ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Trans Greenlandic Ralph–

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.

Stay tuned.

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