Sea-ice does not form in the troposphere. It forms at the interface between the troposphere and the ocean. In fact, at this late point in the winter fresh ice is forming at the bottom of sea-ice which, in the case of “baby-ice” (ice formed this winter), is three to six feet down from that interface.
This may seem like a pettifogging quibble, but it is an important distinction to be aware of, especially because people in the Global Warming debate bandy about temperatures almost as if they were clubs to bonk each other over the head with.
For example, each month Roy Spencer uses satellite data to come up with temperatures for the lower troposphere, and each month he gets criticized by Skeptics and Alarmists alike, even to the degree where he once arrived at work to find a bullet hole in the window. He just announced the lower troposphere warmed slightly over February.
Joe Bastardi promptly pointed out there is a big difference between temperatures of the lower troposphere, and temperatures at the surface, where we live. This was emphasised by showing two maps of Texas, which we all know just went through a brutally cold February. However in terms of the lower troposphere the month was normal, even a hair above normal in the far south; the core of cold anomalies was far to the north, in Canada.
Joe Bastardi took pains to point out that policy should not be based upon what the average temperatures are in a lower section of the atmosphere, but upon what we are experiencing right at the bottom, where we live. At the surface Texas suffered through temperatures seven degrees below normal (Celsius). (Nearly thirteen degrees below normal, Fahrenheit.)
The difference especially involves policy when the difference involves whether it dips below freezing at the surface. We saw computer models, which tend to use data consisting of blocks of the atmosphere and not low-level surface temperatures, predict above freezing temperatures, when in fact temperatures dipped below freezing; this resulted in commuters zipping along at sixty thinking they were on wet pavement when they were on black ice, and a terrible 121 car crash. The difference also involves crops. I have personally witnessed times my thermometer, at eye level, saw it was above freezing, but my tomatoes, down at ground level, were burned by frost. In such a case your eyes are literally in a weather balloon roughly five feet off the ground, experiencing different weather from your feet.
Returning to the subject of sea-ice, it is important to know whether your data comes from a thermometer on the surface or a satelite miles overhead. The MOSAiC expedition was surprised by the cold right at the surface. Back when we all could be eye witnesses, because we had cameras on buoys drifting around on and midst sea-ice, I often witnessed occasions the satellites stated it was above freezing at the surface, but with my own eyes I saw meltwater pools skimming over with ice. This makes things difficult enough, if you are honest and thirst for Truth; things become even more difficult when people allow lower thirsts for money, power, and fame to motivate the cherry-picking of data to support a certain bias or out-and-out distortion (Fake News).
We are reaching the end of the six month period of darkness at the Pole, with temperatures still bitterly cold but the sky brightening with twilight. Far to the south, the southern edges of the sea-ice are experiencing rapidly lengthening days and rising temperatures, and the edge is starting to erode faster than it can grow. However our extent graph has shown an interesting up-spike right at the time we usually see our maximum extent.
This spike will annoy Alarmists, as it makes it harder to produce soundbites claiming there is less ice. (They’ll try, anyway.) In actual fact the blip merely means the ice that was being compressed is being spread out. Winds have changed, due to an interesting storm which tracked farther north than usual, and took a unusual path
I call such an anomalous area of low pressure a “Ralph”, to differentiate them from Atlantic storms that crash through northern Scandinavia and then role east along the Siberian coast. The “Ralph” storms are home grown, and usually fed by a band of milder air that is sucked up from the Atlantic or Pacific. Sometimes they may receive some upper air support from a storm that basically loses its bottom, crashing into the 10,000 foot tall icecap of Greenland, and this particular storm may have had some such support, though all the surface map showed was a gale stall at the southern tip of Greenland, and later a weaker low form off the northeast coat. Also it may have fed off a feeder band of milder air that caused a spike in polar temperatures, and a couple lows north of Canada, but as the milder air rose the surface map showed the lows north of Canada fade and fill, but do so in a manner that happened faster to the west, so the surface map seemed to show weak low pressure moving east. It moved east north of Greenland, and then became more distinct passing east over Svalbard, and then became a Barent Sea Bomber, with gale force winds, and now has moved into Russia.
This storm is beyond my ability to explain. Perhaps I wasn’t watching closely enough, but it had no obvious Atlantic origins or feeder band, and in a sense appeared out of the blue. When weaker and back towards Greenland it supported, along with high pressure towards East Siberia, a weak cross-polar-flow that leaked Siberian air towards Canada, but now it has deranged that flow, and things are suddenly more normal in Fram Strait, with the Transpolar Flow bringing sea-ice slightly in that direction rather than being diverted by what I called the C.P. Flow (Capitalist Pig Flow, from Russia to Canada.) However mostly we are seeing sea-ice that was compressed be spread out. Sea-ice that was crunched against the east coast of Greenland is now spread like butter away from the coast by west winds, and sea-ice that was repressed north into Fram Strait by south winds is now allowed south by north winds, and north winds are shifting south sea-ice in Barents Sea as well. There is some skimming of open water with baby ice where the north winds are frigid, but mostly the blip in the extent graph is caused by the redistribution of sea-ice that already exists.
It can be seen in the isotherm map of the Pole that the feeder band of milder air has been consumed by the arctic night. Perhaps a hint of it remains as a crescent of light blue on the Russian side of the Pole. If the rest of it exists, it exists aloft, as down low the cold is returning.
The temperature graph shows how that feeder band was consumed.
In a sense temperatures are falling when they usually start rising, but temperatures are still very cold, and any leads of open water freeze over with astonishing speed right into April. Although the extent graph may be at its high point and soon start to fall, that fall only represents sea-ice at the periphery. In the very center of the Arctic sea-ice continues to thicken well into May. So far the Transpolar Drift has not moved the “S” of thickest ice towards Fram Strait at all. (By the way, the circle in the map below represents 80 degrees north latitude, and the above graph only involves temperatures within that circle. The cold in Siberia and Canada is not included.)
Keep an eye on the sea-ice north of Russia. It has a completely different configuration from last year. If I get time I hope to soon discuss the differences.
The total volume of sea-ice is still rising, and will continue to do so until the end of April.
Sadly, due to the coronavirus absurdity, the Barneo sea-ice base/jetport/resort has been canceled yet another year. No pictures of sea-ice in April will be forthcoming. But here is an article by a woman with thirty years of sea-ice experience, who has hope for Bareno’s future.