ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph’s Dichotomy–With Second (Sunday) Update–

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.


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.


Stay tuned.

28 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph’s Dichotomy–With Second (Sunday) Update–

  1. I was wondering how you fared in NH with your latest blizzard. When I saw the picture with all that snow, I automatically assumed it was your hackyard, not the exotic, far away land of Sinbad!

    Since the alarmists were not winning with global warming, they then digressed to “climate change” and “Global Weirding.” I guess they think a weird planet will kill us just as quickly as a warm one.

    Of course, there is nothing weird about a February blizzard in NH. That is pretty much business as ususal.

    • We have another storm warning, for another foot tomorrow. This turns the tables from last year, when we only got dusted, and all the deep snow was south of us.

      It was quite mild only three days ago, up in the fifties with all the winter birds piping their fool heads off in the woods, and of course a local Alarmist also piped up with a doom and gloom comment about the beautiful and delightful thaw. I figure they hexed everything, and the Al Gore effect kicked in, and we’ll have five feet of snow before this is all over.

    • Right now clearing up snow from our storms has me sleeping like a baby, basically due to exhaustion, but when this round of winter is over I’ll use this excellent bit of “white noise” to avoid insomnia. (Of course, my wife has the power of veto.)

      I wonder how stir-crazy the crews of those boats are getting. When they signed up I don’t think they imagined the cruise was going to take six months! Still, they’ll be getting one heck of a pay-check, when they finally get ashore.

  2. Those blizzards and most snow were predicted to have gone, along with all (but maybe 1million km2, or one ‘wadham’) of sea ice. By the great experts form their campuses, the fabled 97%..
    Great shot of the ‘breaker . Luckily, their vodka tank will be large. Number 3 hold, I believe.

    Down in the SH, the summer snowline keeps falling to near 1000m most weeks. Not a good summer there, I am told. Will be seeing my spies back up in northland nz next week for a full report….
    The antarctic extent graph has levelled out:
    A little +ve AAO seems to be starting, ice may grow early a little:

    • If I am “right” it is because I am a simple witness, using my lying eyes to do this old fashioned thing called “observe.”

      If Alarmists are “wrong”, it is usually because they are blinded by their politics, and refuse to observe.

      Not all Alarmists refuse to observe. When I can find the time I like to tiptoe over to Nevin’s site, and eavesdrop on the chatter there, for despite the bias causing a sort of color-blindness, I learn of keen observations I myself don’t have the time to see.

      The really “right” thing is reality. It just sits there, Truth, as we mortals resemble the ten blind men describing an elephant as being ten different things, not one of them an elephant.

  3. The comparison between the Sun and number of CO2 is rather dumb with the text “decide for yourself”. The effect of both can be quantified, so do the goddamn math instead of deciding on a bias or a whim.

    • Mind your manners or you will not be welcome here.

      If I cause you a headache, either take an aspirin or else don’t visit. Why make yourself miserable?

      I make it quite clear my math is poor, because I spent math classes studying clouds out the window. Therefore I am acquainted with clouds, and know more about them than you give me credit for.

      When it comes to numbers, I go to fellows who are better at that subject. They have gone to climate scientists and asked to see the data. The data has been withheld.

      Why withhold the numbers if the numbers can be trusted and everything is “decided”?

      It makes me suspicious when people withhold and hide evidence. This not “bias” or a “whim”. It is common sense, and a sign I am a good citizen who is attempting to become an educated voter, and not some foolish chump who opens his mouth and accepts whatever pablum is spooned in.

      “The buyer beware.”

    • I’ll defer and leave it to people more proficient to critique the analysis, but will confess I’m impressed one would dare such a back-of-an-envelope calculation. At the very least it should generate thought about how much heat is lost at the Pole. Thanks.

    h/t to Slater @whaleoil. Such fun that I have spread it around…..
    Thanks for the heat-loss calculation, that is a good start. The more calcs the better. Noticed a drop of c.15C to around -50C today in SH minima at nullschool. For what we are about to receive (the gunners’ prayer), we cannot dodge.
    Interesting there, to also see how Siberian ground Ts control LT, lowering arctic winds arriving from the pole. That is, the ground is so frigid, it has spare coolth to go around. While arctic sea air T, below freezing , is further cooled and deeply so,by Russia and Canada on land. Could be a long winter….
    And some fools might actually want to look at northern temps on nullschool, but learning is not their game, is it? Never mind, we can study the heatpump in action. Entropy it is that rules, not some trace gas.

    • I’m going to have to start paying more attention to Antarctica. Thanks for keeping me updated.

      The way the air pumped up to the Pole has so swiftly cooled is pretty impressive, this time around. Were there fewer clouds? I haven’t had the time to check, as we’ve had three feet of snow in four days, in my neck of the woods.

    • I read the guest post at the “Whaleoil” site. Very interesting that the sea-water temperature hasn’t changed since Cook measured it in 1777.

      History makes a good stabilizer to the out-of-balance alarm generated by computer models.

      Thanks for the link.

      • Of course, we could get arctic temps from Cook’s voyages too. I mean, who were Vancouver et al, also? Their science, and Scott’s large contribution later, are all available Lamb used these things, but charlatans followed him. I see the met office finally shifting towards reality, possibly, of late. The northern admiralties have much, over centuries. I mean, Alfred the Great started our RN arctic voyages, and the nordics had been at it for centuries even then. Only priests could write, but records can survive.

  5. All I can say about my nullschool snapshot is that it showed the arctic basin with about 1/16th of the Total Cloud Water of Denmark Strait region. Similar for other moisture measures. I assume one could see the stars….Of course, your pressure/temp maps tell the story too.
    The analysis of JRo looks to be in the right paddock, but I have not looked closely yet. Cannot promise it would help!. Mathematicians, please comment.

  6. CAPE, or Convective Available Potential Energy on nullschool, while Ralph is shown to be active, could be worth trying. It seemed non-existent 5 minutes ago – hope to catch Ralph when he is ‘raging’. Works in Joules.

  7. The last smidgin of excess heat, from the 2014-2016 El Ninos, is draining out of the Tropics; and causing a temporary (?) positive brightness temperature anomaly in Northern Latitudes:

    There is a possibility that another El Nino episode is starting, but this is NOT a good time of year to make reliable predictions.

    • Thanks Nigel. DMI show lowest Nth Polar temps this year. Nullschool same at S Polar region, c.-57C. Faintly positive AAO today again. (Caleb-I found ‘Private Browsing’ or similar, vastly improves abilities of old computers by freeing up working memory. For things like nullschool). Showing us who is boss on this planet, aye. That calc of temp/energy loss on a global scale, above, if correct, represents a lot of energy leaving.
      Quiet Accumulated Cyclone Energy – yep. Also ‘La Nada’ ENSO. If it persists, well, I have wondered if it reduces energy intake to equatorial Pacific waters. We may soon find out….
      Wonder what ralph has in mind. Positive AO now.

    • Yes, and all of Antarctica anomaly is in West Antarctica, every where else normal or above. Any ideas on that unique pattern this year? Similar in Arctic, one or two regions make most of the difference, but we hear “the Arctic is melting”

        What i see is the normal seasonal cooling starting in the very high (9-13000ft) plateau between say 20-120 East of the Greenwich Meridian, and flowing downhill (Katabatically) towards the Indian and South Pacific Oceans. Can be very confusing, but West of the meridian,the peninsula moves out of the polar circle and into slightly less frigid currents. To be trumpeted by clowns as burning red hot when they would freeze quickly in it. Same as the ‘melting’ North Pole.. I add that the use of -15C as hot is fraudulent, and that may soon be sheeted home.
        I (we) have been doing these comparisons because the wild meridional weather pattern is expected to set in at both ends of the globe. Seems to be doing so, so far anyway. Yes, it should be a reaction to the very quiet sun’s easing up of heating pressure on the polar vortices. Letting them wander north and south. spreading the coolth, whoopee how nice, i don’t think. The resulting wind shifts have their own effects on ocean cold upwellings etc., just to complicate things more. This is why Caleb has this strange fascination, when he is not shovelling.

    • Yes, that heatshedding is concerning, particularly here in Maine. Per DMI, Arctic temps have been plumeting and are at low for season, nearly at long-term average for this date. It’s ok if it stays up there and makes a lot of ice, but not so good if our current mild air gets displaced with that -25C stuff.

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