In my last post I showed how low pressure came north right over Greenland, surprising me by retaining its strength despite passing over an icecap 10,000 feet tall. Now the entity I dubbed “Ralph” has reformed over the Pole, and again is surprising me, for despite being cut off from feeder-bands of fuel it is going to retain its identity for a week, according to models. (Usually Ralph’s incarnations fade fairly quickly, or slide south. If the models are wrong it will be because secondary and tertiary lows, forming towards Russia, will tug Ralph in that direction.) Here is a quick recap of the storm coming north:
The lowest I saw the pressure get was 958 mb, though I was busy on the 18th and it may have dipped lower. WUWT reported two Russian icebreakers were waiting out extreme ice conditions (likely caused by the compression of pressure ridges) in the eastern entrance to Laptev Sea
I am a bit worried the storm will so mess up the ice that it will be hard for the Russians to find a good location for their blue ice airstrip and their yearly Barneo camp.
Here are more recent maps of Ralph doing what Ralph does, which is to swirl milder-than-normal air at the Pole during the coldest and darkest days of the year, where it will be lost to outer space. In the temperature maps you can see Ralph’s “signature”, a distinctive hook of milder air to the Pole.
Of course this makes a spike in the temperatures-north-of-80°-north-latitude graph. (A lot of the cold in Canada is south of 80°).
Ralph’s roaring will also compress the ice north in Barent’s Sea, reducing the “extent” of sea-ice. Between “mild” temperatures and reduced extent the Alarmists will have a lot to make a hoopla about, but what I keep an eye on is how quickly the heat is lost to outer space. (Extra heat is released during the phase changes from vapor to liquid and from liquid to snow.)
To watch the heat be lost (according to the best guess of the GFS model) I like to turn to Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps over at the Weatherbell site. I look at the temperature anomaly maps for the Pole. You can see the anomaly starts out as white heat (actually well below freezing) and then the heat fades, and even some blue below-normal begins to reappear. (These are from yesterday’s GFS, and represent the anomalies yesterday, tomorrow, Monday, and next Thursday.
Perhaps you can see why I describe the heat as “squandered”. It basically gets up there too cooled to do any melting, and then vanishes. This is not to say the sea-ice isn’t getting clobbered. It will be interesting to see what things look like when the light returns. However it does seem our planet is in the mood to lose heat.
Another thing I look for in these maps is where the heat is aiming north; where the “feeder-bands” set up. The second map seems to show one in the Canadian Archipelago, and the last map seems to show Alaska has warmed. The most effective feeds come up through the North Atlantic, but that highway looks effectively closed, for now. I’d expect Ralph to be starved and fade away, which is why I’m surprised to see Ralph persisting at the Pole in some computer models for over a week. We’ll have to watch that, to see how it pans out.
If work allows I’ll add a few ice-extent maps later.
The NRL Concentration map shows the northward surges have again pushed the ice north in Barents Sea, north of Svalbard. (Also some erosion of sea-ice on Pacific coast.)
However it is the NRL Thickness map that shows the real power of Ralph’s roaring. As the counterclockwise winds have blown at a steady 20-30 knots from west to east, the sea-ice has piled up on the west sides of islands and been pulled away from the east sides, forming polynyas that don’t show well in the concentration map, (as they are swiftly skimmed over with thin ice, and therefore show as 100% concentration even if the ice is very thin.) For example, in Laptev Sea you can see ice piled up against the New Siberian Islands to the east, but very thin ice towards Severnaya Zemyla to the west. The same phenomenon can be seen in the Kara Sea and the East Siberian Sea.
This map also shows how swiftly the open water northeast of Svalbard is being skimmed over. It makes me wonder how much extra ice is formed, when miles of it are crunched up like an accordion, leaving miles of open water which swiftly forms new ice. Also, is the exposed water chilled more than it would be if sheltered by ice? Also, does the chilled water sink and have no effect on the summer melt, or will the summer melt be retarded by colder water remaining at the surface beneath the ice?
I heard some postulate that the summer melt of 2013 was such a surprise to many because there was so much exposed water at the end of the 2012 melt that the water was significantly chilled, and less able to melt from beneath in 2013. If I win the lottery I’ll fund some of the crazy scientists who figure out ways to get measurements out on that ice, not because I have a political ax to grind, but because curiosity is killing this cat.
In any case, the Arctic Sea is getting put through gyrations, and we likely should expect to see the unexpected as a result.
Here is a forecast map of Ralph still sitting over the Pole next Wedensday, though weaker and with less wind.
What is fascinating is that a series of four lows look like they are attempting to curl up to the Pole from the North Atlantic. It will be interesting to see if they can make it north, or if they collapse down to Russia instead. Stay Tuned.
If I have time I will talk a bit about the cold backwash further south, that always seems to appear when warm surges come north. I noted a headline on “Drudge” stating a foot of snow fell on the Sahara Desert, and the “Ice Age Now” site is full of headlines about snows in Algeria and Tunisia and Morroco, (including 20 children trapped by snow in a school bus in Tunisia, awaiting rescue,) and you know me: I just love to work Africa into a sea-ice discussion. I have no time right now to do more than glace at headlines. (And it is Friday, and I might decide to go out and whoop it up instead of clicking those headlines, this evening. Sorry for the serious neglect of my duties, if it happens, but sometimes we unpaid fanatics need to get a life.)
UPDATE —- A few pictures from the “backwash”
Aïn Séfra, where the Atlas Mountains stoop down to meet the Sahara Desert in Algeria, last saw a dusting of snow in December, when it was described as “the first snow on 40 years”. (Actually 38 years, as the last snow was in 1979). This second snow was described as “the most in living memory”, for they got a solid meter of snow.
Meanwhile, across the Mediterranean in Rhonda, on the south coast of Spain by the warm sea, they had their first snow in ninety years.
Now is not the day to go to the Mediterranean beaches:
Of course, Russians and Scandinavians would have no problem with such beaches. There are all sorts of pictures of Polar Bear Clubs swimming in ice-water. Me? Those days are past. I’ve joined the ranks of the stodgy.
Conclusion? The pattern is meridional. The Pole may be warmer, but Spain and the Sahara are not.
It is wisest not to focus exclusively on any one small part of the planet, and be ignorant of others. After all, there is such a thing as “The Big Picture.” Of course, only the Creator really sees it, but we should at least drop the pleasure of our bias from time to time, and attempt to broaden our minds just a little bit.