Cranberries cooking in a cozy kitchen; Voices carrying on conversations In every corner; the scent of pies, then The scent of turkey; toddling grandsons; And my grandfather…wait…he is long gone And this scene is painted Rembrandt orange On sunrise cumulus; Arizona dawn Campground; alone; without a door hinge To squeak or girl to love; I only own a hurt…wait…that too is long gone; I am now The grandfather back east. Arizona Faded, as I too fade. I’m glad times allow Returns to cozy kitchens, but this too Will pass, until I finally wake with You.
The sea-ice is continuing its usual tripling of its extent. Hudson Bay has started to refreeze, and the open waters north of Bering Strait are rapidly shrinking, and some ice along the west coast of Alaska has even begun to form south of Bering Strait. All this is rather ho-hum stuff, with sea-ice continuing at the low levels of extent one might expect with both the PDO and AMO warm, but without the record-setting low levels needed to support the contention that the arctic is in some sort of “Death Spiral”.
Despite the fact things are rather ordinary, we mortals have an eye out for the extraordinary. Why? I assume it is because we know that it is quite “ordinary” to have winter weather in the winter. In my neck of the woods, it is quite “ordinary” to have a snowstorm. And, when you are dealing with a snowstorm, it is hard to deem it “ordinary”, even when it is. In like manner, California has its own extremes, including both extreme drought and extreme rain, which tend to peak in the winter, and which lead to the opposites of either wildfires or mudslides, both of which are quite “ordinary”, yet both of which are hard to call anything but “extraordinary”, when you are in the midst of them.
In conclusion, the extraordinary is part of the ordinary. We actually should thank God for this, for without battle life is a drag. If every day had Camelot weather, we’d all be bored stiff. Yet some politicians claim they can control the weather:
It’s true! It’s true! The crown has made it clear.
The climate must be perfect all the year.
A law was made a distant moon ago here:
July and August cannot be too hot.
And there’s a legal limit to the snow here
The winter is forbidden till December
And exits March the second on the dot.
By order, summer lingers through September
I know it sounds a bit bizarre,
But in Camelot, Camelot
That’s how conditions are.
The rain may never fall till after sundown.
By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
In short, there’s simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
I know it gives a person pause,
But in Camelot, Camelot
Those are the legal laws.
The snow may never slush upon the hillside.
By nine p.m. the moonlight must appear.
In short, there’s simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
Though we may yearn for idyllic peace (especially when we’re older) there is a quite contrary side of ourselves which craves the challenge of a storm (especially when we’re younger). And it turns out Creation doesn’t let us down, and gives us both times of peace and times of storm.
It is because we own a certain sense of foreboding that we keep a wary eye out for winter extremes, as winter approaches. Our eyes turn up, both to the sky and high clouds, and also to “up” in a map, which is north, to where the winter comes from (in the northern hemisphere.)
Therefore, even when the sea-ice is a bit boring, a true pessimist is optimistic about hints of coming calamity appearing. (This likely explains why some Alarmists are so delighted by what they see as signs of the-end-of-life-as-we-know-it.)
One sign of cold and snow is the jet stream buckling from a “zonal” flow (which keeps cold trapped up at the Pole) to a “meridional” flow, (which allows arctic outbreaks to charge south). These flows involve “upper winds”. It is interesting to read the words of meteorologists who lived back in the 1880’s, and to hear how the craved more information about winds aloft, and how they strove to get the government to fund not satellites, but weather balloons. Weather balloons were a newfangled idea back then, and they felt that “if only” they had weather balloons, all their problems would be solved. Well, they got their balloons, and then their satellites, and guess what? They got as many new problems as they got answers. But at least we can see if the flow is zonal or not. (Current GFS 500 mb Northern Hemisphere map of upper air pressure and winds, from Weatherbell site:)
These maps are helpful, if you have studied long and hard, for they tell you where storms are likely to form, down here on earth. But a problem arises, because the maps are in constant flux. If the danged bulges would stay in the same place, or stay the same size as they rotated around the planet, or rotate at a nice, predictable speed, forecasting would be far easier. But the big bulges have waves which have ripples atop them, and bulges elongate and flatten and tilt forward and back until one feels one is dealing with an epileptic amoeba. So what do people do? They look higher, higher, ever higher. They look past even the tropopause into the statosphere, and beg for better satellites, until they get what they desire. (Current GFS stratospheric 10 mb temperature amomoly):
The above shows a Stratospheric Warming event is occurring. A fascinating discussion has been occurring at the Weatherbell Site as the highly skilled meteorologists there discuss what the event may portend. Apparently, as Jospeph D’Aleo explains it, the stratospheic warmings “propagate down in pulses into mid-latitudes affecting the polar vortex and high latitude blocking (with a lag)”.
And this in turn results in high pressure building and “blocking” in arctic regions, which results in a meridional jet stream (and in me freezing my posterior off).
The problem then becomes that the Stratospheric Warming Events are as fickle as the bulges in the jet stream beneath. So I suppose we should look even higher, ever higher. We should gaze beyond the stratosphere to the Quiet Sun, and to the increase in deep space cosmic rays such a Quiet Sun permits, and…..and at this point, as much as I love all such speculation, I get hit by humbleness. I have to confess such high things are above my head. It’s then I decide that if I must go higher, ever higher, I likely should go straight to the Top, and I trot off to church.
But wouldn’t you just know it, even church can present me with problems. The good person to my left is praying for rain to water the church’s garden-for-the-poor, while the good person to my right is praying for sunshine to beam upon the church’s benefit-picnic-for-the-poor, and I figure those conflicting prayers are bound to breed clashing air masses and cause a tornado. (Likely, when praying, it’s best to keep the wish-lists short, and instead to focus on thanksgiving.) In any case I tend to find myself plunked back down to earth.
Not that I am against eyes uplifting higher, higher, ever higher. It is just that my feet remain on the ground, even when my gazes soar up to cirrus. Down here is where I live, and down here is where, in the end, all forecasts end up focusing. After all, most of us don’t live on the equator bobbing in a boat in the Pacific, so why should we care if the Pacific waters switch from an El Nino to a La Nina? Why? Is it not because, in the end, we think far places may effect where we stand? In the end our focus is our feet, and whether they are cold or not.
Therefore I tend to plunk back down to earth, and to the surface maps they had back in 1880. In a sense all else is an embellishment; perhaps fabulous accoutrements to wonder, and enhancements to our depth of understanding, but unable to move our feet from the mud we stand in, if we are standing in mud. To move we must move, which involves recognizing where we stand, which involves respecting the surface-level maps.
After all, it is not merely the stratosphere that “propagates” down; it is also the rock bottom of the troposphere that “propagates” up. In fact my ears perked right up when I heard Joe Bastardi musing, at one of the fascinating Weatherbell discussions, about how some action involving the “Indian Ocean Dipole” seems correlated with the onset of Stratospheric Warming Events, which (to my mind at least), suggested the bottom of the Troposphere effecting the Stratosphere. How? Who knows? Maybe a surge of warm, juicy air gets rammed north by the power of the Monsoon and is hoisted by the Himalayas. Your wondering is as good as mine, but my point is that I like to stay grounded down at the bottom of the troposphere. It is where I live, and where I view the planet from, and where I feel at most at home. (Not that I don’t look forward to different views I may gain, once I grow a set of wings).
Therefore I accept a sort of set of limitations as my bounds and my discipline, and like to focus on the DMI surface-level maps of the Pole. It is those winds and storms and temperatures, after all, which are in actual contact with the sea-ice, and which shove it about, and cause it to grow and to shrink. And it is at that level we may first see what we have never witnessed before with satellites: The moment when sea-ice moves from the low levels of a “warm” AMO to the higher levels associated with a “cold” AMO, an event which happens roughly every sixty years (and sixty years ago we had no watching satellites.)
So allow me to get down to the business of scrutinizing the polar maps.
When I last posted the Pole had been flooded by Atlantic air as much as thirty degrees above normal that surged north either side of Greenland, and formed Ralph (anomalous low pressure) which moved from just north of Greenland across the Pole to Siberia, followed by Ralph Junior forming just north of Greenland in his wake. I noted that Ralph had consumed a “feeder band” of warm air, and seemed to be leaving a wake of colder air. The strong high pressure over eastern Russia, even while feeding Ralph and Ralph junior with mild Atlantic air, was exporting a surge of very cold air down through central Russia towards Mongolia and northern China. Despite exporting much of its cold, the Pole as a whole was starting to cool.
Two days later the massive cold high pressure arctic air pumped up in Central Asia (where few live and the media doesn’t notice) apparently bumped the Aleutian Low east, across Bering Strait into Alaska. This was good news for me, for it broke a pattern where frigid air was being delivered from the Pole to me, and the rest of eastern North America. Instead this big low was swinging Canadian air back up over the Pole, and its south side was pouring Pacific air into the Canadian Rockies, in places creating far milder Chinook conditions on the eastern slopes. This new circulation sped the formation of sea-ice north of Bering Strait. The feeder-band of mild air up through Bering Strait was reversed, but still seemed to show on the temperature map. I shrugged this off as being due to open water affecting surface temperatures. On the Atlantic side the feeder-band of Atlantic air seemed cut off as well, by the movement of Ralph Junior across the Pole, and now seemed to be curving over Scandinavia and then back down into Russia. I sat back certain that the Pole, without feeder-bands, would see a period of growing cold and high pressure, and there could not be a third Ralph.
Twelve hours later a lot of heat had been lost, but I wasn’t sitting back as far. There was a funny bump of low pressure in Fram Strait. It made me suspicious.
Twelve hours later the Atlantic Ralph #3 has moved north in Fram Strait and seems to be drawing Atlantic air north, while a Pacific Ralph #3, with even lower pressure, has formed far north of Bering Strait, although seemingly cut off from Pacific feeds, by the the circulation of the powerful Aleutian Low over Alaska.
Twelve hour later the Pacific Ralph #3 has weakened, as the Atlantic Ralph #3 has strengthened, but they have become strangely connected, in terms of isobars. The Pacific Ralph appears unsupported, but the Atlantic Ralph seems to have an incipient feeder-band north of Svalbard, and perhaps even a second feeder-band, bucking the isobars in the Kara Sea.
How can this be? The Pole is getting colder, and high pressure should be formed by descending cold air. How can not only an Atlantic low, but a Pacific low, intrude upon my assumptions?
Unfortunately my life got busy, and I missed the next map, but 24 hours later my suspicions were confirmed. Ralph sat squarely by the Pole, with his signature-hook of milder air clear on the isotherm map.
I must confess that, in the big picture, Ralph #3 may seem like a small player. The arctic outbreak that crashed down into central Asia sprawled out into a vastness that now covers nearly all Asia in high pressure, as the Aleutian Low that crashed into Alaska sent blobs further east, even as it weakened, which made a sprawling area of low pressure atop North America, (with a new Aleutian Low forming off northeast Asia.) Ralph #3 seems an inconsequential dot between two major forces, and I’m sure most minds focus on the big things.
However Ralph continues to interest me. I don’t see what makes such a blip in Fram Strait gain such power, nor what draws him across the Pole. Also, though I noticed he did draw Atlantic warmth north, it didn’t warm the arctic like his Grandfather did, and the signature-hook was already fading in twelve hours, on the isotherm map.
In fact the chilling of the Pole towards normal temperatures continued, with only a brief slowing.
I could add further maps, but the purpose of this post was to note down, as a sort of observation into a notebook, the appearance of a “Ralph” that had no seeming excuse for becoming a feature on maps.
This Ralph was not created by a surging “feeder-band” created by a southern gale. Rather this Ralph created his own feeder band. This Ralph didn’t need the south, and was trying to make some point which is having difficulty penetrating my thick skull, but involves the suggestion that the Arctic may have powers we are not aware of.
For all I know, that small Ralph #3, which looks so small compared to Asian high pressure or to sprawling North American low pressure, may not be a small player, but the conductor of the orchestra. Just a thought.
However it is hard to think about such stuff under the press of fresh changes. As a preview of my next post I’ll tell you the Aleutian Low forming on the above map did not follow the last one into Alaska, but rather moved up the Siberian side of Bering Strait. Besides blowing south winds in Bering Strait, this may mean all that cold air building in over the Pole gets discharged into Canada rather than Asia. What this means is that I should not be scrutinizing maps. I should be cutting firewood. However, even when I’m busy elsewhere, I’ll try to remember to save maps for my next post.
Sometimes my Childcare work is actually fun, to a degree where I feel a bit guilty for charging people to do it. Such was the case with the carrot crop, this year.
Carrots, like parsnips, are a biennial, and put their energy into forming a big root the first year. If you leave the root in the ground then the second year the carrot puts all the energy stored in the root into producing a beautiful flower (shaped like it’s close cousin, Queen Anne’s lace), and then produces so many carrot seeds that they can become a weed, in certain situations.
Because they are a biennial they handle freezes well, and I tend to harvest them last, for two reasons.
The first is that I have a tendency to procrastinate whenever possible, not because I am particularly lazy, but rather because life is so full of fun things to do that I always over-schedule. Usually I am busy doing one thing, but even when I am busy with one task I am procrastinating in terms of ten or twenty other tasks. This tends to get me in trouble, but also makes me highly skilled when it comes to inventing excuses for procrastinating. The best excuses are those which disguise the procrastination as part of a “plan.” And this brings me to the second reason for harvesting carrots last.
One year, as I was procrastinating in my usual way, I continued my usual habit of pulling a few carrots every day for my wife’s needs, and noticed that as the carrot greens finally browned (and they are one of the final things in the garden to give up on greenness in the autumn) that the carrot roots beneath the greens abruptly grew substantially larger. I suppose the carrot pulls all energy from those greens down into it’s roots. This was a great thing to discover. No longer was I procrastinating, but instead I was being a wise farmer and “ensuring my carrots achieved their optimum size.”
This year I nearly paid the price for this procrastination. The first hard, carrot-browning freeze of winter was not a “Squaw Winter” followed by an “Indian Summer”. (Yes, I know such terms are now politically-incorrect, but it is also politically-incorrect to criticize the traditions of an indigenous people, and, as the Yankee have been squatting here stewards of New England for 399 years, I figure we deserve to be called “indigenous”), (especially by globalists who have no culture nor traditions whatsoever.)
This year the cold came with unusual ferocity, and the first blast was followed in short order by a second, and then a third. The autumn began to remind me of the start to the winter of 1976-1977, where the “Squaw Winter” came without an “Indian Summer”, and turned out to be “Real Winter” and froze our socks off all the way into February.
Usually our temperatures drop steadily through November; our lows bottom out around freezing at the start of the month and sink to around 24° (-4.4° Celsius) by the end of the month. But this November, during the three savage, arctic blasts that hit us, the high temperature was 24°, and the lows set records, around 12° (-11° Celsius) even back at the start of the month.
This led to a problem, when I took the children out to the “carrot harvest” at our Farm-childcare. The ground was frozen hard as iron, and the carrots were stuck in it like rivets. At first I thought I’d need a jackhammer to dig them out, but I managed to jump on my shovel with such zeal I broke through to the unfrozen earth, and then could pry up slabs and plates of brown, frozen earth, roughly three inches thick, with the tapered ends of orange carrots protruding from the bottom. By whacking and smashing these plates the plates could be broken into chunks, and the carrots wrenched free (and they tasted just as good when thawed) but to me it seemed like an awful lot of work, per carrot.
Of course, when you are dealing with children two, three and four years old, they have no idea that this is not how things are always done. Also they find it sort of fun to smash plates, and not get in trouble for it. Prying up the plates had me huffing and puffing, and I would have given the job up, but the kids were having such a blast I continued to pry up frozen slabs of earth even after I was too weary to break them up, and they kept up their smashing and prying-carrots-loose until we had filled a grain bag with some forty pounds, and they also all had small bags holding their “favorite carrots” to bring home with them.
I could not, in good conscience, allow them to think this was a usual carrot-harvest. We had done less than half of the twenty-four foot double-row in twice the time it would usually take to complete the entire harvest. I attempted to get across the idea I had procrastinated too long, but they’d had too much fun to understand Aesop’s fable about The Grasshopper and the Ant, and so I abandoned my moralizing and just told them I was going to try to “soften the soil”, to make the rest of the harvest easier.
Then I found an old, black tarp to cover the rest of the carrots with. I figured the black would absorb sunshine and might even thaw the soil. Most of the children were not the slightest bit interested, but this year I have one small boy who tags along with me and has an owlish interest in everything I do. He even reached out with his small hand and felt the black tarp along with me, noticing the slight warmth it gathered from the low November noon. He then owlishly listened as I reminisced, (like the garrulous old coot I am), about the winter of 1976-1977. There may not have been an Indian Summer that November, but I seemed to recollect the blasts did relent to a degree where temperatures were normal for a while, edging above freezing every noon. Perhaps the soil around our carrots could thaw.
I seem to get a small sidekick like this owlish boy every few years. They are precociously articulate, and what is especially nice is that they are deeply concerned about my well-being. They seem very aware I am hapless and need help, but they own this awareness in a manner that is amazingly respectful. For example, when I am rummaging through the staff’s packs for a missing flashlight (which we need for November’s early-evening darkness), this particular boy will first inquire what I am looking for, and, second, point out a flashlight I’d never notice at the back of a counter on the far side of the room.
If the sidekick is a female, it is like I have the secretary I’ve long yearned-for but could never afford, in the form of a four or five-year old girl. This small boy is like having a butler. He is unnaturally interested in my interests, and unnaturally helpful.
Where the other children forgot all about carrots under the onslaught of other interests, this young fellow popped up the next day, smiling and helpful, and querulously wondering in a piping voice if the soil had started to thaw under the tarp. This was helpful to me, for, under the onslaught of other concerns, I might have forgotten all about carrots myself. We checked the soil daily.
In any case, we lucked out. An Aleutian Low crashed east into Alaska, interrupting the southward delivery of arctic air and allowing us just enough sunshine and thaw to soften the soil under the tarp. (And if you don’t believe me, ask my small butler. Though born in 2014, he will inform you, “This may have happened in 1976 as well,”) (because he asked me.)
Because the soil under the tarp did thaw, the rest of the carrot-harvest was much easier, though at first the other children were less than eager. If you look at the picture at the start of the post, you’ll notice only two children are working, and the rest are standing around. Perhaps they were a bit desultory because there were no “plates” to break, but they soon got over that, which is why there are no further pictures. I was soon too busy “providing child care” to take pictures.
The first problem involved breaking up fights about who would get the shovel next, and be the next to get to dig carrots. I attempted to teach them about “taking turns” and “sharing”, but they were too impatient for that. They skipped off in all directions and returned with more shovels than I knew our Childcare possessed, including tiny shovels ordinarily seen when building sand castles on a beach. One girl couldn’t be bothered with a shovel, and scooped with her hands in a manner that puts badgers to shame.
The second problem was that dirt was flying in all directions, and I had to instruct the young in ditch-digger-protocol, and teach them how to dig without flinging a face-full of dirt at a neighbor. Despite my instructions, I had to pause to attend to eyes weeping muddy tears, but even that tearful, offended face swiftly became riveted on the next carrot.
No two carrots are alike. This seemed to intrigue the small children and make them dig faster. They were constantly exclaiming over how a carrot was especially fat or long or round or small or crooked, and would dissolve into gales of laughter over a carrot that forked like two legs (which made me cringe slightly, for, in prior years, a small, tertiary fork between the two “legs” has resulted in child-like hilarity and frank discussions, which can present problems to child care providers.)
I hardly dug at all, so busy was I with other issues, but I instructed the children to place the gold they dug up in a single pile. The pile looks small, in the picture at the start of this post, but it grew and grew. When I put all the carrots in a second grain bag it amounted to a second forty pounds (minus carrots children took home.)
Forgive me for being a bit smug, but I can’t help myself. We had a great time. Not a child whined all morning that they were bored or that they wanted to go home. Nor did my staff or myself need to concoct a “plan” or belabor a “curriculum”. The “curriculum” was “dig carrots”.
And what did this “curriculum” teach? At the very least it taught where carrots come from. (The first year my wife and I opened our Farm-childcare a small child asked me, “Why do you dig dirty carrots when you could get clean ones in plastic bags at the store?”)
Good things come from dirt. I don’t know why this is such a revelation. But a mother did give me a disapproving look, as she picked up her daughter after our carrot-harvest. She had just washed her daughter’s play pants, and already the knees were brown.
Long I’ve yearned for fame: To be interviewed On TV pontificating for long Hours about short poems. Instead life has booed Rather than cheered. I’m always singing my song Alone in the shower. Then I wondered What fan I face when I sit facing a page Of pure white. By mistake I then blundered Into depth over my head, and, like a sage, Walked into a painting facing just who Painted it. Creation filled up with hints of whom the Lonely Author might be. It’s true Creation is merely the fingerprints Of the Creator. Therefore it’s a shame To miss His glance for a passing sketch, called fame.
Talk about “triggers”: Gray, bleak November, And again I’m eleven with parents parted, But must fake thanks. How I remember The hurt, fifty years later. Downhearted To this day in some strange way; it seems spring Can never come. How dare my parents do it? They could renounce love, but I couldn’t bring Myself to side with a side of their split For I sided with Love. Yet that Thanksgiving Came, despite divorce, and mocked all held dear. Fat turkey is not what makes life worth living. Gray, leafless boughs trigger, year after year, A sense that Thanksgiving can’t be the same Until the two sides quit their unloving game.
And the same holds true for politicians. A bond of Love must connect opponents Or Democracy dies. Love tempers men’s Savage inclination to turn mere rants Into murders. Love is the hope of sweet spring In bleak November. Love is never first To draw the sword, though Love can surely sting Those men first drawing blades. Love quenches thirst For peace, but not falsely with soothing lies, For Love is one with Truth. But power-crazed Men can’t comprehend marriage. Cyclops eyes See one way alone. They can’t stand amazed Sharing views with those with whom they’re living, And chose to be blind to the Cause of Thanksgiving.
“Ralph” (Anomalous polar low pressure), which was created by a North Atlantic gale that swerved left and proceeded north right up the spine of Greenland, has merrily crossed the Pole and headed towards Central Siberia. On November 17th new low bombed-out south of Greenland, as high pressure was pumped over West Siberia.
As Ralph passes the Pole he sucks north milder Atlantic Air, creating a “signature hook” in the temperature isotherms.
Twelve hours later we see Ralph moving closer to Siberia, and the high pressure in his wake to some degree cutting off the Atlantic “feeder band”, and redirecting it north of Greenland where “Ralph Junior” is brewing. Major cold is building in Central Siberia, and the North Atlantic Gale is not moving north into Baffins Bay like the last one.
The “signature hook” can still be seen in the temperature isotherms, but cooling is evident. A slight hook is appearing north of Greenland.
Twelve hours later Ralph has reached the New Siberian Islands, as Ralph Junior develops north of Greenland. The North Atlantic gale is wobbling east towards a more traditional stance as the Icelandic Low.
The temperature map reveals only faint traces of Ralph’s original “hook”. The temperature isotherms reveal both the minus-five and minus-ten isotherm have retreated west along the Siberian coast towards the North Atlantic. Not that the mild air has moved west; rather it has physically cooled. A less dramatic hook of Atlantic air is probing north of Greenland to feed Ralph Junior. Interesting to me is the elongated pocket of minus fifteen isotherms extending from the Canadian Archipelago and crossing the Pole. Did the primary Ralph leave colder temperatures in its wake?
Twelve hours later this morning’s map shows the primary Ralph is fading on the coast of Siberia, cut off from its feeder band. Ralph Junior is surviving north of Greenland, but the Icelandic low looks like it is sweeping in a lot of North Atlantic “juice” and perhaps cutting off Ralph Junior from further supplies.
The temperature map shows little trace of all the warm air the original Ralph brought north, and the original “hook” has vanished. The secondary hook made by Ralph Junior imports fresh mildness over the Pole (if you can call minus-ten Celsius “mild”).
Importing all the mild Atlantic air north has created a dramatic spike in the DMI polar temperatures graph, now starting to descend.
While this spike is incorporated into global-average-temperatures, and makes them look higher, to me it appears it is largely a reflection of heat lost. If you desire to retain heat it should be placed in the piggy-bank of the south, not squandered under the sunless skies of the north.
When I look a little deeper I notice an oddity. Initially the surge of Atlantic air made the entire Arctic Ocean “white hot” on the GFS temperature anomaly-map (from Weatherbell). (“White hot” is still below freezing, but 16 to 30 degrees above normal.) However Ralph’s transit of the arctic did not increase or even sustain that anomaly. In fact the “white hot” area appears cut in two, as if Ralph left a trail of cooling in his wake. (Also Ralph Junior involves some less-than-white-hot temperatures in his signature curl.)
In conclusion, the overturning of the atmosphere and heat-exchanges, seen in Ralph, makes mincemeat of the ideas within the elegant idea of there being a Polar Cell of descending air and high pressure at the Pole.
One exercise I find interesting is to attempt to draw a picture of the overturning atmosphere as elegant as the above one is, but to include a Ralph of rising air. Try it. All sorts of problems manifest.
One fascinating thing to observe has been a reverse from a cross-polar-flow to a cross-polar-low. The flow was from Europe to Canada, and in barely a week this swung to a whirl from Greenland to Siberia. I don’t claim to understand what I watch, but I think it is well worth watching. Geeks (not me) who devote study to such stuff deserve funding, for, rather than a mere reflection of what happens at more southerly latitudes, these arctic shenanigans may be pivots that swing the weather further south. The discovery of a forecasting “tool”, as valuable as the discovery of the tropic’s “MJO” was, may be awaiting discovery.
Sorry to be so distracted from sea-ice by what is moving and shifting and growing the sea-ice. The sea-ice itself is continuing its ordinary expansion, and so far we haven’t seen the down-dip which sometimes occurs in late Autumn, despite Ralph bashing the ice about a bit.
The appearance of Ralph north of Greenland did bring about wrong-way south-winds in Fram Strait, slowing and even briefly reversing the discharge of sea-ice south into the Atlantic down the east coast of Greenland, and also compressing that sea-ice against Greenland’s coast. This reduces the possibility we’ll see the rarity of an ice-bridge between Greenland and Iceland in early January.
The area of open water north of Bering Strait is shrinking but still sizable. Beaufort Sea is nearly completely frozen, the retreat on the Kara-Sea-front has reverted to expansion, the top of Baffin Bay is seeing rapid expansion of sea-ice despite the recent south winds, and Hudson Bay is starting to freeze (which is always interesting to watch.)
In my last post I pointed out cross-polar-flow was bringing north a mild (albeit dry) “feeder-band” through Central Europe, and a smaller (but moister) “feeder-band” was sneaking north through Bering Strait and then east along the East Siberian coast. I stated I’d be a on the lookout for Ralph (Anomalous low pressure at the Pole) due to the influxes of mild air. Well, Ralph has formed, but not in the way I expected.
This time of year we expect “bombogenesis” in the North Atlantic. Arctic outbreaks of very cold air over warm water creates a contrast ripe for development, however at first the sinking cold air serves as a sort of “lid” on the heat. Then, due to a sort of “tipping point” in terms of lapse rates, the heat starts to rise, and abruptly a storm explodes. Often these gales are bigger and stronger than many hurricanes, but usually are out where only captains of freighters and people in Iceland notice. Usually they stall around Iceland, creating a semi-permanent feature known as “The Icelandic Low”. Back on November 13th I was wary of the weak low pressure south of Greenland exploding.
Bombogenesis did occur, but rather than heading east to Iceland the huge gale roared north into Baffin Bay, with winds howling south to north along the entire spine of Greenland.
Then this morning, Ralph pops out north of Greenland.
This is interesting partly because it makes me look like a dope. I was watching warm inflows from the Pacific and from Eurasia, and never saw this huge wave of Atlantic moisture coming. In any case, the Arctic Sea is now brimming with above-normal air, “white hot” in the temperature anomaly map.
Alarmists will likely focus on the “white hot” anomalies, though temperatures are in fact below freezing. They will pay no attention to the frigid air masses bumped off the Pole into Europe, Central Asia, and currently clouting me here in New Hampshire (and centered south of Hudson Bay.) At times some Alarmists seem to forget no thawing occurs when temperatures are below freezing.
I find the situation interesting because I always like to watch how the “white hot” anomalies fade, and to think about all the heat being lost. Where does it go? Also the antics of Ralph are always interesting. Finally, having this huge slug of moist Atlantic air ride over the icecap of Greenland involves the Alarmist idea the icecap is melting and coastal cities will drown. Not today. All the precipitation seems to have have fallen as snow, and no melting is seen.
In a single day it looks like Greenland received ten gigatons of frozen water.
I’m not exactly sure what ten gigatons amounts to, in terms I can comprehend. I’m just glad I don’t have to shovel it.
One final wonderment (for me, at least) is how much heat is lost as the moist air passes over the ten-thousand-foot high ice-cap. A lot of latent heat is released as vapor goes through two phase changes, and falls as snow. Some is lost to outer space. But some remains with the air, which must descend as Greenland-Chinook. Even the roaring katabatic winds coming off Antarctica warm as they descend in altitude (albeit only a “warming” to minus-forty), and up in Thule, towards the top of Baffin Bay, where winter temperatures can get down to -72 (-58 Celsius), they have experienced above freezing temperatures every month of their dark winters, and have a record January temperature of 41 (+5 Celsius). This makes me wonder if some “polar warming” is just a natural Chinook.
There are some fascinating old tales from whalers, and the Polaris Expedition of 1871-1873, about polynyas of open water up in Nares Strait at the top of Baffin Bay, even in the dead of winter. Much to ruminate upon.
When I was young we had school shootings every day.
We called her “Miss Gestapo”, and spread cruel Rumors about corpses in her closet. She surveyed us with wintry eyes, no fool And no friend. She would cram Math; somehow get Through thick skulls the import of zero. I had To get through forty minutes, but the crawl Of time stood still. Just then Fred, who was mad, Shot me with a spitball. She wheeled; glared; though all Eyes were innocent. (Shooting puffs a sound Distinctive). She turned back to the blackboard As I chewed some paper. Fred turned around And grinned. I loaded. Class gasped. My aim was towards Not Fred. What possessed me I’ll never know As I raised my shooter towards Miss Gestapo.
P.S. (This point may seem somewhat moot: To cause commotion, you need not shoot.)
I awoke this morning, (before I actually opened my eyes), to the wintry chorus of roaring pines, moving majestically across the distance from my northern window to my southern one, and instinctively visualized where I last saw my warm slippers, and planned a bee-line to the wood-stove. In the predawn twilight it was 12 degrees out (-11 Celsius). When I made it to the wood-stove, and as I nursed my first coffee, I awoke my grumpy laptop and avoided depressing politics by checking out weather sites. In many parts of New England the arctic blast was setting records for the coldest morning, as far back as records go, for the date of November 13. I failed to avoid depressing politics, for many were commenting, “Global Warming? Bah! Humbug!” even as others insisted record-setting cold was proof of Global Warming. So I sought the best escape, which is either the sky itself, or weather maps of what the actual sky is doing, for the sky does what it does and doesn’t care a flying flip about your politics.
Because it was so cold, my eyes gravitated north, to where the cold was coming from. Arctic air leads to arctic research, (and, in this case, a short sea-ice post.)
I immediately noticed a “cross-polar-flow”. On surface maps you could basically follow the 1020 mb isobar from Greece across the North Pole to Canada.
What effect does this cross-polar-flow have? Well, it crumples my brow, for starters. Why? Well, I confess I was looking for some sort of “zonal flow”. A zonal flow traps cold air at the Pole by wrapping winds around and around the Pole. You can’t get more opposite from a zonal flow than a cross-polar-flow. It was time for me to get back to the old drawing board.
One interesting thing about a cross-polar-flow is that it doesn’t merely embarrass the idea of a “zonal” jet stream, but also embarrasses the idea of the apparent opposite idea, which is the “meridienal” (or “loopy”) jet-stream. Both ideas involve the bias of southern people who tend to think in terms of winds going around the planet, and who draw elegant and beautiful schemes of how this occurs.
The problem with this elegant and beautiful idea is this dratted thing called “Truth”. The North Pole simply doesn’t work in the manner that we, with our southern bias, assume it works, and therefore the Pole is constantly splatting a custard pie into the fair face of our beautiful and elegant theories. (Which likely explains why our long-range forecasts stink.) Rather than winds politely obeying the elegant and beautiful theory, (which winds sometimes do), winds become rude, and disobey. One way is by forming howling gales of low pressure (which I call “Ralph”) right where the above illustration shows high pressure at the Pole, and another way is by whipping over the top of the planet rather than around the top, which is called “cross-polar-flow.”
Rather than getting mad at Truth, and calling it “cruel”, I try to take the attitude of the poet John Keats, and rhapsodize “Truth is Beauty”. After all, a bit of custard pie in your face doesn’t taste all that bad, and anyway, any man who marries meteorology has married a wonderful wench who will mash wedding cake into your mug ten minutes after you say “I do”. Get used to it.
One reason cross-polar-flow should be attended to is because it has caused havoc in the the past. Between 1815 and 1817 it dumped an amazing amount of sea-ice south into the Atlantic, which resulted in the following statement in minutes of a British Admiralty meeting:
“It will without doubt have come to your Lordship’s knowledge that a considerable change of climate, inexplicable at present to us, must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years, greatly abated...
…(This) affords ample proof that new sources of warmth have been opened and give us leave to hope that the Arctic Seas may at this time be more accessible than they have been for centuries past, and that discoveries may now be made in them not only interesting to the advancement of science but also to the future intercourse of mankind and the commerce of distant nations.” President of the Royal Society, London, to the Admiralty, 20th November, 1817
While the apparent cross-polar-flow of those times may have been good news for those who desired an ice-free arctic to enhance their explorations, it was not good news for those further south, where all that sea-ice went. Ice-bergs were grounding on the beaches of Ireland (which has not been recorded happening since) and the waters of the North Atlantic were chilled to a degree where Western Europe had a horrible growing-season called “The Year Without A Summer.”
It would seem logical to investigate such history, but sadly it seems some see such records as unhelpful to the “cause” of panicking the public about Global Warming. Current low-levels of sea-ice will seem less worrisome if people realize even lower levels were seen in the past.
The person who first dug up the Admiralty Records and brought them to the public’s attention was named John L. Daly. John died in 2004, and when he died a prominent Climate-scientist of that dark time remarked that his death was “in an odd way cheering news”. I was utterly disgusted when I learned of this, (in the “climate-gate emails”), for it was indicative of an attitude that did not look fondly upon Truth, or upon those who work hard to bring Truth forward.
In the 15 years since John L. Daly passed on I have seen little sign that certain Climate Scientists “in charge” are in any way wiser, or are any more likely to work hard to bring Truth forward. In fact there even seems to be an effort to erase the name “John L. Daly” from Climate Science altogether.
What a waste of effort! Life is too short, and there is too little time left over, (after dealing with worldly responsibilities like washing dishes), as it is. We should be spending every little bit of free time we have bringing Truth forward. What a loss it seems to waste that time by spending such slender moments pushing Truth back. I can only assume people who resort to such behavior are addicts. After all, heroin addicts will sell their grandmother’s cane and false teeth for their next fix. Certain Climate-scientists must need a similar fix, when they waste precious hours on earth fighting a man like John L. Daly, even though he has been beyond fighting back for 15 years. (Perhaps the news of John’s death was not so “cheering” after all, because perhaps the Truth which John stood for cannot die, and rises from the grave.)
I’m just glad I’m not addicted to whatever it is they are. I’d rather confess I am backwards than claim “science is settled” and that I stand at some “forefront”, when such a claim is proof even the most educated Climate-scientist is more backward than I.
How can I make such a claim? After all, I am not a Climate-scientist. I’m a mere bumpkin. But I do respect Truth. And this strangely makes me “more educated” then fellows who went to college. Why? I can only suppose it is because some element of their education made them too snobby and sophisticated to listen to some silly blond like Doris Day sing “Que Sera, Sera”. (Whatever will be, will be).
To return to the arctic, when I note cross-polar-flow occurs, I am merely noting, “Whatever will be, will be.” As a bumpkin I am not required to publish a paper with fifty footnotes, or to find funding to pay for others to wash my dishes as I research. I am free of all that.
Though I wonder why the cross-polar-flow happened, I am not required to say why. I merely state the Truth. I continue to wonder, but am not required to prove anything.
I’m glad I don’t have to supply any Truth, for, as I stated earlier, I was expecting a “zonal” flow, and expected the pocket of below-normal air at the Pole to expand. In a manner of speaking the cross-polar-flow brought milder air to the Pole and, as in a game of “king-of-the-mountain”, bumped the cold air off the top and down into Canada and Alaska.
Here is the temperature-anomaly map from November 11, showing the blue pocket of below-normal air at the Pole.
And here is the temperature-anomaly map just three days later on November 14.
Notice, in the second map, the spear of above-normal temperatures moving north through Eastern Europe. It becomes less obvious as it moves out over the Arctic Ocean, (because in November a continental land-breeze is colder than a maritime sea-breeze, on the arctic coast), but it seems fairly obvious the flow is not zonal, and we should see a mild “feeder band” warming the Pole. And sure enough, the DMI polar temperature graph shows a spike of warming.
Instead of seizing upon this spike as being proof of some preconception about Global Warming, I feel it is likely better to sit back and observe, humming “Que Sera, Sera”. There are far more questions than answers.
For example, sometimes you can follow a surge of milder air and see it keep its identity across thousands of miles. I once watched a spear of midwinter warmth surge from the Atlantic inland in Europe and cross the entirety of Russia, fading but still evident as it reached the Pacific. But this cross-polar-flow isn’t like that. Rather various atmospheric-entities were moving every which way like a bunch of baby ducks, and suddenly some mother duck quacked and got all the ducks in a row, called a cross-polar-flow.
Also I am never certain if the south wind bumps the cold off the Pole, or if it is the departure of a cold air mass that creates a vacuum that draws the south-wind north. What came first, the chicken or the egg?
In other words, on some levels my understanding amounts to a goose egg. (There, I worked ducks, chickens and geese into a discussion about the arctic.)
However one does not need to understand the Truth to observe the Truth. In fact Truth is the teacher, and we are just taking notes. Then we should compare notes with others, which is a delightful process, because it is as if we gain additional sets of eyes. What is absurd is to ignore the observations of others, including observers who are not with us any more, such as John L. Daly.
One interesting thing I noticed was that the edge of the sea-ice stopped expanding southwest in the Kara Sea, and even retreated north and northeast, pushed towards the Pole by the cross-polar-flow. (A second feeder band sneaked in through Bering Strait along the Russian coast and pushed sea-ice back a bit in the Chukchi Sea.) However the colder part of the cross-polar-flow completed the refreeze at the mouth of the Mackenzie River, and overall the sea-ice extent continued its yearly expansion.
One thing I’ll be watching to see is how the feeder-bands of milder air behave up at the Pole. If they form a stormy “Ralph” it may break up the sea-ice in places.
As I finish this post it is now the morning of November 14, and outside it 17° (-8° Celsius), with a steely gray overcast as southern air tries to push back north. We may briefly climb to 45° (+7° Celsius) tomorrow, before yet another arctic blast clobbers us. Hopefully that will drain the arctic of its cold, for at least a while. A snowy Thanksgiving only looks good on postcards.
We are dewdrops in the night, created By the dark and yet yearning for the dawn. Long we’ve waited; long anticipated How we’ll sparkle when Grace shines upon Our lightless forms, and how happy Grace will be To see us sparkle. The night grows darkest; Not even starlight shines dimly on skin As mist hangs in ink. We want what is best And understand it shines from within, But without Your sunrise none comes to You And none shines with You. And so we plead You enlighten the east from black to blue And give all the people love-light they need. Then what darkness made, without any fear, Will warm and, sparkling, disappear.