ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph Meets Fred–

When I last posted High Pressure was pushing the low pressure I have called “Ralph” off the Pole and down into Scandinavia. In a fit of whimsy I thought it might be fun to name the high pressure taking over at the top, “Trump”, and the low pressure developing off the south tip of Greenland “Hillary”.

I have since had second thoughts. The subject of weather is too highly politicized as it is, and the last thing I need is to see my innate wish-casting biases become worse than they already are. Therefore I have decided to name the high pressure over the Pole “Fred” and the gale that exploded in the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland “Ralpheena”. (If nothing else, this will hopefully keep me out of political-hot-water, for, if there is one sign Global Warming is real, it is that there seems to be a lot more political-hot-water than there used to be, and therefore things must be warmer.)

In only 24 hours Ralpheena exploded into a gale, but the mild Atlantic air she swirled north was largely driven into the middle of Greenland rather than surging up to the Pole.

Having “Fred” take over the Pole looked likely to throw a wrench into the creation of a new incarnation of “Ralph”, but I kept my eyes peeled for new “feeder bands” heading to the Pole.  While the Atlantic surges got the most press, I had noticed Atlantic bands tended to be followed by a weak Hudson Bay-Baffin Bay feeder band, which was followed by a moderate Pacific feeder band (AKA Hula-Ralph), and then mysterious stuff happened, before the feeder-band reappeared in the Atlantic.

I decided that, while storms to the south tended to move west-to-east, whatever it was generating the feeder bands had a retrograde motion, east-to-west.  “It” (whatever it was) swung clockwise around my maps like the hand of a clock. When it pointed down to the Atlantic it tapped into the Atlantic, and generated the most obvious feeder bands, as there were few barriers in the way between the Atlantic and the Pole. When it swung clockwise and pointed left to  North America there was less water and more obstacles, but a weak feeder band might be expected, as long as Hudson Bay, Baffin Bay, and Canadian lakes remained free of ice.

In mid-December, however, Hudson Bay froze over in a big hurry, as did all the northern Canadian Lakes and a lot of Baffin Bay. Therefore I expected there could be no noticeable feeder band, and was a bit surprised when a ghost of Ralph appeared north of Canada, complete with a weak feeder band sneaking up the east coat of Greenland and over its top.


Despite the power of Fred’s high pressure at the Pole, suspicious stuff was happening around the edges. As the old Ralph faded down into Russia and Ralpheena was squeezed across the North Atlantic towards Norway, I found my eyes looking up to Bering Strait, for I figured “It” (whatever it was) would be swinging around like the hands of a clock and start pointing up, so I should expect invasive feeder-bands to attack Fred from that direction.

Call it bias if you will, but I wasn’t all that surprised to see an Aleutian Low appear at the top of the map.

The problem was, there was also a feeder band developing back in Hudson Bay, even as the gale crashed through Bering Strait. This demonstrates the difficulties that arise when you just make things up as you go, (because you are not a true scientist and actually are a rank amateur).

There is no actual map that I can refer to that shows a clock’s hand swinging around the Pole. It is just  something my imagination brewed up to explain what I couldn’t explain. Still, it allows me to express what I am observing. Mostly I am merely a witness, describing the stuff too many politicized Climate Scientists utterly ignore, and seem quite blind to.

Because I had to make something up as I went, I decided the actual hand-of-the-clock had swung around to western Canada, but not to Alaska, and was sucking up air utterly devoid of moisture from the east side of the Rockies, and the way Nature responded to this failure-to-transport was to split-the-difference, and have two feeder-bands, one ahead and one behind. (Call the idea balderdash if you will, at least it is balderdash that works, as opposed to the balderdash of some Climate Scientists.)

In any case, neither feeder band could budge Fred from the Pole. A new gale blew up over Iceland, “Ralpheenason”, but it could make no  headway north and had to take the normal route east to Norway.

At this point Fred starts to generate lovely confusion. East Siberia needs no extra cold, but a cross-polar-flow on the Pacific side of Fred started pulling cold from the Canadian Archipelago to Russia, but this also sucked Atlantic air north to replace air robbed from the Archipelago, with the air coming north west of Greenland, but then that northbound air got sucked west as it accidentally fueled the Hudson Bay low. Meanwhile the Aleutian low swiftly weakened, once it left open waters and moved north of Bering Strait to recently ice-covered water, but the Hudson Bay low intensified.  But even more interesting was the cross-polar-flow on the Atlantic side of Fred.

That flow was transporting arctic air from Russia to Greenland. The transported chill does not show up well in the temperature map, because as soon as that cold air leaves the recently frozen waters of the Kara Sea to Barents Sea’s open waters,  it is warmed at the 2 meter level, (though it is likely much colder even at the level of 10 meters.) But the cold does have its effect: It is chilling the very waters of Barents Sea that “The Surge” failed to chill, a week ago.

(Also, as Ralpheenason moves east, rather than this cold air aiming at Iceland, it may curve south and aim at Europe, and if it does the arctic cold will not be moderated by passing over Barents Sea. Scandinavia will get the “real deal”, (IE: Winter weather).

As the new year begins the “hands-if-the-clock”, in my rank amateur estimation, should be pointing straight up. The new Aleutian gale approaching from the top of the map should have a better chance of becoming a new feeder band, and knocking Fred off the Pole with the next incarnation of Ralph. Meanwhile the vigorous Hudson Bay Low has been left behind, and, rather than heading north as a feeder band,  must take the more normal route east, and will crash into Greenland. (Rather than the crash killing the Hudson Bay gale, as I would expect, some models show the Hudson Bay storm making a difficult transit of the 10,000 foot tall icecap, and morfisticating (my word) into a new gale east of Greenland, that will charge into Norway with little air sucked north into it from the Azores but lots pulled from the frigid Arctic.) (More of the “real deal” for Scandinavia.)

As the new year begins, and we enter the days that truly try our souls, with holidays behind and nothing but a grim wasteland to cross before we see spring, I am going to attempt to amuse myself (and hopefully you) by awaiting the reappearance of Ralph at the Pole, and also by watching to see of my hands-of-the-clock balderdash turns out to hold a crumb of truth.

One thing Fred has done is to halt the invasions of milder air, and to allow polar temperatures to sink back towards more normal levels. By coincidence we are nearly exactly at the temperature we were last year, at this time.


I likely should include the year-ending sea-ice-extent graph, which shows a quick recovery from the down-dip caused by the “surge”.


I likely should also include a NRL “Concentration” map, so you can see where the ice has grown.


It can be seen that, just as waters in Hudson Bay froze over in a flash, these darkest of days allow ice to swiftly form in Baffin Bay, Kara Sea, around Franz Josef Land, and in Bering Strait. It only shrank where the gale Hillary Ralpheena  harangued it, on the east coast of Greenland, south of Denmark Strait.

This new ice is quite frail at first, so it is helpful to refer to the NRL “Thickness” map.


The lighter purples indicate ice only a foot thick. While this may be thick enough to trust walking upon, in a backyard pond, on an ocean in a storm it is mere froth. After all, in Bering Strait, Aleutian Gales can have seas of 20 feet and winds of 60 mph.  It would not surprise me at all if we saw open water appear again north of Bering Strait, as the next Pacific Gale hits that area. However that gale has another side. Even as its east side drives south winds and Pacific mildness into Bering Strait, its west side will drive northwest winds and Siberian air out into the Pacific, and it would not surprise me to see sea-ice increase swiftly in the Sea of Okhotsk . Also the northern part of the Barents Sea could swiftly skim over, right down to the northeast coast of Svalbard.

The simple fact of the matter is that it is normal and natural for sea-ice to grow in the dark depths of winter. Therefore nature, meaning no harm, makes a complete mockery of certain media reports that attempt to connect-the-dots in a most ludicrous manner, by suggesting that conditions connected with the recent “surge” indicate sea-ice is shrinking in the depth of winter. (Are they completely nuts?)

Yes, the Barents Sea surges indeed brought temperatures thirty-degrees-above-normal north, but even those temperatures were largely below the freezing point of salt water, and the sea-ice was growing, not shrinking.

And yes, at times the sea-ice-extent levels were the lowest we’ve seen since 1979, (when the records that they condescend to use begin), but they are levels that are soaring upwards at this time of year, not shrinking.

The best argument an Alarmist could use, in my opinion, is that the “surge” made the ice “less-thick”, and therefore it will be easier to melt away next July. (We shall see what we shall see.) However the media attempts to make it sound like the ice is melting in January. It isn’t, and in fact the modeled “volume” calculations make this winter seem only slightly different from the boredom of normalcy.


Of course, none of us like the boredom of normalcy. This is especially true of the young. Now that I’m older the boredom of a snowless winter seems rather attractive, but when I was young I yearned for blizzards. And, in fact, there is just such blizzard-sensationalism at our fingertips, but unfortunately the media doesn’t like to report blizzards. Such news goes against their Global Warming meme, so they abstain from reporting it. Therefore, if you want such excitement, I highly recommend the Ice Age Now site, here:

One interesting phenomenon I have observed, through frequenting the above site, is that hand in hand with the “surge” to the north there seems to be cold to the south. For every action there is a reaction, and in atmospheric terms this seems to mean that, if the westerlies veer especially far to the north, then easterlies develop underneath.

This creates an odd dichotomy where it can be raining in Stockholm as it snows on the Saudis. Where the north gets a surge the south gets a backwash. Where Norway gets air that originated in the Gulf of Mexico, the north coast of Africa gets air that originated in Siberia.

In conclusion, I have some advise to give to the beautiful blonds that legend states live in Sweden.  (Sound of my cellphone dialing.)

Hi.  Purportedly in January you beautiful blonds yearn to travel to Mediterranean islands, to drink wine outdoors in cafes. Well, before you make your reservations, understand it snowed in Sicily.


It will do you no good to cancel those reservations and turn to restaurants in Crete, for here is a view of a cafe in Crete:


Now, as I am sure you beautiful blonds will not be satisfied, nor give up on the idea of an escape from rainy, gloomy Stockholm, just because the Mediterranean is snowy, I would like to suggest you beautiful Swedish blonds consider vacationing on my farm in New Hampshire.

Not that it would warm you, but it might warm me. And it might make my wife downright hot.

(Anything is better than just sitting around and being cold, as winter drags on and on.)



10 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph Meets Fred–

  1. Really good observations again, Caleb. If we don’t learn from all this, it’s our own fault… I think I see where it is leading, but am bound to be surprised. At 69ya, that is very good for me, within limits. We might get to understand what to do next, having already inherited the means. Unless the ‘enlightened progressives’ shoot the messengers – hardly the first time for that. Happy New Year everyone, all the same!

    • My guess, and it is only a guess, is that we are seeing the start of the Quiet Sun’s effect. Considering we haven’t seen a Quiet Sun of even a modest sort in over a hundred years, we have no modern records of what happens when the sun gets quiet. We are “seeing things for the first time”, though in actual fact Quiet Suns have occurred before, including the rather big one that occurred during the Little Ice Age.

      It may seem odd that the first effect of a cooling sun is a warmer Pole, but it how things work when change knocks the atmosphere and oceans out of one precarious sort of balance, and it moves towards a new precarious sort of balance.

      In actual fact the atmosphere is never quite in balance, and the only unchanging thing is change itself.

      • Do you think “Quiet Sun” is also the reason for the recent record-high global temperatures? I find it somewhat odd that a weaker Sun would cause this. Why do you think Sun is the culprit – is it the last game in town in skeptic circles?

      • The “record” was set by .02 degrees (the old record being 1998). Does that make the rate of warming .02 degrees in 19 years?

        It is generally accepted that the warm year was generated by the big El Nino (the 1998 record was also generated by a big El Nino.

        So what generates El Ninos? A weakening of the Trade winds.

        What creates the winds? Energy from the sun.

        Can you follow the logic? Less solar=less wind=warmer pacific=warmer earth.

  2. Here’s a graph I found, sea-surface temperatures have been going up while the solar maximums have been getting weaker. Does the solar hypothesis hold any water?

    • Yes. As I said, less solar=less wind=warmer Pacific=warmer earth.

      What strong winds do is cause up-welling that brings cold water from the deeps up to the surface.

      In a way the initial effect the sun has is the opposite of what a small mind would expect. A warmer “noisy” sun generates upwelling and a cooler sea, while a cooler “quiet” sun allows cool waters to sink and generates a warmer sea. Get it?

  3. Is there any data that shows there are less winds these days? Or data about upwellling?

    If temperatures keep up/rising after this El Nino, will you consider that perhaps your hypothesis is wrong?

    • It is the increase and decrease in the intensity of the Trade Winds that determines if the the warm surface water is pushed over to Australia with up-welling by Peru (La Nina), or else the warm surface water sloshes back east to Peru (El Nino).

      The strength of the Trade Winds varies according to whether the Pressure is higher in Tahiti than Australia or lower, and there is a measure of that relationship. This is in turn effected by the strength and movement of the MJO.

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