Sometimes my ego rears its head, when watching an incredibly beautiful sunrise, and I behave as if I am the one who created it. Usually I am attempting to capture the beauty I am witnessing, and feel I am doing a darn good job, with my poem or watercolor, and a sense of joy and well-being comes over me. Then, even though the sunrise fades away, I feel I have captured it on a sheet of paper. Or I feel that way until I show my work to some practical person who hasn’t yet had their first cup of coffee. Often that person brings me down to earth with a thud in short order, with comment such as, “That was a perfectly good piece of paper until you dirtied it up with all your dratted ink.”
It used to really upset me, when people didn’t see what I could see, but gradually, over the years, my ego grew so punctured it couldn’t puff up so much and be such a problem. Gradually I realized I myself didn’t create the beauty of the sunrise, and, what’s more, even the ability to appreciate the beauty was a gift given to me, and not really mine. Lastly, I realized that my artwork was like a scrawl on tracing paper, a rough facsimile of what I was attempting to copy, and once the sunrise was gone the tracing paper I was left with could never remotely approach the beauty it attempted to match.
In a sense I feel science resembles art, once we are dealing with a subject such as meteorology, which involves so many variables that we soon are dealing with chaos beyond the ability of even computers to calculate. There are times when, midst the chaos, amazing beauty is revealed to us. Even in the destructive swirls made by a gigantic storm which gathers into concentrated power out of amorphous chaos, beauty appears, and this is especially true when we see a sort of logic and reason in the chaos. We glimpse a simplicity in what is complex, an elegance in what seems random and reasonless, and it is when a forecaster gets such glimpses he is able to foretell the future. However even his best efforts are like a piece of tracing paper with a scrawl, and is but a crude facsimile of the beauty weather actually is.
Of course, I am seeing meteorology through an artist’s eyes. I simply loved to watch the clouds out the classroom window, and seldom attended to the blackboard. Looking back, I actually preferred Science class to English class, but there was only a single science teacher in twelve years of school who ever made the blackboard as interesting as clouds. If I have any aptitude towards science at all, it is due to his class, a River Jordan I crossed as a Freshman in high school. If I’d had that teacher for further classes it might have been a fork in my road, and I might have developed different disciplines than I did. As it was school went back to being an exercise in monotony until an English teacher made a blackboard as interesting as clouds, when I was a senior. But what mattered most was the clouds.
As I take notes on what is happening up in the arctic I don’t pretend to be a true scientist. Hopefully I entertain scientists, with my observations, by sketching on tracing paper the beauty which astonishes and refreshes me. What is going on reveals the magnificence of our Creator, and all I am doing is going, “Oh Wow” like a lamebrained hippy. But, sometimes, simply by saying, “Oh Wow”, even the weary and jaded look to see what is worth the fuss, even if they only look to have the fun of belittling it.
I’m fairly certain wise meteorologists, if only they had the capacity to utilize the English language, could do a far better job of explaining what is occurring at the Pole this year, but few do. Therefore, in my mischievous way, I jot down my observations.
I noted a persistent swirl of low pressure lurking around the north Pole, even when the AO was negative, and dubbed the swirl, “Ralph.” Then I nourished a bias that allowed me to focus on where Ralph lurked, even when he was shoved off the Pole, (and even, some would say, he didn’t exist at all.) (A bias is a great toy.)
I also noted Ralph needed pulses of milder and moister air to feed him, and for a time dubbed these “Reinforcements”, and numbered them. Once I got to R-22 or so, I got tired of the math, and just called them “feeder-bands”.
Lastly, I noted these feeder-bands didn’t always come north at the same place, and it began to occur to me that they rotated around the Pole in a clockwise manner, as if they were in the polar easterlies, and amounted to a sort of portal, or hole. I’ve dubbed this portal the “Arcticorf”, (for the “Arctic Orifice”), and am currently nourishing an enjoyable bias which allows me to to see the Arcticorf, even when it is more or less invisible, and an element of my imagination.
When I last posted the Arcticorf had entered its invisible phase. As it crossed Bering Strait it could send Pacific air north as a “Hula-Ralph”, but then it had to swing clockwise across the vast expanse of Siberia, which has zilch to offer in terms of the warmth and moisture necessary for any sort of decent feeder-band. The power of Ralph continued to try to draw air north, but, lacking any help from the Arcticorf, it split the difference, and you got two feeble attempts, one Pacific and one Atlantic. Then, as the Arcticorf approached Europe, the Atlantic input increased, but the heat leaned towards the coast of Eurasia, and also the storms developed down in the Atlantic and used up heat off the coast of Norway:
(Missed 12z maps)
By January 14 the Arcticorf had managed to create a weak “Ralph” by the Pole, but the gale off the coast of Norway had stolen a lot of the northbound mildness, and therefore the Atlantic “surge” was nothing like the two prior “surges”, as the Arcticorf crossed the Atlantic. In fact the gale off the coast of Norway brought a sort of anti-surge south, and Iceland had its coldest air of the winter.
But here is where it gets interesting. As the Arcticorf completed its crossing of the Atlantic, seemingly blowing its chance to fuel a third “surge” feeder-band, an amazing storm took an impossible route, right over Greenland, from south to north. We are talking about a massive obstacle, when we talk of Greenland, with a lot of Greenland’s icecap over 10,000 feet tall. However the amazing storm didn’t give a bleep, (obviously due to help from the invisible Arcticorf):
Now what are we left with? A new incarnation of Ralph, basically fed by a feeder-band that took an impossible route, coming the wrong way up through Fram Strait, and creating a gale with pressures below 960 mb.
I seem to remember that last summer, when we saw a gale with pressures around 960 mb, there was a lot of talk about how it might be the “strongest ever” or “second-strongest ever.” Well, the current GFS “initial” map shows a dual centered gale with one center down to 958 mb.
And will you look at the winds? The sea-ice is being shoved and crunched and ground up and pulverized by winds between 20 and 40 knots, over a vast area.
I’ll update this post when I get time, and talk about what satellites can see of the sea-ice in the pitch dark, but for now I feel I should just tap a few shoulders and say, “Hey fellas, I know I’m sort of a clown and buffoon compared to you Oh-so-wise authorities, but maybe you should take my nonsense a bit more seriously. Ralph is back, and he’s back with teeth.
What I would ask you to consider is this: Do you think the current derangement of the sea-ice situation at the Pole is due to a difference of a few molecules per million, between this year and last year, in terms of CO2? Or do you think maybe we should consider the possibility the giant star, that heats the whole bleeping planet, has gone quiet?