ARCTIC SEA ICE –Double Whammy–Updated Monday–

“Whammy” is a word invented by the amazingly inventive American cartoonist Al Capp, for what most would call a “spell” or “hex” which one person puts on another, to do another harm. (Apparently Capp got the idea from news about a boxing trainer, who was well known in boxing circles in New York City last century, who attempted to help his boxers by using his “evil eye” on opponents). In Al Capp cartoons the original character who utilized the power of a “whammy”  was “Evil-Eye Fleagle”, (who had oil-drenched hair and spoke with a thick Brooklyn accent).


The only defense against the bad-guy Fleagle that the atrociously naive good-guy hero, (Lil’ Abner), had was: His all-powerful mother, the amazingly self-reliant Mama Yokum.


Usually practical, when necessary Mama Yokum could reach into her vast repertoire of knowledge and pull out some occult skills of her own, and it turned out she didn’t only understand the power of a “whammy”, but could muster a “triple whammy”, that purportedly could melt a battleship. Therefore, when her amazingly innocent son, (and her completely ineffectual and hapless husband), managed to become entangled with the likes of Evil-Eye Fleagle,  (which the two bumpkins did with dependable regularity), [for how else are we to sell comics?], Mama Yokum saved the day.

Amazing things have been occurring at the Pole, and while we have yet to see anything quite as amazing Mama Yokum’s triple whammy, I think we are witnessing, in the world of arctic sea-ice,  a double whammy, though I am not quite sure whether it a bad thing brewed up by Fleagle, or a good thing Mama has cooked up.

I suppose it depends on what temperature you prefer. Some like it hot, and some like it cold. I prefer a milder climate, for my study of history convinces me that the Global Warming that occurred in the Medieval Warm Period benefited humanity in most places, especially Europe and the Mideast.  On the other hand, the Little Ice Age brought famine and plauges.

Here is the old graph, created by Hurbert Lamb back around 1980, which shows it was as warm or warmer, back then, as it is now.


Lamb’s graph has been largely “disappeared” in favor of a graph showing a “hockey stick” increase over the recent past, created by Michael Mann, despite the fact major flaws have been pointed out in Mann’s work, and his graph is discredited. (I suppose I should reproduce Mann’s graph, but I figure that, if he feels he can “erase the Medieval Warm Period”, (and Lamb’s hard work), I can get a sort of petty revenge by erasing his dumb graph right back at him). In any case, the Medieval Warm Period is gradually reappearing in graphs, and I suspect that, if I live long enough, I’ll see things “come full cycle.”  (It has been an odd thirty years to live through, and has sadly lessened my respect for scientists, though not for True Science.)

The warm-period before the Medieval Warm Period was called the Roman Climate Optimum, and apparently it was not merely milder in the north, but wetter in the Mideast, necessitating the building of Roman bridges over rivers that are now largely dry.


In my younger day I liked to peruse the Bible and think I was scientific every time I found something that I didn’t deem “factual”.  One thing that struck me was descriptions of lands I knew were parched as being lush and green. Now I’m older and slightly wiser and not so quick to scoff. In the Mideast, at least, warmer apparently was wetter.  In fact, if one goes back to the very start of the Holocene, apparently the entire Sahara was wet, and held lakes and green pastures. The drought that ended those days may well have led to mass migrations to the Nile, and may have resulted in the surplus manpower that built the first pyramids. Echoes of that drought, or another, may come to us in the Biblical tale of the “seven fat years and the seven lean years”, and of the original exodus of Joseph’s brothers to Egypt.

One interesting thing noted by scientists poking around in the sediments on the bottoms of ancient dry lakes in the Sahara is that the end of the green times in the Sahara apparently was not gradual, but rather was swift. This is good news, if you are a flat-broke scientist and need some future-fright to help you “scare up funds” for further research. However I tend to see the ancient drought as a result of cooling, and to dream of how nice it might be if we hit a climate “tipping-point” heading the other way, due to warming.  Think what a change it would be if the Sahara suddenly became a vast pasture! The desert might bloom!

I will confess this does put me at odds with those folk who use Global Warming as an excuse to gnaw their nails down to their nubs, and to bewail that getting a Real Job is futile, and to conclude they might as well sit about industriously bemoaning the evils of industry. My opinions shock them, for I think warming would be a nice thing. Besides pastures in the Sahara we might raise 100,000 sheep and goats in Greenland again, as the Vikings did, and grow crops up in their deserted farms, where there is now only permafrost.

Therefore you might think I’d be pleased by the current warmth at the Pole, which is like nothing we have seen in recent times:


I do entertain a slim hope this may indicate a true Climate Optimum is upon us, but I am not lowering my guard, because I have a worry this may be the first part of a double whammy.

The warmth at the Pole may be part one of the whammy, because there are few places that lose our planet’s heat more efficiently than the North Pole at winter.  There is no sunshine to add any heat, and the constant night devours any available heat upwards, to the void of outer space. All the lost heat must be either stolen from the Arctic Sea, or from the land’s surface, or imported by south winds.  Not much is lost from the land once the surface is frozen, but the seas have been slow to freeze so they are losing more heat than usual, and also far more air has surged up from the south this year, (fueling a persistent low I dubbed “Ralph”).  In essence, record mildness at the Pole is indicative of record amounts of heat being lost. My worry is: Losing record amounts of heat is not suggestive of warming, but quite the opposite.

The second part of the  double whammy is occurring further south, where there is sunshine, and that sunshine could supply some sort of warming, despite the fact the winter days are short. The primary preventor of warming, in those lower latitudes, is snow cover, for nothing bounces sunshine away from the earth quite as well as a fresh cover of snow, and this year, despite the fact it may be milder at the Pole, it has been colder to the south, and the snow-cover appeared earlier and spread further south, especially in Eurasia.

(Blast. Only October 6 shows below. It was suppose to be an animation. I’ll follow it with a map from November 20. If you want to see the animation you’ll have to punch-in the dates you want, and the “Northern Hemisphere” tab, at this site:   )



It is hard to envision, if you are enjoying the late start to winter in many parts of North America, how brutal it has been in Eurasia. I suggest that the curious visit this site: and check out their reports from Russia, China, Mongolia, and now even Iran. (This is a good site to visit to hear the news the mainstream media shuns, as such news-of-snow-and-cold doesn’t support the theme of “Global Warming”.) I will merely mention that the cold makes more cold, for snow makes long nights colder, due to radiational cooling, and makes short days colder as well, due to the albedo of fresh fallen snow, and that this expanding cold expands the rain-snow line south, until, this year, places that usually only see snow in the dead of winter are seeing record amounts when winter hasn’t even started. Down in Kazakhstan there even have been reports of collapsing roofs.


The cruel weather on the far side of the planet might not seem to concern me much, but over at the Weatherbell Site Joe Bastardi mentioned an old “bathtub slosh” idea used by pre-computer-model meteorologists, wherein the weather on one side of the planet “teleconnects” to the other, a few weeks later. IE: Siberian cold could visit North America.

I don’t want such worry, for, as I explained, I’m all for Global Warming. When I was younger I liked snow, but now, when the forecast is rain, and snow starts mixing in (as happened here in Southern New Hampshire this morning) I frown like an old fuddy-duddy and am not the slightest bit thrilled, and my single thought is, “Stop!”


If the snowcover expands on this side of the planet the second part of the double whammy will be complete. We will be losing heat at the Pole, as mildness is exported up there. And we will be losing heat at lower latitudes, due to snow cover.

Forgive me if I sound a bit grumpy, but that doesn’t seem one bit like Global Warming to me. And winter hasn’t even officially started yet!



This dusting likely won’t last, despite the low sun, for the ground beneath hasn’t frozen yet, and the snow will be heated from beneath and even if it doesn’t melt it will rapidly sublimate. But even a daybreak of snow cover makes an immediate difference in temperatures, which are down to 26°F (-3°C), roughly five degrees colder than they’d be if the ground was bare.

If you go to the (free) public Weatherbell site and scroll down to Joe Bastardi’s (free) daily update here: you will get (this Monday morning) a wonderfully succinct description of how “above normal” air at the arctic circle breeds increased snow-cover down over the USA. (Warning: He and Joseph D’Aleo are addictive, and unless you control yourself you may find yourself spending the price of a cheap cup of coffee every day for their non-public updates.) (Warning: They have a week-free-trial to get you addicted.)

At this point I’ll quickly go over the recent polar maps, which seem to show the amazing surge of warmth from the Atlantic to the Pole is, at least temporarily, coming to a halt.

When we last looked (November 18) Ralph was fading up over the Pole, and behind Ralph a major surge of cold was at long last going the “right way” down through Fram Strait as high pressure at long last built over Greenland. This cold air continued south over Iceland and then took a sharp left to drive a cold front across the Atlantic. Just as people in Scotland were looking nervously east at the advancing Siberian air, a sneak attack came from the west, and they got Icelandic cold and snow.  Meanwhile the mild southerly surge was shifting west to give central Europe a break from the cold.

The following maps show Ralph slowly fades at the Pole, but never vanishes completely, nor does Ralph’s “signature”, which is a hook of milder air towards the Pole from the Atlantic side. However the air is cooling faster than mild air can be imported. (Also the air may be robbed of some of its moisture by passing over European mountains, and therefore less latent heat is released by condensation and freezing over the Pole.) The freezing isotherm stops advancing and in some places retreats. Also a Pacific influx of mild air creates a mirror-signature on that side for a while, which then fades. On a whole things grow more quiet at the Pole, which ought allow cooling to predominate now.

The cold front Ralph swung across the Atlantic begat a whole slew of Secondaries, (I lost count after “Ralph the Fifth”) which have stopped heading up to the Pole, and instead have become a stalled mess of North Atlantic lows which involve such a hopeless tangle of fronts I’m glad I live on this side of the Pond, where fronts are less messy and forecasting is simpler.  Looking at the map below I find it unsurprising that so many English forecasters look like they are having bad-hair-days.


One can see the southerly flow is still surging up over central Europe, but it is hard to figure out how wide it is, with Siberian air encroaching from the east and Icelandic air mingled in from the west. At this point I seek out Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps over at the Weatherbell site.  The temperature anomaly map for Europe shows it remains a decently wide surge.


It is important to remember, when looking at anomaly maps, that cherry red to the north doesn’t mean you ask Scandinavian and Siberian babes to don bikinis. It is still below freezing up there, if you check out a Maue Map that shows the actual temperatures.


Also, when you look east into Asia, you see the unreal cold may be shunted a bit south, but still shudders in the wings.


Indeed the above map seems a good picture of the Double Whammy: Warmth being lost to the north, as snow-cover to the south deflects further warmth.  The mild surge may be a well-earned respite for the over-taxed peoples of Eurasia, but I fear the cold is merely reloading, before its next shots.





13 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Double Whammy–Updated Monday–

  1. The super high autumn temperatures as shown in your graph could reflect a pattern that I suppose could have been there during the Holocene Optimum. Trees were growing at the borders of what is the present Arctic Sea, just 6000 till 8000 years ago. Reflecting warm summer temperatures. The tree stumps are still in the tundra. But it could be something else too.

    Last half year, different pressure and wind pattern prevailed. As you have shown before on this site, a lot of depressions were present during the summer. The last month or more there is something like a ‘blow through’ pattern over the Arctic: a warm wind enters between Greenland and leaves much colder through the Bering Street. The very warm Arctic and the very very cold Siberia result in a wind pattern that cooled quickly the northern part of the Pacific. The red and warm Blob in the maps is replaced by a ‘Blue Blob’. This all could result for now in a cooling of the Northern Hemisphere. And a cooling of the world, as the Arctic and its low extent of thin ice ventilates a lot of warmth. This could be the pattern for a big shift of the AMO too. First warm, than a big shift to cold. With changing wind patterns that send the heat in the Atlantic to the south of Brasil instead of to the north and a [pressure] pattern that will enhance wind speed over the oceans. And so cooling the oceans and the atmosphere. Etc.

    Besides there is the strange fact that the early start of the freezing in the Arctic came at the same moment that the Antarctic was showing a strong and ‘unprecedented’ early start of the melt season. Both poles showed different patterns this NH summer and both were – on the whole – exceptionally warm. I don’t know nothing about (changing) magnetism, but I just noted that the other patterns were / are best visible somewhere near the magnetic poles. And I wandered what is happening and whether magnetism has got something to do with it. Just a guess.

    Personally, I would prefer the warm future version. So far no disasters by warming are seen. I like a green Sahara and I am a bit afraid of entering a new glacial, somewhere in the near future. That would be a real disaster, coming quick and persisting for a long time. The last and by no one (!) predicted pressure and wind pattern over the Arctic makes clear that we don’t know much about ‘climate’ and that all predictions so far were no more than ‘guesses’. ‘Scientific’ guesses also remain ‘guesses’. This all gives serious doubt whether we can talk about any ‘sciencific predictions’ regarding the climate. Weather remains unlinear and chaotic, not predictable for more than one or two weeks. Nobody can foresee future weather on longer terms. And ‘future climate’ is the average over the next 30 years of unpredictable weather. Simple logic says that we cannot predict.

    • Thanks for sharing your ideas. I too agree weather is unpredictable with any certainty, because even when we are fairly certain of a “cycle”, the sun can go quiet and throw a wrench in the works.

      I think a swift end to the “Quiet Sun” would be a nice gift to humanity. Who knows, maybe the ancient Egyptians knew something, when they focused on the sun god Ra as the most important deity. Perhaps when the Sahara was green they had a very “noisy” sun, with its sun-spots visible at sunset, and then the sun suddenly had a blank face. They would have noticed that the spots vanished just when a desert appeared.

      What a shock it must have been to have the Sahara Desert just appear out of the blue. It would be a bit like the Great Plains of the USA abruptly becoming dunes. (And geologists can see the traces of dunes, in the Great Plains.)

      I’ll take a noisy sun any day.

  2. You mention Weatherbell and Joe Bastardi, so I might as well also. As you recall, he keeps pointing to the fact that the Arctic summer is not warmer, so I don’t think we are moving towards an optimum, we are down sliding. I think you have rightly pointed out that the south winds are bringing warm, moist air towards the north pole, and it is affecting the heat loss. What you don’t mention is that the moisture in that air is going somewhere, and that is into snow fall on Greenland and any landmass experiencing cold. I do think we are looking at the mechanism that creates the ice ages, not the optimums.

    I would guess that we are within a very few years of seeing the oceans to cease rising and start to fall as the snow and ice piles up on Greenland and Antarctica, along with a build up on the northern shores of North America and Eurasia, and the southern tip of South America. Then that buildup will gradually get further and further south north of the equator and north south of the equator. It won’t be advancing glaciers, but it will be an advancing of the permanent region of ice and snow, and it will manifest into glaciers at some time in the future when the sun starts to come back to life, and sends enough heat to cause the “wet feet” to form under the ice masses and allow them to start moving downhill.

    And I think we will live long enough to see the onset, and all the carbon dioxide we send into the air won’t do a damn bit of good towards warming planet Earth, nor will the cow farts for that matter.

    • Good summery of the Cooling Idea. Thanks. However I hold out hope that the sun may surprise everyone and become noisy. The sun is the wild card, and the true ruler of changes we are likely to see in our all-too-short lifetimes. But I do respect the Russians who worry about a shift to a colder climate.

  3. Caleb,

    Was just looking at the GFS model and it looks like you might be getting a significant snowstorm over the post Thanksgiving weekend. It will be interesting to see if it pans out.


    • I don’t mind in the slightest. I just hope they turn the powers of their skepticism on me, and comment critically. They won’t threaten my livelihood, for I make nothing for opining, and instead I will likely benefit from having my shortcomings pointed out. (And if they don’t comment, please be my spy, and my reporter, if you don’t mind.)

      (Off the point, but what is the “mind” we speak of, when we say, “if you don’t mind”?)

      • heh heh. maybe the same mind as in ‘mind your p’s and q’s? There are quite a few comments already, most of them positive… just a sec. …

        Mark McDougall Talk about a cherry pick – smae page, immediately under your ‘alarming’ red map, is the actual temps map.…/whammy-5…
        Like · Reply · 1 · 18 hrs
        Andrew Stranglen
        Andrew Stranglen Mark McDougall, I had no control over the image shown with my post, The point is in Caleb’s text. This is not so much about Arctic temp/anomaly maps, but how that information is interpreted.
        Like · Reply · 1 · 17 hrs · Edited
        Andrew Stranglen

        Write a reply…

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        Joseph Fournier
        Joseph Fournier Well said Andrew Stranglen. This preference for heat flow out of Arctic region is well documented and is a fundamental aspect of climate science. On a time averaged basis, we see that the Arctic is warmer in both atmosphere and ocean temperatures than is the Antarctic.
        Joseph Fournier’s photo.
        Unlike · Reply · 4 · 18 hrs
        Andrew Stranglen
        Andrew Stranglen The main reason for that is the Antarctic’s circumpolar current, which effectively isolates it climatically. That, and the lack of land mass in the SH. The NH is dominated by continental land mass which warms and cools more easily.
        Like · Reply · 1 · 6 hrs
        Joseph Fournier
        Joseph Fournier Absolutely. Likewise, the SH has higher average cloud coverage.
        Joseph Fournier’s photo.
        Like · Reply · 5 hrs
        Joseph Fournier
        Joseph Fournier Than does the NH.
        Joseph Fournier’s photo.
        Like · Reply · 5 hrs
        Joseph Fournier
        Joseph Fournier And, the SH recieves higher intensity TOA irradiance than does the NH during their respective summer months. I can not help but wonder if this is related to why the Atlantic corridor is functions to transport heat north from the SH into the NH?
        Joseph Fournier’s photo.
        Like · Reply · 5 hrs
        Joseph Fournier
        Joseph Fournier What do you think?
        Like · Reply · 5 hrs
        Andrew Stranglen
        Andrew Stranglen I think you are generally correct, though we do know that the poles do alternate as regards to amount of ice. However, I don’t recall the time frame of the oscillations.
        Like · Reply · 3 hrs
        Andrew Stranglen

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        Joseph Fournier
        Joseph Fournier Likewise, to your point of preferred heat loss out the Arctic, here is a difference I calculated the other day using NCEP Reanalysis of the OLR between the extratropical hemispheres. The 60 year cycle that appears is likely the AMOC that delivers variable rates of heat up the Atlantic corridor to the eastern Arctic. Note that we are seeing a fairly significant spike at this moment?
        Joseph Fournier’s photo.
        Unlike · Reply · 3 · 18 hrs · Edited
        Joseph Fournier
        Joseph Fournier Adam Félix as a new member, I would be curious as to what you have to say on this topic? No pressure 🙂
        Like · Reply · 17 hrs
        Adam Félix
        Adam Félix I have 0 opinion on global warming at all thus far, I just recently started following a bunch of things from both sides. What peaked my interest a little was David Friedman’s take on it…/what-is-wrong…
        Also it tends to come up a lot in the middle of political discussions for some reason and I’m left out because I just won’t comment on something I haven’t looked into.
        Ideas: What is Wrong with Global Warming Anyway?
        David, this isn’t totally responsive to your inquiry, but I do note that rapid climate change will likely lead to significant species extinction because current species won’t have time to adapt and new species won’t immediately evolve to occupy the new niche. Obviously it’s impossible to quantify th…
        Like · Reply · 11 mins
        Andrew Stranglen

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        Andrew Stranglen
        Andrew Stranglen Last of the(recently expired) El Nino heat departing the planet.
        Like · Reply · 3 · 17 hrs
        Bruce Hay
        Bruce Hay This was a very good read. Most informative.
        Unlike · Reply · 2 · 7 hrs
        Andrew Stranglen
        Andrew Stranglen Caleb Shaw is the author of that blog and has a near obsession with observing Arctic Sea Ice. He is not a scientist, but he has a lot of common sense and curiosity, two things that real scientists ought to have. You might want to bookmark it, because he posts frequently on the subject.
        Like · Reply · 6 hrs
        Shane Temple
        Shane Temple Please forgive my simple mind. Does this mean heat is basically “passing through” the Arctic from points south to space?
        Like · Reply · 5 hrs
        Andrew Stranglen
        Andrew Stranglen well, for one thing, the tropopause(top of the troposphere) is up to 10Km lower at the poles than at the equator, so atmospheric heat more readily is shed to space at the poles as opposed to the equator. Basically, yes.
        Like · Reply · 1 · 3 hrs
        Shane Temple
        Shane Temple Fascinating! Thank you.
        Like · Reply ·

      • I had to look up proglodytes because I’m unfamiliar with the term. What I came up with was “term of abuse/contempt/description for an unthinkingly reflexive and personally unpleasant leftist sh*t-thrower.” Yikes! I will admit it a handy word to have for non-voters burning the flag.

        Is “fb group”short for “Face Book Group.” (That’s what my son said fb was short for.)

        Lastly, are you suggesting the respectable Roy Spencer is a proglodyte? I have rather liked the fellow. Did he issue some rant I don’t know about?

      • Heck no! I mean that Roy Spencer is a member of the fb group ‘Scientists Skeptical of AGW’. He’s not any kind of Progressive in the Proglodyte sense of ‘progressive.’ The problem with labels – Progressive sounds like a good thing that’s why some leftists co-opted the term. (as opposed to regressive, which everyone knows is backwards and ignorance) Progressivism has spanned both major political parties. [Progressive + Troglodyte = Proglodyte] 😉

      • I figured I must be misunderstanding. Thanks for setting me straight.

        That’s the danger of writing after midnight. The brain is a bit tired. But the good part is that the house gets quiet, even on Thanksgiving when there is a lot of company.

        The problems with labels is a lack of “Truth In Advertising”, where a nice-sounding label like “Progressive” turns out to actually mean “Regressive.” Also labels over-simplify complex issues.

        However the good side of labels is that we sometimes need things put in a nutshell. We search the dictionary and thesaurus and cannot find the right word. So we coin one. “Proglodyte”.

        Many new words are duds and don’t catch on, but a few spread like wildfire, and eventually get included in the dictionary. I wonder which sort “Proglodyte” will turn out to be.

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