ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Spring Floods–

Above is a NASA loop showing the flood waters pouring out from the Gusinaya River over the five day period of June 4-8.  (The problem is figuring out which Gusinaya River. I don’t think it is the one out on Wrangle Island, but rather one in East Siberia).

The thing to be aware if is that this is happening all around the Arctic Sea, as huge north-flowing rivers turn from winter trickles to summer floods. For example,  the Lena River is nearly frozen to the bottom in February, with only 3% of its yearly flow occurring that month, but then rises over sixty feet by summer. The influx of all this fresh water along the arctic coasts greatly changes the nature of the sea-ice along the shores, tending to swiftly make it more slushy. At first the fresh water is very cold, as it is from melting snow, but later in the summer it can create relatively mild areas of open water by the deltas. The fresh water tends to form a “lens” over the more saline waters.

There can be relatively rapid melts close to the deltas, but the water’s heat is quickly used up by the transformation into latent heat which occurs during the melting process. There tends to be a lot of arguing about what happens next, as the water sometimes stratifies and can be identified over time and distance, and sometimes gets churned and mixed by storms.

In any case I thought the picture of the flood was interesting. I used to be baffled by how quickly coastal ice could vanish in places, such as the Mackenzie River delta in Northern Canada, before I became aware of the colossal yearly floods. What is fascinating me now is how the floods vary, due to droughts to the south, and how this can effect sea-ice. Also I ponder the differences in the timing of floods; some years they are earlier and some years they are later.

Currently there is a very meredional  flow, with a stream of unusually mild air streaming north from the middle of Asia all the way to “Ralph” up at the Pole. Alarmist are quite excited, as there are records being set for warmth on the coast of the Laptev Sea.

Arctic Floods 2 FullSizeRender

Of course, on the other side of that cold front, cold air is streaming south into western Russia, where records are being set for cold temperatures.

Stay Tuned.


2 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Spring Floods–

  1. Hi,

    Your storm is pulling in a lot of warm air as you say from the warmest part of Russia. I quite like this simple weather site

    not sure why they label it high though. I like it as a quick snap shot.

    Polynya tend to form off the Russian coast at this time of year and this will surely make them bigger. Against that we have thicker sea ice this year … battle of two ancient Gods I guess, will be fun watching the charts in the next week or two. Interesting 2018 melt season so far.

    When the storm moves to Canada it will be interesting to see, Canada has been cool in May and so slightly different to the storm v the russian side.


    • Yes, that’s a good site. They must be automated because they are always labeling lows “H” and highs “L”, but you can figure out the reality by checking the isobars. I think it is based on the GFS model. The forecast tends to be good until you get five days into the future, and then the fun begins.

      It looksw like the storm will stall and fade north of the Canadian mainland. I think the air will lose its heat over all that ice, which reduces the uplift and causes the storm to weaken. It will be cut off from its source of warmth. These polar storms need what I call a “feeder band” from the south.

      Keep an I on the DMI temperature graph to see if the surge of mild air towards the Pole actually gets temperatures above normal. It might fail to do so. Not only is the 24 hour a day sunshine blocked, but the warm air goes up and cold snow falls down. Even though mildness may breed such storms, they can create coolness in the manner of a summer thunderstorm.

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