Due to various interruptions I haven’t been able to post the DMI maps of pressure and temperature at the Pole. I’m now posting nearly two months worth of maps, primary as records for my notebook, but also because it is a record of much of the 35° yearly rise of temperatures at the Pole (Celsius). A lot of interesting stuff occurs as the Pole shifts from six months without sunshine to six months when the sun is up, and the interesting stuff isn’t limited to the shenanigans of the winds and sea-ice. There are also the antics of Alarmists and Skeptics to observe.
Although temperatures rise from a mean down near -40°, it is important to remember that there are big swings in temperature during the winter, and temperatures up towards freezing are not unheard of even in the dead of the darkness. Alarmists tend to suggest such swings are a modern phenomenon, while Skeptics tend to look back at years such as 1972.
The swings in temperature are caused by surges of milder air brought up to the Pole by a loopy (meridional) jet stream, and are less common when the flow is zonal. When the south winds occur over land they can create polynyas of open water near shore, which Alarmists become wide-eyed about, as Skeptics yawn. Alarmists tend to feel the loopy jet stream is caused by a trace gas, while Skeptics feel different causes are involved, (and I personally look to cycles of the AMO and PDO, and shifts from a “quiet” sun to a “noisy” one.)
There can be little doubt that the past winter brought more surges of mild air north than we have seen in recent times. There were also surges of cold air far to the south, (but when you focus on sea-ice alone you develops a sort of myopia). Alarmists grew exited because the south winds blew the edge of the sea-ice north, especially in the Bering Sea (but also in Fram Strait, where the flushing of sea-ice down the east coast of Greenland was impeded). This led to Alarmists pointing at “unprecedentedly” low amounts of sea-ice in the “extent” graphs, but, because the sea-ice was condensed in the Central Arctic, there was an “unprecedented” rise in the “volume” graph, for Skeptics to counter with.
As summer comes on the contrast between the frigid cold at the Pole and milder oceans to the south grows less, and things calm down, but in our first map from March 19 the sun hasn’t yet risen at the Pole, though the sky is bright with twilight. Temperatures are still very cold, and great contrasts can occur.
At this point the Beaufort High becomes important, as its winds, (especially towards Alaska where it can clash with northwards extensions of the Aleutian Low), can break up the sea-ice even during the coldest winter. (This was especially notable in February 2013, when the thin “baby ice” skimming the open waters of the record-setting 2012 minimum was riven by leads of open water fifty miles wide. Alarmists felt this would hasten the summer melt, but the temperatures were at -40°, so not only were the leads swiftly frozen over, but the water under the ice was apparently chilled, so that the summer melt was less.)
The Beaufort High, if correctly positioned , can rip the ice away from the northwest coast of Alaska, and also the approaches to the Northwest Passage north of the Mackenzie River Delta. This year the Beaufort High has been smaller and weaker, and positioned in a manner where it has constantly blown ice north in Bering Strait, but has had less of an effect at the delta. In our first map on March 19 we see it in one of its stronger manifestations.
By March 20 a strong low was moving up into the Kara Sea on the Siberian coast. The south winds ahead of it bring air north from central Siberia. In the dead of winter these Siberian winds might be colder than the air over the ice, but it is a sure sign of spring (and Siberian thaw) that the maps show a plume of milder air press north in the isotherms of the temperature maps.
By March 22 the Kara low, in conjunction with an Aleutian low, have supressed the Beaufort High in a manner that creates strong winds from the south in Bering Strait, but calm and cold conditions at the Mackenzie Delta. Though the sun is peeking over the horizon at the Pole, it is still so low the plume of milder air brought north by the Kara low swiftly cools, but a new plume starts coming north from the Pacific through Bering Strait.
(Missing maps) By March 27 the Beaufort High is strung out and weakened, and its contrast with general low pressure on the Siberian side has created a Pacific-to-Atlantic cross-polar-flow. Alarmists were noting mild temperatures (for March) over the Pole, but Inuit communities in the Canadian Archipelago were experiencing record-setting cold.
(Missing maps) By March 29 a storm over Hudson Bay started pumping the cold air south, to begin building an April that had record-setting cold in parts of North America. The Beaufort High was rebuilding, but centered with cold and calm over the Mackenzie Delta.
By March 31 the cross-polar-flow from Pacific to Atlantic is temporarily reestablished, again with south winds over Bering Strait and calm over the Mackenzie Delta. But the high over Alaska is building out into Bering Strait, and mild air will draw the low from over East Siberia towards Alaska, interrupting the flow.
This third plume of milder air coming north over Alaska creates low pressure at the Pole (AKA “Ralph”) as well as north winds at the Mackenzie Delta.
And at this point, right when things were getting interesting, DMI stopped producing its maps. At first I thought it was routine maintenance, and then that the good fellow who creates the maps was on a well-deserved vacation, and then that perhaps he retired without training a replacement. I was miserable. You never know what you’ve got ’til its gone. Also April was not at all spring-like, where I live in New Hampshire. Life was not happy.
I decided to switch over to the Dr. Ryan Maue maps produced over at the Weatherbell site. However they lack the simplicity of the DMI maps. Not that there is anything wrong with detail, but….
In any case, a weaker version of the Beaufort high brought south and southeast winds over much of the coast of Alaska, pushing ice off shore, but again not so much at the Mackenzie delta. Also some weak versions of “Ralph” flirted with low pressure at the Pole. Then I noticed DMI was back in business.
It is notable that the darker blues are gone from the temperature map. This creates the appearance of “warming”, but in fact the Pole is simply losing heat less rapidly. The sun is still too low to overpower the heat lost to outer space, as can be seen when a plume of milder air moves up from the south. It still cools, despite being in sunshine twenty-four hours a day.
Weak cross-polar-flow from Pacific to Atlantic persists. Sea-ice shifts south in Barents Sea, and west in East Siberian Sea. A low moves into the Kara Sea, and again a plume of milder air pushes north ahead of it.
The Kara Sea low crawls on to the Laptev Sea, and the plume of warm air ahead of it is notable. The polar flow is from Siberia to Canada. Off the map, it is very cold in the north of USA, with spring much delayed.
The Laptev Sea Low’s warm plume is a sort of feeder band which eventually fuels a weak “Ralph” low pressure at the Pole, as the Beaufort High weakens.
The weak “Ralph” continues on into the Canadian Archipelago and then the Beaufort High rebuilds slightly, as weak Atlantic lows roll east along Russia’s arctic coast.
Winds are slowing to more summer-like levels, as there is less if a clash in temperatures. A very lazy cross-polar-flow ambles from Pacific to Atlantic, but at long last this pattern starts to change., as low pressure develops in Baffin Bay and then battles over the top of Greenland.
As the low finishes its transit and starts to redevelop off the east coast of Greenland, another low is forming in the Kara Sea. As a buffer if high pressure forms between the two lows, we see wring-way winds from the South, stopping the export of sea-ice in Fram Srait, but a wrong-way north wind in Barents Sea, causing sea-ice to expand south at a time it usually retreats north. These wrong-way winds utterly screw up the careful calculations of sea-ice fanatics everywhere.
At this point the two lows have created two mild plumes, one north through Fram Strait and one north through the Laptev Sea, fueling a quasi “Ralph” north of Greenland.
(Missing maps) The Laptev low fades, and as high pressure build over the Russian coast we have a reversed flow over the pole, From Atlantic to Pacific.
A sizable plume of milder air is brought north over Svalbard, which experiences a thaw. However despite the fact it is a week into May the plume of mild air chills in the following maps. The relative warmth of sunshine, sea-water and imported air is still not quite enough to match the heat lost to outer space.
I should confess I was not expecting the plume, nor the feeder band forming a weak version of “Ralph”. Please forget my forecast of the La Nina causing a more zonal pattern. Didn’t happen.
Though the plume did give above-normal temperatures at the Pole, that heat was lost and temperatures dropped back to near normal.
I conclude these maps with a tight little low forming east of Svalbard, and a small Baffin Bay Basher, but for the most part the arctic tranquil and summer-like.
I’d comment more, but having this many maps seems to be taxing the capacity of WordPress and I’m afraid this whole post will crash. So I’ll add more with a separate post.