ARCTIC SEA-ICE –The Unexpected Surge–UPDATED

I am going to have to eat a lot of humble pie with this post, as things have not gone as expected. My forecast has come face to face with Truth, which is any meteorologist’s bane, whether they be professional or a rank amateur like myself. However, before I launch into a confession of how I have bungled, I would like to state that being wrong is a way to learn. Truth has the power to correct us. Though it may wound our egos and feel like a rebuke, we are the better for correction. It is better to stand corrected than to cling to pride that goes before the fall.

Also, because Alarmists delight in disparaging Skeptics like myself even when we are correct, and delight even more when they can point out an actual error we have made, I would like to begin this confessional by confessing an error the Alarmists made.

A year ago Alarmists, who insist arctic sea-ice is in a “Death Spiral”, despite all the evidence I offer to the contrary, hit upon a new way of demonstrating their forecast was true. At this site a  kindly troll I nicknamed “Sty” took the time to go into how mistaken I was, in great detail, which I actually thank him for. He went to great lengths to explain all the things Alarmists said were important in the past were not as important as a new thing, which proved sea-ice was in decline. Whereas in the past, because “albedo” and the amount of sunshine reflected from polar waters was deemed crucial, “sea-ice extent” and “sea-ice area” were all-important, now “sea-ice volume” was all-important. Why? Because the (unreliable and highly modeled) graphs showed “volume” at very low, and indeed at “unprecedented” (in the recent past) levels.

But now? What a difference a year makes! Check out the DMI graph of sea-ice volume below. The lowest, light blue line is last year, and you can see it indeed was very low in mid-February. But look at the black line, which is this year, and you can see the “volume” has experienced what is called a “recovery”.

Volume 20180215 FullSizeRender

Now, as a year ago certain Alarmists were not predicting a “recovery” but rather a “Death Spiral”, what we see is tantamount to a blown forecast. It is time for Alarmists to eat humble pie. However what my experience has been, in the past,  is that they display a certain lack in this regard. They prefer to change the subject.

Therefore I suppose it is up to me to show them what they are missing. Humble pie is actually rather delicious, for you learn when you admit your mistakes. You have the uncanny joy of having light-bulbs go off in your head, and say “Eureka!” Few things are quite as enjoyable.

My own blown-forecast involved the assumption that the super-El-Nino of 2015 would have one effect on the Pole, and therefore the modest La-Nina of 2017-2018 should have a sort of equal and opposite effect. Where the 2015 El-Nino resulted in a very loopy (meridional) jet-stream, and so much mild air transported to the Pole that it created an anomalous area of low pressure I dubbed “Ralph”, I figured a La Nina would create a flat (zonal) jet stream, with much cold air trapped up at the Pole.  I wildly guessed at the lag-time involved, and stated the La Nina’s effect should wait until now to manifest. But guess what? I was wrong.

Instead of a zonal flow developing, we have again seen surges of mild air heading up to the Pole, (with arctic outbreaks occurring at lower latitudes). Rather than the DMI mean-temperatures-above-eighty-degrees-north-latitude graph sinking down to the green line (normal) as I expected, we are seeing surges as spectacular as last year’s. (2017 to right; 2018 to left.)

To me this represents a huge amount of our planet’s warmth being sucked north to be squandered to outer space, during the darkest of polar nights. To me the question then becomes, “Why?” There is no super-El-Nino producing extra heat to be squandered. What is going on?

I don’t know. However I don’t pretend it isn’t happening. I don’t change the subject. Instead I focus in.

One idea that popped into my head was that the “polar background” (I just made that up) is made colder by the Quiet Sun.  After all, dust devils are more likely when a cool air-mass lies over a surface heated by the sun. Perhaps the appearance of “Ralph” at the Pole is a larger version of the same.

“Ralph” has indeed reappeared, just when I expected to be writing his obituary and expected high pressure at the Pole. Not only Atlantic, but Pacific streams of relatively “mild” (but subfreezing) air have speared to the Pole. The planet is losing heat like crazy.

However this has not led to thinner ice in the Central Arctic. It is obviously thicker than last year.  (2017 to left; 2018 to right.)

However the inflow of milder air has pushed the thin sea-ice at the edges north, reducing the sea-ice’s area and extent. Therefore, rather than “volume”, I suppose we can now expect “extent” and “area” to be the focus of certain Alarmists.

DMI5 0215 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

(If I have time I’ll add the recent DMI maps I found time to save, to this post. But, until my money from Big Oil for being a Skeptic arrives, (never), I am busy with other responsibilities, and must confess I did a very poor job of saving DMI maps during a very fascinating period.)


UPDATE:  Here are the maps I managed to save during a busy time in my life:

When I last looked on January 27 the relatively mild air imported north by the first surge was cooling in the arctic darkness, and I was thinking a cross polar flow might be developing from Siberia to Canada.

Instead some Pacific air leached north through Bering Strait and a weak “Hula Ralph” appeared north of Eastern Siberia, and weakened the high pressure on the Pacific side moving towards Canada.  Cold was building over the Central Arctic, and I was expecting high pressure to build over the Pole and verify my forecast for a zonal flow. (Ha ha).

Here is where it started to get interesting, as a gale moved up to southern Greenland and started to do the peculiar things I call “morphistication”. In transiting the 10,000 foot tall ice-cap the low pressure dumps a lot of snow, and also sometimes seems to create some sort of Chinook at the top of Baffin Bay, which fuels an independent low. (Of course, I wasn’t paying much attention, and was focused on high pressure building at the Pole.) (Ha ha)

Here is where I missed some important maps, as low pressure dominated Greenland and a huge Atlantic surge rushed up from Iceland past Svalbard and over the Pole.

I expected the milder air to generate a “Ralph” at the Pole, and lo and behold it did.

Like last winter, a secondary “Ralph” drifted north over Svalbard rather than taking the more usual North Atlantic route east to Norway. A cross-polar Siberia-to Canada flow was developing between the low pressure on the Atlantic side and the high pressure on the Pacific side.

And, again like last winter, a tertiary “Ralph” took a wrong-way route up through Fram Strait, but by this point the amazing surge was starting to weaken and fade.

A more usual North Atlantic gale then whirled by Iceland, and the flow was back into Greenland north of it, east-to-west rather than south-to-north. I was thinking maybe, just maybe, high pressure would build at the Pole and verify my forecast of a zonal flow developing. (Ha ha). Instead a flow from the Pacific began leaking north through Bering Strait.

Even as high pressure ridged at the Pole it failed to pool cold air up there, as a very interesting twin flow developed, with one feed from the Pacific and another from the Atlantic.

This twin-feed is interesting, and deserves some sort of name. It might be interesting to diagram what is occurring at various levels of the atmosphere. Even though there is no “Ralph” at the Pole, the high pressure has two “feeder-bands.”

Currently the Icelandic and Aleutian gales are weakening, and I’m not even going to guess what will happen next. (There is some talk of “blocking high pressure” becoming established over Greenland.)

Like last winter, the surges did increase the snows over Greenland, right when it looked like a drier winter might make the snows less-than-normal, which likely would have become an Alarmist talking-point, with those more prone to sensationalism wailing that Greenland is melting, melting, melting away. As it is the snows are a hair above normal, and the thaws won’t even start in most inland places until May.

Greenland MB 20180217 accumulatedsmb

Greenland MB 20180217 todaysmb

Stay Tuned.

6 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA-ICE –The Unexpected Surge–UPDATED

  1. Caleb,
    Thanks for the post. I have noticed the DMI thickness as well, and assume that ice compression is causing that to rise as extent is showing lower. MASIE is stuck at 14.1 square Km for over a week, but volume keeps growing.

    Where I was really wrong was on local weather. After a bitter December, my prediction for a very cold winter here in Maine was looking solid, but February is now behaving more like March or April, with some days in the 40’s. I now have no idea when Spring will come and what it will be like.

    • Glad you liked the post. I really don’t have much free time, but figured I’d better just get the maps recorded to keep my “arctic sea-ice notebook” from getting so hopelessly far behind that I had to spend all summer updating.

      I had a science teacher named Miss Marble in 7th grade who assigned a daily paper and actually forced students to come to school in the summer, if that homework was not 100% completed. I found that threat so dreadful that I think it scarred me for life, as I was not a student known for ever having his homework done, and I did get far behind in her class. At one point I think I was at least fifty assignments behind, I think partly due to a winter like this one, that we had back then.

      My guess is it was 1966-1967, and the midwinter thaw was really remarkable. In late January it was up around 70 degrees, and I remember taking off my shirt and sunbathing on my way home from school. (I’d have to check my boyhood diary; I may be mixing up this winter with 1968-1969.) What I remember most clearly is stomping into the house after school and grousing about the lack of snow (and the lack of no-school days.) I was complaining to a cleaning-lady and cook we had from Prince Edward’s Island, and she told me we were going to get clobbered; she had seen mid-winter thaws before, and she insisted they tended to be followed by huge gales that, (up on Prince Edward’s Island at least), built drifts right over the houses. Later she had the satisfaction of saying “I told you so” as we did get a very big snowstorm later that winter, and missed days of school, which allowed me to escape homework for a while (though not in Miss Marble’s class. She expected her daily work to be done even in storms.)

      This current thaw is remarkable, in that it is extending into February, but Joe Bastardi suggests this a case of “delayed but not denied.” Apparently 1960 was another such winter, that had a mild February yet huge storm along the mid-Atlantic coast in March. Also the legendary “Blizzard of 1888” hit on March 11 and lasted until March 14, after a mild winter. I recall reading temperatures were up in the 50’s on March 10 in New York City, yet they got 4 feet of snow with drifts up to second story windows. So don’t drop your guard!

      We got over six inches yesterday, despite the thaw. A little blob of arctic air came down from the north, and the mild air counter-attacked so quickly the cold was still around as it moved in. Did you get much snow in Maine? The snow is wilting swiftly here, and won’t hang around long, as the forecast is for temperatures back up around sixty by Wednesday. I’ll relish that, but there will probably be a lot of mud. Cheers!

      • Got about 5 inches here in Maine, right on the coast. Supposed to be mid 50s by Wednesday. Not surprising you’re expecting higher inland. The cold water here tends to moderate things.

        The one good thing that these temperature swings do is make the lakes like glass, fun for the skaters! Air warms up, we get a bit of rain, low winds, then the lakes freeze smooth and solid (given there is already at least a foot of ice underneath the wet surface). It’s a bit of a problem for the ice fishing huts, however – easy for the skids to get frozen right into the lake surface!

  2. Pingback: ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Remarks on the Remarkable– | Sunrise's Swansong

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