ARCTIC SEA ICE –Below normal temperatures at Pole–

On May 2 temperatures at the Pole (north of 80° north latitude) have dipped below normal for the first time since last fall. This is ahead of my prediction, was for it to happen on May 13.

DMI4 0502 meanT_2017

My own theory is that the cooler temperatures are a response to the “Quiet Sun.” Therefore they are noticeable when the sun is up in the arctic sky. When the sun is below the horizon it can have no direct effect on temperatures. But it does have an indirect effect by creating a more meridional jet stream, which brings more mild air to the Pole.

I theorize that the “Quiet Sun’s” effect at the equator is counter-intuitive, for the equator is warmed by less energy. This occurs because the lack of energy manifests as less wind. When the easterlies slow there is less upwelling of cold water on the west coasts of continents at the equator, because less surface water is pushed to the west, away from those coasts. In the Pacific this is conducive to El Nino situations, but not conducive to La Ninas. Consequently the El Ninos will be amplified as the La Ninas are suppressed. La Ninas will not cease altogether, but they will have less bang for their buck.  In general, the tropics will get warmer even as the Pole chills, which is what creates the imbalance that makes the jet stream meridional.

Last year the lagged effects of the 2015 El Nino nearly hid the effect of the chilled Pole. Only at the height of summer were temperatures below normal at the Pole.

DMI4 meanT_2016

The year before, (and also in 2007-2014) when there were no lagged effects of a very strong El Nino, temperatures dipped below normal as soon as the sun started to have an appreciable effect north of the Arctic Circle.

DMI4 meanT_2015

In conclusion, though my logic may seem too simplistic to some, I confess to what it is, (especially when it works).

I should also note the past La Nina failed to be as strong as we initially thought it might be, and it looks like we may be headed back to an El Nino situation, (even if it is not especially strong.) SST temperatures in the tropics are above normal. Further north they are not above normal, which could contribute to the cooler-than-normal air temperatures.

SST 20170501 anomnight.5.1.2017

I should also note that the Pole is not yet gaining heat, despite 24-hour-a-day sunshine. All the sunshine does reduce the amount of heat draining away to outer space, but it is not until June that the sun gets high enough to actually reverse the energy equation. The reason it gets milder at the Pole this time of year is because there is a constant importing of milder air from the south, and such air is cooled, but not as swiftly as it is cooled when there is no sun in the sky in the deep dark of December.

For the record, I’ll catch up on the surface maps. (You’ll have to forgive me for missing many; it is not the most thrilling time of year up there, especially as the lagged effects of the weak La Nina seems to have reduced the clash of temperatures between the tropics and the Poles, and there are not the blasting gales there were last year.)

When we last were watching a more typical Beaufort high had formed, displacing the more anomalous “Ralph” at the Pole. There likely was a lot of crunching and crashing of sea-ice as the atypical counter-clockwise flow reverted to the clockwise flow of the Beaufort Gyre. The most obvious manifestation was the appearance of a polynya on the east (Alaskan) side of Bering Strait. However the high was positioned more off shore and to the west of last year’s, which often brought north winds to the delta of the Mackenzie River, and kept much of a polynya from forming at the west entrance to the Northwest passage.

Even though the Beaufort High dominated the map, Ralph “signature” could be seen as a hook of milder air up to the Pole.

(Missing maps) I assume the Beaufort High is likely to persist at this time of year because the vast area of white snow formed by the Arctic Sea is conducive to cooling an air mass and causing it to sink. But it pulled enough milder air up through Bering Strait to be the author of its own demise, and allow Ralph a last hurrah of sorts. Winds at the Barneo blue-ice jetport seemed far lighter than last year. Also temperatures were reported that were often ten degrees colder than these maps show.

(Missing maps)

(Missing maps) Here we see Ralph revived.

(Missing maps)

(Missing maps) As the Beaufort High reforms I’ll be watching to see what sort of polynya forms at the west entrance to the Northwest Passage. Also it is to be noted that some of the world’s biggest rivers flow into the arctic, and though their flows are frozen to a trickle in the dead of winter, starting around now their flow starts to swell with the spring melt occurring upstream, to the south. The pulses of fresh water into the Arctic Sea creates “lenses” on top of the saltier water, which initially are swift to freeze, but get warmer as time passes. Especially interesting is the Mackenzie Delta in Canada and the Lena Delta in the Laptev Sea.

Is Ralph attempting to sneak back into the picture?

Of course no report would be complete without the ubiquitous “extent” graph, which at this point shows sea-ice outside of the Arctic Sea vanishing. In the Arctic there has actually been an increase in Barents Sea, with ice pushed south around Svalbard, even as the polynya has reduced the extent in Bering Strait.

DMI4 0502 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_enThe edge of the sea-ice in Barents Sea tends to mess with your mind at times, and is one reason the “extent graph” needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It seems obvious that the edge will retreat north in warmer weather, but the ice-edge has behaved in a counter-intuitive manner in the past, coming south in the summer  (four summers ago?) It also can retreat north during the coldest darkest days of January, as it did last January when Ralph sucked north a strong surge of moist air. As I recall many looked at the ice-edge at that time and, like a rube counting his chips at a poker table, assumed there would be more open water in May. Not so. (January to left; May to right).

Besides the Polynya on the Alaskan coast of Bering Strait, there’s an interesting one in the northwest of Hudson Bay, with the ice piled very thickly just south of it. Newfoundland is also in the news, with a great many large bergs reported, (though I always wonder: If a big berg breaks into twenty pieces, are the numbers inflated?)

Thickness 20170501 Attachment-1


It will be a while before it really warms up. O-buoy 14 shows the diurnal swing at 74° north latitude, with the solar power shutting down during the dark times. You can see evidence of BHI (Buoy Heat Islands) that will eventually have the buoy in its own private pool, but temperatures are still getting down below -20°C (which never makes the DMI maps.)

Obuoy 14 0502 temperature-1week

What impresses me most is how quickly the sun gets higher…

Obuoy 14 0502 webcam

….and how quickly the nights get shorter.

Obuoy 14 0502B webcam

Barrow, Alaska, at latitude 71.3°, has been by the Beaufort High, and I’ve been watching to see of any southeast winds might rip the ice from the shore, but I’ve been surprised by how often the winds disobey the isobars. Perhaps the flow is out from the center of the high, for often their winds have been inshore, from the north. Currently they have north winds at 10 mph, light snow, and a temperature of 14°F. (-10°C).

Barrow 20170502 22_52_20_90_ABCam_20170503_064900

To its north, on April 30, Buoy 2017A was at 73.66° N, 153.21° W, reporting -16.5° C, and the ice was getting thicker.

2017A 20170502 2017A_thick

Up by the North Pole 2017B is drifting slowly towards Fram Strait, and reporting -17.7°C, and, if not thicker, its ice is not melting.

2017B 20170502 2017B_thick

In other words, though the “extent graph” shows the amount of ice decreasing, the real melt hasn’t started yet.

Stay tuned.


19 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Below normal temperatures at Pole–

    • Thanks for the link to TSI paper. Here’s another. Check out the graph of TSI from 1875-2005 at the end. It seems to match up well with temperature.

      The thing to remember is that though TSI seems slight, it is only one of several influences the Quiet Sun has. UV radiation varies more I think, and effects the upper atmosphere’s chemistry, (Ozone etc.) Then of course there is Svenmark’s ideas concerning increased cosmic rays. Lastly there is an uptick in volcanoes and earthquakes I don’t claim to understand.

      There has been an effort to dismiss the sun, for going on thirty years, but the sun refuses to go away. For one thing, in a very general way the ups and downs of world-temperature seems to fit the sun better than it fits CO2. But I don’t think anyone really has the engineering figured out. Lots of healthy debate continues.

  1. Great post Caleb …. a “made my head hurt” post if ever there was one … information overload for the 63 year old noggin.
    Hope u are enjoying ur spring. Yesterday in Calgary the temperature got above 20 C for the first time since last November and I had the top down on the car for the first time this year. Normally there are days in late March and April that are convertible worthy but not this year – gotta be climate change, right!

    • Looks like the warmth is going to be in the west for a while, as the trough digs in the east. We look like we are in for at least a week of cold rain, and maybe even some snow. However towards the end of the month the pattern should flip, and the trough will be back in the west, and southwest winds in the east, so we’ll go from too cold to too hot! But I’ll take too hot any day.

      Had one of those lovely colonoscopies on Monday. What a waste of a day. But the doctor says all looks good and I don’t have to get another for five years.

  2. Looks like a “very quiet Sun” is max 2W/m2 weaker (I’m being very generous here) – which is ~0.15% of the total solar output. Is that enough to cancel forcings in the other direction by GHG:s? Can we count on that I wonder?

    • Again you are focused on TSI alone. The sun involves more than that.

      Even if you only consider how small a “forcing” TSI is, CO2 is also a small “forcing”, mere parts per million, and the only way to generate alarm is to envision CO2 causes feedbacks that double or triple its effect. The problem is that the expected CO2 feedbacks are not showing up where they were expected. (No “hot spot”, still ice at the Pole, and so on.) Meanwhile blasted TSI, weaker though it be, has this nasty habit of matching up with the ups and downs of world-temperature.

      Much to wonder about. You may have even inspired me to do a post on this subject. Cheers.

      • That solar graph does *not* explain the recent warming (last 50 years or so). It does seem to be the “last game in town” for skeptics though. When should the cooler Sun be visible in Ocean heat content or global land surface temperatures? The “hiatus” over land seems to be over.

      • Does too. Cycle 20 was weaker than 19 and 21, fitting nicely with the “Ice Age Scare.” Cycles 21-22 were very energrtic, fitting nicely with warming. Cycle 23 slacked off, fitting nicely with “The Pause.” Coincidence?

        However cycle 24 is something we haven’t seen since cycle 5 and the start of the Dalton Minimum.

        Personally I expected that less solar energy would immediately be reflected by lower surface temperatures. FAIL. Egg on my face, with that prediction. What less energy seemed to translate into was less wind, blowing east to west at the equator, which results in less cold water upwelling on the west coasts of continents, and warmer SST temperatures in the tropics, at least at first. Meanwhile the arctic has been cooler during the summer. This creates a clash and a meridional jet. It is the meridional jet that makes the arctic so much warmer in the winter, not CO2. The same thing happened back in the Dalton Minimum, when CO2 wasn’t a factor.

        That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

      • Graph will not display on my computer. I get a “This site cannot provide a secure connection” message.

    • OK, you likely have better things to do on a Friday night, but if you are going to send me off to the political backwaters of an IPCC report, I’ll send you off on a journey to a world of brainiacs. But my sidetrack is cooler.

      During the last solar minimum the sun-experts, who have more knowledge about the sun in their fingernail clippings than you and I have put together, got a bit of a shock. Their old satellite-way of looking at sunlight and TSI lumped the wavelengths together and was dubbed “TIM”, but a new way, dubbed “SIM”, took the wavelengths apart. What “SIM” seemed to reveal was that Ultraviolet went up as others went down. (Bottom graph below.)

      What does ultraviolet do? It changes O2 to O3, (Ozone), and that has an effect which has an effect which has an effect. (Some say Ozone warms the stratosphere, which others say can chill us down in the troposphere.)

      If you are in the mood for a sidetrack, check out session four of this gathering of scientists back in 2010, when they were just starting to recover from the astonishment of seeing that “SIM” showed ultraviolet increased during the “Quiet Sun”.

  3. There is also an additive/lagged effect of the deeper heating from higher frequency solar EMF, which is complicated in oceans. These also have nightly overturnings, to ‘muddy the waters even more. My own method of research on ‘wicked’ problems such as here, is to also overturn the problem once I have learnt all I can for the present. Because what we do not know, can tell us things from what it is not and what that causes to be. Then insight is simplified and easier. But it usually takes plenty of solid study to get that far, though there can be joy when some pennies drop…..
    Like Holmes and the elimination of the impossible, Doyle being a Dr and all. Hmmm, like Caleb’s Dad.

    Glad sty is looking at IPCC reports. If he scours the top 3 layers of the last 3 reports, he will see they have given up on models, ECS keeps falling, and the scientific basis for destroying efficient energy production is not apparent.
    If he scours the 1st few reports, he can see the scientists (mostly better ones then, who believed for some years, poor souls, that they were on an honest quest) could find no basis for human effect to be significant temperature-wise. Then Ben Santer stealthily changed a ‘summary for policymakers’ right around to its opposite. It was felonious we know and the accounting is near. We do have the evidence. Nice, all the same, to see Caleb firing up with deeper science than the children of Abaddon are likely to follow. At least the rest of us can enjoy the voyage. Hint for trolls, the last warm cycle ran from c.1975-9 for c.32yrs, never 50. It is well over now, though lagged AMO effect blurs the peaks and troughs of cycles which time turns into sine waves. We had snowy mountains through summer which have been through a cycle of bare rock over that season. And winter is a month early, after its cycle of being some few weeks late. It remains true that the SH shows no honest significant warming over the last century and more, being mostly oceans. That leaves mostly NH growing cities and UHI. Forget NP, it is only extrapolated….

    • Interesting.

      My own approach is to use the data we have to make a bald-faced prediction, and then see where I got it wrong. That often helps me to focus on the area where the really interesting stuff is happening.

      I hope I don’t kick the bucket too soon,because I am very curious about what is developing. Hopefully there is a window up in heaven, for those of us who still care about old Earth. Not that we will give a hoot, but if we do there may even be a fast-forward knob, that allows us to look ahead and see all the amazing things God has planned.

      • Yes,your prediction – correction method is right for most problems, where there seems to be an open track. I mentioned the other for when nothing seems clear(‘wicked’), as a mental trick to let the subconscious do its stuff. Then the normal method has something to work on.

        Ozone when excited sure does seem to stir the pot violently below, especially via cold cyclones near both ends of the Earth. Seems like a concussive effect. The Connollys
        propose a ‘pervection’ process for rapid atmospheric change. Sounds evil, but refers to very rapid convection like ‘water hammer’ ie hydraulics in gases. I suppose it is what happens when the sound barrier is broken. I do not know yet, but physics is full of surprises.

      • As a writer I often allow my subconscious to work on problems. My wife is leery of this explanation, when the grass needs mowing, and my subconscious gets to work on the problem. She has the nerve to suggest I am just taking a nap!

        I’d like to learn more of the effects of “excited Ozone.” Got any good links? It sounds very intriguing.

  4. Ren shows the SSW effect from solar ‘bursts’, using NOAA ozone charts and radiation charts. Erl Happ demonstrates a possible lifting effect in cold lows (Ralphs?) from a terrestrially warmed ozone descent and energising mixing as it is pushed by pressure down the vortex of the lows, using nullschool models in near-real-time. I expect there is a lot of work to be done yet on all this, and it is like your enquiries and many others. We make no great claims, just enquiring, never ‘settled’. Erl’s work raises questions concerning the energetics of the IR fluxes claimed to be involved, for instance. Physical proof is what Erl needs to provide, that it really can happen.

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