ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph’s Recurrent Currents–

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?



11 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph’s Recurrent Currents–

  1. CO2 has a clear direct & observable warming effect. What is left is figuring out how the feedbacks work and how much total warming we are likely to get – opinions differ on the numbers.

    • Styrge with all respect CO2 does not have a clear direct effect and for you to claim so is merely a demonstration of your total ignorance about science and the atmosphere. CO2 is a pipsqueak of a molecule with respect to warming and any effect it has is almost totally over whelmed by water vapour. You mention feedbacks and if you know anything about the climate models you know the modelers use water vapour to do all the heavy lifting warming wise.
      I could go on but to claim that CO2’s climate influence is noticeably greater than natural fluctuations is just wrong.

    • The Creator was amazing when He created you.

      Anyway, I’ve allowed you to contribute your two-cents-worth. Now I’m going to give you a “time-out”, so you don’t clutter up this site with comments. There are other contributors who give me far more pleasure, as the lone moderator of this site, especially as I have a business to run, and six inches of snow to clear up, and therefore I am going to take the attitude of W.C. Fields, “Go away, kid. Ya bother me.”

      I’ll just hit the “trash” key if you pop up, so find other ways to spend your time, until my next post.

  2. An animation that will remind you to the clouds you were gazing at sitting in the classroom is the following:
    It is a one week forecaster.

    You can use the Image Slider of press the square and make a choice for the speed + -. You can switch to other variables: temperature + pressure and precipitation + clouds are also very interesting, not to forget ‘snow’ or ‘wind speed 10 m’. ‘Temperature’ reveals interesting patterns as well. You can also change Map Area: you will love to see the same animations for the Arctic.

    Following these animations during weeks, the pattern of Low Pressure area’s following ‘the Atlantic Highway’ is impressing. Last year in summertime and autumn often the depressions were ending in the warmer Arctic, but since autumn they are also ‘riding north of Norway’ and then diving southwards into Russia and then heading to the East – bringing lots of snow. The ‘warm flows’ look warm, -10 ºC being much warmer than -25 ºC but still are cold.

    The last year cold/warm pattern for East and West US changed this year: this year is more or less the reverse of last year. More cold to the West, more ‘warm’ to the East. In general. Those and many more interesting patterns you can discover. When you didn’t know this link, I am sure you (and other readers) are going to like it!

  3. Hi Caleb. With regards to what Styrge had to say, yes, extra CO2 is supposed to “warm” where it is driest, and you can’t deny that the temperature has “moderated” in the Arctic. The moderating temperatures there are the only thing that is “driving” the higher world temperature average. It is not inconceivable, then, that CO2 may be playing a part in that. The REAL question is “is this beneficial for the planet as a whole, and is this causing ‘dangerous global warming’?”

    I agree with your analysis that Earth is wasting precious stored heat as it sends these storms north. It is obvious that this moisture that is being sent north is falling out over the northern portions of the continents and the Arctic islands. With the very quiet Sun, the Earth’s oceans can’t afford to squander their stored heat, but they are in what I consider God’s thermostat for keeping at least the tropics from wandering too far from normal temperatures.

    The reconstructed temperature records seem to imply that CO2 follows temperature and continues to rise for some time AFTER temperature starts to decline. This process you are observing – the warmer Arctic and the storm tracks racing to the pole – actually suggests to me that if CO2 increase does anything, it is to cause global cooling in the end. After all, drawing the heat north where it goes off to space should tend to cool the planet, and when the Sun takes a nap, cooling the planet can plunge it into at least a mini ice age.

    The problem with the “alarmists” is that they don’t seem able to think passed their computer outputs, and their computer outputs are too limited to understand what the sum total of factors are. I think you have identified a very significant factor, recognizing that heat is being transported, and lost, to the north – especially during northern hemispheric winter. In time, I think the scientists that read your articles will come to realize that both our observations are true. But the one thing that the alarmists will never accept is that one truly big volcanic eruption probably will place as much or more CO2 into the atmosphere as man does burning carbon fuels for heat and energy for a year, so we aren’t causing the climate change in process – moving towards an ice age of some sort – but may be contributing to it in some minor way. It would be nice if we could find truly usable, steady power from something other than burning carbon fuels, but until we do, I think we need to continue to support all humanity, not just the elite.

    • It’s great to come home to a comment as long and thoughtful as this one, after snow-blowing the Farm-childcare drives and lots, and then building an igloo for the kids. Currently I’m sipping chicken noodle soup and giving your comment a second reading. Thanks.

  4. I see the surge in Arctic temps this morning on the DMI chart. I think your assessment, Caleb, is correct.

    It is easy to determine that the surge is NOT caused by CO2. Many people still run to CO2 as the cause of any warming. They’re just not doing their homework….

  5. The current polar mess (see nullschool 250mb wind) and Ralph’s persistence, remind me of words of wise weather/climate folk. They point out that planetary cooling actually increases turbulence ie wild weather. Because the polar exits are unabated when the solar equatorially-dominated energy entrance slows down. There are frictional losses in moving larger masses to the poles, I suppose. There are pressure losses when hot air is not so plied up at the hot zone, allowing more freedom for the vortex to wander off to places like Morocco and New Zealand. And who could blame them?
    So clouds increase, even more warm air can get a welcome cooling off, and enquiring minds can meet their Ralphs and who knows what else? Hopefully a certain type of snowflake will melt away under the flame of knowledge (some hope!), and those poor freezing Italian earthquake victims can be dug out in time ( failing hope). A savage snowstorm at the inauguration would help…….

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