The phenomenon of low pressure that I dubbed “Ralph” appearing over the Pole, fed by “feeder bands” of air from the south (usually the Atlantic), is persisting, creating a dichotomy of above-normal temperatures to the north, and cold to the south. The media tends to blare headlines about the mild Pole, and ignore the people shuddering to the south. For example, this picture below is not of Arctic tundra.
The above picture is from the United Arab Emirates, on the Arabian Peninsula jutting out into the warm Persian Gulf. At the start of the month some Siberian “backwash” rode southwest and crossed over Iran and managed to cross the Persian Gulf without being heated enough to cause rain, and the Arab population of the Emirates was shocked by extreme cold (for them) and wind-driven snow they had never experienced before. Apparently some experienced emotions more akin to panic, than bemusement over a novelty.
Meanwhile the northern element of the dichotomy went right on sucking southern heat to the constant dark of arctic winter, and losing that heat to outer space. When you combine the heat lost in this manner, with the heat lost when an ordinarily absorbent desert landscape abruptly has the albedo of freshly fallen snow (at more southern latitudes where the sun actually does shine), the conclusion should be that our planet seems to be being very efficient about cooling.
When we last looked at maps a Pacific feeder-band was fading, along with a Pacific “Hula-Ralph”, as gales stalling down by Iceland were creating a new southern flow on their east sides, and creating a new-feeder band aiming north in the Atlantic.
By February third we see a new Ralph at the Pole, and in the temperature map Ralph’s “signature”, a distinct hook of milder temperatures. (There is some Pacific inflow but it is unable to progress to the Pole).
By February 6th high pressure is starting to build strongly over Scandinavia, and the flow between it and the Icelandic low is perpetuating the feeder-bands north. This situation has persisted to today.
Ralph’s “signature” is again obvious in the temperature map on the ninth.
Here is the current UK Met map of the huge high pressure over Scandinavia, with lows either forced up the east coast of Greenland, or suppressed down in the Mediterranean.
The temperature anomaly map (Produced by Dr, Ryan Maue at the Weatherbell site) shows above-normal temperatures in the Arctic, and the cold backwash over Europe. The Mideast has temporarily gotten a break, and warmed.
However all the relatively mild air pumped to the arctic will fuel low pressure up there, which will push the high pressure south from Scandinavia, and the Mideast will experience the backwash’s chill again. Here the anomaly map’s prediction of the situation four days from now, with temperatures well above normal to the north, and perhaps more snow in the high ground, in the southern deserts.
Just in case you doubt the heat brought up to the Pole is lost, I’ll include the next four days of anomaly maps for the Pole. It begins with temperatures far above normal in a blob of mild air north of Greenland, but as that air is swirled into Ralph’s signature hook, it becomes less and less above normal, until it is nearly normal. (Greenland to upper right in these maps).
Not only is the transported-north heat lost, but there is latent heat released as the moisture brought north is snowed out, and that released heat is also lost.
It may be above normal at the Pole, but it is -1°F (-18°C) down here at 42.7° north Latitude, in southern New Hampshire, and we have to clean up after a blizzard that just gave us 18 inches of fluffy snow (46 cm). I’ll update this post with the current sea-ice maps once I am done the chores.
Yowza. I ache all over and have a face made ruddy by windburn and a nose purpled by frostbite. People probably think I’ve been hitting the gin. (I wish). The high temperature here was 19°F (-7°C), and we are back down to 9°F (-13°C) shortly after nightfall. The wind was cruel this morning, but now things are settling to a calm, before the next surge of southern air rushes north towards Labrador, Iceland, and the North Pole. With the season advanced and the Atlantic colder (though still above normal) this surge will give us snow and partially be deflected out to sea on its way north, and then another blizzard may form on the trailing cold front and clobber us on Sunday. So forgive me if I’m slow on posting about both “Sea Ice” and “Local Views”.
There hasn’t seemed to be much notice about the connection between warm air surging north from our south, over us, and the mildness at the Pole. But I’ve noticed.
One thing these surges do at the top if the North Atlantic is to push the sea-ice north, especially around Svalbard, which is about as far north as people live, and can notice. The NRL Concentration map shows that once again the surge has pushed the sea-ice away from the north coast of Svalbard.
The problem with the concentration map is that it doesn’t tell you if the ice is an inch thick or twelve feet thick. However, neither does the Sea-Ice extent graph, that people like to fuss about. It has shown a couple of dips recently, largely due to “feeder-bands” coming north through Bering Strait (on the Pacific side) and past Svalbard (on the Atlantic side) and pushing the sea-ice back north. (Also a gale howled east winds in the Sea of Okhotsk on the Pacific coast of Russia, crushing all that sea-ice west and shrinking the “extent” there for a week or so, before it promptly grew back).
One can expect uproars during the next two months about the quirks in the above extent graph, although it is largely much ado about nothing, involving advances and retreats at the very periphery of the sea-ice, often outside the Arctic Sea, (for example in the north of the Baltic Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Gulf of St Lawrence, or south of Bering Strait; I don’t think the Yellow Sea or the bays in the east of the USA are included.) Such sea-ice is always ephemeral, gone by May, and is largely dependent on the weather patterns.
In fact the weather patterns during the winter are more interesting to study, and the movement of the sea’s ice is largely dependent on such patterns. Therefore the edge of the sea-ice is also dependent on such patterns. Also, because the edge of the ice has a lot to do with “extent”, “extent” can have more to do with whether the winter pattern is zonal or meridional than with the temperature of the water or air, and most especially with whether there is a slightest variation of CO2 in the atmosphere.
So far the past winter’s pattern has reversed the “normal flow”, (which I suppose is called “normal” because it was the pattern of the recent past). The so-called “normal” is shown in the illustration below:
It can be seen that “normally” the Transpolar Drift would export a lot of sea-ice from the Laptev and East Siberian Seas and move it towards the north coast of Svalbard. But this winter the “surges” of mild air have often reversed the flow, and the winds have often been west along the Siberian coast, and rather than south-to-north the Laptev sea-ice (and also the Kara sea-ice and East-Siberian sea-ice) has been shoved west to east. This is especially seen in the NRL thickness map. In each of the three Siberian marginal seas the ice has been moved from west to east, with thin baby-ice on the western side and sea-ice piled up on the eastern side. Of especial interest is the east of Kara Sea, for the piled-up sea-ice was able to squeeze through Vilkitsky Strait (which separates Severnaya Zemlya from the Russian mainland), and this sea-ice has continued east, forming a clearly defined stripe of thicker ice between the Laptev Sea and the Pole.
Although this west-to-east movement of sea-ice does create polynyas and thin baby-ice on the west side of the Siberian marginal seas, the net result is more ice has remained towards Siberia, and the west sides of the seas contain such masses of ice that they were able to trap two icebreakers escorting two tankers.
It should be noted that this build-up has little to do with temperatures, which remain above normal, and are showing yet another upward spike as the latest feeder-band refuels “Ralph”.
Instead the build up of sea-ice has everything to do with changing weather patterns. Below is a comparison of the thickness this year with the thickness last year. 2016 to the left, 2017 to the right.
It can be seen there is more ice this year in the Siberian quadrant and less ice in the Canadian quadrant. (Alarmists will focus on Canada and Skeptics on Siberia.) In actual fact next summer’s minimum likely depends most upon the temperature of the water under the ice (and whether that water was cooled by being more open last fall, or warmed by infusions of Atlantic water brought north by the “surges”.)
What has caused the change in the pattern? Below are two possible causes. To the left is our enormous sun, and to the right is a representative of 2500 tiny molecules. Both include tiny spots. To the left is a new sunspot, after five days when the Quiet Sun was again spotless. To the right is a single red spot, representing one molecule of CO2 per 2500.
Decide for yourself, and stay tuned.
SECOND UPDATE; SUNDAY AFTERNOON
I could not park this post in the archives without a mention, in closing, of the newest incarnation of “Ralph”, with his signature. It’s a big one.
The spike in polar temperatures is also large:
This just perpetuates conditions described earlier in this post. The Transpolar Drift is impeded and strong west winds will blow along the Siberian Coast. Models suggest Ralph will grow a sort of secondary down towards Barents Sea which will sink into Russia, and high pressure will build back north over Scandinavia.
I’ll have to visit the “Ice Age Now” site to keep an eye out for cold events at more southerly latitudes, if I can find the time. At my southerly latitude of 42.7°N we had three inches of fluff yesterday as a warm front tried, and failed, to press north. Last night the high to our north pressed south, the sky cleared, and the full moon was brilliant on the new fallen snow, but by dawn it was gray again, light snow began falling by midmorning, and now we are expecting another foot of snow, as a second storm hits. Gale force gusts by Monday morning. Sigh. Another mess to clean up. It may be a while before I can post again. Global Warming? Humbug!
I’m not sure the Saudi camels approve.
And all the mild air of each Atlantic “feeder-band” is cold enough by the time it reaches Greenland to fall as snow, adding to the record dump and amazing increase in “mass balance”. It has nearly reached its yearly high four months early.