ARCTIC SEA ICE –Roaring Ralph–Updated with Sahara Report plus Spanish beaches

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

Russian Icebreakers Stuck in the Arctic Global Warming

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.

Spain Weather

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.

21 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Roaring Ralph–Updated with Sahara Report plus Spanish beaches

    • prec·e·dent
      an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances.

      • Thanks, Stewart. It is an important word to spell correctly, in these times.

        Did you see see that one of Trump’s first acts was to take down the “climate change” page at the White House website?

        I feel like I’ve been delivered of a long, long pain.

    • Massive snow and ice cover from the Nth Pole to Algeria, Turkey, Arabia, Nth Burma, Mexico etc.. Now on the near midsummer ranges in the SH from the 39th parallel eg Ruapehu, to the Sth Pole. Plus wild meridional storms breaking trees etc. all over. Won’t say you have been presidented, but trumped for sure. Just the start as we predicted. Based on physical facts, not models. However, we are still learning, and must go where the (real) data leads us. Random temperature transects across the arctic from say 60deg latitude tell us reality – nothing sizzling at all, or even melting.
      This weather pattern change was never going to be nice, unlike a bit of warming, but only fools say we can change it.

      • The meter of snow on the Sahara near the Atlas mountains makes for some stunning pictures. Let’s hope the desert greens a bit.

  1. Very interesting winter to follow. Went from being cold coast to coast and border to border in the lower 48 (which is not common) to being quite mild coast to coast and border to border, even over much of Canada. Churchill got up to 32 F, which for them is 40 degrees above normal. Now the pattern is threatening to flip to cold again. Never remember a winter quite like this.

    Your friend styrge appears cock-sure about approaching or breaking record lows for next summer. We will see. The million dollar question is always whether the unusual ice loss is a result of global warming, or just from an unusual weather pattern.

    • I have a bad feeling (as a person not fond of cold and snow) about the second half of winter. I think the North American arctic outbreaks will be savage, and there likely be three or even four of them, separated by thaws not as kindly as the current one. It will be part of the loopy “meridional” jet stream.

      With all the churning of the Arctic Sea I am expecting next summer to play out like 2013. That year began with Alarmists hugely optimistic, because the ice was not only thin but riven by all sorts cracks caused by winter storms. But then, likely because the winter had chilled the water under the ice, the ice stubbornly refused to melt.

      But, having stuck out my neck with a foolish guess, I’ll confess I wouldn’t be surprised if I was wrong. The “Quiet Sun” has weakened the Trade Winds, so the feeble La Nina may give way to another El Nino, next summer. We are heading out into territory where our maps are blank.

      Very fascinating. But, I think, due to the sun, and not CO2.

  2. I’m not dead-sure about a new record low next summer but would just like to point out that chances for one are better than “ever”. It is entirely possible that the conditions will not be favorable to ice-loss next summer. One should note that the processes leading to increasing ice-losses have been churning for clearly over a decade so perhaps they should not be easily dismissed as just “weather”.

    BTW is there data showing weakened trade wind trends? The weather-reanalyses would be the place to look for the effect, global weather-forecasters like the ECMWF have a global model of the state of the weather for any given instant in time and for “satellite-era” the models are known to be rather good.

    • Styrge,
      There are people who study the Trade Winds with the same intensity we study the sea-ice, because the Trade Winds are so important in terms of whether the Pacific is in El Nino or La Nada or La Nina mode.

      The WUWT “Enso page” has a lot of good stuff, (though it is going through some changes and not all the stuff is up to date).

      One of the better indicators of what the Trade Winds are up to is called the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index). Way back in the days of the British Empire (between 1860 and 1880 I think), a fellow in India compared the pressures in Darwin and Tahiti, and made the connection that the Trade Winds sped up when the pressure was lower in Darwin, and slowed down when the pressure was lower in Tahiti, and this gave him hints about how much rain they could expect in India.

      It turns out it can give hints about what the weather will be like in other places, including my own back yard, as well, especially when you couple it with the Madden–Julian oscillation.

      I don’t pretend to comprehend all the intricacies. I don’t even comprehend the intricacies of sea-ice. Therefore you will have to go study for yourself, or take my word for it: Weaker Trade Winds make for a warmer world, in the short term.

      Whether the weaker Trade Winds are due to the “Quiet Sun”, or CO2, is a matter of theory and debate. But you can hold 97% certainty that any man who states their own conclusions involves absolute certainty, at this early date, is a politician and not a scientist.

    • I have to admit I do like the guys up there in rowboats.

      Some if those Russian icebreakers are monsters. I’ve heard they are even thinking of a sort of combination aircraft-carrier-icebreaker. Would they be going to all that trouble if sea-ice was a thing of the past?

      • @Caleb on January 21, 2017 at 5:24 pm said: Exactly, that was my ‘oh so subtle’:hint. They have business there, it is their home waters. Meanwhile Australia is building a biggish icebreaker too, The Ross Sea ice is more difficult this season, for our resupplies now starting. More data, re the winds that have piled ice inwards to colder zones, not melted it -think Siberian waters?
        Weatherbell is touting a mild El Nino in some months time. We now realise that Nino is the discharge (of heat-energy, ultimately to space). while Nina is a recharge. Wind-cleared skies and exposed cooler water under the tropic sun….We may be about to see what happens when Enso gets weaker. Which I probably worked through in the 60s, but we did not have the instruments to show us on nice little coloured screenshots. It is what we predict, for what that is worth (nothing right now, like all the rest). Be good to do science without the sycophantic whining of the pseudo-religious. Hunting for truth in the form of facts proven by data is one of life’s great joys, whatever the Field.

  3. styrge on January 22, 2017 at 1:37 pm said:
    Here’s a nice set of graphs: You have now convinced me of your total dishonesy, troll I have met before. You graph the period of a warming AMO, now ending I might add. That would appear to be just the first falsehood in that set of snapshots. Just go. You no longer interest me, but i don’t run the blog.

  4. The next polar flow is now starting to deliver snow to below 1000 metres in NZ’s far south. The foot of snow on the Cardrona area in Otago won’t have melted yet. They had good powder on areas used, and busy until it snowed, as mountain bike runs. They were shovelling frantically yesterday….. All that southern country was deep under glaciers, to a mile or more.

  5. Just noticed a drop from c.-30 to c.-40degC in Antarctica on nullschool. Could be an early seasonal downturn. We shall see……Sea ice rise came early Feb last year.

    For comparison, this is a SH chartset of Oceania to 65deg south. Lows go clockwise, Highs anti. The Cyclonic system over southern NZ could almost reach the south pole, hence the regular snowfalls this summer. A bit of settled summery weather has finally arrived here in our north, but with a southerly breeze (good for sailing) which is cool. The sun is lovely at last, but lacks much burning power. This has been the norm of recent years, ie quiet sun. Also little rain here, but excessive rain on the south island west coast even for that wet zone.

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