“Madoki”, as I understand it, means “the same but different” in Japanese, and is used to describe an El Nino that is displaced away from Peru into the central Pacific. I thought I might as well use the same word to describe arctic temperatures this autumn. They are “the same” as 2016 because they are consistently above normal, with spikes. They are “different” because they are consistently cooler than last year. (2016 left; 2017 right.)
My own take on the winter mildness at the Pole (if you can call temperatures far below zero “mild”), is that it is indicative of warmer seas. There is always a lag between when sea-surface temperatures start to be cooled and when they actually drop and effect the temperature of the air above. In fact, though we are a decade into a “Quiet Sun”, we likely are still seeing the effects of an extremely “Noisy Sun” during the last century. In the shorter term, we likely are still seeing the lagged effects of the 2015 “super” El Nino and last summer’s “failed” El Nino. That much is the “same”. What is “different” is that the difference between the warm tropics and cold Pole is fading.
Last year, when the difference was greatest, the flow north seemed to me to be like when it is coldest outside and you have a fire. The “draw” of the chimney is especially good, and the fire doesn’t smoke in the house even when you haven’t bothered have the chimney swept. (It is when it gets warmer outside that the stove starts to smoke, and you have to get out your chimney-sweeper brush.) In fact the “draw” of the Pole was so great last year that it made for fascinating surges of mild air north, and the anomalous low-pressure I dubbed “Ralph” appeared at the Pole. This year is more boring; though there are spikes in the above graph they are nothing likes the amazing spikes in 2016.
The rushes of milder, moist air up from the North Atlantic were so great that sea-ice was pushed north from Svalbard in Barents Sea, and slow to form in Kara Sea, and Alarmists got excited when the extent actually dropped briefly, during its yearly rise. This year we have seen no such excitement. (2016 light blue; 2017 black and red.)
When we compare the sea-ice thickness maps, we see that same-but-different in terms of temperature can lead to huge differences in terms of how the ice is reforming. (It tends to always reform over the entirety of the Arctic Sea by March, with the yearly variations only out on the edges, but where it reforms, and whether it reforms early or late, can mean a lot in terms of where the jet-stream is most comfortable setting up, and where arctic outbreaks will afflict people, to the south.) Here are the (new style) NRL maps. (2016 left; 2017 right).
The only place for Alarmist to look, in hope of seeing increased sea-ice melt, is on the Pacific side. Ice has been slower to form in the Sea of Okhotsk (north of Japan) and north of Bering Strait. But this likely is either caused by (or causing) (it is a chicken-or-the-egg situation) a loopy jet stream that can make (at its most extreme) Alaska warmer than Florida. Last year we saw the same sort of extreme when the Atlantic surges made Finland warmer than Turkey. But this year, though there are still Atlantic surges, it is the same-but-different. Last year the North Atlantic lows sometimes traveled straight north to merge with Ralph at the Pole, and the entire north Atlantic had southwest winds that continued on to curve to the Pole itself. This year North Atlantic lows are more well-behaved, and head east to northern Scandinavia, and though much of Europe can be in the southwest winds, the waters north of Europe get northeast winds, which is quite the opposite of last year, resulting in a very different reformation of sea-ice in that area. (2106 left; 2017 right)
Note there is far more ice in the north of Kara Sea, Franz Joseph Land is ice-bound, Svalbard has far more ice to its north east, and sea-ice is surging and forming southwards in Fram Strait. Fram Strait is particularly interesting because a “wrong-way” flow during the summer had less-than-normal ice there. Now Denmark Strait is nearly filled, (which has me holding my breath, for, though it is very rare, sometimes the ice jams up and it is possible to walk from Greenland to Iceland), (though I wouldn’t advise it, because a single North Atlantic storm could wipe out such a bridge in a matter of hours. One December (2014?) a bridge had nearly formed, and then a gale blew up in mere hours, and all the ice crunched against the coast of Greenland in a day. Sea-ice collapses like an accordion, when winds reach hurricane force.)
With jet-stream winds looping north in the Pacific they swoop back south over Hudson Bay, bringing cold air south, and its yearly flash-freeze is ahead of last year’s. (2016 left; 2017 right.)
As I pointed out in my last post, Dr. Susan Crockford stated that residents of Churchill, on the west coast of Hudson Bay, said the reformation of ice there was one of the earliest since 1979, and polar bears were already starting to head out to sea to start their autumn hunt. (For it to be colder-than-normal south of the Pole, when it is warmer-than-normal at the Pole, seems a normal response to loopy jet streams.)
This brings up an interesting sidetrack, involving the fact more sea-ice may be bad for polar bears. Why? Polar bears eat seals, and seals require air holes to breath through, and must pup on top of the ice. If the sea-ice gets too thick, with too few areas of open water, seals (and walruses, not to mention whales and porpoises), must move south or starve, if not suffocate. Dr. Crawford has documented declines in in seal and polar bear populations associated with excessive sea-ice, which tends to shoot Al Gore’s weepy prediction of drowning bears in “An Inconvenient Truth” all full of holes. Since Gore produced that movie plenty of evidence has surfaced showing that less sea-ice actually increases the numbers of seals, and consequently polar bears. (Likely conservationists preventing over-hunting has also helped increase populations, but people who live in the north should be allowed to hunt in a sensible manner, and not prevented from earning a living in a very harsh landscape by sentimental fools to their south insisting non-endangered species “endangered”.) Dr. Crawford is fairly scornful of the unscientific side of Alarmist publicity, calling it “polar bear porn”, and has produced this excellent exposè.
A final area that interests me is the Canadian Archipelago. (2016 left; 2017 right.)
Usually the “Beaufort Gyre” has sea-ice moving as the current high pressure is moving it, clockwise on the Pacific side of the Arctic Basin.
What “Ralph” did over last winter, spring and summer was to slow this flow, and even reverse it to a counterclockwise flow. Apparently this change altered the flow of sea-ice north of the Archipelago, and rather piling up along the coast, it jammed directly into the coast and went squeezing between the larger islands. During the summer it was fascinating to watch thick sea-ice, like toothpaste in a tube, come oozing down the east side of Melville Island, across Parry Channel, and south down McClintock Channel east of Victoria Island. I am wondering if this thicker ice may continue down to Victoria Strait towards the Canadian Mainland, and become a block to people attempting the Northwest Channel next summer.
I had never seen sea-ice move south through the Archipelago like this before, and it was a sort of revelation to me. There are odd events in what arctic explorers describe (or don’t describe, as in the case of the ill-fated Franklin expedition), that may be explained by massive north-to-south flows of sea-ice through the Archipelago.
At the very least this southward movement of sea-ice through the Archipelago should awaken people to how mobile even the thickest sea-ice is. Originally I myself had the preconception sea-ice was fixed and motionless, or at least as slow to move as a glacier. It was only through observation I became aware it moves about with far more speed than some Alarmists give it credit for. In fact, if the Pole were to become largely ice-free, it would be more likely to be due to a massive discharge of sea-ice into the North Atlantic (as apparently happened 1816-1817) than be due to slight variations in temperature and summer melting caused by CO2.
Hopefully I’ll find time to go through the daily maps later. The huge high pressure over the Pole faded, but now is being replaced by another high pressure. “Ralph” is not the character he was, last year.
In case I don’t have time to go through the maps I should quickly pop in this current map of the USA which seems to counter many of my assumptions:
With less ice north of Being Strait I’ve been buying extra firewood, expecting Alaska to be warm like it was in the winter of 1976-77, which was the coldest I recall in New England, and saw sea-ice grow right down the east coast of the USA (sea-ice which, by the way, never gets added to the “extent” graphs). However the above map shows a mild surge right up the center of the USA, making a sort of mockery of my analog.
What seems to be happening is that the loopy jet still hasn’t “locked in”, and still is in a state of flux. I’m going to stand my ground, thinking it will “lock in” later. (In 1976-77 it had already locked in, and it seemed the wind was bitter cold and from the north nearly every day from November until February.) I’ve noticed that the computer models are flipping around like a net full of fish. I think every time an upper air trough rambles across the continent they recalculate, first having cold “lock in” on the west coast and then on the east.
One reason I’m not flipping around myself is because the Weatherbell Site isn’t flipping around. Where I just use one analog they utilize over ten, and Joseph D’Aleo has created what he calls his “Pioneer Model” that combines the analogs. It has been showing cold in the northeast of the USA since summer, without all the flip-flopping about the super-computer models do.
In any case, though I may be wrong where the loops “lock in”, I’m thinking the jet will have those loops, allowing influxes of milder air up to the Pole, until exactly February 13, and then the pattern will go zonal and the Pole will get cold. I figure that, if a blind squirrel intends to get a nut, he’d best go way out on a limb.
I don’t have free time, but do have insomnia.
My last post ended with an impressive high pressure forming an anti-Ralph at the Pole.
This huge high drifted towards Kara Sea, as an Aleutian Low snuck north and brought warm north through Bering Strait. The flow in the North Atlantic was opposite last year’s. A low over Hudson Bay began bringing milder air up Baffin’s Bay, to the west of Greenland.
The anti-Ralph was prevented from entering Kara Sea by an Atlantic gale that stalled north of Norway, but kicked ahead a “kicker” low that strengthened south of Kara Sea. In the Pacific Side a new Aleautian low came north. Mild air began to leak north either side of Greenland, as the anti-Ralph weakened.
As the anti-Ralph collapsed to a ridge, this is the closest I see to a “Ralph” forming, on the Pacific side of the Pole.
Rather than this “Ralph” moving to the Pole, it was displaced towards Siberia as a new high pressure was pumped towards Canada. The Atlantic and Hudson Bay lows weakened as a new Aleutian low crossed East Siberia.
The first Aleutian low retrograded in east Siberia as a new Aleutian low pounded Alaska south of Bering Strait, and mild air came north through the Strait. Things were quieter on the Atlantic and Hudson Bay side, but milder air that came north from the Atlantic earlier formed an interesting swirl on the Pacific side of the Pole, in the temperature map. This swirl was opposite last year’s swirls, clockwise rather than counter-clockwise, but it showed our planet is still sending heat north to be lost to the arctic dark.
The final maps show the next Aleutian low failing to get north of Bering Strait, a new Hudson Bay low, low pressure malingering over Europe, and the new anti-Ralph failing to get as strong as the last one and failing to cross to Asia, but rather falling back as a ridge towards Canada. Most striking is that the isobars suggest a flow from the Pole straight down towards Europe.
This Pole-to-Europe flow ought make things interesting across the Pond.
What is striking is that the Pole-to-Europe flow is so opposite last year’s. The next north Atlantic gale will not come north with Azores juice, but will likely be that Hudson Bay low on the wrong side of Greenland, undergoing what I call “morphistication” as it transits Greenland’s 10,000 foot icecap. The Baltic low will crawl east, perhaps producing an interesting secondary on its cold front, as the front reaches the Mediterranean. It looks like low pressures will swirl around Europe, hopefully giving folk a white Christmas and not rain, and high pressure will remain king-of-the-mountain at the Pole. Definitely very different from what produced “Ralph” last winter.