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.
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?
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:
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.)
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.
SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE
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.)
When the sun returned we witnessed a sparking fresh fall of snow.
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.
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)
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.
It will be a while yet before the real melt begins. Stay tuned.