I should begin by mentioning the sun has gone spotless for 31 days, using the “layman’s count”, (which doesn’t include sun-specks that would not have been visible with older telescopes.)
Although for years I have heard Alarmists state that the variations in the sun’s output are not enough to cause variations in our weather here on earth, I have seen too many studies that suggest otherwise, to swallow the idea that the only thing influencing our weather is CO2. (Exhibit A is the coincidental matching up of the Maunder Minimum with the Little Ice Age).
I should also state I do not think we really understand the engineering involved. It seems hideously complex to me, and to involve a lot more than visible light. The number of cloud partials created by cosmic rays changes, the chemistry of Ozone in the upper atmosphere is effected by shifting levels of infrared radiation (or is it ultraviolet?), and even the frequency of volcanic eruptions at high latitudes increases (due to things I can’t fathom.)
In some ways a Quiet Sun is a wrench in the works of our efforts to comprehend various actions and reactions we thought we were starting to get a handle on. Various cycles and oscillations now are liable to go out of sync, with the addition of a new factor. (For example, I’ve been waiting patiently for the AMO to move into the second half of its sixty year cycle, where it switches from “warm” to “cold”, but I confess to a certain unease, because the Quiet Sun may mess it all up.)
It was while straining to get my little mind around the enormity of the factors involved that I found myself becoming increasingly aware what a small factor CO2 is, in the totality of the scheme of things. Water is by far the most dynamic and vital greenhouse gas, and is so quick to respond that it likely erases any effect a slight alteration of a trace gas like CO2 has.
However the trivial effect of a rise of four molecules per million of CO2 in the atmosphere is not trivial in the minds of Alarmists. Sometimes it seems they see absolutely everything as being caused by CO2. If you hit your thumb with a hammer, CO2 is to blame. And therefore, even if CO2 doesn’t effect the physical atmosphere, it sure does effect the mental atmosphere of science and art and politics and even Superbowl parties.
Therefore I am nervous about the hoopla likely to arise when the effects of the Quiet Sun start to manifest, for, as certain as winter follows fall, every cotton-picking thing the Quiet sun causes will be ascribed to CO2. The Alarmists simply will not be able to help themselves. They have been expecting things to go haywire, and therefore when things do go haywire they will congratulate themselves and feel certain they know the cause, when they don’t. (It is a bit like the mother of ten who stated she knew the cause of pregnancy was pink champagne.)
In any case 31 days without a sunspot is something to sit up and take note of. The sun is most definitely going “Quiet”.
One effect of less energy coming from the sun may be less energetic winds, which produces an effect quite contrary to what one might expect, namely: Warmer waters. It is when the Trade Winds get strong that the warmer surface waters get pushed west to Australia, and there is up-welling from the cold deeps off the coast of Peru, and we see the cooler temperatures of a La Nina. When those winds weaken the milder surface water sloshes back east towards Peru and we get the warmer temperatures of an El Nino. Considering the last El Nino was warmer than expected and the current La Nina is not as cool as expected, the Trade Winds would seemingly be the culprit and be weaker, but of course Alarmists immediately blame CO2, not the Quiet Sun.
Then, as soon as you have warmer tropics against a general background of a cooler planet, you can get some rip roaring winds going, further to the north, and also the jet stream may become more loopy, to transport the excess heat north and bring things towards the elusive balance the planet can never achieve (because the sunhine keeps seasonally flipping back and forth from Pole to Pole.) (They haven’t blamed CO2 for that…….yet.)
The loopy (meridional) jet stream has brought a lot of mildness up to the Pole this year, including two remarkable “surges” I have described in these notes, and now it looks like a third is trying to set up.
When I last posted the general area of low pressure I called “Ralph” has at long last been pushed off the Pole by high pressure I dubbed Fred. The question was whether Fred could hold his ground, and allow some cold air to build over the Pole, or would a new incarnation of Ralph manifest with more mild air rushing north to be squandered to the depths of the arctic night. Right off the bat a pacific “Hula-Ralph” appeared and drew a feeder-band north of Alaska, and Fred slowly backed towards western Russia and weakened.
Fred did manage to keep a north Atlantic gale from coming north, but as that storm sank southeast through Scandinavia it pumped high pressure in its wake, and that high pressure slid swiftly to Scandinavia and, on its west side, south winds began to create a new “surge”. In that surge low pressures began to pop up.
Meanwhile very strong high pressure grew on the Pacific side, and between that high and what was left of Hula-Ralph and the new Atlantic lows a strong cross-polar-flow began to develop from Siberia-to-Canada. This was a complete reversal of the Canada-to-Siberia flow of only a few days earlier.
By January 7th some purple can be seen on the coast of the Laptev Sea, in the temperature map, representing -50°C air pouring off the Tundra. Close to the surface this air is swiftly warmed, for the Arctic Sea is at -1.9°C, just the other side of ice only around 5 feet thick, and compared to -50°C that is like a warm radiator. However not much higher up the air is not warmed much, and it is never good news for North America to see purple in the Laptev Sea and a cross-polar-flow.
Today’s map shows a string of Atlantic lows feeding into the Pole, plus some new Pacific air coming in from the other side. Ralph is back, and the planet continues to squander its reserves of warmth.
The pause between surges did allow temperatures in the Central Arctic to dip with five degrees of normal, but now we shall see if this surge can raise them, and generate more Alarmist hoopla.
The extent graph shows a new dip, caused by the erosion of ice in Bering Strait due to the invasion of Hula-Ralph.
Between now and the maximum the ice that forms is outside the Arctic Sea, and is fleeting stuff that never lasts very long into the spring. The place most interesting to watch will be Barents Sea. The Atlantic surges have made it hard for ice to expand south there, and Svalbard is experiencing a nearly ice-free winter so far. (I’ve seen Alarmist headlines focusing there.)
While there is likely to be all sorts of hoopla about the edges of the ice, and how that effects the extent graph, what I am interested in is whether the “surges” will cause the ice to be thinner. To me it seems only logical that the imports of milder air should make the ice thinner, (though it might increase the depth of the snow on top of that ice.)
Below is a comparison with last year, at this date. 2016 is to the left and 2017 to the right.
The ice definitely looks thinner on the Pacific side and north of the Canadian Archipelago (except right by the shore), but there is a tongue of thicker ice this year from the Pole towards the New Siberian Islands that is a bit of a surprise to me. I’ll need to think about that.
In earlier posts I’ve commented that when a surge rushes up to the Pole a sort of “backwash” occurs further south. The “Ice Age Now” site is a gold mine of stories about the current “backwash”.
I like this picture of Istanbul, Turkey:
I’ll likely update later, after I research the Sahara. What is a sea-ice post without a mention of the Sahara? I did notice the cold front marking the edge of the “backwash” was getting down that way, a couple days ago:
Notice in the above map it is warmer in Scotland than in Sicily. Scotland is in the “surge”, and Sicily in the “backwash.”
SLOVAKIA 15 DEGREES COLDER THAN NORTH POLE (-35°C VS -20°C)
SNOW ON GREEK BEACHES
REFUGEES SUFFER IN GREEK CAMPS AS FUNDS ARE MISHANDLED
MEANWHILE, BACK ON THE RANCH…
Across the Pond, in North America, a record-setting cold wave has broken, with the arctic outbreak surging all the way to the Carolina’s with sub zero temperatures (-17°C), only, like a big wave followed by a big undertow, to be followed by a surge of mild air up the east coast of the USA. This “January Thaw” is likely the next “surge” headed up to the Pole, as the pattern remains meridional.
Temperatures where I live in New Hampshire have risen from -2°F (-19°C) two days ago to 41°F (+5°C) this morning. As the warm air pushed north we had a brief blast of heavy wet snow, and the roads were treacherous last night, but this morning it is sunny and breezy and the wet roads are nearly blinding when you need to drive into the low sun. I am enjoying the mildness while I can, because I don’t trust this back-and-forth weather at all. I can recall two winters back when I was a teenager (1960’s) when we had January Thaws so mild I was able to take off my shirt and sunbathe, and both were followed by major snowstorms in February. (One being the “Hundred Hour Snow”.)
LATE THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE
I’ve had to attend to “important stuff”, which basically boils down to worldly responsibilities (yawn) that one cannot neglect without spiritual repercussions and even spiritual harm. So only now can I stay up late and try to catch up on the cloud-watching I have missed. It amounts to dreaming, so I don’t think it will hurt me all that much if I miss a little sleep.
The “backwash” is a huge distraction. I am suppose to be focused on Sea-ice but the snows that have fallen on the islands of Greece are amazing. Postpone your vacation there, until further notice.
There is other interesting “backwash” news as well, which you can study if you visit the “Ice Age Now” site. But I need to grit my teeth and discipline my mind to focus on the Pole.
The problem is that, though this post is suppose to be about a “third surge”, so far the surge has been a bit of a dud. To really generate sensationalist headlines you need arctic temperatures (in places) thirty degrees above normal, but the best we can seem to manage (so far) is a lousy seven degrees above normal.
In case you are wondering why seven degrees above normal is no big deal, you should understand the green line in the above graph describes more ordinary and “zonal” conditions at the Pole, when conditions are basically windless and cold air can sink and pool as high pressure. As soon as it gets more windy the air gets more “mixed” and temperatures jump. Therefore to be seven degrees above normal when, rather than “zonal”, conditions are “meridional”, is nothing to write home about. In fact it is a bit boring.
How could this happen to me? I am being embarrassed by this unruly weather! Here I go to all the trouble of posting a blog with a sensationalist headline, and the weather can’t even bother to do the decent thing, and obey me? What gives?
To find out, I suppose I should look at the maps.
When I began this post we had a lovely train of Atlantic lows training up in what I call “Ralph’s signature hook” to the Pole:
What I failed to notice was in the temperature map. The relatively mild air was not heading straight up to the Pole, but was deflected east along the shores of Siberia.
The above map shows a low exploding off the coast of Norway, which involves more heat not making it to the Pole.
In order to visualize the warmth being used up off the coast of Norway, and not making it up to the Pole, it is helpful to look at the UK Met map:
All the pink fronts in the above maps are “occlusions” which are, in the simplified world of North American weather, basically the warm sector of our tidy weather systems lifted off the ground. Across the Pond, they seldom have tidy weather systems, which likely explains why their better forecasters never have time to comb their hair and look slightly demented. (I call the above map more of a mess than a map.) All I can deduce is that a heck of a lot of milder air never made it to the Pole, and instead is wound up in occlusions off Norway’s coast.
Also the above maps show that the North Atlantic lows have established a more normal north-to-south flow in Fram Strait, and sea-ice can finally progress down the east coast of Greenland. As was pointed out by the blogger “Fred4d” in the comments of this post, truly cold air is finally getting down to Iceland.
However the cold is transient, and just as temperatures where I live went from -2°F to 55°F, the slug of mild air passing over me now will reach Iceland by Sunday:
While this mildness is coming north over the Atlantic, the actual center of the low will crash into Greenland, and transit the over-10,000-foot-tall icecap through what I call “morphistication”, and continue on to be the next incarnation of “Ralph” at the Pole. (If you can believe computer models, that is.)
If this actually happens, it will add to the unreal, “unprecedented” snows they’ve been having on Greenland, which had been experiencing a lull:
Furthermore, it will add to my wonder: I’m puzzled by the fact some of these surges make no headway, and wind up as a tangle of occlusions off the coast of Norway, while the next surge finds the 10,000-plus icecap of Greenland no problem whatsoever and (if the models are correct) traipses right up to the Pole.
Some talk of “blocking high pressure”, but my imagination is thinking about something that doesn’t allow a block, and rather offers an opening. I decided it needed a name, and decided to dub this figment of my imagination an “Arcticorf”. (Short for “Arctic Orifice”.)
Now, we are accustomed to think of storms moving west to east, in the Westerlies, but when they get far to the north we notice over and over they screech to a halt and do a little loop-de-loop, before they fade and our attention is diverted to the south, to a secondary on their cold front. However why do they screech to a halt? I assume it is because they have left the Westerlies, and are into the rather tenuous Easterlies that irregularly rotate clockwise around the Pole.
The “Arcticorf” is a nebulous opening rotating clockwise around the Pole in the Easterlies (in my imagination) that allows storms to penetrate the Easterlies and reach the Pole, or even continue right across the Pole.
How to test this theory out? Well, lacking the fabulous amounts of money granted to people who are politically correct, I merely keep track of when and where the “feeder bands” of warmth, (in a meridional pattern) make it north to feed the next reincarnation of “Ralph”. And indeed, the “feeder bands” seem to rotate clockwise around the Pole (and run into problems when crossing the vastness of moisture-less Siberia, but then reappear once they reach the Atlantic).
I am fully aware of how bias will cause me to see what I want to see, but feel I should note that, while the “Arcticorf” was crossing Siberia, the “surge” could not penetrate to the Pole, however, (if computer models are correct), the next surge will have no problem, just when the “Articorf” reaches the Atlantic and makes it possible.