ARCTIC SEA ICE –A Spring Lull– UPDATED (Twice)

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.

DMI4 0523 meanT_2017

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.Transpolar Drift Working_area_groß

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.)

DMI4 0523 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

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]

2006 vs 2017 Extent May FullSizeRender

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.

FullSize_DMI4 0523 CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20170523

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.”


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:

Byoof and Ralph FullSizeRender

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:

Thickness 20170525 Attachment-1


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.

LOCAL VIEW –Moody Monday–

Moody 1 FullSizeRender

Sometimes the weekend is too short. I’m not ready for the sheer inanity of my fellow man when Monday rolls around.

I’ve been in an on-line discussion with someone about sea-ice. It has been frustrating because he or she will not talk about the things my eyes can see and that I can point to, but instead resorts to invisible things sensed by satellites, such as “mass-balance.” Finally I gave up trying to show what eyes can see, and basically stated, “Be that way, if you want.” I thought that would be the end of it, but this morning I got this lovely note:

“Caleb, you should be aware by know that the Heartland institute support whatever fake science industry pays them to support. This includes lobbying and generating doubt against regulations on CO2 emissions, ozone-destroying chemicals, second-hand-smoke, endangered species etc. They are part of the paid anti-science forces in the US. You are truly living in a conservative bubble if you are not aware of this. And Fred Singer’s past? For-hire fake scientist…shameful stuff.
I know this won’t be published, I just hope you read this and reflect a bit what kind of forces you are dealing with and endorse.”

Great. I haven’t even had my first coffee.

Anyway, I am reflecting on what kind of forces I am dealing with (if not endorsing.) It made me pout a bit. After all, I am only pointing out what my eyes can see, and discover I am a bad-guy, part of “anti-science forces”. Me!  And I’m such a nice old fossil.

Then, when driving the little children to kindergarten, I discover this lovely object has been parked at the entrance of the high school.

Moody 2 IMG_4929

I think the point of this is to stress the gravity of reckless driving to the high school seniors, who tend to go wild at the time of graduation. However, as is often the case with alarmists focusing on worst-case-scenarios, it immediately backfired. Someone was gawking at the appalling wreck, and promptly went off the road, not fifty yards away.

Moody 3 FullSizeRender

Sometimes human efforts look particularly lame and ineffectual, and I want to stop the world and get off. Funny how often this happens on Mondays.

Take my cheeks in Your palms and raise my eyes
To Your hills, for my vision’s gone heavy.
(Too much talk of itches with hearts so dry
They make thirst.)
                          Faith that has never been steady
Knows most about the worst, yet it yammers
On insistent, (Professor of Dullsville),
As my tired heart slowly hammers
A cage for itself.
                                   Even the seagulls will
Rise from their dumps and let beauty soar
But I need Your help; It would be so easy
For You.
                  You open Springtime’s golden store
Of lemon green, make trees lacy and breezy,
And dab dark pines in honey. One glance kills
All woe, so raise my eyes to Your hills.

Moody 4 FullSizeRender

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barents Bounce-back–

Over at Tony Heller’s site at I spotted an interesting map which emphasizes the growth in sea-ice in Barents Sea since 2006. (more ice than 2006 shows as green.)

Ice gain 0513 FullSizeRender

With the sun up close to 24 hours a day now, at those high latitudes, the increase in ice represents a significant area where sunlight is reflected back to space, as opposed to 2006, where the reduced extent allowed darker waters to embrace the sunlight and suck it into the sea and….and…and eventually result in the highest September ice extent in recent years?

Hmm. Some sort of flaw is boldly rearing its head here, in terms of the simplistic “albedo” theory of how the Pole is to become as ice-free as it was in prior optimums. If we were comparing apples to apples, the above map should mean we would have more sea-ice this September than in 2006. I think we will have more than last year, but more than 2006 would surprise me (though it is not outside of the range of possibility.)

I only bring this up because I think the “albedo” idea is way, way too simple, and the above map should make that obvious. The “albedo” theory is an idea concocted for the simple, in the manner Santa Claus was conceived to explain Christmas to little children.  It needs to be discarded, in the manner serious Christians discard Santa Claus. The reality is far more wonderful.

Let’s just compare last year on May 16 to May 16 this year; (2016 to left, 2017 to right):


Last year there was open water north of Svalbard, where this year ice piles against the north coast. However, before you leap to any conclusions, lets compare May 16 last year (left) with March 1 this year (right):

The polynya northeast of Svalbard should leap out at you. 45 days ago all the sea-ice between Svalbard and Franz Josef Land was slush and pancake ice, in places only inches thick. One could leap to different conclusions two months ago, and indeed some did.

Some concluded that, if the ice was so thin on March 1, it could only get thinner as the sun rose and temperatures moderated between March 1 and May 16, but compare the maps: (March 1 to left, May 16 to right.)

Hmm. Abruptly the waters between Svalbard and Franz Josef Land are filled with ice 4-7 feet thick. What the heck happened?

Well, a little is due to temperatures being below normal, but largely the change was due to winds.  Earlier in the winter south winds shoved the ice north and created polynyas north of Svalbard (and even north of Franz Josef Land at times) but then that pattern reversed and more northerly winds brought all the ice crunching and crashing back south.

Conclusion? The thickness of sea-ice often has little to do with air temperatures, and with any slight effect CO2 may have on that air. Rather it is largely effected by winds.

I should add it is also effected by the temperature of the waters below the ice. And this is another reason the area shown by the above maps is important, for it is the area where Atlantic water enters the arctic.

Atlantic water has a component brought north by the Gulf Stream, and Gulf Stream water has been subjected to warmth that has evaporated enough water to increase the salinity of the sea-water. Gulf Stream water is therefore more warm and more salty than the arctic water it moves into. The warmth makes it want to rise but the salinity makes it want to sink. For a time the warmth holds Gulf Stream water up at the surface, but after a while it cools to a degree where it’s salinity makes it take a dive, and it then flows as warmer but more salty water beneath the cooler but less salty water just beneath the ice. (At this point it is usually referred to as “Atlantic” water rather than “Gulf Stream” water.) In a very general sense, the cooler water just beneath the ice is the “mixed” layer, the Atlantic (and/or Pacific) water is the “pycnocline” layer, and the deeps are, with amazing creativity, called the “deep” layer.

As an aside, I should mention that some don’t think such stratification exists at the Pole. NASA states,  “At high latitudes, the pycnocline and mixed layer are absent“, and proves it with this lovely graphic:

Sea layers ocean-vertical-structure_clip_image002

I suppose they assume the water is so cold at the Pole the variations of temperature don’t matter, especially as the northern waters that head south are so chilled they take a dive and become part of the “deep layer.”

In truth, slight variations of cold temperatures matter a lot, in the world of sea-ice. A tenth of a degree can be the difference between water being liquid or solid, and that can be the difference between cold water sinking from sight or cold water bobbing as ice at the surface.  Therefore sea-ice scientists, while not telling NASA to go to hell (due to funding concerns) are so rude as to ignore NASA graphics and to speak of the arctic’s “mixed”, “pycnocline” and “deep” layers, and some even may divide the pycnocline into “Atlantic”, “Pacific”, and “Preexistent” layers.

Considering a lot of the melt of summer ice comes from beneath, it pays to attend to any news you can find about what is going on under the ice. It turns out the antics of these layers is insidiously complex. It is not enough to merely get a little data from the north and then flee south to a computer, and attempt to model the antics, for there are too many variables and too much chaos-theory involved. What we really need are real-time measurements from real buoys put in place by real scientists with real guts.

Most of what we know about the antics of waters under the ice was discovered by just such gutsy  scientists, and often what was discovered was things that were not suspected beforehand, and therefore were not included in computer models.

For example, the “mixed” layer is assumed to be mixed by waves, as explained by this simple diagram:


Therefore, when ice forms, there can be no waves, and therefore no mixing, right?

Wrong. It turns out there are at least two mixings that occur even when the waters are seemingly still, under the ice. The first is that the ice, as it freezes, exudes salt as brine, and a steady rain of these brine-droplets wormhole down through the new ice and then rain down into the less-salty mixed layer, making it both colder and more salty, and therefore to differentiate differently from the pycnocline. The second is called “Ekman Spirals”, and is caused by Ekman Transport.

Allow me to pretend I understand this Ekman stuff:  Basically floating ice has a keel, which creates drag, which allows the Coriolis force to influence motion. Even in 1897 Nansen noted that the sea-ice drifted at an angle to the direction the wind blew, and in the 1960’s real scientists with real guts were out on the sea-ice noting strange stuff in the waters beneath,

It should be noted that this does not merely mix waters in the “mixed” layer, but pulls up water from the pycnocline as an upwelling:

Conclusion? Well, the ruckus that has been going on all winter and into the spring, in Barents Sea, has had to have had an effect on the Atlantic water moving north into the Arctic. What might that effect be?

How are we to know, without gutsy scientists heading up there to place real buoys that give us real-time data? I sure don’t trust any model, because a model depends on real-time data. If you put guesses in you will get guesses coming out.

My own guess is that the arctic pycnocline has been effected, and in the future this will effect the sub-surface measurements of the layer of “Atlantic” water in other parts of the Arctic Sea.

How? I think there will be less slightly-warmer-slightly-more-saline water to be stirred up by summer arctic storms, to hurry the summer melt. But this is just a guess. How can I know without real-time data?  And how can that data be gathered, if funding is cut at the Pole, so frantic beltway bureaucrats can line their nests?




LOCAL VIEW –Perfected Creation–

I thought I’d include this poem to demonstrate how my mind wanders.

1.) A sea-ice post led to a discussion of drifting continents.

2.) God moving continents about is like a husband moving about the furniture.

3.) We, as the “bridesmaids” God created, likely nagged Him into doing it.

4.) Time for a poem.

For just a moment, every spring,
I see how perfect Eden must have been.
For just a dawn, before bugs come out to sting,
I glimpse how life will be, when freed of sin.
Spring’s an echo of God saying, “It is good.”

We should have accepted the compliment.
Instead it seems we told God that He should
Move the furniture, shift each continent,
End drought but end rain.

                                        What had God created?
A nagging wife? Did our Maker then groan
“This isn’t good!” No, for He clearly stated
The not-good he’d made was, “To be alone.”

The opposite of “alone” is “in love”
And, because God is love, isolation
Is the enemy. Creation dreams of
A great family’s celebration
And, though family may bicker and fight
And be His headache, we’re still His delight.

Rainbow Cloud FullSizeRender


(Photo Credit:  Marlowe Gautreau)

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph Versus Beaufort High–Updated Sunday Night–

This will have to be quick. Certain uninformed people seem to feel sea-ice is not important. They may well be right, but they have gone to bed and I’m still up. But a certain pick-up truck, even less informed than warm and living humans, was so selfish that it blew its starter engine. Therefore I am facing a time of doing stuff that has little to do with sea-ice. But I do snatch this moment, when all are asleep, and when it is too dark and rainy to work on pick-up trucks.

The big news seems to be temperatures are below normal at the Pole. Whoop-de-do. I predicted it, but can’t claim any accolades because I predicted they would dip below normal today, May 13, and I blew that forecast, for it happened nearly two weeks ago, on May 2.

DMI4 0513 meanT_2017

I have suggested that we should not expect to see the “Quiet Sun’s” effect until the Pole has a sun that can effect it. To some this is illogical. How can the rising of the sun make temperatures below normal? Well, it is a colder sun rising, than it was in the past, and though the rising  does warm, it does not warm as much. Just look at the old graphs. Ever since the sun has gone “quiet” this phenomenon has occurred.

Some Alarmists pout and sulk about such a dip below normal. This surprises me. Don’t they know the “Quiet Sun” dipped temperatures below normal even in 2012?  And was not that the year that set the modern record for the least ice?

DMI4 meanT_2012

Before Alarmists become too manic and overjoyed, I should also point out a few differences, which make me say I highly doubt this year’s sea-ice will approach the 2012 lows.

The first is that in 2012 the Quiet Sun, though quiet, was at its maximum. It may have been a low maximum, (“unprecedented” in modern records) but it was a maximum all the same. Now we are plunging back towards the minimum, and can’t expect such a boost.

Secondly, (and this is an amateur, layman’s observation), the Quiet Sun seems have to have increased the likelihood of summer gales over the Arctic Sea. (I assume this is due to an increase in the clash between colder polar air and air to the south.) 2012 was marked by the first of a series of sub-970 mb gales, which, if I may be allowed 20-20 hindsight, are manifestations of low pressure which I in my whimsy have dubbed “Ralph”.

Not all these gales are as effective as the 2012 gale was, when it comes to melting sea-ice. There was a gale in 2013 which was striking, because it failed to melt anywhere nearly as much ice as the 2012 gale did. Why not? My assumption is that the 2012 gale was able to stir up a slightly warmer but more-saline layer of water below the colder but less-saline surface water, but the 2013 gale was unable to access such waters, because the the 2012 gale had stirred the waters so much the sub-surface layer was “used up.”

That layer may have been in some ways replenished during 2014 and 2015, especially as a feature dubbed “The Warm Blob” appeared south of Bering Strait. Therefore last summer, when not one but two sub-970 mb gales churned the Arctic Sea, to some degree the sea-ice could again be melted by sub-surface waters being churned up. However, if this idea has any merit, we now should assume the sub-surface layer has again been “used up.” In other words, the situation under the sea-ice is not the same as 2012, and should be more like 2013.

The “situation under the sea-ice” has become, to me at least, the deciding factor in the summer melt. Too many times have I seen ice refuse to melt, despite thaw, and then have seen ice melt despite freezing above. Even though I am a person who trusts my lying eyes, I have seen stuff happen that indicates something I can’t see, a sort of lurking subconscious, is in control.

There are brave scientists who seek to understand the “situation under the sea-ice.” It is no joke to go into the situations they enter to gain “data”. When most think of the word “data” they don’t conceive of the chance of meeting a 1500 pound bear, or slipping into water below the freezing point of blood, that can kill you faster than strychnine. Such scientists deserve praise and funding. When their funding is cut, while the bleating bureaucrats in Washington DC get fat, it is an insult to science.

The only reason a fellow like me can mutter conjecture about the “situation under the sea-ice” is because the fellows who do the hard work get too little funding to produce the data to shut me up. If they could only show me the facts, I’d mutter no more, but the few facts we have makes me mutter all the more.  Consider this ARGO buoy data from the north Atlantic:

Don’t get me wrong. I am no Math-whiz, and I’m not known to pinch with calipers, but the above graph does give me a layman’s sense some colder-than-we-have-seen water is heading up through the North Atlantic to be part of the “situation under the ice”.

Given this information, I can’t say the sea-ice will be in any hurry to melt this summer. I could be wrong, but I will be more surprised by a summer like 2012, and not as surprised, as some may be, by a summer like 2006, (which began lower than most winters but ended higher than most recent summers.) In fact this year does look in some ways like 2006:

DMI4 0511 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

In order to see how meaningless (in many ways) such extent graphs are this early in the melt-season, look below. The dashed green line was lowest in September (2012) while the purple line was highest (in recent years) in September (2006). (Our current year is in light blue.)

Extent 20170513 FullSizeRender

Certain Alarmists, who do not look very deeply, simply looked at the situation a month ago, and, because 2017 was so very far below 2012, assumed the same would be the case in September. If I dared differ, they adopted a state of high dudgeon. However here we are, only a month later, and this year’s extent is misbehaving. We are still below 2012, but much less so, and we are ahead of 2006, which makes us ahead of the most sea-ice, for September, in recent times.

The state of high dudgeon some Alarmists are now in is mostly because they have never bothered dig deep, and don’t see the other, obvious stuff that “ice extent” involves. Instead they see a graph aim a certain way, and assume it will continue. It is absurd. It is as if a baseball player went three-for-four during the first game of the season, and was batting .750, and they then assumed the batter would hit .750 all season.

Baseball, and arctic sea-ice, is not so simple.

Tomorrow, if I have time, I’ll update this post with maps. I may not have the time, due to a pick-up truck that could care less about arctic sea-ice, and therefore I’ll now briefly summarize.

The Beaufort High has tried to assert itself, but has been bothered by ghosts of Ralph.

The first ghost came north through the western Canadian Archipelago, and a second is now coming north through east-central Siberia. Ralph refuses to be written-off, but the Beaufort high refuses to be written off either. A brawl like Hagler-and-Hearns is developing, and you don’t want to miss it.

Stay tuned.


While updating the maps I’d like to reintroduce an idea I was toying with last summer. Like many of my theories, this idea fails to work a lot, but it works just enough to intrigue me. It is a sort of Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) of the far north, the Mad Old Hooligan Oscillation, (or MHO, as we in-the-know call it.) It theoretically travels invisibly around the Pole from east to west, screwing up the west-to-east motion of storms cruising northeast on the westerlies.

It is the MHO that causes storms politely traveling northeast to veer left and loop-de-loop. It is also the cause of the “feeder-bands” that peel off the more zonal west-to-east flow and stream north to feed the phenomenon of “Ralph” at the Pole.

The MHO  is least apparent in normal and more zonal flows, but becomes more apparent when the flow becomes meridional due to a Quiet Sun, or major volcano, or some other wrench-in-the-works of normal climate-functioning. Because it is so unapparent it is not included in textbooks or climate models, however the MHO explains some of Ralph’s reincarnations during these abnormal Quiet Sun times.

The MHO becomes more apparent when the winter westerlies wind down into their kinder, gentler summer state. It is then that the feeder-bands (or perhaps feeder-blobs) start to head north in a regular, nearly predicable fashion, moving around and around the Pole in a east to west manner.

For example, during the rare occasions when the MHO works without a hitch, you could expect a feeder-band from the Atlantic to be followed by a feeder band up through the Canadian Archipelago, followed by a feeder-band from the Pacific up through Bering Strait, followed by a feeder-band up through East Siberia, and then one up through west Siberia, and then one up through Europe, and finally one up through the Atlantic again.

The problem is: The feeder bands vary greatly in their nature, coming from such different backgrounds, and because some are very maritime while others are very continental, they can magnify or diminish the pulse they are part of, even to the degree that the MHO is only noticed by mad, old hooligans, which is how it got its name.

In any case, as the winter westerlies calm down I’ll point out the MHO-symptoms as I see them.

Also, because I get tired of typing “Beaufort High” I am just going to call it “Byoof”, as a sort of antagonist to “Ralph.”

I was expectring Byoof to be stronger and Ralph to be weaker, because the lagged effects of a strong El Nino have given way to the lagged effects of a weak La Nina, but Ralph wouldn’t quit. In our last bunch of maps we seemed to see the MHO start to send feeder-blobs north, right into the guts of Byoof. The first came from the Pacific and over east Siberia on April 22 and though weak wiped Byoof off the face of the map by April 24. As the MHO swing east west, another feeder-blob came north through Kara Sea and was smack dab over the Pole as a reincarnated Ralph on April 28. As the MHO continued east west the next feeder-blob came up from Greenland on May 1 and crossed the Pole on May 2 as a weak Ralph, even as Byoof  struggled to reestablish itself north of Canada, which gave us this situation on May 3:

Of course, I was interested to see if the MHO could continue around to the east west, perhaps sending a feeder-blob north through Baffin Bay. However wouldn’t you know it? DMI chose just then to go down for nearly a week. I had to go the Ryan Maue’s maps at the Weatherbell site (week free trial offered). This knocked me off stride, as did some inane comments I needed to respond to. Also temperatures north of 80° north latitude were taking a plunge below normal as near-record cold occurred south of 80° in the New Siberian Islands. (And, oh yes, there was also a small matter called earning my living to attend to.)

In any case, by the time the DMI maps were back on line I figured the MHO should have moved on west to Alaska, but instead a low was battling north through the Canadian Archipelago. It shoved Byoof right out of position and up over the Pole.

Though weakened, this low persisted north, shoving Byoof right into the north Atlantic.

By the time this low reaches the Pole it was about the most feeble Ralph we’ve ever seen. Still, it was king of the mountain. In the map below you can see a new Byoof is re-firing in Ralph’s wake, in the archipelago.  The new Ralph is cut off from reinforcements in that direction. Also, perhaps, the invisible MHO has moved on to the west, and no longer supports from Canada, as it is crossing Bering Strait. Will new reinforcements arrive from east Siberia, as the MHO gets there? Watch what happens:

Amazing. Ralph is sitting on the Pole again, and this time the feeder-blob came from Siberia.  Byoof does regain his foothold in the Beaufort Sea, but is having quite a battle keeping his dominance.

I just wanted to show you how the idea of a MHO circling the east-to-west Pole occasionally seems to make a shred of sense. We just saw the invisible make a full circuit. However now that I have pointed it out it may vanish, or become next to impossible to see. (However the same can be said of the MJO: Now you see it, now you don’t).

I’m glad we have O-buoy 14 in place, for we were able to see the feeder pulse (or pulses, for there may have been two) pass north. For a while the camera saw only gray fog, and when the sun came out the BHI effect allowed us to see brief spikes above freezing. (BHI stands for Buoy-Heat-Island, for the skin of buoys is darker than the snow, and thus warmer.)

Obuoy 14 0514 temperature-1week

Obuoy 14 0510 webcam

When the sun returned we witnessed a sparking fresh fall of snow.

Obuoy 14 0513 webcam

Within a day it was wind-whipped into the stiff, sculpted stasrugi of all the rest. The landscape is in fact very arid, and the total snowfall is in inches, not feet.

Obuoy 14 0514 webcam

For the moment this ice is frozen fast and not budging, but it is amazing where the buoy is located, at the junction of a number of important channels in the Northwest Passage. I think we could not have chosen a better place if we had airdropped it by helicopter. I hope very much it survives.

Little change at Barrow, despite Byoof bringing some east winds. It is mostly gray weather, and the ice remains frozen fast to the shore. Temperature is at 23° (-5°C)

Barrow 20170513 23_02_19_229_ABCam_20170514_065900.jpg

The dark line along the horizon may be the reflection of dark water over the horizon on low clouds. However Buoy 2017A to the north still reports ice over three feet thick and thickening.

2017A 20170513 2017A_thick

It will be a while yet before the real melt begins. Stay tuned.

LOCAL VIEW –Chameleon Blues–

Yesterday I shared one of the last songs I wrote as a bachelor. This is another, and might have actually been my last. I like it, because it holds the springtime recklessness that is bound to wind you up in all sorts of trouble, such as marriage, but at that time I was convinced I’d never marry, as I was far too old. (37).

Three good stories are involved with the creation of this song. As I’m in the mood to dwell on the past, I hope you’ll forgive me for sharing them.

Back then I was deeply involved in attempting to help my Dad out of a black depression, and not having much luck, for he had lots of valid reasons and was much smarter than I in all ways but hope. He drank heavily and could blast the dickens out of any hope I had, before it was half-way out of my mouth. I refused to give up, but found him a bit of a downer, so I sought relief in a church choir, where I could sing of hope at the top of my lungs without getting blasted for it.

Consequently I found myself associating with two extremely different sorts of people. Someone noticed my pick-up truck pass in one direction with a good-old-boy friend of my father, who was a notorious drunkard and rake, and not long afterwards my pick-up truck passed in the other direction holding a wonderful, elderly lady-of-the-church. That person told me, “You’re nothing but a chameleon.”

I blew a gasket, but quietly and on paper, by writing the following song. I was sick and tired of being misunderstood for having hope.

One person I was misunderstood-by was my elder sister, who was convinced I was a fool to have hope in my father, and deeply concerned that I couldn’t handle his alcoholic abuse. To reassure her that there was a better side to my life I sent her a daily letter for five days, describing my interactions with church ladies and church gentlemen (who were the customers of my landscaping business) and including this song. My sister was so sure my letters would hold nothing but the deranged neurosis of a little brother getting driven mad by an alcoholic Dad that she sent them all back unopened in a manila envelope, with a sisterly note advising me that I was nuts. I blew a second gasket, telephoned her, and told her I would not talk to her for six months, and then we could decide if I had been nuts or not. (I talked to her before the six months passed, to invite her to my wedding.)

It turned out to be a good thing I got that mail back, for I think it was my only copy of the song, and by chance I had an opportunity to perform it before several hundred people a week later. Being a bachelor,  I could just take off when I was fed up, and wound up visiting friends at a gathering of followers of Meher Baba in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. They had a “talent show”, and I felt strangely compelled to sign up and sing my song, and had the unique experience (in my life) of being a “hit.” By the end several hundred people were clapping and singing the final line of each verse.

As I hitchhiked back to New Hampshire (an insane experience which convinced me to never hitchhike again) I was thinking to myself that maybe I was going to be a successful artist after all,  but much to my surprise I went on a blind date and discovered my destiny was to be a successful father, which in my opinion is a far greater thing.

In any case, after that long introduction, here is the song:


Sometimes I cut my long hair short.
Then some girls call me, “Handsome”,
But soon that hair grows long and then
I look like Charlie Manson.
This superficial stuff don’t fool
The upstairs, big Number-One,
But some folk ’round here call me,
“The Chameleon.”

They also call me “Two Faced”,
But the truth is, I’ve got more,
For I’m friendly with the rich folk
And I’m friendly with the poor.
I’ve heard that God’s in everyone
So I try to love every one.
So I don’t deserve the nickname of
“The Chameleon”.

I love the holy rollers
And the bitter atheist
For every hand has got a palm
Even when it makes a fist.
I try to love my enemies
Even when they scare me with a gun,
So I don’t deserve this nickname of
“The Chameleon”.

Variety’s my spice of life;
It don’t make me a liar:
Weekdays I love my rock and roll;
Sundays I love the choir!
No two snowflakes are alike;
All snowflakes melt beneath the Mighty Sun,
So I don’t deserve this nickname of
“The Chameleon.”

Some people are afraid to change.
They won’t try nothing new.
I don’t know why they are so shy.
There’s lots and lots of things to do
And we all like folk creative,
So we shouldn’t sneer or shun,
For growth involves more changes…
And life involves more changes…
And love involves more changes than
A Chameleon.

To conclude I confess I get hit by this springtime recklessness every year, but my wife has always done a good job of tempering my wildness, until this year. This year she is as bad as, if not worse than than, I am.

Therefore there may be an abrupt end to postings on this blog-site for a while. Not that I intend to stop posting, but at times one is so busy doing new things they have no time to describe it.


LOCAL VIEW –Black Fly Blues–

Black fly blues 1 FullSizeRender


Outside the blue sky’s gorgeous
But I’m not going out of doors today.
Outside the sun is golden
But inside is the place I’m going to stay.
I’ll be a couch potato
Until the biting black flies go away.

I’ve heard God’s love’s in everything,
Even in that pesky little fly.
I found the thought impossible,
So I grabbed one, and I looked him in the eye.
He whined, “Hey man! I love you!”
He’d made a point no woodsman can deny.

They love me head down to my toes;
They even love the inside of my nose.
They also love my armpits
(And not too many folk are fond of those.)
They’re part of Love’s creation
Sort of like the thorns upon a rose.

See that flycatcher winging?
He loves black fly. Black fly he’s glad to see.
Hear that songbird singing?
Black fly fuels his springtime rhapsody.
Feel that itch and stinging?
You are part of Love’s ecology.

Outside the blue sky’s gorgeous.
I can’t be cooped up inside any more.
Outside the sun is gorgeous.
I find I’m walking slowly to the door.
Spring is here and it is clear
Love’s inviting me to come explore.

I wrote that song back in May, 1990. It was one of the last songs I wrote as a bachelor, though I didn’t really have a clue what lay 45 days in my future. I had just chanced into a small town church choir, and found myself mingling with young married couples with small children, and they wanted me to sing at a church picnic in June. It was sort of a graduation party for the Sunday School. For me it was great fun, for I’d been through over a decade as a drifter and a loner, and now all of a sudden I had not only a guitarist and bass to back up my vocals, but the young housewives insisted on being accompanying dancers as I sang, and choreographed a thing where all held fly-swatters and waved them like batons as I sang. I doubt it would have been a hit on Broadway, but we weren’t aiming for that. We hit the bulls eye of what we aimed for, which was joy and a good laugh.

To make joy out of black flies is a major achievement. In fact it is something I think might be good to be remembered for. It would make an intriguing tombstone, “He made joy out of black flies.”

However here it is 27 years later, and I’m dealing with a whole new generation of children and black flies. One way I create a safe-house out of doors is to use the old-fashioned idea of a “smudge.” You basically build a hot fire, and then smother it with wet leaves and twigs.

Black fly blues 3 IMG_4835

Black flies don’t like smoke. They don’t even like the exhaust of a lawn mower or leaf-blower, but back in the day I was prone to using un-powered hand tools, and therefore during the spring I was a chain-smoker. I’d say I only inhaled a puff or two of each cigarette, but they were much cheaper back then, and I’d go through 3 packs a day quite often.

Of course, the politics of smoke have gotten rougher. The EPA was doing its best to outlaw smoke altogether, (though they did get caught fudging some of their data, concerning the harm of “particulates.)”

When I was a small child I didn’t use the word “particulates”, but, believe it or not, one of the small girls at the Childcare furrowed her brow, as I built my smudge, and asked me if I was worried about the “particulates”.

What could I say? I just tugged my beard thoughtfully, and said man started using fire a long, long time ago. Neanderthals used fire. Even Homo Erectus used fire, perhaps as much as 1,500,000 years ago. If it was bad for us, it would have killed us by now. In fact, we probably evolved to handle smoke better than laboratory rats do.  So I told her she shouldn’t worry too much about “particulates.” There was probably more bad stuff in indoor air, than by a campfire.

The girl seemed immensely relieved, and ran off to happily play. But it did make me wonder what some environmentalists think they are teaching our children, when they cause the young such worry, and so many bad dreams. Actually the outside is a lovely place, even when the black flies are out.

Black fly blues 2 FullSizeRender

LOCAL VIEW –Tipping Point–

Tipping Point FullSizeRender

When life gets too quiet we crave some noise.
Noisy life makes us seek quiet again.
We’re always alternating our joys.
We have visions and get busy and then
We feel over-worked, and seek some new toys,
Some new hamster wheel to take a spin in
But it becomes a rat race; with the boys
We go out, and begin with a big grin
But wind up hung-over; each pleasure destroys
Its foundation somehow; each winking allure
Winds us up jaded. Our poor brain employs
Years of research to find peace that is pure
And will last: Perfect balance; perfect poise…
…but then it’s too quiet, so we crave some noise.

My wife and I have decided we don’t feel fulfilled unless we are busy as bees. We cannot seem to sit and sip a drink without brainstorming and coming up with a whole new crop of ideas. Soon our schedule is filled to the brim, and we are happy, until…

There always seems to be one unplanned thing that pops in, and tips us from joy to complete despair. What saves us is our sense of humor. It has happened so many times that we have a private motto (regarding how full our schedule is.) “99% equals joy; 101% equals despair.”

Some people say, “Into each life a little rain must fall.” Yesterday I decided it could also be “Into each life a little weasel will call.”

Weasel 1 FullSizeRender

Weasel 4 FullSizeRender

Should some weasel enter your life today, remember you are not alone, and keep your sense of humor.


This is just a brief observation, demonstrating how my lying eyes get me in trouble with the hard-working, code-apt, computer-savvy geeks who have eyes glued to computer terminals that produce wonderful models.

Please understand,  I avoid Math when possible, and I am very grateful to those who do the Math for me, such as my tax accountant. However I do not allow my accountant to mind my business.

How does this involve sea-ice?

Well, there are certain “accountants” who at times seem to want to run my business, and by that I mean they seem to want me to deny my lying eyes. By “accountants” I of course am referring to computer models. In this particular case I am referring to a model I often refer to, and in some ways very much like, called PIOMAS. In my opinion it is in many ways a wonderful model, and represents the hard work of fellows who have worked their butts to the bone and deserve respect. I cannot tell you how much it pains me to suggest they might have gotten something wrong.

In this manner I’m like my Dad. He was a surgeon, and sometimes people came to him asking for a second opinion, and sometimes he had to inform not the patient, but the first-opinion surgeon, that their diagnosis was wrong.

I felt my Dad should have just told the first bozo they were an idiot, for advocating a needless amputation, but instead Dad walked on eggs and only differed from the first quack in a most cringing, ingratiating manner. Maybe Dad was kind and polite, but it was sort of embarrassing to watch. He was sort of apologizing for being correct. The boy in me felt he should just have chopped off the first quack’s head. (That is what a true Tolkien warrior would have done.) (But pretty soon we would not have many doctors left alive, I suppose.)

I have no wish to chop off the head of PIOMAS, but my lying eyes are begging to differ with their diagnosis.

I have just used my lying eyes to watch what the arctic isobars did, and  have surmised what the winds were, and have watched to see how the sea-ice responded, and it has seemed fairly obvious the low pressure I dubbed “Ralph”  caused a counterclockwise flow to effect the Pole.  However the PIOMAS only shows a counterclockwise “anomaly”, and suggests the ordinary clockwise flow (the ordinary Beaufort Gyre and ordinary Transpolar Drift), persisted.

Piomas piomas_ice_motion_anomaly_JanMarch2017

This troubles me, for it is a bit ludicrous to suggest an “anomaly” moves ice, if the ordinary flow is in effect. An anomaly might speed or slow the ordinary flow, but the ordinary flow would remain ordinary. In actual fact we have witnessed, with our lying eyes, the extraordinary features of an extraordinary flow.

For example, the above map shows the “mean ice motion” pushing ice away from the western entrance of the Northwest Passage, when we know that (before April) ice piled into that entrance.  In like manner, there is no suggestion of west winds forcing the Kara Sea sea-ice into Vistula Strait, so a toothpaste extrusion of thick ice crossed the polynya which the same west winds formed in the west of the Laptev Sea.

2 Laptev FullSizeRender

And so on and so forth.

I do not want to belabor this point, and want to keep this brief, however I feel a need to stress that we who use our lying eyes seemed to see the sea-ice act as if the PIOMAS “anomaly” map was in fact the “ice motion” map. It follows, therefore, that the “ice motion” map contains some sort of misdiagnosis.

I need to say this because there are some who worship the PIOMAS “ice motion” map as a sort of god, whose authority cannot be questioned. When I try to tell them what my lying eyes actually witnessed, they scoff. They say my vision cannot be correct, for PIOMAS said it did not occur, and how dare anyone dare question the divinity of such a idol?

To me this is a bit like saying you cannot go a second surgeon for a second opinion, even when the first surgeon suggests an amputation is necessary.  If we must scoff at all, I scoff at that idea. After all, as a child I saw many doomed to lose a leg come to my father for a second opinion, and saw advances in the vascular surgery of that time save the patient’s limb.

My father was able to save others limbs despite the fact he had largely lost the use of his own, because of polio. In like manner, I suffer from a different sort of polio, involving Math. And, just my father saved people of the past from amputation of legs, I might spare you from the amputation of logic, if you just step away from computer models for a bit, and use your lying eyes.