ARCTIC SEA-ICE –A Thin Veneer Of Warmth–

One illusion nourished by Alarmists is created by an overemphasis on warm surface temperatures at the Pole, without regard to how deep or superficial that warmth may be. For example, currently the waters north of Bering Strait and Alaska are still open, which means that surface temperatures over that water remain close to freezing (at least until that water skims over with ice.) Also there is the addition of some Pacific Air due to south winds to the east of an Aleutian Low and west of a Pacific-coast Ridge of high pressure. Though temperatures are below zero (-17 Celsius) over the Pole itself, they are much milder on the Pacific side of the Arctic Sea.

In order to emphasize polar warming, Alarmists like to shift to a map which shows whether the temperature are above-normal or below-normal. Called an “anomaly map”, this can make below freezing temperatures appear cherry red and even white hot, if they are above-normal. Currently the anomaly map shows that while the Pole itself is below-normal, the areas north of Alaska and Bering Strait are indeed above-normal, even “white hot.”

These temperatures, as much as thirty degrees above normal, are added into the data which is used to find the “average” of the entire planet, and (especially during winter) is a reason the planet is said to be “running a fever”, (though in fact it’s roughly only a quarter-to-half degree above normal).

I think these areas of thirty-above-normal in the arctic creates a disproportionate uplift in world-temperatures, and fosters an illusion of warming which does not in fact exist. I think this is not only because a slight increase of moisture creates a big rise in temperatures in arctic conditions, (whereas the same increase would have nearly no effect on temperatures further south). It is also because I watch air-masses, and see how inconsequential these thirty-above-normal air-masses can be, as they come south.

I got in the habit of watching air-masses because the old-school weathermen of my youth actually labeled them on their maps. For example, a high pressure in Canada might be “pacific-maritime” or might be “arctic”, and this told you something about its origins.

For example, in the long range the GFS has been foreseeing that the Pacific ridge of high pressure would break down and Pacific Air would flood over the Canadian Rockies and have a Chinook make the middle of Canada above-normal. Here’s the nine-day-forecast from a couple of days ago:

The above map shows a surge of Pacific, above-normal air pushing east right across Hudson bay. However, so far, such dreams haven’t come true; the air hasn’t had a Pacific source-region, but rather an Arctic source-region, from areas often thirty-above-normal. Yet does that air remain thirty-above-normal as it reaches central Canada?

The answer is “No”. In fact the air is increasingly below normal as it surges south.

Why does the thirty-above-normal air become twenty-below-normal air? Three reasons.

First, “above” and “below” are relative terms, and, where zero degree air may be “above normal” over the Yukon, the same air, even if it warms five degrees on its way south, will be far “below normal” when it reaches Nebraska.

Secondly, we are entering the darkest fifth of the year in the north, and air sometimes actually gets colder coming south, especially over fresh snow-cover. Days are simply too short, while nights are so long they contribute to cooling. Winter is winning. It will not be until February that we will again start to see arctic air-masses warmed much by sunshine in Canada. Warmth must be imported from the south to uplift temperatures in the arctic, or drawn from bodies of water, which are rapidly freezing-over even as I write.

Lastly, the thirty-about-normal air is actually a thin and unsubstantial air-mass, largely reflective of open water, and also reflective of heat being lost upwards to outer space. If you don’t believe me, watch the anomaly maps. You may see thirty-above-normal air head north, (especially from tendrils of the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic) but it is doomed; it never returns south as thirty-above-normal air. In fact it rapidly cools, becoming twenty-above-normal air, ten-above-normal-air, and even finally becoming below-normal . Copious quantities of the planet’s heat are being lost every day.

To stop this squandering of our heat we need the pattern to become more “zonal”. Keep the heat down south where we need it, to lower our heating bills, and trap the cold up at the Pole, going around and round the Pole in circles. The long range forecasts keeps hinting at this, with mild, west-to-east Chinooks appearing on the long-range maps. There is even a hint of cold now being zonally trapped up at the Pole, in the DMI temperatures-north-of-eighty-degrees-latitude graph (with temperatures now sinking down to averaging normal, despite the thirty-above-normal air towards Alaska and Bering Strait):

But…….So far the Pacific Ridge has refused to break down as forecast. It starts to slump south, but then springs back to life. It will be interesting to see if this resiliency persists, (as it did in the frigid winter of 1976-1977), or whether a frigid November gives way to a more benign December, (which is more often the case). As I watch I’ll be wondering what exactly makes the ridge build and persist, and what weakens it. I don’t think anyone is sure about that.

Much may hinge upon the next two large areas of the open water to freeze, the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas north of Bering Strait, and Hudson Bay far further south. (And when I say “hinge upon”, I wonder if I may be hitting upon a yet-to-be-understood variable that influences the positions of troughs and ridges, and whether the pattern is zonal or meridional.) These large expanses of open water can flash freeze with astonishing speed, and as soon as they even thinly skim with ice there is less heat and moisture released into the arctic air, and less of the updrafting which promotes low pressure. There is lot more happening than meets the eye, as we watch the “extent” graph go through its yearly process of rocketing upwards, more than tripling the area covered by sea-ice in the Northern Hemisphere (though do not expect sensationalist headlines, “Sea-ice Nearly Quadruples”.)

The sea-ice largely forms to the north where the sun is brief and low, or has set entirely for the winter, and therefore it has little effect on how much sunshine is bounced away from the earth (albedo) (with Hudson Bay being a slight exception). Snowfall, which can whiten lands further south, has a greater effect. It has fallen earlier than normal in North America, and over the last weekend much of Montana and the Dakotas were whitened. Montana is slightly larger than Germany, and though we consider it a “northern state”, it is the same latitude as France. South Dakota is at the latitude of France’s Mediterranean coast. To have snow so far south so early in November, (breeding the cold air which a snow-cover breeds, during the shortest days), does not bode well for a benign winter, and is reason to hope for a Chinook. (Chinook apparently means “snow eater”, and could push the edge of the snows north in a hurry.) (Note also the sea-ice is just starting to form on the western shores of Hudson Bay.)

Much now will depend on the effect of the large area of open water remaining north of Bering Strait. It is now totally surrounded by snow-covered lands, in both Asia and North America.

Wait and see. One event I envision is for that open water to create enough of an updraft to attract the Aleutian Low north, which dents the Pacific-coast Ridge south and interferes with the pouring of cold air down into North America, allowing Pacific Air to pour east and form Chinooks in the lee of the Rocky Mountains. Perhaps that is what the computer models keep seeing in the long range. But, on the other hand, if waters north of Bering Strait flash freeze, the Pacific-coast Ridge might extend further north, creating a cross-polar-flow sucking the coldest air in the northern hemisphere from Siberia across to Canada and thence south into the USA, where Alarmists will have their toes froze, and blame it on Global Warming.

Stay Tuned.

2 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA-ICE –A Thin Veneer Of Warmth–

  1. Thanks for this Caleb. Here in Penticton BC a sunny 5 deg C. Now past Remembrance Day and onward to Christmas. I love snow and ice, they’re coming! Nice when you don’t have to shovel it!

    I’m always impressed by how quickly things change in the Arctic. Today what is open ocean may be covered by ice in a few days. And sea ice can be moved around by the wind, opening up and closing huge leads. Ice moves around like scum on the surface of a pond.

    • I think I’ll do a quick post on how swiftly the arctic switched from a zonal flow trapping the cold up there to a cross polar flow that dumped all the cold down into North America. We were 12 Fahrenheit this AM, which was record cold for this early in the winter.

      Good to hear from you!

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