ARCTIC SEA ICE –Awaiting The Break-up–

One aspect of watching ice melt is that one becomes aware of misconceptions we all have, and which the media should end but doesn’t.  For example, people tend to think certain parts of North America are arctic, when they are not. All one needs to do is trace lines of latitude from North America around to Europe, and one gets their eyebrows lifted. The southern tip of Greenland is at the latitude of Stockholm, Sweden; and the southern end of Hudson Bay is at the latitude of  Hamburg, Germany.

If course it spoils the thrill of sensationalism if you mention, showing water pour off a glacier in Greenland, that it is as far south as Stockholm. The public then would compare a picture of flowers blooming in a Swedish summer park with the craggy coast of Greenland, and it would seem less surprising that ice melts at the edge of Greenland’s icecap.

In like manner, when writing about how swiftly the ice breaks up in Hudson Bay, it spoils the element of Alarmism if you mention it is as far south as northern Germany. Rather than the melt seeming surprising it would seem surprising that ice remains in July, for people would think how surprising it would be if there was ice on the sea-coast of Germany in July.

The fact of the matter is that it thaws right up to the North Pole in July, and temperatures can be above freezing and still below normal.

DMI4 0712 meanT_2017

Once you become aware that thaw is the norm up there in July, what becomes more interesting are the places that dip below freezing. It is quite common, for temperatures only need be three degrees below normal, and the rain changes to snow.

One thing I miss very much is the cameras we used to have drifting around up there. As recently as 2014 2015 we had seven views, and could witness fresh falls of snow and brief refreezes of the melt-water pools.  These were especially interesting because the satellites tended to miss these events, perhaps because they occurred at the wrong time of day, perhaps because they happened in a very small area, perhaps because refreezes involved a very thin layer of air right at the surface, or perhaps for some other reason. In any case, they stopped funding the cameras. (Let us hope the de-funding was not because certain people didn’t approve that the cameras showed freezing where politicians claimed there was melting.)

The only camera we have this year is a tough one, O-buoy 14,  which refused to be crushed by ice, and survived the winter. It is not out in the Arctic Sea, but down in Parry Channel at a latitude of roughly 74° north.  I like having it located where it sits, still frozen fast in immobile ice, because it allows us to compare the current situation with the year 1819, when William Parry sailed HMS Helca and Griper in the same waters.

William Parry original.1770

Parry sailed further north and west of where O-buoy 14 now sits, and then, as ice reformed in September, they cut a channel for the two boats, to get close to the shore of Melville Island, where they’d be less exposed to the crushing and grinding of moving ice.

William Parry The_Crews_of_H.M.S._Hecla_&_Griper_Cutting_Into_Winter_Harbour,_Sept._26th,_1819

Then they waited for the ice to melt. It was a long, long wait; ten months in all. It is interesting to read how Parry kept his crew from going nuts, especially during the three months of winter darkness. They produced plays and published a newspaper and, as it grew light, conducted expeditions along the coast of Melville Island on foot. Also, when some of the men showed signs of scurvy, Parry planted mustard and cress seeds in his cabin and fed the sprouts to the afflicted men. The first signs of thaw were in March, but the ice remained six feet thick.

In the year 2017 our first signs of thaw were much later, but sudden, and we swiftly developed an impressive melt-water pool on June 29:

Obuoy 14 0629C webcam

Of course, the media would generate sensationalism with such a picture, crowing about how the arctic is melting. Then they would get very quiet when the water drained down through a crack in the ice, as it did by July 8:

Obuoy 14 0708B webcam

The media would get even quieter when the camera then showed signs of fresh snow, as it did on July 12:

Obuoy 14 0712 webcam

And last but not least, there was a cold spell associated with the above view, and the melt-water pools were skimmed with ice, which needed to be melted away to make a little progress on July 13:

Obuoy 14 0713 webcam

What this makes me wonder about is the fortitude of Parry’s crew. They never got moving until August 1. Can you imagine how they felt when it snowed in July? (Or did it snow, back then, when it was supposedly colder?)

Our modern buoy is at roughly 103° west longitude. Parry was able to sail as far west as 113°46’W in the late summer of 1820. Then they noticed ice starting to reform. Apparently no one was eager to spend another winter up there, so they sailed lickity-split east the entire length of Parry Channel, escaping into Baffin Bay and arriving back in England in October.

It will be fun to watch this camera’s view. We are in a race with the year 1820, to see if we can get the ice moving before August 1. (One interesting thing is that, while the Navy satellite suggests the ice in Parry Channel is moving, the GPS attached to O-buoy 14 shows no movement. Once again we see the value of having an on-the-spot witness.)

I actually want the ice to move, so the view shifts around and we can see mountains in the distance.

Stay Tuned!

(Hat tip to Stewart Pid for always keeping me abreast of O-buoy 14 news.)

29 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Awaiting The Break-up–

  1. Beautiful stuff! So Parry Channel is rather literal, as far as those poor Jack Tars were concerned. No simple matter, cutting a channel in the ice. But they were not snowflakes, and would enjoy the exercise. The use of germinating seeds shows why the term ‘Enlightenment’ was created…… Didn’t reach the snowflakes, of course.
    What I have noticed about this Quiet Sun stuff is that meridional weather events tend to be unseasonal or more severe than predicted, or both. We have a bit to learn about mechanism, I think.

    • Amen. We have more than a bit to learn. However the exciting thing is that this makes us like pioneers on a new frontier.

      This also makes it especially frustrating when utter nincompoops say “the science is settled” and show no interest in even raising their little finger, when it comes to exploration. They only raise their little finger when sipping tea. I’m fairly certain Parry’s crew would have raised their middle finger to such an unimaginative attitude.

  2. In addition to all of the ice and snow, the last two views show a very dark sky. Would seem to indicate that not much of their 24 hours of sunshine is getting through. At the very peak of the melt season, there is very little melting taking place.

    Also, 1820 was still in the confines of the Little Ice Age, at a time before evil white men had even begun to rape the planet to obtain fossil fuels. It would appear that there has been very litte change in the ice conditions over the last 200 years, despite the Industrial Revolution and the development of the internal combustion engine. Leads one to believe that AGW has been very overstated.

    • Aw, gee, so we are not as big a deal as we are told? I want my money back!
      Just settling into a full-on ski season here in the heat-blasted South Pacific……

  3. Me, none, but 3/4 of the country got, patchily, about 2 inches to 2 feet or more. Very roughly estimated.
    I heard the reason for more cold in North America than Western Europe, is because of the West Wind Drift off the Gulf Stream. Except when there is an East Wind drift, then they really get it (and possibly soon again, Joe Bastardi says). Quiet sun may even things up – English and even French vintners are already finding this.
    Even the LIA had a lot of moderate climate. But those meridional bursts are all you need to destroy harvests and lives. Right now, the Paris signatories are preparing for the wrong problem, looking the wrong way. I have been expert at that, so cannot cast aspersions…..

  4. I’m not aware of any published research that claims 19th century Arctic sea ice volume was anywhere close to current low numbers. Imaginary research cannot be used to argue for any point of view…

    • Oh don’t be such a bore, Sty. The proof is in the pudding. The “published research” was published 200 years ago by Parry after his return to England. It is quite clear about when the ice broke up and how thick the ice was. Even if it wasn’t, the simple fact he sailed a wooden ship with no engine where he sailed it should suggest, if you have any sort of inquiring mind, that “19th century sea ice volume” may have been less than your precious graph suggests.

      I have presented you with the routes of past ships in this post and earlier posts. The very fact ships sailed where they sailed and sailors reported what they reported tends to question the validity of your volume-graph, which you take to be scripture-thou-shalt-not-dare-doubt.

      I hate to sound paranoid, but if there is “imaginary research” going on, it could be in pseudo scientific papers produced for political purposes.

      You did say one very true thing, when you began your comment, “I’m not aware.” The reason you are not aware is perfectly obvious to everyone but yourself.

      • Can you name a “pseudo scientific paper” in arctic sea ice research, or are those also “imaginary”..?

      • Oh, go away Sty. I’m tired of you showing up and telling me to jump through your hoops.

        You have your graph. It’s up to you to decide whether it is pseudo scientific or not. In my opinion it’s rubbish. Good bye.

  5. Apparently the written English language from real human beings on an actual voyage is imaginary in Styrge’s mind. I believe that unbiased validation is far more worthy than pal reviewed, agenda drivel produced for pay, 200 years after the fact.

    Maybe you should keep Sty around, as he is so asinine and so much fun to slap around.

    • Some days I feel more tolerant of Sty than others. For some reason today I read his comments as being in a stuffy, snobby upper-class accent, and, as he had nothing new to offer, I had little patience.

      We were 40 degrees cooler than you, last Thursday. Low 50’s, with east winds off the Gulf of Maine after a back door cold front pushed in. Now the humidity is rising and we are getting back to summer.

      • Yes, the air mass we had last week in DC was totally vile. We had two straight days with 97 degree temperatures, accompanied by dewpoints in the mid to upper 70’s. Yuck! Thank goodness for your backdoor cold front.

  6. Andy DC on July 16, 2017 at 3:15 pm said: “Apparently the written English language from real human beings on an actual voyage is imaginary in Styrge’s mind.”
    Dead right Andy. Same way they imagine cooler CO2 can boil an atmosphere, without a runaway explosion. Disconnect, dissonance, thy name is warmism. Good fun, so long as we remember they aim to derail us….
    I wonder if Ralph is fed from above by warmer Ozone as per Erl Happ’s ideas?

  7. Caleb is there a way to tell which way the Obuoy 14 camera is facing …. it looks like it is southwest but I looked on the site for an indication and found the 150 azimuth which I suppose could be it but have u checked this out before?

    • They just updated the time-lapse movie at the website to July 18, and there is a compass at the top of the screen which states camera is pointed southeast. However they are up near the magnetic pole, and I’m sure you have personal experience of how confusing it gets up there, where, if your compass works at all, magnetic north can be the opposite direction of “true” north and the Pole.

      I have made an ass of myself on a number of occasions, regarding which way the camera is actually looking. The best guide is the sun, and shadows. Shadows point north at noon, local time. Of course, they don’t use local time, so you have to do some work there, as well. You’ll have to hit the GPS tab.

      I see O-Buoy 14 is at latitudelongitude 102.5 degrees west, aware that the time stamp on the pictures is GMT, where noon is figured for zero degrees latitudelongitude.

      Go figure, I’m too tired. But I’m glad you made me look. The buoy has just started to creep south, moving for the first time in months. (A slight movement in camera-angle around a week ago was because buoys melt their own private pools, and can shift even when the ice doesn’t.)

      By the way, there is a single frame full of polar bear fur in the time-lapse movie, back on June 23, at 23:01:35. It explains those tracks you pointed out. I’m trying to figure out how to get a screen shot of it, using this antiquated computer.

      It was a compassionate beast. Other bears have flattened other cameras.

      • Re bear on the movie – I just checked it out …. very nice. It sure is bleak up there and the Obuoy rig must be a real curiosity for the bears!

    • Thanks for the link. It should be interesting to follow them. That’s a fairly large icebreaker and should be able to bash its way through. They ran into their first ice east of Barrow.

    • That is almost funny! First they talk about how there is no ice, but then the picture shows wall to wall ice. If they have a heavy and powerful enough ship to bash through all that ice, good for them. But it in no way shows that the Arctic is anything remotely close to ice free.

  8. Anyone able to find out what the icebreaker Nordica is up to? I can’t find any updates on it but not sure where is the best spot to look and most of my searches came up with out of date info.
    I’m hoping they are stuck in the ice that alarmist shills claim doesn’t exist 😉

  9. Latitude-wise, sliding from England to Moscow to Baikal (a la Zhivago) to Hudson’s Bay is interesting. It gets hellish cold on that journey…..I remember people pointing this out decades ago, before this madness.
    Thanks for the AP/Finnish Breaker url. Useful info again amongst their wrong assumptions.

  10. Thanks for this blog which I have followed for some time, and for your Christmas message about “Peace on Earth” which was a blessing to me. Re O-Buoy 14, I hope it is sleeping and is not dead. Have collected some pictures here:

    Note that OB14 did appear to sight the mountains of Melville Island here

    God bless.

    • I am very pleased that you enjoy my writing. Although at times I confess I do rant with the intent to annoy certain people who ruffle my feathers, most of the time I am focused on good fun, and things like wonder, beauty and joy. It does my heart good to hear someone feels happy with what I produce.

      Thanks for sending me the views of land from O-buoy 14. My wife and I were so busy with our Childcare last summer I didn’t get the time to be a good look-out. (I don’t think it wise to spend too much time engrossed in views from a fascinating arctic camera when your spouse is hard at work. ….Maybe once in a while….)

      Odd to be wishing you Merry Christmas in a post from July, but perhaps it is fitting, as a storm is moving in and it looks like the North Pole outside. May God bless your coming year.

      • Yes, I just uploaded the OB14 pictures recently, and thought this was the best place to put my reply, rather belatedly. Will try to be more up-to-date!

      • I’ll put a link to your work in my next sea-ice post, unless you object. Excellent work and well worth sharing, in my humble opinion.

      • By all means, Caleb, that’s what I share them for. You can also see other photos at, have recent shots of my trip this fall to several national parks in the USA from Montana, North and South Dakota, Grand Tetons and Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, if travels interest you. I also like to photograph wild animals, especially birds and grizzly bears – though regrettably not polar bears, so far!

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