The weather has been fairly tranquil up over the Pole, and I suppose that is bad, if you are after sensationalism. The best I can offer is that temperatures have remained steadily below normal.
We seem to be returning to an earlier pattern we saw reversed to some degree last summer. I’ll call the old pattern “The Quiet Sun Pattern”. Last summer it was reversed by an abundance of milder air left over from a major El Nino, but now that surplus is used up, and we are returning to the former pattern, after a brief interruption.
“The Quiet Sun Pattern”, as I envision it, generally involves above-normal temperatures during the winter and below normal temperatures during the summer.
The winter’s “warmth” is an illusion, as temperatures are far below freezing, and a meridional pattern brings more fuel north for more storms. The winter air has less chance to settle and let the cold sink in, because it is so windy. The sea-ice is fractured and constantly shifted, and the waters beneath the ice are far more disturbed than they are in the deep calm and cold of a more zonal pattern. (I think we need more on-ice buoys, and more research about changes in the waters under the ice.)
During the summer the meridional flow continues, albeit in a more benign manner. For the most part the winds seem to die down, but there are more clouds and more low pressure. Speaking as a merely subjective onlooker, there seems to be less of the high pressure that allows sunshine to beam down twenty-four-hours-a-day for days on end. The most wonderful pictures of melt-water pools and melt-water rivulets and melt-water drains seem to be from before the sun became so quiet. More recently the pools have displayed a disconcerting tendency to freeze over, even in July, and then be covered by drifting snow, even in July, before resuming their melt. Consequently it has become very obvious that the melt from above pales in comparison to the melt from below, concerning the total melt of sea-ice. On a number of occasions the O-buoys clearly demonstrated that the summer melt was over, at the surface, and the autumnal refreeze had begun, before the sea-ice broke up, melted from beneath.
“The Quiet Sun Pattern”, in increasing the low pressure at the Pole, has encouraged the formation of quite a number of small breezy storms, and a few remarkable gales. (By “remarkable” I mean pressures down toward 960 mb, with gale-force winds.) These storms, even the small ones, jostle the sea-ice by reversing the flow of the usual Beafort Gyre and Transpolar Drift.
Besides a shift of winds reversing the movement of the sea-ice above the water, there is a stirring below the water. The Physics of the stirring is wonderful and miles beyond my comprehension. (Google “Ekman Transport” and “Ekman Spirals”). I prefer to think of the stirring in layman’s terms: The sea-ice is like an oar in the water, and when the ice “pulls” against the water, you see the blade make whirlpools and other examples of agitated water, This stuff happens even with the smaller storms, that barely nudge the ice. The really big gales make a shambles of the situation, and often expose the water itself to their winds. They result in extreme agitation of the water under the ice.
What does this mean in terms of the melting of the ice? Well, usually there is a protective layer of colder water between the sea-ice and slightly warmer water beneath. If the water is agitated two things happen. The sea-ice above gets melted faster than usual, and the slightly-warmer water beneath gets chilled more than usual. (Of course, the superficial and shallow media only looks at the surface, and cannot look deeply; therefore you see lots of headlines about less ice on the surface, but never a peep about a chilled “pycnocline”, (which is the highfalutin, lar-de-dar word for those slightly-warmer waters under the sea-ice).
There should be such pycnocline headlines, because last summer there was not one, but two bombastic gales churning the Arctic Sea in August. There were plenty of headlines about the way the sea-ice was melted, but did a single reporter shed a single tear for the poor neglected pycnocline?
No! What heartless cads these reporters must be! The pycnocline may very well be shivering, chilled to the bone, but do those snotty reporters even turn their heads to look? No. And why? Because they are shallow people, and shallow people cannot look deeply, and see how significant the pycnocline is. Instead shallow people think a trace gas, a few molecules in a million, matters more. They traipse about like Marie Antoinette (reputedly) saying “let them eat cake”, utterly oblivious to the fact the pycnocline has power, the pycnocline will not stand being ignored, and the pycnocline will arise and….and…(hmm….I’m getting a bit too carried away)….(delete the reference to guillotines)….melt less ice than usual this summer.
For the moment, however, the power of the pycnocline is subdued, for things are quiet at the Pole. There is very little stirring going on. A hush has fallen. Perhaps it is the calm before the storm? All await in breathless anticipation, for what occurs could be the complete ruin of investors in Carbon Credits, or make them (briefly) fabulously wealthy.
This is a time the sea-ice has strange power, for it “remembers” the cold of a month ago. It is colder than the water below, and colder than the air above. Even though the air above is warmer, it sucks the heat from that air and makes the air colder. At the same time, even though the water below is warmer, it sucks the heat from that water and freezes the water closest to the ice. In fact the ice can be getting thicker, even if the air above is above freezing, because the ice is thirty-below, four feet down.
Of course this cannot go on for long. As the ice sucks heat from the air above and the water below it slowly warms to a degree it loses its power to even stay frozen, but in May sea-ice is a strange substance that messes up common-sense calculations.
When the weather is predominantly calm, the strange power of May sea-ice resists melting, and the “extent” graph slows its decent. This aggravates Alarmists, bu they will not want to listen to the reasons, for it has zilch to do with CO2, and much to do with a lack of stirring winds.
In any case, the “extent” graph has failed to keep up with last year’s “Unprecedented” decent, (which is embarrassing to some Alarmists, who think the melt should be faster.)
The above graph shows we are closer to the Highest September extent (2014) than we are to setting a new record, but we are also close to matching the
lowest highest September extent in the last decade. (2006) [2006 lilac, 2016 red, 2017 purple, below]
Of course, now that “extent” graphs are no longer supportive to the idea of a sea-ice “death spiral”, Alarmists will retreat to the “volume” graphs, which are very flimsy, and full of flaws, because we have a hard time measuring “thickness.” But the DMI graph shows volume greater than last year’s.
Now, because I know how difficult it is to determine the thickness of sea-ice, I do question some assumptions DMI makes, as they determine volume. But I would do so respectfully, for I have an inkling of how much work is involved to do what they do. Furthermore, I constantly use their insights, even if I do so with reservations. I am grateful for DMI’s hard work, even if I disagree with some of their assumptions.
Therefore I am embarrassed I have allowed a certain soul to comment on my site who spits on the DMI. You see, PIOMAS interpretations of data state that 2017 has less volume than 2016, and this certain soul has publicly stated that if you don’t agree with PIOMASS you are part of some sort of right-wing conspiracy.
I would like to apologize to all who work at DMI. I’m so sorry things have degraded to this degree. I myself praise your work, even if I disagree with some petty details, and I am hugely sorry some, in their smallness, seek to belittle you down to their own littleness.
We should stand up against those who seek to shrink us to their own shrunken state.
The best way to do this is to ignore them, in favor of simply focusing on what some make be a dull thing, “the facts”, but what is actually the beauty made by a magnificent Creator.
Each day makes us tired, and we eventually quit, and collapse into sleep. Is it over? No, because we are awakened by this magnificent thing called a “sunrise.” Can scientists capture a sunrise with calipers and thermometers? No, but artists can’t capture a sunrise either, with paint and/or symphonies.
Considering neither Scientists nor Artists can capture this thing that brings us from bed every day, how utterly arrogant and ignorant Alarmists seem, when they insist they have everything all figured out.
I do my best to oppose the flamboyant ignorance of Alarmist egotists by simply saying the Truth, as it is revealed to me. If I have time, I will continue to do so by including the DMI maps of the recent past, (which show the quiet lull that currently is upon the North Pole), as an update to this post.
However, no matter how carefully I observe, you can be sure a certain individual will reappear like a bad penny to insist his preconceptions trump my actual observations. I think I may just delete his banality, for I prefer other commentators, who comment with signs they have this thing called “an independent mind.”
UPDATE —DMI Maps—
As promised, below are the DMI maps for the past ten days. In them I am looking for a couple of things.
First, I am looking to see any signs of the “MHO”, which is a concocted idea I’m playing around with which may not exist. In theory the MHO is a sort of impulse that travels clockwise (east to west) and provides an entrance for feeder bands that feed the low pressure “Ralph” at the Pole.
Second, I am watching for a certain positioning of “Byoof” (The Beaufort High) on the Canadian side of the Pole, with “Ralph” displaced on the Eurasian side, which creates a Pacific to Atlantic cross-polar-flow. A perfect set-up would look something like this:
What this flow tends to do is decrease the ice in the Chukchi Sea north of Bering Strait, by pushing it north, and to increase the ice in Barents Sea, by pushing ice south. This happens to be something we saw develop this spring. On the Pacific side Bering Strait has less ice, while sea-ice is crunched right up against the coast of Svalbard on the Atlantic side.
Ron Clutz posted on the sea-ice in Barents Sea here:
In the comments, he shared this observation: “I note that Barents, at least in the last decade, rarely has an “average” year. Ice extents there follow a “dumbbell” distribution: either Barents melts out early and completely, or it hangs onto significant ice throughout. So maybe this year ice will hang on there.”
What I am keeping an eye out for is a sign the ice doesn’t sit where it is during the tranquility of summer, but instead continues south. Usually this requires the ice shifting towards Greenland and being flushed down its east coast, but there is lore from 1817 which seems to describe a far more general and massive discharge. (Part of me is still small boy, and prefers things to go crash and bang.)
Here is the current thickness map, showing the sea-ice pushed north of Bering Strait and south into Fram Strait and Barents Sea:
Here are the DMI maps. Hopefully I’ll find time to comment on them later.
When we last looked, the “MHO” (even if it is a sort of optical illusion) had finished a circuit of the Pole, (which was what made me notice it again and comment upon its possible existence). A new MHO feeder-band pumping north from east Siberia had allowed a “Ralph” to weakly form over the Pole. (A “Ralph” tends to interrupt any cross-polar-flow, when it sits directly upon the Pole.) This version of Ralph then weakly meandered south towards western Russia, in the very area that my MHO-theory should have had a east-to-west feeder-band pumping low pressure north.
Of course, when one is looking at ink-blots, one tends to see what their psychologist wants them to see, and this bias extends to weather maps. I creatively decided that, if the MJO (Madden-Jullien Occilation) can weaken and basically vanish from time to time, so could my MHO. The poor thing just happened to run into a particularly stout Scandinavian High-pressure, and was (make up a scientific-sounding word and insert it here.) (Hmm…perhaps it shrank up to the Pole and self-cannibalized itself. Yes…”self-cannibalized” is good.)
In any case, and on the other hand, it could be that, maybe, perhaps, what might have happened was what was left of the MHO had continued west and was starting to influence the north Atlantic, where low pressure was becoming more obvious, though the lows did seem obedient to west-to-east westerlies, and to refuse to reinforce a polar “Ralph”, as the MHO theoretically should.
Also Byoof was being pushed north out of the Beaufort Sea by a weak low that had absolutely no business being in the Beaufort Sea. (I hate it when weather has absolutely no respect for my theories. It is like “the ugly fact destroying the beautiful hypothesis.”)
The remains of the weak Ralph’s warm sector, in the west Kara Sea, was part of what pulled a new and more vigorous low north into the Laptev Sea, with a Ralph-like “signature” making a hook in the temperature isotherms far to the east of where the MHO should be.
By this point I was ready to shred my theories and make a snowstorm of confetti with them. Byoof was so far astray it was more of a North Atlantic feature, the lows in the North Atlantic were toodling along straight to the east as if westerlies rule and there is no such thing as a MHO, there was no sort of cross-polar-flow whatseoever, and the closest things to a “Ralph” were weak lows in the wrong places (Beaufort Sea and Laptev Sea).
Anyway, by this time the so-called MHO should have proceeded west across the Atlantic and be over Greenland. So I sullenly looked that way, and lo and behold! If a little “signature” hook didn’t just then squeak up Greenland’s east coast, and a little “Ralph” appear on top of Greenland and wander towards the Pole:
Let this be a lesson to you: If you insanely persist with a bias with dedication, you can find verification at least half as often as a blind squirrel finds a nut.
As this pathetic version of “Ralph” faded south, north of Svalbard, and was swept into the Westerlies, as a small storm in Barents Sea , the MHO theoretically would move further west to the Canadian Archipelago. Indeed a new “signature” hook appears in the Beaufort Sea temperature graph. (Ignore the man behind the curtain, who happens to be a huge gale fading in the Aleutians, whose east “warm sector” side sent a surge of Pacific air up through Alaska.) What is also interesting is how the Atlantic side of Byoof filled in, as a sort of tail ridging back towards the Pacific pumped up and became the new Byoof.
Unfortunately all the lows seem to be drifting west-to-east, as if the Westerlies are creeping north, as they do every summer. It makes it hard to talk about a east-to-west MHO when everything moves the wrong way.
Desperation is a theoretician’s friend. Please notice that the new Byoof is shaped like a mitten. The space between the fingers and thumb is low pressure, and…..Gadzooks! It is moving east-to-west! (Cue Hallelujah Chorus) (This post is becoming a bit like a PBS documentary.)
By May 23 the old “Ralph”, still malingering in Barents Sea, combined with a low down over central Siberia, and was able to take advantage of the weakness in Byoof, formed by the faint low between the “thumb and fingers” and, in the slightly milder air brought north, a new “Ralph” forms.
Man! It sure took a lot of work, but now at long last Byoof is back where it’s suppose to be, Ralph is parked in the correct position on the Eurasian side, and we finally, finally are getting the Pacific to Atlantic cross-polar-flow I’ve been keeping an eye out for.
It’s a bit hard to explain Ralph forming where he did, using my MHO theory, as, at anything like a constant rate, the MHO would be back in Alaska, or in Bering Strait at best. But maybe I could get away with saying, “It sped up.” No? Well then, I’ll just say the old one “self-cannibalized”, and a new one formed ninety degrees west, around the top of the planet. (If I’ve learned anything from Global Warming, it is that B.S. does not stand for “Bachelor of Science.” )
In conclusion, I hope I have made a description of a dull part of the season entertaining. If you look back at the above maps you will see the isobars are generally far apart, which means the winds have slackened and the ice is shifting less. Also the minus-ten isotherm has vanished from the temperature maps, likely until September.
We are about into enter a brief time, sixty days on the sunniest summer, when the Arctic actually adds more heat to the planet than it subtracts. Not that this surplus sends warm fronts south, for it is largely used up melting ice. However, if the Arctic Ocean was replaced by dry land, warm fronts would come south, for as many as sixty days. It is a time of glorious sunshine twenty-four hours a day (unless, of course, there are clouds). Things will become more interesting. Stay tuned.