One of the more fascinating events that occur nearly every summer is the “creation” of a cold spell at the Pole, though I suppose the cold isn’t “created”, but rather heat is somehow lost. This always fills me with wonder, because it doesn’t seem possible. The sun never sets, and keeps beaming and beaming and beaming, and I even have my little charts that show that, during these few weeks when the sun is highest above the horizon, the Pole has a net gain of heat. Therefore where can the cold possibly come from? (Or, if you insist, where does the heat get lost?)
Any other place on the planet you can point to some other colder place, and say the cold comes from there. Usually it is to the north, but sometimes it is from cold waters or cold snowpack or icecap that lies nearby. However the Pole is different, and it’s hard to blame the other guy. In fact during the summer the Arctic Sea is surrounded by all sorts of sun-baked tundra that at times can make even the swarms of mosquitoes wilt in the heat. You can’t blame the tundra for exporting cold northwards. You can’t really even blame the the icecap of Greenland, because when air has unloaded its moisture up over 10,000 feet and descends it undergoes adiabatic heating and becomes a warm Chinook. So who do you blame for the appearance of sub-freezing temperatures? The Pole can’t blame anyone, and is sort of like Harry Truman, “The Buck Stops Here.”
At one point I thought I was very clever, and explained it as being due to an effect like a summer thundershower. The heat went up and cold came down. I thought I was rather erudite, but there happened to be some fellow who had worked at NOAA commenting at the same website, and in very short order he handed me my posterior on a platter. He explained that as the heat goes up it gets colder and colder, and the tops of clouds were so cold they had no heat left to lose.He even had data from kazillion dollar satellites to back him up. I did my best to retreat graciously, genuflecting respectfully, but could not resist a single snide comment. It was something along the lines of, “I’ll be sure to inform my pepper plants there is no cooling next time they experience going from baking in heat over a hundred to sulking midst hailstones. They’ll be glad to learn there’s no cooling.”
That was a very rude thing to do, but I do wonder at times about whether rain and hail bypass the rules of adiabatic heating, as they fall, and what sort of complexity this adds to the equations used in computer modeling. I have no answer. But the fun is in the wondering.
I am certain young scientists at universities still wonder in this way, when the idiots higher-up aren’t telling them what to think, and what is allowed, and what the politicians will smile at and throw funding at. The old think they are being pragmatic and realistic, when they stress that one must kowtow to political correctness to gain a grant, but the young prefer a reality that is realer, called scientific truth. They are naive and idealistic, and still believe things that old, embittered professors can’t bother with, and, when the professors are not looking, the young dare to wonder. All over the world, in all universities, such starry-eyed conversations are occurring, and I’d give an eye-tooth to be a fly on the ceiling, for it is there the true wonder of Truth is discussed.
However, because such thinking isn’t politically correct it doesn’t get published, and I pretty much have to do my wondering alone. Only on the web do you meet other oddballs who don’t have a chance to get a grant or earn a living by kowtowing, and therefore seek Truth for no other reason than it is wonderful, and beautiful.
In any case, it got cold at the Pole. Pay attention to the areas below freezing as I go through the maps.
When we last looked a low I dubbed “Ralph” was weakening, reversing the clockwise motion of ice over Beaufort Gyre with its counter-clockwise winds. Ralph had persisted over the Pole, one way or another, reinforced by various pulses of mild, rising air I dubbed R1, R2, and so on. Another low I called “Scandy” had gotten stuck over Scandinavia, and made folk there grumpy, and between Ralph and Scandy a ridge of high pressure I named “Ridgeway” came and went.
To my eyes it looked like the next reinforcement of Ralph, R9, would come from Siberia, but the models suggested I was wrong.
The models were right. The Siberian low stayed in Siberia, as Ridgeway built over the Pole and kept Ralph from getting reinforcements from Siberia, so he turned to Canada, and the real R9 came up through Hudson Bay. On July 19 it seemed to me that the Ralph-R9 combo was so strong that it not only swiveled Ridgeway north to the Pole, but made Scandinavians weep for joy, as Scandy finally, finally headed north and let high pressure creep into Norway. Also below-freezing temperatures appeared over the Pole.
On July 20 the swiveling continued. I missed the afternoon map, which is handy, for it is just then that Ralph swung over Greenland and, using a process I call “morphistication”, sent his energy, like a Pacific storm over the Rocky Mountains towards a weak low coming up from the Gulf of Mexico, into Scandy, who henceforth will be called “Ralph.” (Stop screaming. This is my blog, and if I want to keep Ralph alive, it is my business.)
It is an interesting aside to note that the persistence of the weak Siberian low kept the sea-ice from being blown off-shore in the Laptev Sea at this time.
On July 21 Ralph gets his act together yet again. Ridgeway has built towards Bering Straight, and you might think Ralph would circle the high pressure, heading down into Siberia, but Ralph is the boss, and he heads north instead. Behind Ralph Ridgeway2 is building over Scandinavia, and Scandinavian’s hair, which had been turning brown, is getting blond again in sweet sunshine. However Scandy2 lurks over Iceland.
Today, July 22, we see Ralph looping but staying strong. He is sucking warm air north and sub-freezing air south. Models suggest his next loop will bring him north to the Pole, as Ridgeway fades and Ridgeway2 pushes north from Scandinavia and Swedish blonds worry about Scandy2 moving up from the Atlantic to end their sunny spell.
It is very interesting to me that (though some may say I cheat by having the low always be named “Ralph”) low pressure keeps winding up over the Pole. But I am also interested by the appearance of sub-freezing temperatures. A few weeks ago there were hardly any pockets of sub-freezing, and even though the DMI graph has shown temperatures “below normal”, the average is “above freezing.”
The above graph would suggest melting has continued, despite the recent cold spell, but the above graph measures air six feet above the ice. The blogger “ren” alerted me to a different DMI map that shows temperatures right at the surface. Six feet down, at the surface, no temperatures are above freezing.
The problem with this map is that it does not tell us if we are looking at ice, at the freezing point, or water, at the freezing point. It cannot differentiate between ice and a melt-water pool. This is why we need cameras.
The only camera we have is O-buoy 14, and it definitely saw a pause in the surface melt. (Forgive me if I bore you with so many pictures, but they have been beautiful the past week, and that was the whole reason I started these sea-ice blogs.)
What causes me wonder about these pictures is that, at the height of the surface-melt season, I see so little melt. The unseasonable hoarfrost did melt off the right side of the larger, yellow buoy to the left, but usually we see a sort of urban-heat-island-effect make these buoys melt a pool around their base, but it isn’t happening. For a summer when we are suppose to be seeing the lagged effect of a warm El Nino, our lone camera is seeing little, so far.
Not that we won’t see it happen soon. The DMI records show a few summer-like thaws occurring even when the sun gets low and the “green line” on the above graph starts to plunge below freezing; in one case, 1979,, the summer thaw lasted roughly two weeks later than usual.
But you have to search pretty hard through the graphs, (which go back to 1958), to find exceptions to the rule. As a rule the red line sticks close to the green line in the summer. In other words, we have one chance to melt the ice, and if we blow it, we blow it.
In fact, when I consult my notes, we are close to the end of the brief period when the arctic is gaining more energy than it loses. The days are getting shorter, even though the heat waves may continue further south. The sun is lower, and this is a very big thing in the Arctic. It is looking to me like we have blown our chance once again.
In fact, if you look back through my posts, you will notice I ever since I began in 2013 I’ve been griping “it ain’t like it used to be.” I feel like a fossil, always saying how “back in the day” I used to walk to school, uphill, both ways. However I am sorry I didn’t start this blog “back in the day”, for it seems we used to get a far better melt, and more melt-water pools, and slush you needed hip-waders to cross.
I have no idea why it “ain’t like it used to be.” I wonder about stuff, such as the “Quiet Sun”, but that is just surmising. In terms of facts, all I can say is that I expect the slush to fill the scene we see from O-buoy 14, and that I am surprised to see refreezing.
It seems fairly obvious that the infinitesimal increase in CO2 in the air isn’t warming the ice. What is influencing the ice isn’t heat from above. It is heat from below, which involves waters that take a thousand years to move from the equator to the Pole, and involves the CO2 levels of a thousand years ago.
If you squint into the distance of the the above pictures you can see some open water. O-buoy 14 was shoved swiftly south of 77 degrees north by Ralph and the following Ridgeway, and rather than among sea-ice that is crunched together is among sea-ice that is spreading apart. Considering how far south we are, we should expect this ice to break apart any day. But it will not be due to warming, but due to winds that have been colder than normal, and, surprisingly often, below freezing:
To return to an earlier topic, I do not see how sub-freezing temperatures are even possible. I would like to play around with ideas where I see the Pole as an area of stagnation, and lows like Ralph and Scandy as summer thundershowers on a summer afternoon’s radar map. There does seem to be some vauge similarity in the updrafts and downdrafts involved. To me it seems a fertile field to research.
However to talk in such a manner is to pretend we are rational and reasonable people, in awe of the wonder created by our Creator, and are not a bunch of screeching lunatics driven mad by whack-jobs who care more for a thing called “politics” than Truth.
Because the latter seems to be the case, and because some stated the sea-ice would achieve record lows this summer and give them the right to boss me about, I suppose I should include this graph, which shows we are close to where we were last year.
I should also record the thickness of the ice on July 22:
That does not look like an ice-free Pole to me. It is important for the ice to be gone by now, for now the sun is high and can warm the water, where the “albedo” of white ice would reflect the sunlight. If the ice waits until September to be gone it is too late. By then the sun is so low in the arctic that open water actually reflects more sunlight than slushy, dirty ice would.
The fact the sea-ice is not gone by now pokes a hole in a reason to raise my taxes, and hit me with regulations that disallow me cutting 15-year-old, biscuit-wood trees I have grown on my own property to fuel my own fires. (Sorry to go all political on you.)
But let us just compare the thickness this year, after the warmest year evah, and the warmest El Nino evah, with last year’s thickness, before this “unprecedented” warming took place. (2015 to the left, 2016 to the right.)
If you seek to be alarmed, you will note much less yellow towards Alaska and Canada, but I think that is because a lot less sea-ice was moved by cross-polar-flow from Siberia. A lot more ice is along the Siberian shores.
In order to raise taxes, a lot of that ice along Siberian shores must melt in the next 45 days. The melt will not come from above, due to reasons I’ve gone over in this post, and therefore it must come from below. I don’t think it is likely to happen, for I have reasons to believe these NRL maps “see” ice as being thinner than it in fact is, (which I have explained in prior posts.)
Fortunately we don’t have to rely on NRL estimates gleaned from satellites stationed high above the earth, for we have some gutsy sailors who decided to make the northeast passage along the north coast of Russia this summer. I assume they trusted in the 2015 map of ice-conditions along the Russian coast, and fear they may run into a problem or two when they are confronted by 2016 conditions. But we shall see what we shall see, providing they report honestly.