It may seem off the topic of sea-ice, but let us begin off the coast of Peru.
That blue spear pointing west off Peru is what looks like the start of a La Nina, and is a bit of a shock to me, for only two month ago that area was red, and it looked like we were in for a weak El Nino, at least in the central Pacific (an El Nino Modoki). The switcheroo that has occurred has given me, (and perhaps the patterns) a case of whiplash.
As far as I know this fooled everyone. A year ago people were expecting a big La Nina, because often a strong El Nino is followed by a strong La Nina, (sort of like a strong action creates a strong reaction). Instead there was a rather pathetic excuse for a La Nina, followed by a pathetic excuse for an El Nino.
Perhaps we are seeing a case of delayed-but-not-denied. It is sort of like when my desk gets too messy, and an avalanche of papers at the back starts to slide towards me. I can delay the avalanche with my right palm in one place, but it comes at me from another angle, and I can delay that with my left palm, but when it comes at me yet again from a third direction I know it’s all over, and the mess will slide into my lap and on the floor, (and cleaning my desk will become unavoidable). In other words, a La Nina was primed, but held back by some unknown culprit, (I suspect the “Quiet Sun”), but now the resistance is futile, and the La Nina will not be denied.
How does this effect sea-ice? In a general sense warmer oceans (El Nino) eventually (in several ways) warm the Pole, and increase melting, while colder oceans (La Nina) eventually (in several ways) cool the the Pole, and decrease melting.
Much of the hoop-la about the Pole melting has to do with the Atlantic being in a “warm” AMO phase at the same time the Pacific was in a “warm” PDO phase. The clockwork of these cycles has been messed with by the sun being very “noisy” last century, but shifting to a “quiet” sun this century. The PDO turned cold as expected, but then unexpectedly swung back to warm (though it may be ending that swing now.) The AMO has remained warm, but may be starting its swing back to cold.
When the tropics are warmer the planet tries to balance things out. The planet is like children, and like humanity, in that it attempts to achieve peace through creating a ruckus. The jet stream becomes meridional, as the planet tries to move the heat north and cold consequently sweeps south. So think of that, next time you look out the window at a howling storm. As trees fall say: “The planet is making peace.”
When the tropics cool (La Nina) the flow becomes more zonal and the cold stays north more. I’ve actually been forecasting that, (and seeing my forecasts blown), for some time, as the lagged effects of the big 2015 El Nino were used up (in theory). However in fact, as I stated, the big La Nina never developed and instead it looked all the world like a weak El Nino was going to develop.
This provided me with a handy excuse for all my blown forecasts. It also explained why the anomalous low pressure appeared at the Pole (that I dubbed “Ralph”) and wouldn’t go away, and why unusual warmth rushed up to the Pole in the dead of winter even as unusual snows fell in Kuwait, the Sahara, Mexico and Vietnam.
But now, with this La Nina appearing out of the blue, my forecasts need to go through a switcheroo. But the problem is the timing. There is a lag between when an event occurs at the equator and the effects reach the Pole, both in terms of the air temperatures and in terms of the sea-temperatures (with the water taking longer to respond.)
My layman’s guess is that it will be around mid-winter when the pattern switches to a zonal one. The winter will start out like gang-busters, with a meridional pattern, (as a lagged effect of the El-Nino-that-wasn’t), but then the cold will retreat to the Pole and the end of the winter will be more merciful, at least on this side of the Atlantic. (I’m not so sure about Europe, as the Gulf Stream looks like it is swinging like a fire-hose on a sidewalk, and currently in a swing that may aim the mildness more towards north Africa than Europe,)
Of course this is dependent on whether the La Nina sticks, or becomes the La-Nina-that-wasn’t. The recent pattern has seemed agitated and fickle, and I blame the confusion on the “Quiet Sun.”
Perhaps we are even still seeing the lagged effects of the last La-Nina-that-wasn’t, for the models keep seeing a zonal pattern appear at the Pole. It starts to happen, but then Ralph reappears. On a whole the clouds, looking down at the Pole, have moved in a counterclockwise manner.
Recently we have seen one of the best recoveries of “Byoof” (The Beaufort high) and the models were even suggesting we’d soon see a clockwise flow of clouds over the Pole. So far Ralph merely sagged to the Atlantic side, and the contrast between Pacific high pressure and Atlantic low pressure has created a cross-polar-flow from Siberia to Canada.
(All the cool air pouring down into the plains of North America is one of the factors breeding hurricanes in the warmer waters further south.)
Temperatures are falling, after the last Ralph-feeding mild-impulse came north. Surface-melt has ended, and from now on melt can only come from below.
It does not appear “extent” will get as low as last year:
And for those who like to switch the subject to “volume”, it does not look like volume will get as low as well. The ice has not been scattered by “Gustogales”, and remains concentrated in the Central Arctic.
Will update later if I find time.
After being alerted in “comments” I went to Tony Heller’s site at realclimatescience.com to check up on a couple summer-voyagers who can send us pictures of Arctic Sea-Ice.
Creeping Senilit y Crystal Serenity is a luxury liner that allows you, for a mere $10,000, to travel north and see for yourself the melting ice. To a certain degree their technique for selling tickets utilizes the usual wailing and rending-of-garments about Global Warming, which Alarmists like to employ when making money off the fact ice melts in the arctic in the summer. However someone made a bit of a mistake. In selling tickets they state that they will be taking the Peel Sound route, and then go on to state that if William Parry had turned south and entered Peel Sound in 1819, rather than heading straight west to where sea-ice blocked him south of Melville Island, he might have been the first to navigate the Northwest Passage.
I have no idea if this is true, for the state of the ice in 1819 is largely unknown, except where Parry sailed. However by suggesting the waters were clear in 1819, and then running into ice, they embarrass Alarmists aboard, for rather than making it look like the arctic is melting away, they make it look like ice has increased in the last 198 years.
They may be able to penetrate the ice and complete the Northwest Passage, for they are accompanied by the icebreaker Shackleton. However Parry was powered by sail, and stated he could be halted by a mere inch of ice, unless there were strong following winds.
Here is a picture of the ice they’ve met and the Shackleton:
And here’s a map of their route:
Ice looks thicker ahead, but sometimes there is open water right along the coast. The icebreaker can send off helicopters to seek the best route. (Another thing William Parry lacked.)
The cross-polar-flow I mentioned earlier in this post has been pouring some cold air down that way, and O-buoy 14, not far to the north, seems to show broken new ice between the bergs of old ice.
I wonder if there is any chance they’d just turn around and go back?
The other adventurers are two boats, the Sea Dragon and the — , which are most definitely milking the Global Warming angle for every drop of cream they can get. The expedition is headed by the arctic adventurer Pen Hadlow, who achieved a remarkable so trek to the Pole years back, but is also known for the “Ship Of Fools” debacle down by Antarctica.
They sold their expedition as a first-time sort of adventure: “First to sail to the Pole”, (though they made sure to include many disclaimers about how science would come first and they might not bother going all the way). They include plenty of footage of sea-ice, and of polar bears reclining on the ice, all the while exclaiming how ice free it is.
(Before I include any photographs I should give credit where credit is due. Their photographer is named Coner McDonald and he is taking some beautiful shots.) You can check out his pictures of polar bears here:
While admiring their daring, I do have to toll my eyes a bit about the way they stress the sea as being ice free, yet need to tie up to a floe to do science experiments. But I bit my tongue, even when they included pictures like this:
(Taken by a drone?)
But today they found a patch of open water, and marveled over how ice-free the Pole was, and I can feel my held tongue slipping from my grasp.
1.) They are at 80°, far from the Pole.
2.) We have reports of whaling ships sailing above 80°
3.) We have early Nimbus satellite pictures from the 1960’s showing enormous areas of open water up there.
4.) If it is so ice-free, why don’t they just head north? Why are they dilly dallying at 80°? At the very least they should set a new furthest-north-by-a-sailboat record. (I think the old record was set by Nansen’s Fram, 85°55′N)
The truth is, as we have seen from the camera’s of O-buoys in the past, the sea-ice is quite near, just over the nearby horizon (and possibly visible if they climbed the mast) and they likely would have a hard time heading much further north. But we shall see about that.
They should have sailed last year, when the gales had the ice much more broken….though perhaps the ships would have been broken up as well, by such gales.
NRL averaged “thickness” maps: (Last year on left; this year on right.)
The Navy maps shows ice 2 feet thick where they find open water. This is likely because they average the thickness. There may be ice six feet thick not far away, and when you average it out with the patches of open water it comes to two feet thick. But what worries me is the chance the thicker ice crunches together with them in the middle.
View of that Ice-edge” from space
My best guess is that the “open water” they are in is in the upper center of the above picture. The ice gets thicker and thicker as you head to the Pole. Check out the view yourself here:
In any case, I’ve grabbed a hold of my slippery tongue again, and wish those fellows (and ladies) well. I’ll include them in my prayers. Their Facebook page makes good reading, no matter whether you are an Alarmist or Skeptic:
They have a neat time-lapse shot of their boat motoring through the sea-ice (before they found this “open water”) that likely makes the spirit of William Parry green with envy. Sail-powered ships lacked such maneuverability.