LOCAL VIEW –First Frost–

We have had a summery fall, with a few summer-like waves of refreshing Canadian air, welcome because they push out the heat and humidity, but the southern warmth quickly pushed back north, hot and muggy but usually dry, until at long last a southern surge  brought us some rain, which our parched landscape accepted with a deep sigh of gratitude.


That single band of warm rain, bececting the southern border of New Hampshire, gave us more rain than we’d received in the entire month before. It was slightly less than three inches. So parched was our landscape that the brooks didn’t even rise. The land sucked it up like a sponge. The drought wasn’t ended. But at least the woods didn’t crisply crunch as I walked through them, after that extended torrent (between 4:00 and 8:00 AM), and I wasn’t searching the historical records for evidence of state-wide forest fires any more. Instead I worried southwards, about hurricanes. (Notice, in the map below, the ex-tropical storm off the Carolina coast.)

20160919-satsfc As the welcome wall of moisture swept north, a flimsy, poor-excuse-for-a-cold-front basically faded away over us, as we sank back into a tropical flow from the south. Up in that flow came a poor-excuse-for-a-hurricane. It had no rain, and no wind, but wonderfully strange skies. They were hurricane skies, without the hurricane.


When it really became obvious the skies were different was when the skies gave way to a hurricane sunset. When I was young, old-timers warned me to be wary of sunsets that were not just red in the west, but crimson wall-to-wall, from west all the way overhead and down to the east, especially at the time of the “line storm” (when the sun crosses the equator).  “Red at night, sailor’s delight” was not true for the “blood sun”.


In a sense it was as if a atmospheric gap passed over us with a sign on it, “This Space Is Reserved For A Hurricane”, but no hurricane chose to utilize its reservation.  I found it odd. It seemed especially odd because several tropical storms have milled about over warm waters without showing the slightest inclination towards the explosive development that sailors once dreaded. In like manner fronts have approached New England this summer, and had signs on them, “This Space Reserved For Severe Thunderstorms”, and we got not even a sprinkle nor a grumble.

Only a true Alarmist would gnaw their nails about no hurricanes and no severe thunderstorms. It is a blessing, (though we could have used a little more light rain). However I thought it was wonderful that, even though we did not get a “line storm” right at the solstice, (the time the terrible 1938 Hurricane passed though New England, completely changing the landscape in three hours), a sort of Space-reserved-for-hurricane passed over at the right time, with a hurricane sunset. It made the old-timers I once listened to seem less out-dated.

When I was knee high to a grasshopper, the old-timers I annoyed were all born in the 1800’s, and could remember when sailing ships were still common. Right up into the Great Depression men in New England made decent money shipping cargo up and down the coast on schooners. They lived lives Insurance Companies would now frown upon, and endured the whims of the weather, and therefore knew things about what the winds do that we have forgotten, now that we use satellites in outer space to tell us which ways the winds blow, and seldom step outside and wet a finger.

Now I’m the old-timer, but even though I’ve lived much more of my life outdoors than most modern people do, I’m not as smart as those old sailors were. Also, when it comes to satellites, I’m not as smart as the young. At times I think I epitomize the worst of both worlds. However perhaps I am a bridge between the two worlds.

One thing the old-timers knew about, back when more than half of all Americans lived on farms,  was that when the nights get longer the Canadian air-masses, so welcome during the summer, when the nights are too short to do damage, gain power. It is the power of longer nights, leading to frost. Frost does great damage to the productivity of a garden, and the old-timers would anxiously sniff the air on cool nights, even in August. By September they expected frost, and this was especially true when conditions were dry, (because moister and lusher foliage has a power to resist frost which drier foliage lacks.) Around here the first frost was expected around the solstice, and any extension of the growing season was deemed good luck.

However the modern forecasters, parked indoors by their computer screens, were completely blind-sided by our first frost this year, on September 26. This sort of surprised me, because usually those fellows will use the slightest excuse to puff their self-importance, setting off wailing warnings on weather-radios, and many’s the time I’ve been awoken at three AM by my weather-radio warning of the slight possibility of frost in mountains fifty miles north of here. This year there was no warning. Low temperatures were predicted to be around 40°F (+4.4°C).


If people with gardens actually depended on the government, they might be pissed off, because with adequate warning a sprinkler can be set out in the garden, and a slight spray of water can extend the growing season. (Not that things grow much more, as the sun gets lower and weaker. One year, close to the water on the coast of Maine, I managed to protect my garden nearly to Thanksgiving in November, and what amazed me was how stunted the growth was. It was nice to have things fresh from the garden, but I recall the Swiss Chard grew short, squat leaves, like triangles.)

The small scale farmers around here don’t need the government to tell them to expect frost in late September. Either they protected their tomatoes,  or else they said, “the heck with it.” When the frost came without an official warning, the really angry people, I expect, were the little old ladies who had their hot-house plants out on the patio, and saw them killed, because the weathermen didn’t warn them. And it is such ladies, and not farmers, that the weathermen should kowtow to, for such ladies have the big bucks and donate to PBS and the meteorology departments of colleges.

Me? I wasn’t angry. I expected frost. It happens. Heck if a change of government will change the date of the first frost. It happens. It really seems primitive and savage to me that some think anyone but the Creator controls the weather. I see little difference between savages who think throwing a virgin into a volcano can control nature, and those who think buying curly light-bulbs and separating green bottles from brown bottles can control nature.

I mean, if you believe in such stuff, shouldn’t you just go to the Creator, and say, “Begging your pardon, Creator, but could you please make it snow this Christmas, after folk have finished their shopping?” Isn’t it a little bit insulting to the Creator to think you can control Him? “Your attention please, Creator, I have purchased curly light bulbs, and henceforth You will do as I say!”

I was part of a generation that felt it could boss the Creator absurdly. “Your attention please, Creator, I have purchased a tablet of LSD, and henceforth you will expand my consciousness as I say!” (What a fiasco!) Therefore, now that I am an old-timer, I am less inclined to tell the Creator how to run the universe.

I am more inclined to attempt to emulate Abraham Lincoln. When asked if he wanted the Creator to be on “our side”, his polite, considerate (and, by modern standards, politically incorrect,) response was, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

In order to be like that, one has to be humble. One has to be able to confess they are not in control of all things. In such a situation one should heed little children, because they have no control whatsoever. Call it Karma or whatever-you-will, they have no control of the situation they are born into.

There actually was a Child-care philosophy that was all the rage, a while back,  that focused on giving children more of a sense they were “in control.” Rather than saying, “Get in the car”, you were suppose to say, “Would you like to get in the car?” The aim was to stimulate a child’s creativity (as if they needed any help with that!) The fear was that, by bossing children around, you were crushing their talents. What was discovered was that too much freedom made children feel abandoned. Walls were not seen by the child as being like a prison’s, but instead walls sponsored a cozy sense of safety. A child did not want the deep responsibility of being in control of everything. They wanted to trust those details to the grown-ups.  

The trust of children is quite amazing to witness, in cases where the parents have serious problems, and you might think a child would prefer foster care. Even when parents are heroin addicts and both are in jail, a little child will prefer them to  saintly foster care. Parents are a “given”, just as weather is a “given”.  Just as we don’t control the weather, children don’t control their fate, yet they are a heck of a lot more optimistic and cheerful than most adults. Like the captains of old schooners, they sail through situations that would turn an insurance adjuster a deathly shade of green. Therefore I watch children carefully, to see how they respond to a first frost.



Is that young man cursing Big Oil, or Big Green? Is he cursing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? Or is he not cursing anyone at all, and instead just filled with wonder?

As I get older I get younger. Maybe it is because I have to deal with kids so much, or perhaps senility is creeping in. Increasingly, cursing seems stupid. Increasingly, wonder seems wise.

When I think back to the old-timers I knew in my youth, it seems they were less troubled by not being in control. Just think how anguished a modern insurance agent would be about a cargo vessel with no engine, dependent on the whims of the wind. Yet the old-timers simply accepted the whims of the wind as a given, and worked like mad responding. In like manner, a first frost got everyone working like crazy to save what they could from the garden.

Perhaps it is working with computers so much that makes people think they are in control. People have the sense that they only need to rewrite the program, and any glitch will be fixed. Before you know it people are attempting to create a reality that is “risk free”.

That is not how the Creator made the world. A “risk free” environment is a bed you can hide beneath, and even there you are mortal, and, after hiding for seventy years, you die.  At some point one wants to come out, and face the sky, and maybe even sail.



Now stand back, all you bankers of men’s hearts,
For I am going to stay the wheels of time
And command leaves stay green, when first frost starts
To spill paints across the hills. I’ll climb
The clouds and yank the slumping sun back north.
My hair will turn dark again, without dye.
I’ll again gush ardor, (whatever that’s worth),
And make fall’s maudlin poems be a lie.
I’m tired of autumn songs being so weepy
So I’ll derange the seasons with tulips
And wake poor bears just when they’re sleepy.
The only frost will involve my mint juleps.
And then, when asked why I’ve altered Creation,
I’ll just explain it’s my standing ovation.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph Versus Vortex (With Insomnia Update) (Plus Awe)


These are the glory days for the young, Arctic scientist. Things are happening that have never been seen before, using instruments never seen before as well, (and this means even if something was seen before, we are now able to see it in a way that was never seen).

Oh, ye young and earnest seekers of Truth, beware ye the politicians who come bearing gaudy gifts, grants and advances. (Didn’t your mothers tell you to be wary of advances?) The political  will seek to seduce you away from the fantastic frontier of new discovery, to that which is not already-known, but even worse than already-known, for it is what the prophets of yore called dunderheaded. Or superstition. Or the false gods of false prophets. In any case, it is stupid, because it is just plain wrong.

To do what the seducers ask would be like calling a cat a species of dog. Could you sleep at night, and call yourself a scientist,  doing that?

But what if it was for a noble cause? What if the salvation of humanity itself rested upon your calling a cat a dog?  Would you not do it then? Think of the children!

So they will tell you, Oh ye young seekers of Truth. But do not fall for it! Be wary of these blandish-mentors! Dost thou thinketh, honestly, that the world dependeth on calling cats dogs?  What sort of worldeth wouldeth that be?  Pretty darn stupideth, if you ask me.

But what if they tell you the salvation of not mankind, but your own cotton-picking bank account, depends on calling cats dogs? That is a noble cause, in a manner of speaking, for how are you to be a true scientist if you must earn your bread washing dishes? Surely the only way to be a true scientist is to first be a false scientist, and say cats are dogs. Once you have saved up enough money, you will renounce your falsehood, and speak the Truth. Right?

Wrong. By then you will have had to face younger scientists, who are wildly idealistic, and who have had the guts to stand up to the politicians and tell them cats are not dogs, and you will have had to crush the young idealists, to keep your reputation, to keep your job, to keep your stinking, filthy lucre. And then, with that blood on your hands, do you think you can get your mind to work correctly? Wrong again. Even if you have an IQ of 160 it will have been  besmirched and be an evil genius, and your compromise will be exposed as untenable, and your good-intentions ludicrous: One cannot become a whore to be a virgin.

And so, ye young seekers of Truth, skip that whole stupid, political sidetrack. Wash dishes, if you have to, but keep your focus on Truth, the Whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth. For these are great days, and great things will be revealed to one with open and honest eyes, especially concerning the Arctic.

Currently there are two masses of data and theory, concerning the Arctic. There is the stupid, political sidetrack, and then there is better stuff collected by brave, adventurous, and brilliant men.

All our best and most brilliant ideas about the North are based on but a brief time. We have only had decent satellite data since 1979. Therefore our best ideas may be based on too short a time-frame. It would be like writing a book about the weather of England, based on data carefully collected between the moths of May and July. It doesn’t matter how carefully you collect such data, nor how excruciatingly accurate it is, such data cannot see what England is like in December. In like manner, all our ideas about the North are collected while the AMO is basically moving towards “warmth”, or established as “warm”, and also while the Sun is “Noisy” or only starting to move towards “Quiet”.  But the times, they are a-changing. We are about to start collecting data like data we have never seen before, where the AMO moves towards “cold” and the sun becomes established in “quiet”.

One brilliant idea of the past involves something called the AO, (Arctic Oscillation.) Unfortunately it is not an oscillation that fits most definitions of oscillation, because it has no time-period. It just happens whenever it pleases. This does not make it not be a reality. It just isn’t all that useful, in the long term, because it isn’t predictable, though it has a sort of use in the present tense, because once it happens we can expect certain things….or could expect certain things, until “Ralph” appeared.

“Ralph” is the name I have given to the current tendency for low pressure to wander about the North Pole. This, according to old theory, should result in a zonal flow and a lack of arctic outbreaks further south. “Ralph”, however, seems symptomatic of an extremely non-zonal flow, wherein the jet stream can even be cross-polar. “Ralph” does not fit the past pattern, which looks like this:



According to the above, arctic outbreaks and a meridional flow should be symptomatic of high pressure at the Pole. And indeed that may have been the case, and carefully measured by good and honest scientists of the past, in the past. However Ralph is the September challenge to the un-evolved gorilla-thinking based upon a faded June.


What I am suggesting is that the good work of dedicated scientists my age is based on a limited time frame, and the up and coming generation may be about to witness a time-frame my generation never saw. What we thought was the “positive” phase of the AO may have been, in fact, an insipid “neutral” phase, and a truly “positive” AO may be quite outside our imagination, for we could not collect data on an event that never, ever happened, up until “Ralph” appeared.

To some members of my generation the appearance of weather they have never seen will be a shattering experience, for they like to sit and be know-it-alls, and look down their noses at the young. Others of my generation are rather sick of the status-quo, and are more likely to welcome “unpresidented” weather. However most would call the newness “unnatural”, and deem it a sort of Oobleck.


What I would like to say is that Nature has seasons and cycles, and they are rather drab and normal, if you live as long as Methuselah, (over 900 years). Sometimes the AMO is “warm” and sometimes it is “cold”. Sometimes the Sun is “Noisy” and sometimes it is “Quiet”. These things happen. They are not worth freaking out about. They are neither “Oobleck” nor “Global Warming.” They are just part of a Creation no man could ever create, and man shouldn’t take responsibility for. Instead, it seems to me, man should marvel, and one way to marvel is to describe how marvelous Creation is, either through art, or through science.

When man puts poetry aside and chooses to be scientific, he enters a somewhat drab world of dry facts. The dry facts currently involve big changes in the status-quo of the weather. This is especially true in the Arctic.

If I have time in my busy work-week, I will update this post with some ideas about how Ralph shoots holes in orthodox ideas. Ralph drills a hole in the Polar Vortex, but unless I include the proper charts, all I can do is suggest that the persistence of Ralph tends to threaten the status-quo of scientific structures roughly like  this:




For some reason there is no internet connection tonight. Probably they figure all sane people are asleep, and now is the time for maintenance. So I can’t reach WordPress and am typing these ideas on my word processor.

I’ve been poking through what a real science reporter might look at, if he wasn’t a slave to the madness that seems to be ruling the media these days. I figure that, if a bumpkin like myself, working for zero dollars, can do a better job than paid reporters, then I am proving that the pay reporters receive is actually a sort of hush-money. Reporters are resorting to blackmail. If they get paid a certain amount, they will not spill the beans and will not speak the Truth.

Such behavior on the part of the Press is deplorable. However Hillary Clinton calls people like me “deplorable”, for working hard to uncover the Truth, and not charging a penny for it. Nor am I alone. The power of the web was completely unexpected, by those who thought that, if they could control the Press, they could control the minds and hearts of the Freedom-loving-peoples. People are not the lemmings they think.

I once thought as they do, and, back in 1969, at age 16, had such a low opinion of my fellow man that I wrote a somewhat cynical poem, which went something like this:

Man is like a lemming:
He leads a life of wandering
Forward to his death,
Searching for perfection
Until he’s lost his breath
And why he never finds it
Is anybody’s guess
Unless by finally dieing
He escapes the stupid mess.

Ignore the blue beseechers.
Being fish-food isn’t fun
So ’til your race is finally run
Ignore me in the bleachers.

Say hello to the cliff you seek
Who’ll make your downfall steep.
Say hello to the octopus
Whose company you’ll keep,
And my sweet lover’s coral graves.
They followed you like sheep.

1969 was called the “Summer Of Love”, but I wrote that poem in the “Autumn of Disillusionment.” I honestly think something astounding occurred that summer, and people were given a glimpse of what life could be like if Truth reigned, but a great betrayal of that sweet vision followed, and the people who now have money and power were the greatest betrayers of all, and they honestly and truthfully believe honesty and truth is for chumps and suckers. That is why the Press is now such a disgraceful parody of what our forefathers imagined a true Press would be.

However I was wrong, as a disillusioned teen, because I thought I was alone. It turned out I was not alone. There were many who, like me, believed Truth is Beauty, and sought to live beautiful lives even if it meant they did beautiful things that those who worship wealth and power sneer at, (such as work for reasons other than money), and these beautiful people have spoken Truth, and continue to speak Truth, even when it isn’t advantageous. The web is a resounding chorus of such voices, a beautiful choir, all saying what the enslaved Press dares not say, which is: (Fill in the blank).

My focus on Arctic-Sea-Ice is actually a way to get far away from my daily battle with the goons of materialism. When the distress of life gets me down, I like to gaze on pure white amidst turquoise, and gaze out windows at clouds in the sky, or into the internet at sea-ice on the Arctic Sea. Such skyscapes and seascapes refresh and restore me, by showing me the Power that created us has an Eye for Beauty.


Science is not all that different from art, because they both study the same Truth and the same Beauty. There is Beauty in graphs and charts, though in some ways, to some artists, It is less obvious than in a Van Gough.

The AO (Arctic Occillation) is a man-made way of seeing the Beauty of Creation, but has a blemish or two, like most man-made creations, and we should work to improve upon the AO, because science is always improving its grasp of knowledge, increment by increment.

One thing I notice, as a science reporter, is that our assumptions about the AO hold a flaw. How do I know this? Because our computer models utterly fail to predict what it will do. In the following graphs, the bottom graph shows what the 15 day forecast is, and that it persistently forecast the AO to stay negative, over and over missing the “Ralphisms” that made sharp peaks of positive AO. What does this suggest? It suggests our theory, which we put into the model, is missing something.


Another thing I notice, as a science reporter, is that the AO is a sort of vast generalization. It represents the entirety of the area north (in some cases) of 65° north. That is only slightly smaller than this entire map (area north of 60°) which shows the current condition of the persistent low-pressure I call “Ralph”.


In terms of the entirety of the AO, “Ralph” is just a dimple on its cheek. This may be a case where we “cannot see the trees for the forest”, rather than a case where we “cannot see the forest for the trees.”

Attempts to see the AO in greater detail, in the graphic below, do indicate the existence of “Ralph” in a vague way. Peaks in the AO match up with lulls in upper atmosphere anomalies.


These anomalies barely hint at the existence of “Ralph”, and as a science reporter I want to dig deeper and see in greater detail, which is exactly what the better scientists want to do as well.

One thing their digging has discovered came from studying the arctic atmosphere in greater detail. It is called SSW, or “Sudden Stratospheric Warming.”

In a nutshell, the cold of winter creates a vortex high above the Pole. Weak east winds shift to strong west winds, and at high levels cold cannot escape. A sort of trapped pocket of air is created, and upper-atmosphere chemistry occurs in that extreme cold, effecting things like Ozone and creating the hoopla of the “Ozone Hole”. But sometimes a disturbance from below knocks this vortex out of whack. A SSW occurs, and it can be a very big deal, involving temperatures rising 100°F without sunshine or lava (or any other ordinary, decent excuse I’d use on my Algebra teacher for undone homework), to explain the heat. So of course good scientists want to go there, study it, and explain it.

They have already done great work, and have seen that when a SSW disrupts the polar vortex high above the Pole there are interesting consequences down below, even as far south as latitudes outside of the AO.

This shows me a whole new field to study, as an unpaid science reporter, the next time I suffer insomnia. However, before I go back to bed tonight, the question I’d ask a scientist, as a science reporter, involves the “disturbance from below” that knocks things out of whack, and causes the SSW. (Hint hint……Ralph?)



The above graphic basically takes the entire atmosphere north of 65 degrees, and averages out the pressures from ground level way up to the mesosphere, and pictures whether the pressures are above normal or below normal. It cannot see individual features such as Ralph, as they tend to get averaged away. Also we only have brief history with which to determine what “average” is. However it is awakening me to how little I know about the vortex that forms every winter.

I joke that the Stratosphere and Mesosphere are subjects that are “above my head”, but I can see my curiosity is is heading upwards.

As a “science reporter” I can see there is a lot of studying to do. Also there is unfortunately a certain political bias, due to the hoopla about the “Ozone Hole”. At this point it is likely to confess ignorance, and awe.

My notebooks will eventually come to conclusions, but at this point I’ll steer clear of pronouncements of any sort, as it is obvious to me I know next to nothing.

In some ways it is a relief to put down study of the stratosphere, and return to earth and maps of the weather at the two meter level. I may like to wonder about the higher heavens, but in  the end I think I tend to be an earthy old geezer.


ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph Roars Back–

The persistence of low pressure, which I have dubbed “Ralph”, up at the Pole is starting to amaze me. I am wondering if I am the only one noticing it, as no one else seems to be fussing about it much. Or perhaps it is a pattern that meteorologists who have more experience than I have seen before. I can only observe what I observe, which is that I have seen lows roll up to the Pole before, but they seemed more like exceptions to the rule, whereas Ralph behaves like he owns the place.

I have been thinking we might see a change in the pattern as the midnight sun sinks to the horizon and gives way to noontime darkness, and for a time it did seem Ralph was fading away. After two remarkable gales in August, the low pressure faded and sulked down in the Canadian Archipelago, and it seemed Siberian monster high pressure might start to dominate, bulging north as low pressure resumed its usual stance in the North Atlantic, with weak pieces moving  east along the Siberian coast like dimples in the Siberian High Pressure. To my surprise the Siberian high pressure didn’t bulge north very far, and a weaker version of Ralph drifted about in Beaufort Sea. When we last left off, Ralph was being reinforced by R21 up through Hudson Bay, and R22, an Icelandic low escaping up the east coast of Greenland, sucking a sort of feeder-band of milder Atlantic air north over Svalbard. Even through Ralph was very weak, north of the Canadian Archipelago, he still owned the Pole more than Siberian high pressure did.

Although R21 developed lower pressure north of Baffin Bay, R22 brought above-freezing temperatures nearly to the Pole, and seemed to be the predominate feeder of Ralph, who one again reincarnated right on top of the North Pole.

As the reinvigorated Ralph drifted away from the Pole towards Beaufort Sea he grew surprisingly strong. In essence his winds were twisting the sea-ice in a manner exactly the opposite of the way the Beaufort Gyre is suppose to turn. It looked like high pressure north of Scandinavia might build behind Ralph, but then yet more Atlantic juice came up the east coast of Greenland as R23, yet another wrong-way-flow up through Fram Strait.  (It is still early, but usually north Atlantic Gales combined with high pressure on Greenland’s icecap create strong north winds and flush sea-ice south through Fran Strait in the autumn.)

(Missing AM map)

(Missing PM Map) At this point there is a cross-polar flow from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Above-freezing temperatures again have nearly reached the Pole.

(Missing PM Map) The next temperature map is of interest, for it shows a curl of milder temperatures right at the Pole. This sort of curl or whirl is very much associated with Ralph. Call it a Ralphism, if you will. To me it seems a sort of bathtub-drain is wide open at the Pole, and the planet’s heat is being sucked up into a cold black hole in space. Poetic, but not very scientific. Mostly an impression, as I keep observing it, over and over again.

As R23 headed over the Pole to fuel yet another reincarnation of Ralph, the usual suspects observed what supported their bias, and utterly ignored other evidence. For example, feeder-band flow of R22 and R23 created two warm spikes in polar temperatures, so of course that got noted. Also the wrong-way-flow meant that, rather than sea-ice crunching up against the north coasts of Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago, where it can form pressure ridges 15-20 feet thick, all that heaped-up ice was pushed away from shore and polynyas of open water appeared right along those coasts, so of course open water where ice is usually 15-20 feet thick was noted. But there was dead silence about the situation over in Barrow.

In Barrow the wrong-way-flow meant the usual east winds turned to west winds, which should be Pacific winds and mild, and should not bring sea-ice, because the maps the usual suspects like to use showed those waters to the north and west of Barrow were “ice-free.” The maps the usual suspects don’t like to look at did show there was ice in those waters, and sure enough the sea-ice came grinding up to the beaches and sand bars of Barrow. Nor was it new “baby-ice,” but rather the big bergs of multi-year-ice.


It should be noted that the above picture also shows Barrow’s first snowfall melting away, for R24 is starting to develop as the next reinforcement of Ralph, coming from the Pacific this time, somewhat moderated by some of it passing over Alaskan mountains. Ralph needs to turn to the Pacific for fuel, for he has moved so far away from the Atlantic that the Atlantic feed is gradually getting pinched off.

Somewhat amazingly, some computer models are showing that R24 will bring enough juice to allow Ralph to again be a sub 975 mb gale crossing over the pole. We’ll see about that. I should also say that the same models see Ralph fading down into Siberia, and in Ralph’s wake, around September 30, there may actually be high pressure at the Pole. (!) We’ll see about that, as well.

For the time being, Ralph is back in the news, and looks like he will be the headline for another week. He seems to be a sign our planet is in a hurry to get rid of heat. You can see R22 and R23 surging past the Pole in the temperature graph.


It might seem that the planet’s hurry to get rid of heat suggests it is in a hurry to be rid of Global Warming’s effects. It has occurred to me that is not what the planet would try to do. What the planet would try to do is even things out. If the planet was milder, it would be less inclined to even out that mildness by getting rid of heat. But if the planet was colder (perhaps due to the “Quiet Sun”), then there would be a greater urgency to get rid of leftover heat from past conditions, (perhaps a “Noisy Sun”.) What this would mean is that, once the planet gets rid of the heat, Ralph will lose his reason for being, and fade from the scene.

Just an idea.

In terms of the “Death Spiral” this past summer has been, at best, a “Death Flat Line”, for it hasn’t fed upon itself and resulted in ever-decreasing ice. Despite all the events that should have reduced the ice, (El Nino, Polar Gales, etc.), it is about what it was last year.


In any case, this is the last day of summer. Tomorrow the sun sets at the Pole. There is no way for open water to gain heat once the sun sets. It can only lose its heat, both through evaporation and through radiation, and also through having snow fall into the water, as long as the snow melts. (Sometimes snow just sits on the water, because the flakes are fresh water and the salt water can be chilled below the freezing point of fresh water. Obvious this creates treacherous conditions for unwary explorers.)


For six months now, the only way the Pole can get heat will be feeder bands of warm, moist air, which would be just the thing to keep Ralph spinning. So that is what I’ll sit back and watch for.

Rarely will these feeder bands be above freezing, so the best those-who-hope-the-ice-will-melt can hope for is that the feeder-bands will keep the ice from getting as thick as it otherwise would. The problem is that a continuation of Ralph would continue to smash and crash the ice, which builds more and thicker pressure ridges, and also rips open leads, which allows open water to freeze where it otherwise would be sheltered by a roof of ice.


Besides the thawing of snow in Barrow, the Pacific “feeder-bands” of R23 can also be seen as an after dark  blip of thaw (fairly rare) in O-buoy 14’s thermometer-graph.


The mass of sea-ice O-buoy 14 is with continues to be pushed east through Parry Channel. We even could see some distant mountains to the northeast around September 17-19.obuoy-14-0919-webcamobuoy-14-0919b-webcam

Since then the camera has swung around to look to the southwest, tilting and risking destruction in the process. We are lucky this sturdy buoy still survives. We apparently have lost the anemometer, but I give credit to the builder all the same.



(This is a rough draft for a possible submission to WUWT.) (This essay has gone through several drafts.) (Note: I removed the title, “WATER ON THE BRAIN” from this work. That was casual slang in my boyhood for sloppy thinking or air-headed conclusions, but it was pointed out to me that Hydrocephalus is a painful topic to those who have seen their children suffer and die of it. I apologize to any I may have inadvertently hurt.)

Back in my long lost youth I failed to pay proper attention in Science classes, because I employed my genius in a manner that that didn’t involve answering the 48 dreary problems of dull arithmetic the teacher always assigned, every cotton-picking night.   Rather I figured a true sign of genius was to avoid the problems. Doing the homework might have been easier, but would have been dull. I chose the far more exciting path, which was to find a way around doing the arithmetic problems, in the face of fierce teachers. And, I must modestly admit, the ways I found around handing-in-my-homework were (and are) a bit of a legend, in the little school where I spent an ungodly amount of my first seventeen years.

When I at long last escaped that unholy incarceration, singing, “Free at last! Free at last! Great God Almighty! Free at last!” I found that one of the few things that school ever taught me was how to avoid doing homework. This actually is not a bad thing. Avoiding problems can keep you out of many quicksands that suck others down in life. In some cases it was downright moral, for morality is a practical way of avoiding the unforeseen problems that come through evil.

In other cases my genius verged upon being evil genius. For example, one problem I faced as I left school is best described as “paying the rent”. I displayed an amazing propensity, as a young man, to avoid ever “paying the rent”. At times this did involve sheer genius, but now I cringe recalling some of the gutters I descended to. Eventually I decided that, even though I might be escaping paying rent, in monetary terms, I was paying a steeper fee, in terms immeasurable with dollars. (For example, take a rent-free situation such as sleeping-in-your-car. What is the true cost of that, for a young man without responsibilities? Well, let us suppose he meets a beautiful young woman without responsibilities, and she says, “Take me home.”)

It does occur, to a young man, after a while, that responsibilities might not be an entirely bad thing.

Responsibility is a problem, and, considering school mostly taught me how to avoid problems, being responsible was Terra Incognito to me.  Fortunately, being unknown-to-me made responsibility turn into a sort of exciting new wilderness, and I was able to see myself as a brave pioneer.  I bored people, telling them about the (to me) exciting things I was discovering. I felt like Daniel Boone, but what I discovered was stuff  which they had learned to do years before, (such as pay the rent).

This process continues to this day, as I venture into the wilderness of Science and Math. I am often enthused by things that (to me) seem fresh and new and downright miraculous, but which people who lacked my genius, and who did do the Science homework, learned of back when they were aged twelve.

Back when they were twelve they too enthused. Now I bore them. To me this seems a pity. Age has afflicted some with blindness, and they can no longer see the beauty they once saw.

Others have not lost their love of beauty, but learned things at age sixteen that makes the enthusiasm of a twelve-year-old seem naive. When I bump up against such people, I find their responses to my scientific naivete tends to be one of two opposite types.  The first is what I call “the Dan Aykroyd response”:

One runs up against the Aykroyd-response a lot, when discussing Global Warming. I find it pitiful.  After all, who is the true genius here? Them or I?  Which of us was the loser? Who lost their childhood because they wasted uncountable hours doing dreary arithmetic problems, and who skipped school to explore the local quarry, like some suburban Huck Finn?  It is obvious, (to me at least), that I am the bonafide genius here, and they are the loser geeks whose only hope of preserving a shredded ego is to bleat some obscure correct-answer.

Not that I let them bother me. Nope. Not me. Not a bit. Rather I ignore all the insults, and collect the correct answer. After all, that is what matters: Truth, and not our shredded egos.

I will admit I do prefer the anti-Aykroyd responses, and this may explain why I gravitate to Watts Up With That. Not that debates here don’t become heated at times, but I do find that, when a person like myself makes an appearance, and, full of a twelve-year-old’s wonder,  speaks stuff which holds a scientific mistake,  a person like myself usually is corrected in a relatively kindly manner.

For example, I once was filled with wonder about the tiny bubbles in ice-core samples, and wondered aloud in a post at WUWT, which I called “Tiny Bubbles.” As I wondered I completely ignored a simple thing I knew, but failed to remember: Gases diffuse. (In other words, even without a wind or a draft, you can smell a babe drenched in perfume clear across a large room, four seconds after she steps through the door.) Everyone knows that. But I was such a dunderhead I forgot about it, in my wondering about bubbles in ice cores. In retrospect it is the most appalling ignorance, but the comments pointing out the fact I was (and continue to be) a dunderhead were remarkably unlike Aykroyd’s, at WUWT.

Therefore guess where a genius-dunderhead like myself is prone to turn, when enthused with the wonder of a new idea?  Will it be some place where he is likely to be Aykroyded as a “denier”, and even threatened with jail for merely wondering? Or will it be a place that respects wonder, and politely points out the things a thinker might fail-to-remember, and, as a general rule, is a site that honors the Truth?

Therefore I’m ba-a-a-ack.  I bring my latest wonder, which involves my favorite topic, Arctic sea-ice, and also involves a low pressure area I dubbed “Ralph”, that has been growing and shrinking, wobbling and meandering, but more or less a persistent feature, and has displaced the “Polar High”, (which some textbooks state should squat triumphantly upon the Pole), for most of the past year.

My simple way of seeing imagines that having a “Ralph” at the Pole suggests air is rising, rather than sinking. It must be warmer, rather than colder. However the temperatures, at the level of the ice, were on the whole, colder, not warmer, all summer. Something does not compute. If temperatures were colder, why was the air not sinking?

This leads me back to a subject I would dearly like to avoid, because every time I bring it up I seem to suffer some sort of severe Aykroydization, even though it involves a simple thing which seems to have a simple and obvious answer:  Does the rising air of a storm cool the air involved?

To me the answer seems obvious, because life forced me to become more practical and responsible and to take note of mundane reality, and one reality was that, in my neighborhood,  when it gets wicked hot in July the air goes up and makes wicked big cumulus, and after some smashing and crashing it gets cooler. This caused me to raise my index finger and say, “Gwarsh, Mickey! It sure looks like that hot and humid air got raised up to the upper atmosphere and lost its heat to outer space.”

Apparently this proves I am a complete dope. Or so suggested a fellow who had done all his homework back in school, and now worked for NOAA. In a “comments section” he took me to task and slaughtered me with Math. I got drubbed left and right and up and down until I didn’t know my nose from my navel. By the time I was done with, all I knew is that I will be very, very careful before I ever respond to that fellow ever, ever again.

In a nutshell what he said was that NOAA had carefully measured the heat of the tops of thunderstorms, and that, rather than hot-spots, they were incredibly cold. They were -70 degrees or some such thing, and at that temperature they were not in the mood to radiate a heck of a lot of heat into outer space, you ignorant slut.  (Or… well…maybe he didn’t use the word “slut.”)

Besides shutting me up, this left me with something to wonder about. It suggested no heat was lost to space by a thunderstorm, which would make a storm a closed system, with no heat gained and no heat lost. (Even if this is incorrect, let’s run with it.)

The idea of a closed system tickled some concept that had dimly imprinted my mind, during the years I wasted in science class. I recollect it was something or another that was going to be on the test. It had to do with, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

(Back then I was, of course, immediately suspicious. “Action and reaction” sure sounded like one of those traps clever grown-ups strew across childhood like landmines, involving doing what they say “or else.” However it did stick in my head, likely because, if I flunked that particular test, I might face the “or else.”)

I likely didn’t get the action and reaction stuff down correctly, but, since it did stick in my head,  all these years later it sprang to life, and concocted one of my strokes of dunderheaded genius. IE: I had heard that, when air goes up and comes down warmer, it is called a Chinook, and therefore, if every action has its reaction, there must be an equal and opposite reaction to a Chinook, where air goes up and comes down cooler, and this cooler downdraft should have the equal-and-opposite name, “Nookchin”.

Most connect a Chinook to a mountain range, but Chinooks can happen far from the mountains, and then are called a “heat burst”. When the air is very dry, and no cooling evaporation of raindrops occurs, the down-burst of a decaying thunderstorm can get hotter and hotter due to the adiabatic lapse rate. Hot air wants to rise like a hot air balloon, but sometimes the downdraft is going too fast for the air to change its mind, and it slams into the ground. This shocks the socks off folk sitting out on the porch, enjoying the cool of the evening after a long, hot summer day. There are records of temperatures, after the sun has set,  rising from 80.6 °F (27.0 °C) to 105.8 °F (41.0 °C) in a little more than an hour, at official stations.

This sort of downdraft is especially disliked by men fighting forests fires out west, far from official stations. Dry thunderstorms not only hit trees with lightning that has no rain, but then blast a fire with downbursted air that is not only hotter, but drier, then the already hot and dry air in place where the forest fire fighters work.

However, if the air is hotter there, and the system is closed, then the air should be colder somewhere else. Right?

That colder place is the Nookchin. I call it the dreaded Nookchin, because in my neighborhood it happens during the hottest days, when my tomatoes are ripening. The hot weather is to be desired, for it makes the tomatoes grow swiftly, but the Nookchin is dreaded, for the Nookchin can bring down hailstones, which are not desired unless your desire is to harvest ketchup.

But what has this to do with Arctic Sea Ice?

Well, “Ralph”, the storm that has been meandering about the Pole all summer, sometimes weak and sometimes a gale, is in some ways a glorified thunderstorm. It is a swirl of rising air, with downdrafts around the edges pumping high pressure. Some of the downdrafts are Chinooks and some are Nookchins. Some involve warming and some involve cooling.

The very words “warming” and “cooling” are liable to plunge one into extreme Aykroydism, if one is not careful. The Warming Crowd and the Cooling Crowd don’t pull any punches. Therefore let us be absurdly careful and pretend the system is closed, and the Pole is not where the Planet loses most of its heat.

It is when the system is closed that my wonder gets flabbergasted, due to the weakness of my math, and the fact the adiabatic lapse rate will not be good, and remain an established fact. It changes from what it is when the air is moist and going up, to what it is when air is dry and going down. In other words, water is screwing up the math, because water is the difference between “moist adiabatic lapse rate” and “dry adiabatic lapse rate”.

Water also messes everything up because it obeys the adiabatic lapse rate going up, as a vapor, but could care less about the adiabatic lapse rate when it falls as a hailstone. It got cooler and cooler as it went up and chilled to freezing, and released a heck of a lot of latent heat as it became water and then ice, but what happened to that heat, as the hailstone fell and didn’t warm, until it mashed my tomatoes?

That heat must be left behind at the top of the cloud, but the guy from NOAA  assured me the tops of storms are too cold to lose heat.

Therefore my bumpkin logic wonders, “Gawrsh, Mickey. Some awfully warm Chinook heat-bursts must be clobbering the Pole.”  Yet…I look and I look…and none are to be seen.

Hmm. Could it be heat is escaping in some other way?

This could involve something I paid little attention to, in school, called “radiant heat”. (I could have cared less about such a seemingly meaningless subject, as a young genius. It was only later, when I compared sleeping in my car in February to sleeping with my wife in February, that “radiant heat” became a subject that seemed worth attending to.)

It does occur to me that water again enters the picture, and water again must be included, when one considers radiant heat. I’ve noticed winter nights are coldest when skies are clear. When clouds are overhead it doesn’t get so cold.  In terms of the Pole, this might even create a sort of lose-lose situation, in terms of retaining the heat, because a Nookchin has clouds while a Chinook tends to be cloud-free. A Nookchin has rising air, and also hail raining coldness down, with the heat retained aloft, and then, when that heat decides to downdraft, the descending air makes cloud-free skies,  which might lose a lot (or all) the down-bursting Chinook’s heat, to the sunless arctic night.

This is a lose-lose situation, in terms of thawing arctic sea-ice, because the Nookchin updraft pelts the surface with cold hail, snow and sleet, and the milder Chinook downdraft chills the surface with radiational cooling. In conclusion, the series of storms over the Pole since last Christmas, which I dubbed “Ralph”, is not a thing we wish to see if we wish an ice-free Arctic Sea, maritime weather in Greenland, and Danish Vikings able to return to their abandoned farms and again plow the-soil-that-became-permafrost.

This is just me wondering. It is just an idea put out to be shredded by people who did their science homework, while my genius went elsewhere. Surely I need further instruction, to advance my wonder from the level of a twelve-year-old to that of someone aged sixteen. I propose my conclusion fully expecting it to be wrong. Most science is wrong, and is constantly improved upon, increment by increment.

What really stuns me is how much I don’t know. I was mowing on the rider-mower the other day, as the cumulus boomed up in the sky, and, as I looked up and contemplated the amazing latent heat being released,  I realized I had no idea where the water was condensing and the latent heat was being released, most swiftly. Was it in the cloud’s middle, or at its very edge, on it’s skin? It seemed to me that in the middle of the cloud the humidity would be at 100%, and air could grow no more humid, but at the brilliantly white skin of the cloud the humidity was going from 40% to 100% in a flash, and the huge latent heat released at the skin might be what was pulling the entire cloud upwards. And, if the latent heat was released at the very skin of a cloud, would more be released to outer space?

I have no idea whether this idea makes a lick of sense, but it did tickle my genius, and made me feel very clever, and may explain why the rider-mower wound up in the rhubarb.

It is hard being a genius. My wife doesn’t understand me, when I am backing the rider-mower out of the rhubarb. My genius wants to invent some ingenious excuse, such as, “Many plants benefit from extreme pruning, and I am conducting an experiment to see if rhubarb might be one of those plants.”

My Algebra teacher might have been fooled by that sort of BS, but my wife isn’t. The Truth is best, and the Truth is that genius of any sort will wind you up in situations where you look like a complete dunderhead. If you love Truth, kiss your vanity goodbye.

I sure wish the so-called “experts” on arctic sea-ice would kiss their vanity good-bye, and confess the idea of a “Death Spiral” was dunderheaded, but perhaps they lack the necessary genius.


It is interesting to compare the supposed knowledge of our current “climate scientists”, concerning the power of water in the atmosphere, with the awareness of men who puzzled about clouds 119 years and 10 months ago, as we approach the 120th anniversary of a legendary cold-wave.  Back then they had no computer models, and the most primitive equipment, but didn’t ignore water as a greenhouse gas.

In 1896 our experts were urging someone to fork out more money for weather balloons, because they were mystified about what happened in the upper atmosphere. However they were in some ways more knowledgeable about the lower atmosphere than Climate Scientists.

They were facing a pattern, that long-ago November, much like ours this September, but everything stalled, and then the cold stagnated to “unprecedented” levels in the west, as the heat grew in the east.

Rather than any blather about Global Warming, they asked the sort of stuff I do: About why things that are the same, in some ways, behave differently, in others:

“It remains to inquire why the stagnant high areas in the Northwest gave such low temperatures, while apparently, the same condition tended to abnormal heat in the Southeast.”

But then they had to make their pitch for funding, and more weather balloons:

“The solution of this problem is to be sought in the upper atmosphere.”

They then returned to why one high pressure should lead to cold while another led to warmth:

The clear, dry air of the Northwest permitted intense heat radiation to the sky, and day after day this was maintained without the interference of moist lows from the Pacific. In other words, we have here an excellent example of the intense radiation-cold experienced in Siberia in the stagnant high pressures of that region, sometimes reaching 31.70 inches. On the other hand the moister air of the Southeast permitted the heat of the low latitude sun to penetrate to the earth, and after the heat reached the earth, the moisture prevented its radiation into space.

The discussion went further, wondering why some cold high pressures were stagnant, while others raced across the nation “at 40 mph”, which was very fast, in 1898.

They would be amazed, in that horse-drawn time,  by how fast we drive around town now. But they would also be amazed by how very slow the thinking of certain climate scientists is. Our climate scientists don’t attempt to match old-fashioned understanding of how water influences temperatures, even though in 1898 they didn’t have weather balloons, let alone satellites.

Concerning water, we should know better. Someone, somewhere, should be ashamed.

Click to access mwr-024-11-0414.pdf


LOCAL VIEW –The Drumbeats Of Drought In New Hampshire–(With Postscript)

In the past I have posted about (or perhaps bragged) about how people in New England do not know what a drought is, nowadays, because, when I was a boy, we had a drought that went on year after year, until Boston was talking about the need for a second reservoir to supplement Quabbin Reservoir in western Massachusetts, because Quabbin was nearly dry, and vanished towns had reappeared on its dry edges. (I’ll skip repeating tales from my boyhood, of illegally fishing and swimming in the Stony Brook Reservoir, except to say they are fond memories.)

I may have to eat my words, for this summer’s drought is becoming the worst single-year drought I can remember, here in Southern New Hampshire. Even the hurricane milling about to our south last week only gave us east winds with a mist in it, and when a front came through and dropped the temperature from 82°F to 72°F with only the slightest sprinkle of rain, I began to wonder if this might be an autumn of fires. They are rare in New England, but have happened.

New England is a fairly wet place, and there are not that many species that are adapted to fires, as there are out west. However I have noticed even the larger lakes are lower. Here is a picture of the shore of Lake Massabesic, which supplies the City of Manchester its water.drought2-6-img_3824

That is about an hour east of my Farm-childcare. Twenty minutes west in Peterborough is Noone Falls on the Contoocook River, with a bare trickle flowing over it.


At the Weatherbell Site Joseph D’Aleo has been keeping an eye on the drought, and I lifted these maps from two of his posts.



In actual fact I think there should be a small spot of red further west on the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border to mark my Farm-childcare, because it seems every passing shower has missed us. I have a customer with a rain gauge, and though he only lives a mile and a half away, on several occasions he has received a half inch from a thunder shower, as I got only a trace. This is a bit unusual, as I’m on the east slopes of a hill, and usually get more.

As a consequence a mountain stream that tumbles down from the hill has been reduced to a tiny trickle. I have never seen the likes of it. Here is the amount of water flowing from the flood-control reservoir that blocks that stream. drought2-5-img_3825


(The sticks at the bottom right of the picture are cut by beavers, who are at war with the State Of New Hampshire and constantly attempt to block the pipe.  A man from the State constantly clears it.  My tax dollars at work.)

I worry about the native brook trout that live in the stream. There cannot be much oxygen in the water, with such a slight trickle flowing, and the water is likely getting warm, in the few remaining pools.


What impresses me most is the farm pond, which was bulldozed eight feet deep in clay back in 1967 (before laws about wetlands) so my stepmother’s cows could get their own water even when the hand-dug well went dry. It is spring-fed, and even on dry summers, when the intermittent stream that feeds into the pond goes dry, there usually is a trickle flowing out. The water was clear and clean, and we swum in it. Not this year. drought2-8-img_3925

A heron has grown fat, stalking around the shore, for the frogs have no place to hide.  But now children can see what became of their fish hooks, when they ignored me and cast out on the east side. (Those trees came down in the 2008 ice storm, which doesn’t seem that long ago to me, but was before they were born.) (Water usually completely covers the snags.)


This drought has been going on a long time, locally. It even showed in last winter’s precipitation maps. One month the rain would be north of us, and the next south of us. Or east of us, and then west of us. The lawns have gotten crunchy, and last week’s mist only nourished the crabgrass, which sucked up the surface damp and already is dry.

When I scuff through the crispy woods I wonder if this might be the year we see what people in New England saw in 1947, when entire towns burned in southern Maine.



I should have mentioned there is one thing that is relishing the drought. It is a small sort of ant that builds nests in impractical places (even the handlebars of bikes) and likely loses a lot of colonies each time it rains, due to floods. This year they have thrived, and last week sudden swarms appeared in all sorts of unlikely places, as some unknown trigger, perhaps the length of the day, brought them out to perform their mating flights.

They have absurdly oversized wings, three times as long as their small bodies, and are rather lousy fliers. It seems to me that rather than attempting to avoid preditors their strategy is to overwhelm with their sheer numbers. They seem to float about, rather than fly, and I can’t say having a cloud of them in your face makes a drought any better. Within an hour or two they are all gone, with only some anthills of dirt remaining to show they were more than an odd dream.


(The last two ant pictures by Marlowe Gautreau).

                 DROUGHT SONNET

Flowers turn their faces from their old friend
And bluest skies seem soured by broken trust.
Balmy breezes fail to heal; What’s mild won’t mend
And even crabgrass yellows in the dust.

The dewless dawn comes begging for a cloud
But once again what’s fair does not seem fair.
What swelled our pride no longer seems so proud
And carefree sunbeams stress our noons with care.

And so it seems all things upon our earth:
Our wealth; our fame; our friends; and our powers
Are dry, and soon are deemed of little worth
If You don’t spill Your mercy on our flowers.

Only the busy ants buzz, and don’t complain,
So come again to thirsty earth, and reign.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –The 2016 Minimum–

Those-who-wish-the-sea-ice-to-melt have been alarmed by an apparent unexpectedly early end to the melt season. If course, everything alarms some of them, so what can I say?


The swift regrowth of ice actually should have been expected, because the remaining ice was sprawled out over a much larger area than the ice was in the record-setting year of 2012. It didn’t show up in the “area” graphs, because all the holes in the ice were subtracted. In term of pixels, the area was not as large as it was in fact.  Fact?  Well, I suppose that depends on what your facts are. You decide. The maps are below. 2016 is to the left, 2012 to the right.

My own view is that, because 2016 is sprawled over a larger area, and because that creates more edges, and because new ice grows best out from the edges of existing ice, (chilled, open salt water often sinks before it can freeze and float), the many edges will accelerate the growth of new ice.

Often ice-melt continues well into September, due to “basal melting”, which is ice melted from the bottom even when the air above is below freezing. This usually involves thin pans of slushy ice. The storms (“Ralph”) already smashed up the more flimsy pans of ice this summer, which leads me to believe we won’t see them melt, because you can’t subtract what you don’t have. Also, because melting ice uses up a lot of available heat, turning it into latent heat, I imagine the churned waters are colder between the bergs, which will speed the refreeze, (even though the latent heat becomes available again as the water refreezes.)

The thickness of the ice seems greater than the above maps suggest. The NRL map has to  average out the chunks of thick ice and the spots of open water, and therefore chunks of ice 8 feet thick floating in open water (0 feet thick) will average out as ice 4 feet thick.

Be that as it may, the ice is definitely battered and shattered. It is a process that has been going on since last Christmas. An overview is helpful.

At the end of last year the Pole had chilled to -30°C, and colder, and sea-ice was thickening fast. In fact it was the only time temperatures were below normal all winter, as a rush of milder air surged north in time for Christmas.


Temperatures actually touched freezing for a few hours at a buoy near the Pole, and this of course offered an opportunity for the usual suspects to write headlines about Santa facing an ice-free Pole, and Rudolph  drowning, though the air was back below freezing hours later, and the mild air masses lost heat at the surface with remarkable speed. (Likely the mild air rose like a hot air balloon, fueling a low pressure system which, with 20-20 hindsight, I recognize as “Ralph”.)


While there was much ado about the warmth at the Pole being a sign of Global Warming, I myself wondered how it could warm the planet to have so much heat sucked up and basically lost to the sunless arctic night. It was like having the chimney’s flue wide open, and the whirl of low pressure reminded me of the whirlpool over a drain.

In terms of sea-ice there seemed to be compression at the Pole, and of course there could be no melting with temperatures well below zero. However as the winter passed the infrared views of the total darkness showed the distinctive black lines of heat made on the white (cold) surface of ice, which indicate open leads of sea-water have formed in the ice. These black areas grew milky-colored as they froze over, but again and again the ice would crack as the winds roared. This was especially true on the Pacific side in the Beaufort Sea.


(Having the arctic air exposed to open water measuring +29°F rather than sea-ice chilled to -31°F would seem to add heat to the arctic temperatures, and the arctic temperatures were the reason the past year is called the “hottest ever”.  [We are unable to add Arctic temperatures to the unbelievably hot Dust Bowl years, because there were no thermometers out on the ice back then]. This should give thinkers pause.)

On the Atlantic side the rushes of mildness north pushed the ice backwards in Fram Strait.  The ordinary flushing of ice down the east coast of Greenland was impaired, keeping thicker ice north but lowering the “extent” and “area” graphs. When ice did start south it often was blown across Fram Strait by west winds, into a mild tendril of the Gulf Stream that curls around the west side of Svalbard.

The ice then melted swiftly, but the northbound current was also significantly cooled, and it was made less saline as well. This alters the location it dives beneath the arctic waters, and led to all sorts of interesting speculation about the Gulf Stream slowing down and so forth, which is wonderful to wonder about.


By spring the sea-ice was a mess. As the Russians prepared to open their yearly Barneo blue-ice jetport they had problems finding any ice smooth enough. The best way to envision the state of the ice is to watch a video from the cockpit of a jet that did land, just before a new crack on the runway (that the jet avoids) closed it down for a time.

Also of interest was the reports of the skiers doing the “final degree” challenge. They complained about leads of open water (though not as much as they complained about leads in the higher-ice year of 2006) and fought through mini-mountain-ranges of pressure ridges.


All the while I kept noting “swirls” at the Pole. (I hadn’t named “Ralph” yet).  Even when there wasn’t much of a low pressure to see at the surface, they would show up in the temperature maps. April 9 to right; April 26 to left.

April was actually the lone time high pressure came close to pushing “Ralph” from the Pole, and becoming a textbook “Polar High”. Low pressure was relegated to the Atlantic side, as strong high pressure grew over the Beaufort Sea, ripping the ice away from the Alaskan and Canadian coasts, and forming textbook Polynyas.

This open water along the North American coast seemed to be an early start to the melt-season, and gave those-who-want-the-ice-to-melt high hopes. The belief was that the open water would absorb sunshine and warm. In actual fact the winds were still below freezing, and the open waters were chilled and even formed a fleeting skim of “baby ice.” Later on in the summer the open water was warmed by the higher sun, as it always is, but the jury is still out about whether the cooling outweighed the warming, or vice versa.

The point I want to make is that the Pole was bashed and battered even before the melting began this summer, and that there are areas of open water even now which have much to do with “Ralph’s” gales, and little to do with sunshine and melting. It is my belief we are witnessing a very different situation than our experience is able to draw from. Our earliest satellite records only go back to 1970, and, in terms of a cycle that is roughly sixty years, we may well be witnessing 1959. Rather than behaving as if we are authorities we should be humbly watching like the students we truly are.

For the record, here are the recent maps:

When we last kept notes “Ralph” was sulking down in the Canadian Archipelago. He was receiving some reinforcements (R20) from the Atlantic over the top of Greenland, and perhaps some modified Pacifc air through Canada, but was largely cut off from support. Most energy was sucked up by big gales by Iceland, and I found it interesting and surprising that Ralph didn’t fill and fade, but instead persisted north of Canada. In the final maps Ralph is energized by R21 coming up through Canada, and models suggest he will be further energized by the Icelandic low breaking free and coming up the east coast of Greenland, (R22,) and by tomorrow (Thursday September 15) we will again see the all too familiar sight of Ralph reincarnating over the Pole.


(Missing September 8 maps)

(Missing Map)


(Missing map)


The fuel for the next incarnation of “Ralph” perhaps can be seen by the rise in polar temperatures. What will be interesting to watch is whether the next incarnation “creates cold”.


UPDATE:  Ralph is back.


ARCTIC SEA ICE –Disappointing Sunshine–

For those-who-hope-for-an-ice-free-Pole, the sun has become a traitor to the cause. They are all but shaking their fingers at it. They have wished for certain events, and all they have wished for has happened. They may even be starting to think they can control the weather, so many of their wishes have come true. But…I probably shouldn’t say that. Only very simple people believe they can control the weather by throwing virgins into a volcano or purchasing curly light bulbs. Surely educated people do not indulge in such preposterous claims. I apologize.

In any case, it sure has been a year to remember, when it comes to afflicting the icecap on the Arctic Sea. To begin with, there was a lovely, warm “super” El-Nino that set records (at least in the central Pacific, if not in the east), and it exploded umpteen Hiroshima’s worth of energy into the atmosphere, (in the form of non-radioactive cumulus in the middle of a pristine ocean). There is no way for this huge energy to dissipate into outer space by normal means, so, after the allotted amount is lost upwards, the remainder of the heat must head north for the Pole (if not south to the other Pole) to be dissipated up (or down) there.

It is important to knock it through my thick skull how huge this northward-bound energy is. You, who are thin-headed, probably already understand this, but a layman like myself tends to have these silly ideas, and thinks a degree of temperature is the same in the tropics as it is up at the Pole.  Not. In the tropics the warm air is loaded with water, and to raise it a degree involves warming all the attached water, while at the Pole the air is bone dry, and warming the air ten degrees can involve less energy.

How to explain it to a layman?  Well, to imagine all the energy pent-up in tropical air, imagine a juicy air-mass of 90° bumping against a cooler air-mass of 80°. Only cooling the air ten degrees can result in stupendous thunderstorms. But then imagine a Siberian air-mass of -70° bumping north into a Polar air-mass of -40°. In this case the air is cooled thirty degrees, but there isn’t even a cloud in the sky as the air-masses clash, because both air-masses are bone dry to begin with. Conclusion? Water matters. Second conclusion? Air- made-two-degrees-warmer by an El Nino is loaded with energy which air-made-seven-degrees-warmer at the Pole utterly lacks.

Third conclusion? Temperatures should be “weighted” in some way, to show the energy they hold. Otherwise you might behave like a silly layman, and just average all the temperatures together, giving the dry air at the Pole the same weight as the juicy air at the tropics. Ha ha ha ha ha! Who could be so stupid!?

In any case, all that juicy air from the tropics headed north to the Pole, and cold air from the Pole headed south, and there were wonderful collisions and confusions last winter, and record warmth north and record cold south, the first recorded snow in Kuwait and thin ice in Norway, which all seems to be an attempt on the part of the atmosphere to achieve a state of boring blandness. The atmosphere wants peace, and is in a constant state of war to get there. It is almost human.

The Pole did not escape this confusion, and a series of storms, (which my peculiar sense of humor made generic and called “Ralph”), tore at the sea-ice. Leads opened, and in cases grew to be many miles wide. When this happened the winter atmosphere, rather than touching an  ice-surface chilled to -31°, was touching open water chilled to +29°.  This is a sixty degree difference, and so of course the water warmed the arctic air further.

So how much warmer was the arctic air?  With exposed water heating it from below and El Nino air-masses surging north from the south?  Thirty degrees above normal? No? Twenty degrees? No? What the heck!!?? Ten degrees!?  No?  What are you saying? With all this assistance it could only manage 5-7 degrees above normal?

And that 5-7 degrees of slightly less-frigid,  slightly less bone-dry air called “Ralph”  was what made the entire planet be above normal in a “warmest evah” manner?

Oh well, never mind that. The important thing is that the ice was bashed and crashed and lots of open water appeared all through the winter, and increased through the summer, reaching near record levels by September. Right? After all, once the deep blue of open water is exposed it will absorb the sun much better than the white of sea-ice will. Right?

Wrong. And this is where the sun is a traitor to the cause. Everyone has worked really, really hard to expose that open water, but all the work is in vain, because the sun gets coy and insists upon bouncing off the water, despite the fact the water is deep blue, and sea-ice is white.

Actually, this late in the summer, the sea-ice isn’t so white any more. All sorts of crud dirties it, ranging from soot from coal-fired plants in China, to volcano dust from Iceland and the far east of Russia, to algae that grows on the bottom of bergs that see the light of day when bergs are flipped like pancakes. In actual fact the bergs are so dirty that they can absorb more sun than the deep blue water, and utterly screw up the calculations of overly-simple “albedo” modeling.  Why?  It is all because of this dumb graph:


The above graph shows how much sunlight penetrates water, as the angle at which the sun strikes the water increases. (It has an idea of “normal” as being when the sun is directly overhead. This is only at noon, south of the Tropic of Cancer, on certain days of the year, but never happens north of there. Odd sort of “normal”, if you ask me.)

What you should notice is that, when the sun gets down close to the horizon, the water does an increasingly  bad job of absorbing the sunlight.  Around now, even though the sun is still up 24 hours a day at the Pole, it is down so low on the horizon that all it does is make the open water spangle and glitter, as nearly all the sunshine is repelled from the sea into our poor eyes. It is not warming the open water in the proper manner, to the proper degree.

In fact, despite the fact the sun is still up 24 hours a day, temperatures are rapidly plunging at the Pole.


These temperatures are so low salt water will start to refreeze. Not only has the -5°C  isotherm reappeared, but the -10°C isotherm is rearing its head.


What this means is that the open water we have worked so long and hard to create is not making the Pole warmer, as some suggested, but is losing heat. It may even be losing heat at an “unprecedented” rate. Why? Because not only does open water have a higher “albedo” than dirty ice, once the sun gets down to 5° of the horizon, (85° from zenith, in the above graph), but also open water loses much, much more heat from the Arctic Ocean than ice-covered water does, and that heat is not returned to the equator in a manner that can warm the earth, but is largely lost to outer space.

In other words, all the wishing people did for open water, (perhaps using uncanny powers of wish-fulfillment,)  may have an opposite effect than the effect they envisioned. The bad people who refused to buy curly light-bulbs may have made the arctic ice-free, but open water may be cooling the planet, rather than leading to “runaway warming”.

You want proof?  If I give you proof you’ll call it circumstantial evidence, but take a gander at the open water O-buoy 14 saw on September 4.

Obuoy 14 0903C webcam

And then take a gander at the scene on September 7.


(I apologize for not saving the view from September 9, at 02:31:24, when the sea was surging slush.) Now look at the view from tonight, (early on September 12, camera time).

Ask yourself, “How much heat did the open water absorb?”


Forgive me for using my lying eyes, but the open water didn’t seem to absorb diddlesquat of heat. In fact, the entire idea of a “Death Spiral” seems even more idiotic than ever.

I know the above is circumstantial evidence, but at least it is evidence. The “Death Spiral” crowd has “some ‘splainin’ t’do”. They can blather all they want about a “consensus”, but the above makes the “consensus” look like the flat-earthers  who said Columbus was wrong.

The “Death Spiral” crowd has had everything they could have possibly wanted, to make the arctic Ice-free, this year. When the cards were dealt they got ace after ace.  El Nino, PDO, AMO, storms to smash the ice. What more could they ask for? (Likely more sunspots.) Yet, even with nearly all going for them, they couldn’t set a record, in terms of there being less ice than 2012.

They assured us that it was an escalating situation. Less ice would make waters warmer, which would lead to less ice. Even with conditions most favorable, it ain’t happening.


Now don’t get me wrong. I am not down on the “Death Spiral” people because they proposed a hypothesis that isn’t working out. That is actually a sign of science at its best. You have the guts to stick your neck out. You walk out on a limb. And (hopefully in a merciful manner) your peers test your ideas, expose your perfectly human weaknesses, and you see your theory fall flaming to earth. This is how progress occurs. Imperfect idea after imperfect idea, increment after increment.

However I am very down on the “Death Spiral” crowd when they insist they are perfect. They are part of “settled science”. They are of the “consensus”. Worst of, some of them even  start saying anyone (like me) who dares suggest they aren’t more perfect than God should be punished, for I am one of the no-good “deniers.” Me? Punished? For pointing out what I’ve pointed out?

I am very, very down on any Death Spiral person who resorts to that sort of defensive behavior. They have been paid lots of money to propose an incorrect hypothesis, while I have never earned a red cent for attempting to help them improve their science. They make ten times as much money as I do, being politically correct (and scientifically incorrect), yet they have the nerve to say I am a lackey of “Big Oil” or “Big Coal” or “Big Something-or-another”. Balderdash. Let me repeat myself. I have never earned a red cent for attempting to help them improve their science.

I am sorry if I inadvertently attack their livelihood, and threaten to deprive their children of the luxury of a father with a six figure income. But I just have this idea science isn’t about money. It is suppose to be about Truth. Once filthy lucre gets involved, people sniff a stink, and rather than seeing the scientist as wearing a white coat they see a scientist with a red cloak, as a “junk-scientist”, as “post normal”,  and lastly, rather than as “inquiring”, instead as part of a cruel, red-cloaked “Inquisition”.

I am down on this sort of response to criticism because it is not merely arrogant, but it is a thing few dare say:  It is evil.





ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph’s Retirement–

Ralph is feeling neglected.  Here he has been pummeling the Pole since last Christmas, but does he get any attention? No. Some dinky little trace gas gets all the headlines. Little wonder Ralph is sulking.

Poor Ralph. I’ll give him a bit of credit here. I’ve never seen sea-ice look like this from space:

Ralph7 2 26

Or like this:

Ralph7 1 28

Usually these sweeping sand-bar-like curves of ice are only seen at the edge of the ice-pack, where it meets the open sea. They create a floating geology reminiscent of barrier islands along a sandy coast, but just in from there the sea-ice usually reverts to angular chips, squares, rectangles and triangles, that look like “chips” from outer space, but that can be larger than Connecticut or many Manhattans. This year it is harder to find such ice, and when you do you notice the ice has been rounded and is less angular :


In essence, the geology of the sea-ice is very different this September, due to Ralph’s pounding. This should clue people into the pretty simple idea that, if the ice looks so different, something different might be happening. It seems odd to me that some of the “Death Spiral” crowd keep bleating the same old stuff, (but I suppose you shouldn’t expect any new ideas from parrots in an echo chamber).

The difference is fairly clear when you compare this years low ice extent  with 2012’s extent on the same date. (2012 to left, 2016 to right.)


It can be seen that in 2012 the ice was more centralized, while this year there are long arms of ice that spread out to Barrow, Wrangle Island, The New Siberian Islands and right into the Laptev Sea. This year the ice covers a much larger area, though if you measure the pixels of white, there are many openings and gulf of open water this year that make it look, in a specific manner, as if the area is nearly the same as 2012.


I want to avoid the arguments about how extent indicates how much sunlight is reflected away into space, for now, because my focus is how extraordinarily different the ice-geology is.  In some ways comparing this September’s sea-ice with 2012’s is like comparing apples with oranges.

Although I hadn’t named Ralph yet, the storminess at the Pole began last Christmas, and cracked up the skin of ice at the Pole a lot. Each time the vast leads formed (and some were many miles across) heat was released from the Arctic Ocean from seawater which would have otherwise been protected by an igloo roof of ice. I have heard very little discussion about how this effected the DMI graph of temperatures above 80 degrees north, which showed many spikes last winter. The general assumption seems to be that these spikes were entirely due to warm surges of air from the south. (Just before Christmas in 2015, off the graph below to the left, the red line was below the green line.)


To me it seems downright naive to suggest that all of the spikes were 100% caused by atmospheric warming. Not that I didn’t note and follow surges of warmth heading north, but the mildness cooled with amazing speed once they were up there (or likely rose up in the atmosphere), and meanwhile big leads were ripped open in the ice. (The scars were very apparent when the sun returned in late March, and the area close to the Pole was so crisscrossed with pressure-ridges and leads that the Barneo base had to be located far from the Pole, to find ice flat enough for a blue-ice jet-port.) I would like to suggest that, besides the atmospheric warming from the south,  the open water contributed to the warmth at the Pole.

Now consider, if you will, that the warming that made this year “the warmest year evah” occurred largely at the North Pole. And also consider that, if the warming comes from the water below, it’s origin has nothing to do with CO2 bouncing back warming from above. Can you not see the potential for a delicious irony here? “The warmest year evah” might have nothing to do with CO2 and little to do with the residual warmth of an El Nino, and might largely be due to good old Ralph!

(Please do not think that I dignify the above idea by calling it a “hypothesis”. It is my understanding that to even qualify as a hypothesis some data must be offered, which can be tested to see if it can be replicated. And I’m not too good, when it comes to data. Fact of the matter is, when my bank teller sees me coming she rolls up her sleeves even when she’s sleeveless, and she always cocks an eyebrow in a querulous manner when I hand her the deposit slip, for she knows she is about to embark upon adventures in arithmetic.)

Instead I am simply an observer, and a witness, who wonders a lot. When I see Ralph creating a completely new ice-geology, I wonder what is different. Something must be different to create a different geology.

Also to create a different quasi-biennial oscillation. (IE: The winds up in the stratosphere, that shift from west to east and back in a regular manner, roughly every 28 months, and did so 27 straight times since 1953 (when they began measuring it,) and then recently decided to try something new:)


When things behave differently I look around for a culprit, and the only culprit obvious to me is not CO2, whose tiny change didn’t start behaving differently recently, but rather is the sun, which is the opposite of tiny, and has changed dramatically from a “Noisy Sun” to a “Quiet Sun.”

Again without a decent hypothesis, I wonder if Ralph, and the loopy, “meridional” circulation that fuels Ralph, might not be due to an imbalance created by the southern oceans still remembering the “Noisy Sun” as the Pole swiftly adjusts to the “Quiet Sun”.

I can wonder all I want; without data it is just speculation. However I do wonder why those with scientific backgrounds seem so oblivious. They ought be jumping on these differences and running with the new data like a football player who has scooped up a fumble. (And someone did fumble, because no one seems to have seen these differences coming.)

Before I get into the duller details of the daily maps, I should note that even where the water is officially “ice-free” (IE; less than 10%, 15% or 30% ice-covered, depending on the source),  there seems to be a fair number of stray chunks of sea-ice drifting about. These are not the huge bergs that break off glaciers, but hunks of sea-ice, and they surprise me by not being the flat pans that barely poke above the water, but rather large, which means something when you consider 9/10th of a berg is under water.

These stray bergs tend to be too small to be seen by satellite, but I’ve seen them often in “ice-free” waters. I’ve seen them grounding off shore with the Barrow webcam, (August 21)


I’ve seen them from the deck of the good ship “Northabout”, (Coastal East Siberian Sea, August 24)


And most especially I’ve seen them from the only surviving drifting buoy, the durable O-buoy 14.

(It should tell you something about the wrath of Ralph, that so many drifting buoys have been crunched by the ice. The Mass Balance Buoys made a brave attempt at recovering lost data during the calmer part of the summer, but all are out of action now, and O-buoys 8b, 13 and 15 all bit the dust early.)

O-buoy 14 currently reports from the entrance of Parry Sound, so I expect a lot more views of ice, and perhaps even land, if it survives, (it has already staggered back from two knock-outs). But back when it was further west and reporting from “ice-free waters” it sent us this lovely shot of what I am talking about.

Obuoy 14 0831C webcam

That is the sort of beauty that originally attracted me to arctic sea ice, but the sun has been rare this summer, with Ralph on the rampage. To be honest, fair and balanced, I should also add that winds picked up and O-buoy 14 was showing ice-free waters three days later:

Obuoy 14 0903B webcam

Is that land, beyond the distant ice? Couldn’t be sure, as we were knocked off the air for a while by this brute:

Obuoy 14 0904 webcam

However now the view is this:


And if we push east any further into Parry Sound I suspect we’ll soon be frozen fast. The summer thaw is over.

I am wondering if all these big bergs drifting about will speed the refreeze, acting as sort of seed-crystals for surface refreezing, even while resisting basal melt with their sheer size. Also the water must be churned and chilled by all Ralph’s roaring, and by how much water has been exposed to the wind.

When we last were looking, Ralph was fed by a plume of milder air from central Siberia, as he resumed his stance as king-of-the-mountain on the Pole. R19 advanced north from the Atlantic.

As Ralph began to weaken towards the Canadian Archipelago R20 began to move north from the Kara Sea as R19 strengthened east of Svalbard. Ralph could see how things were headed, so he hopped in a lifeboat to make R19 the new flagship and new Ralph.


Missed some maps here. The new Ralph has moved over to the Pole, and the -5°C isotherm has appeared north of Greenland.

By the 4th the -5°C isotherm was growing north of Greenland, and Ralph was growing tired of everyone neglecting him. He saw a luxtury liner down in the Northwest Passage and, because the wealthy folk on board were talking about a trace gas and not him, Ralph snowed on its decks. Then he decided, “If I can’t beat them I’ll join them.” The last report we got from Ralph was, “I’ve got a berth on the Fistula Surgery.” (Ralph may have gotten the name of the ship wrong.) (I have no idea where Ralph got the $15,000.00 for the berth.)



I am fairly certain the crew of the good ship Northabout is not going to be happy to find Ralph sulking down there, when they head north towards the eastern mouth of Parry Sound. The -5°C isotherm is getting extensive, and Ralph seems to be wrapping it up in the Canadian Archipelago. It was 21°F (-6.1°C) up in Eureka this morning, and 23°F (-5°C) in Alert. Summer is past, at the Pole.

LOCAL VIEW –Addict In The Family–

Whenever I stop posting my “Local View” posts you can be fairly certain that there is something going on in my life that I don’t want to talk about. I like Local View posts to have a Norman Rockwellian character, and to reflect my belief that God is in everything and everyone. Even when I gripe and grouch, I like to do so in a manner that makes people smile. I want to cheer people up, not bring people down. Unfortunately a wrench gets thrown into the machinery of cranking out optimism, from time to time, and then I go silent.

What stuffed a sock in my mouth most recently was an addiction in the family, involving a daughter’s ne’er-do-well boyfriend.  He kept his distance from the family, and seemed to want my daughter to do the same, and while there were signs all wasn’t well, the family respected their right to live life as they chose.

Andy Capp 13088c42432632cdf79aa504522aa793

Unlike the cartoon character Andy Capp, (which is an English, drop-the-“h”, play on “handycap”) the boyfriend couldn’t maintain a “working addiction”, and the family had to step in and help, especially after my daughter had a baby. Initially addiction was suspected, but vehemently denied.  And…..so it began.

I don’t feel as much shame is attached to such misfortune as there used to be, but addiction certainly is not a problem people smile fondly at, or an event that Norman Rockwell portrayed on the covers of the old Saturday Evening Post. It is a level above boozing, and no laughing matter.

The only reason shame is not as involved as it once was is because addiction has become all too commonplace. In truth it is indeed shameful, because it involves the humiliation of the human spirit. Not only is the addict far less than they might be, but all those closely connected are dragged down as well. Vast amounts of time and money are frittered away on a sidetrack which produces nothing but grief, exasperation and rage.

The only true escape from the shame involves a compassion that feels unnatural, for it is not soft and mushy and sweet, but hard as iron. Call it “tough Love”, if you will. It seems ambiguous to us, for we equate understanding and mercy with gentle people, with the kind nurse who tucks us in and allows us to stay in bed. Escaping addiction is more like the snarling sergeant who boots us out.

The escape is also ambiguous because it involves accepting even while refusing to accept.  In many cases the hardest part of dealing with a problem lies in admitting you have one.

In order to feel compassion towards addicts it is helpful to confess that we too have shortcomings. All but the greatest saints have things they don’t want to give up. People who feel they are well balanced, and who are too smug about it, run a risk of seeing fate come along and stagger them. We are well balanced until we are abruptly fired, or robbed, or the stock market crashes, or there is an earthquake or hurricane.  All sorts of things can knock us off balance. Our kindly family doctor has to do it to people all the time, with the word, “cancer.”

It is hard to feel  compassion towards an addict because they qualify as one of the things, (one of the earthquakes or hurricanes), that come into the pleasantness of life and disturbs the peace. We stroll into the living room to watch the TV, and discover they stole it.  Then they lie, and claim they didn’t do it. Rather than compassion, we want to strangle.

It is hard to have pity, but the fact is that an addict is living in a state of constant earthquake. If they don’t get the next fix, the walls come crashing down. Even if they go to rehab, and get through the initial physical withdrawal, and are “clean”, the urge to backslide is constantly prowling around like a roaring lion living in their back yard. Is that not pitiable?

Many former addicts say they never truly escape addiction. They are still an addict even when they have gone without drugs for decades. That is not merely pitiable, but, in the case of those who escape the tyrant, it is heroic. Sadly, it is also unnecessary, and could have been avoided, by never starting in the first place.

One addiction I have personal experience with, which is less destructive in the short term than others, involves tobacco. One is able to be a so-called “working addict” in such cases, and one seldom steals TV’s for the next fix. However, when one runs out of cigarettes, I know, from personal experience, it is no problem at all to drive through a howling blizzard to buy the next pack. (Or to smoke the stubs of filthy butts from an ashtray.)

In the case of a “working addict” the dependency can even become part of ones ego, like a fancy hat one wears which all  identify with being “you”. FDR had his long cigarette holder, and Winston Churchill his cigar. People (or most people) didn’t scowl at them and sneer, “addict.” However they  were. I have wondered what efforts had to be made, in wartime situations, to get them their next fix. Were flights diverted to bring Churchill his cigars?

Churchill so identified with his cigar that one time, when 45 seconds were scheduled in his frantic wartime day for a propaganda photo, he made sure to have a cigar clamped in his bulldog mouth. The photographer was ushered into the room to take the picture, and felt an immediate dislike of the cigar, and had the audacity to snatch it from the great leader’s mouth. Churchill looked at the photographer with an expression of incredulous fury, and the photographer snapped the picture. What a great shot! “You don’t mess around with Jim.”


In essence, to confront an addict is to mess around with Jim. It is to snatch the cigar from Winston Churchill’s mouth. It is to cause an earthquake in the life of another, and when you do such a thing it is a declaration of war, and you are a fool if you do not expect an earthquake in return.

Churchill karsh_churchill

In such situations it pays to ask a simple question, “Is it worth it?” In the case of Winston Churchill, it paid to put up with the stink of his cigar, (except in the case of one photographer who got a great picture). Cigars made The Last Lion content, allowed him to not only concentrate on greatness, but pay all his bills and live to be over ninety years old . Importantly, he likely spent less than 0.1% of his time thinking about his next cigar. (Speaking for myself, I can say that when I was most busy writing I could smoke an entire carton of cigarettes without even thinking about smoking).

In the case of addictions like heroin the equation is very different. Few are able to maintain the precarious balance of a “working addict” for very long. The “monkey on their shoulder” gradually grows into a gorilla. It is not a very gentle giant, either. It demands feeding before all else. A crying baby comes second. To snatch the cigar from the mouth of such an ogre is downright dangerous.

Not that addiction shows its true face, at first. At first addiction gives you the smile a police officer sees, for whether you like it or not you are the “gestapo”, and the addict is of the “underground”.  Your honesty makes you “oppressive”, while their deceit makes them “noble”.  Just as there is honor among thieves there is a bizarre, back-stabbing brotherhood among addicts, wherein a person who tells the truth is a “rat”, “an informer”, or some other astonishingly unflattering term for “an honest person.”

An addict is largely a liar, and the person they fool most is themselves. I know all about such self-deception, because for forty-five years I promised I’d quit cigarettes “soon.” However it still came as something as a surprise to be lied to so sincerely, so frequently, and so fluently,  as I was lied to this summer.

Fortunately I don’t expect much of my fellow man, after so many years, and rather than the lying making me irate, the lying just made me double down. This occurred because the lies were expressed in the form of excuses: “Why I can’t pay the rent”, “Why I can’t get a job”, “Why I can’t get up in the morning”.  The answer to all such questions is, “Because I am a druggie”, but that is the last thing any addict wants to admit. It is far easier to blame society, and blather on and on about an unjust or perverted third grade teacher, than it is to face the fact you yourself are the slave of a lousy, little chemical.

What I did was to supply solutions, when I heard “catch 22” logic such as, “I can’t get a job because I don’t have a car, and can’t get a car because I don’t have job.” Faced with the comfortably convenient couch of such snug helplessness, I got the young man a job, and I supplied the ride to work. When he couldn’t get up in the morning, I could, and drove to his place at 4:45 AM, and rousted him out of bed like a drill  sergeant. It took me a lot of time and effort, but had some slight benefits. Rather than pasty-skinned, he developed a tan; also he developed an appetite and put on some muscle. Rather than needing to wheedle for money he felt the self-esteem of a pay-check. So far, so good.

However an addict and his money are soon parted, ( I have heard it said that “cocaine is God’s way of telling you that you have too much money.”) Rather than a paycheck solving problems, it suddenly makes it harder to get out of bed, harder to get to work, and harder to keep the job. Also he couldn’t pay bills despite the paycheck. Explaining this strange twist of affairs drives an addict to concoct an entire new network of lies, in the form of new excuses, which tend to point the blame away from the self to others.

This strategy can only work if the “others” don’t compare notes. If you can keep them from talking to one another, or find a sole person you can trick and bully into being your “enabler”, such excuse-making can prolong your miserable deceit, but if you are dealing with a healthy, cheerful and honest family who all are out to help you, they do compare notes, and your deceit is doomed. With the innocence of children questions get asked, excuses don’t add up, and the walls come closing in, as a thing called “accountability” starts to expose your lies, one by one.

Many addicts have been through this downfall a number of times. When their deceits are exposed, plan A has failed and they move to plan B. They move on to tearfully confessing their addiction, and even going through the motions of attending AA meetings or rehab groups, but sometimes even such emotion is little more than grandiose drama and a cynical ploy. Some know the routine so well they could even run the rehab groups. It is just one more lie. Even when they promise to enter a detox, it may be an act.

It is when you get them to the door of the detox center that all the smiling and nodding, all the tears and all the the tugging of heart strings, all bluster and all blame,and all the other make-believes of lying may abruptly cease, and you may suddenly find yourself face to face with the big, ugly gorilla that rules the addict’s mind. No way are they going to step through that door. No way are they going to face the agony of withdrawal. No way are they going to honestly face their problem.

It is then they are at long last honest. They tell you exactly what they think of you, and also of all your lame, prissy, holy-rolling efforts to help them. Then they storm off in a huff.

Let them go. I once stormed off like that, and no one heard much of me for years, and during those years I cleaned up my act. True, I wasn’t addicted to anything terribly unforgiving, but it did seem necessary to get away from my past to learn what I needed to learn, and I’m thankful I lived in a free country that allowed me to do it.

The problem with addicts is that they often don’t stay away very long; they often call home quite soon, from jail, repentant and asking for bail. Again they are telling the lies, tugging the heart strings, (or perhaps, if they are a spouse or lover,  even blustering, and threatening to tell some intimate secrets you’ve foolishly shared with them.) It is as if they want to employ the line from Robert Frost’s “Death Of A Hired Hand“: “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

Don’t take them in. Don’t be taken.  Tell them, “Detox or no talks.”

Not that detox helps, in and of itself. For many addicts Detox is a warm bed in January, three squares a day, and a place to regain strength and stamina before the next binge. Even the detox places, who are prone to inflating their success rates, confess terrible rates of recidivism. The typical rate of relapse given is between 60% and 70%.

At this point it is important to draw a distinction between the secular and the religious. The secular detox places get all the government funding, and can be amazingly ineffective, while the religious places are far more effective, and are not allowed to get any government funding. (It is just a glaring example of the government perversely funding what doesn’t work.) In the case of some inner city Detox centers, involving the more vicious addictions such as heroin, a pathetic 2% of the addicts actually stay off the drug when they depart, whereas the Christian “Teen Challenge” Detox centers sees over 60% succeed in staying “clean”.

(In terms of gathering statistics, the secular groups always include “all” centers when stating success-rates, while the religious centers make sure to exclude secular center’s rates, when stating their success rates. Go figure.)

When attempting to explain why the religious groups did better, the secular centers noticed the religious groups involved confession and soul-searching. Talk seemed important, and the secular centers got the idea that, besides “Detox”, “Rehab” was important. And indeed there was an improvement in success rates, once tax-payers were hit upon to fund further time for addicts in warm shelters and half-way houses. However the statistics still showed the religious Rehabs did better than the secular Rehabs.

This annoys people who feel God should be banned from government. However it does suggest that that there is something about an addict turning to the sky, during the screaming agony and nausea of withdrawal, and pleading to the heavens for help, that draws some sort of mysterious healing down. Of course, God likely knows the mention of his name causes some to break out in a rash, and therefore it is likely better to substitute the word “Truth” for “God”.

Truth is the opposite of a lie, and, as addicts are such consummate liars, Truth is a sort of antidote to what is poisoning them. Or that is the best I can do to explain why Bible-thumping holy rollers succeed, where highly educated doctors and psychologists and social workers and billions of dollars fail.

Not that a truly ingenious addict cannot milk the religious organizations just as effectively as they leech from everyone else. Just as they know the right things to say to a degree where they can run a Rehab group, there have been addicts who have been pastors. But such liars eventually falter;  there is something about the hell of addiction that is corrosive to the sense of hope that keeps humans going, and eventually the lies drag every addict to rock bottom, where the options are either suicide or the honesty of a desperate cry for help.

That honesty is not a thing you can make an addict do. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. The drinking involves the despairing torment of burning thirst. It is a state a person must find for themselves, but those who have fallen so low often speak of remarkable events, and of experiencing unexpected, inexplicable compassion.

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live…”     (From the start of chapter 55, the Book of Isaiah)

It is a truly remarkable thing to witness a soul step over the threshold from a dark landscape of lies into the broad, open vistas of Truth.  In essence, it strikes one as impossible. A complete skumbag? Become a rose? Fat chance. But then you see it happen. You see this fellow who formerly would pawn his grandmother’s teeth cheerfully scrubbing the floors in a soup kitchen. And then, when you see this, you simply have to wonder, “What the heck happened to you?” Sometimes they might tell you, but sometimes they keep it to themselves, because they don’t want to sound weird.

Catholics are big on confession, and there does seem to be some element of confession involved in stepping over the threshold. When you are living a lie, a way to kill the lie is to confess, which is why such stress is put on this part of the first chapter of 1 John:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Of course, because the addict tends to see you as a narc and as the gestapo, he doesn’t have much of an urge to confess. Pressed in that direction, he will fight like a cat fights a bath. He may despise you, and look at you with eyes of unabashed hatred. That may well be your reward for trying to help. You can lead a cat to water, but you cannot make it bathe.

But what is the alternative?  Pretending you don’t see through the lies? Pretending you can trust when you cannot? Pretending a person can ever honor his own word when his only obedience is to a gorilla?

Sometimes your only choice is to throw the bum out. Perhaps you are not the one who will uplift. Perhaps the cat has its own way of washing, and doesn’t need your bathtub. Perhaps the addict will clean up on his own. However you do not help an addict by enabling the addict to continue his deception. Sometimes by pushing a person towards a crisis in the gutter you are pushing them towards the threshold of salvation.

And in the end that is how things ended this summer. The young man told me in no uncertain terms that I am a meddlesome jerk, a spiritual hypocrite, and a home wrecker. (Addicts seldom blame themselves.)  It was up to my daughter to chose whether to follow him or not, and she chose not to.  Next thing I heard the fellow was in jail. Not a happy ending, at this point.

And that is why there have been so few “Local View” posts. I have been busy totally wasting my time on a young man who doesn’t seem worth the time of day. And I wonder how much other time has been wasted in other lives, by the stupidity of addiction. Drugs seem a weapon used by our enemy to weaken us. Every day I hear about drug deaths, even in our quaint and rural landscape.

But I cannot end a Local View in such a depressing manner. But what can I say? It would take a genius to make a cartoon out the way that addiction is turning good, intelligent people into beasts.


Well I’ll be.  America has already been given that genius, and has had a great symbol of how vices turn people into jackasses, ever since 1940. There is no mystery in it, for we’ve known for 76 years. Why then does the entire nation seem so determined to turn itself into a jackass?

Perhaps it is a sort of payback for the fact some Americans once got wealthy sailing clipper ships and selling opium to China. What goes around comes around. Or perhaps it is a trial that will make us a better people in the long run. There can be little doubt that those who survive addiction have an awareness of human frailty and of evil far greater than those who haven’t been through the hell. They know when compassion merely enables and when compassion is life-changing. Perhaps, if the drug epidemic doesn’t destroy us as a nation, it will result in a core group of solid people who know all the wiles of liars, are seldom fooled, and who love the Truth.






Ever since last Christmas, when we watched a surge of relatively mild Atlantic air penetrate up to the Pole, (giving birth to maudlin newsprint regarding Santa’s workshop melting), (even though the above freezing temperatures only lasted a couple hours before rapidly plunging, and were not exactly on the Pole,) I have been noting the meridional or loopy nature of the weather patterns, and how not only was warmth brought north but cold was brought remarkably far south, giving, for example, Kuwait its first snow ever recorded.

This past summer I noted how often low pressure developed over the Pole, and as a sort of joke called the generality “Ralph”.   Purists likely could point out that it wasn’t a single storm, and that in a few cases I cheated, for as one storm faded like a sinking ship I moved the Ralph-flag via lifeboat to a new and developing low. However I did this to stress how stormy the Pole was, and fortunately this site is obscure enough to avoid the phenomenon of trolls, who could have easily wasted everyone’s time petulantly insisting it was wrong to give a whole sequence of storms a single name.

Then Ralph became a notable gale, by some accounts the 4th deepest gale since 1979. This made the topic of low pressure at the Pole more newsworthy, for a few days, but then interest faded, yet I have continued right on following Ralph.

In my last notebook the final notes had Ralph fading on August 25th, north of Franz Josef Land, as R17 (which is short for 17th reinforcement), gathered warmth and juice over the New Siberian Islands.

By the 27th Ralph was transferring his flag via lifeboat to R17, which was becoming a tight gale on the East Siberian coast. His circulation was feeding milder Pacific air towards the Pole from Bering Strait

The 28th saw Ralph pulled towards the milder air flooding up over the Pole, and the Pole above freezing. This was a red letter day for those who long for an ice-free Pole, for not only did they get their second ice-smashing gale in a week, but they got an upward spoke in temperatures at the Pole.West winds were roaring along the top of the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland, tearing away at the thickest and toughest ice in the arctic, and likely dispersing a lot eastward. (Around seven years ago, when certain Alarmists awoke to how tough this particular ice is, they abruptly said it didn’t count, when calculating an ice-free Pole, and from that day forward an ice-free Pole included a million  km2 of sea-ice.)

DMI3 0830 meanT_2016

As an aside I should note that when a loopy, meridional flow brings mild air to the Pole one usually sees cold air exported south. In this case it was all the way down to China, as some parts of Russia’s far east saw six inches of snow where the trees still had green leaves.

Russia August Snow 2 88d848cf

August 29th was surprising to me as Ralph, after peaking as a 969 mb gale while crossing the Pole, dug towards the Atlantic, and pumped a ridge towards the Pacific. We haven’t seen this sort of high pressure all that much this summer. The Pacific-to-Atlantic cross-polar-flow of the above map swiftly swings to a Siberia-to-Canada flow in the map below.  Ice moving one way is abruptly torn another, though mild air still flooded the Canadian side of the Pole.


In the above map it is noon in the Pacific. In the map below it is twelve hours later, and you can see the diurnal midnight cold growing on the Pacific side, as Ralph weakens over Svalbard.

Twelve hours later it is noon again on the Pacific side, but colder than it was a day earlier. This demonstrates the few weeks of polar summer, where the Pole is a part of the planet that actually gains heat, are now past. The sun may still be up at the Pole, but it is so low the landscape is chilling, and will continue to lose heat month after month, even after the sun comes up again next March, and even to the first days of next June.

The above map is the closest to a “normal” map we’ve seen in a long time. The high pressure over the Beaufort Sea at least attempts a semblance of a Beaufort Gyre, and the flow between that high and Ralph is a (poor) semblance of a Transpolar Drift. However a sort of R18 is occurring as milder air is tugged north from West Siberia, and Ralph is being swayed back up towards the Pole.

That brings us to today, the last day of August. Ralph is resuming his stance as king-of-the-mountain on the Pole. He is weaker, but so is the high pressure towards Alaska. The cold air is continuing to build over the Pole.

It looks like R19 is coming north from the Atlantic. Some models suggest Ralph will poke down into the Canadian Archipelago to make things interesting for people attempting the Northwest Passage.

Ralph’s continuous battering of the sea-ice has sent the extent graphs down, and it looks like this year may rival 2012 as the lowest extent of ice ever. However there are significant differences. It is interesting to compare the two years. (2012 left; 2016 right)

Around now the ice starts to grow back nearly as fast in some places, even as it melts in other places. On ordinary years the melt tends to be basal (from beneath) and the refreezing tends to be along upper edges exposed to air. However this is no ordinary year. The above map shows the ice as solid in places where it is shattered, and is averaging-out areas with zero thickness with other, nearby areas that have thick bergs. Averaging gives a false impression.

I can never recall seeing ice like this year’s. Usually, from space, you see many “chips” (which can be as big as Mahattan or Rhode Island) with flat edges, and at the edges of the masses of chips, where the ice is battered by waves, the ice forms curves of crushed ice that looks like sand bars, which I call “ice bars”. This year Ralph’s raging has turned entire areas of ice into those ice bars, with no “chips” to be seen.

The above map shows a notch jabbing towards the Pole, with blue on either side indicating sea-ice two or three feet thick. The satellite views below show the actual ice on either side of the notch.

Ralph7 1 28

Ralph7 2 26

It is obvious it is not a flat pan of ice, all 2-3 feet thick. There are areas of open water, which means the ice that is there is likely 4-8 feet thick. (Then the model “averages”.)

This is something I’ve noticed, during the few occasions I’ve been able to get views from boats, buoys or Barrow. The bergs are thick. For example, there have been several occasions winds have blown bergs ashore at Barrow, and even when they are so sparse, (less than 10% of extent), that they register as “ice-free” water on maps, the bergs are thick enough to ground some distance from Barrow’s shore, and remain lodged there for several days, tide after tide, before finally being washed away.

For another example, here is one of today’s views from O-buoy 14, in an area many maps show as “ice-free”.

Obuoy 14 0831C webcam

(See how the water is shining in the distance? As a fisherman, I’d be worried about getting a sunburn under the brim of my hat, by bounced-light. The sun is getting down to where the albedo of open water increases, and finally surpasses that of ice.)

In conclusion, I don’t think our ordinary experience is much use this year. Things are different. We are not talking about basal melt under flat pans of ice. The basal melt will be different because the bergs are big chunks, and also the water has been stirred by Ralph’s cold rages, and even has had snow dumped in it.

Also the surface refreeze will be different. Comparing the ice-edges this year with other years is like comparing the coastline of Maine with California’s. (Maine’s is longer, though California is a much bigger state.) As temperatures drop below the freezing point of salt water, (as they already have at times), the ice will have a greater opportunity to extend itself.

At this point the best chance for significant melting is for R-19 to bring north a huge surge of mild, Atlantic air.

Stay tuned!