you, but life and wife won’t allow.

    • Sorry to take so long. I’m busy.

      What is the date of the pictures?

      What interests me is the signs of many winter fractures and “healings” in the fast ice breaking away.

      Compare with fast ice breaking away last year.;2015-06-07/6-N75.7439-W143.49899

      Last year’s ice seems pure white, with little sign of winter duress. I’m wondering if it is merely the quality of the pictures, or the quality of the ice.

      It helps me if you date and locate pictures you send.

      Here’s a good video of this year’s Beaufort break-up.

      [video src="" /]

      • The day is clearly marked along with location…three seconds you’re there with Worldview,
        There is no fast ice in those two images
        FYI…there is another explanation for the “white ice” you mentioned.
        Ask Steve Goddard

      • I could see no date. I told you I was busy. You might have just answered the question. I had the courtesy to respond to you; you might have politely responded to me. Also you might understand others may have slow computers that do nothing in “three seconds”, and no time to wait, nor the awareness of how to navigate to a place you go every day. It is always best to assume the person you are speaking with is a stranger in town, and needs directions.

        As far as I am concerned “fast ice” is ice attached to land that is not moving. It is neither moving fast nor slow, but is is held fast. Most sea-ice is in constant movement.

        If you have another explanation, for white ice, besides the two I suggested, you might mention it. I am not a mind reader.

        What should I ask Steve Goddard?

      • BTW, I now see the slider with the date at the bottom of the first map you shared. It is too small to read on my screen unless I expand it. I was in too much of a hurry, I suppose.

        For some reason the slider didn’t get included in the second map, and that was the one I clicked on and expanded.

        In any case, I now know the dates.

  4. Now look at this..

    Think about it for a couple days and if you have any questions I am sure Tony Heller can explain what occurred. I will be back when the next clear images are available, which looking at the weather forecast for Paulatuk, NT is most likely not until the weekend

  5. I won’t embarrass by pointing out all the errors you have made so far, you’re living in your own personal alternate version of reality.
    The ice is fast ice because Caleb believes it….so what if science says otherwise.

    • It is a pity you don’t want to talk. I won’t be embarrassed having my mistakes pointed out. In fact I’ll appreciate it.

      I did appreciate the pictures. I must assume you don’t enjoy writing, as you didn’t explain what you wished the pictures to point out.

      I hope you will visit in September, to see how I accept where my forecast was wrong. (No one is 100% right about sea-ice.)

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