ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph Resists–

I’ve been trying to explain to my wife that when the weather gets blazing hot the thing to do is to get chores done quickly, and then to retreat indoors and gaze at pictures of arctic sea-ice. This isn’t going over too well, as one “chore” is my son’s wedding.

I don’t see why women can’t be reasonable about these things. The whole ceremony could be over in fifteen minutes, with a minimum of fuss and bother, and could be done at a church in the cool of the day. But noooo. She (and my son) have to plan it at the farm in the blazing sun, and have to invite 180 people.

Some people don’t understand what is really important in life. I try to explain that bergs bobbing about up where nobody lives are of vital importance, and upon them hinge the fate of the entire planet, but all I get is a bunch of funny looks.

In any case, I’ll have to be brief.

The latest reincarnation of “Ralph” has been surprisingly persistent, drifting east along the north coast of Siberia. Very little changed between July 22 and July 24, except Ralph pulled up more reinforcements from the south, while sucking cold air in from the north. (If I was into detail I’d likely have numerous different names for Ralph, as he sucks in small lows, some of which take over as the center and some which don’t. But this would take a lot of concentration and irritate my wife, who thinks I should concentrate on weddings.)

The winds around Ralph are pushing ice back towards the coast of Asia by the 24th. In my last post the high pressure towards Canada was dubbed Ridgeway and the one toward Scandinavia is Ridgeway 2. In theory the lows should circle a polar high, but Ridgeway seems to circle Ralph in the next maps, merging in with Ridgeway 2…but keep an eye on the spoke of low pressure between the two highs. It is R10, the next major reinforcement to Ralph. By the final map it is a low on the south coast of the Kara Sea.

Models show R10 doing a Fujiwhara dance with Ralph (and you know the survivor will be called Ralph no matter what). Some models show Ridgeway trying to squeeze between them and keep them apart,  and some show them  combining and that the reinvigorated  Ralph could become fairly large, down to 975 mb, as it drifts across to Canada.

A reinvigorated Ralph will cause wild excitement in the sea-ice-watcher world, as the summer storm in 2012 melted a lot of ice very swiftly. I doubt we will see a repeat, as we seem to be witnessing the infinite variety of a fabulous creation, and seeing something we’ve never seen before.

If a summer gale occurs it will test some of my ideas. One is that it was so stormy last winter, with the ice breaking up so much, that the water under the ice is far less stratified than 2007, (or even last summer, towards East Siberia), and therefore there is less warm water lurking down thirty feet or so that can be churned up to melt ice. Also the ice simply is thicker towards Asia, as is seen in this cool graphic created by Tony Heller.


The long thin island sticking north from Russia is Novaya Zemyla (an extention of the Ural Mountains) and form the west side of the Kara Sea. The ice starts at the next group of coastal islands, which are called Severnaya Zemyla, and are the east side of the Kara Sea. We will be watching that ice, as it is blocking the adventurers attempting the Northeast Passage aboard the Northabout. They have been tacking to and fro north of Novaya Zemyla, avoiding the strong breezes to the west of Ralph.

Northabout 0726 Screen-Shot-2016-07-26-at-20.36.43-600x486

What they need is some south winds at Severnaya Zemyla to push the ice away from the coast, and then they will attempt to squeeze though hoping north winds don’t bring the ice clamping back. It is going to take some gutsy sailing, and the captain could use some prayers, as he has women and children aboard. So far he hasn’t even seen any sea-ice, but once he gets further east he will be our firsthand reporter on the scene.

My one other comment is that the above DMI maps show Ralph seems to be creating a fair number of patches of sub-freezing air, right in the middle of the summer thaw, which is something I noticed last summer too.

I’ll comment more later, with the pictures from O-buoy 14, which seems to show a pause in the summer thaw. But now I must run.



6 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph Resists–

  1. Good post and good luck with that wedding. I too thought about the ice opening a lead for the polar ocean and then closing and trapping them. Oh well they are big boys and the ship is built for ice but I wouldn’t want to risk it.
    It is amusing to read their blog as they had two days of rough sailing but no update today. I want the ice to shut them down but wish them no harm.

    • The wedding set-up is keeping me pretty busy. But I am sneaking time to watch the sailors, as they approach the ice.

      Most people commenting on their voyage have not ever been to sea in a small yacht, let alone been in a storm. It is hard to describe how humbling a storm-at-sea is.

      The ocean doesn’t care if you are a Republican or a Democrat. You can’t intimidate it with a fist or a gun. You can’t bribe it with a billion bucks. But, strangely, you do plead with it, never sure it is listening.

      My own experience with a storm at sea changed my entire view of how important I am in the scheme of things.

      Not that every life does not have value, and not that each person can’t be a pebble that in some ways starts an avalanche, but a pebble remains a pebble, even when amidst a landslide.

      There is something about the Alarmist mentality which fails to be humble. They think their every deed shakes the earth. I’m sorry to tell them this, but buying curly light-bulbs will not stop hurricanes in their tracks. You are better off getting on your knees and pleading. (Even if the pleading doesn’t stop the hurricanes, being humble is better for you than vanity, and also it costs less than curly light-bulbs.)

      • U don’t even need to be at sea. Up in Northern Quebec in the summer of 1979 the entire crew got stuck on the north shore of Lac Romanet by a big summer storm and there was no way we were going to attempt a crossing with all bodies on the aluminium boat. We made a camp as best we could and prepared to spend a miserable night, hungry and cold in the woods … actually we built a lean-to and had a fire going and everyone had a bit of grub in their packs but it was looking miserable and the wind was nuts on the lake and the waves were maybe 6 to 7 feet. Just before 8 the wind died down from impossible to merely scary and so the two best swimmers put on the life jackets and left the other 3 at the make shift camp and made a run for it. The boat road higher and was faster with 3 less bodies but boy was it a wild ride of dodging big waves and slamming into waves and getting soaked by the spray. The two of us made it to our camp and radioed the main camp (about 10 miles away) who had just sent the helicopter up looking for us as we hadn’t radioed in an all is fine supper time message and so they relayed directions and the helicopter picked up the rest of the crew. One of those memories that will stay with me to my grave but thankfully ended well but it could easily have be a “5 geologists drown in N Quebec” headline if we had been silly enough to try a crossing fully loaded at the height of the storm.

    • Are they folded sedimentary or igneous? The geology looks fascinating. (I think I see gold in the 327th pond.) (Oh, and a lost Viking camp in the 211th.) (Those black flies were put there to keep secrets hidden.)

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