About Caleb

I run a Childcare with my wife on a small farm in New Hampshire. Click "About" if interested in my life story.

LOCAL VIEW –Beech Buds–

Beech 1 FullSizeRender

There’s a mist up in the maples;
There’s a hueing of the trees.
Let the farmer plant his staples;
Let the banker seek his ease.
Neither way will truly please.

I’m made hobo by the woodlands.
I’m made cross-eyed by the trees.
Schoolboys don’t have to be good. Man’s
Made rules ban ecstasies,
And his goals are but a tease.

In the treetops there’s no fading
Above glades that know no shading.
Farmers sweat, as bankers promise.

Schoolboy’s are the Doubting Thomas.

Last week we had but a single glory day, with skies as blue as promises, before the dreary and cold weather clamped back down. This is typical of the hills of New Hampshire. During my boyhood among the flatlanders of Massachusetts I came to expect spring to bust out in April, but I’ve learned not to expect it before May, this far north. We live right at the boundary of a sort of change in climate zones. Here is where Indians stopped attempting to grow corn, and became hunters.

Rather than April being a month where spring busts out, it tends to be a torture. Trees aren’t stupid, and they look both ways before crossing over into summer. The maples start to be hazed by their buds in early April, but they only tantalize, for what seems like forever. A sort of mist rides the tips of twigs, golden green over sugar maples and raspberry over swamp maples, and I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty…….about 5% of the time. The rest of the time it seems like way too much foreplay.

This is especially true when April holds long spells of dank weather, which is often the case. Snow can mix in with the rain right into May on the most torturous years. A sort of war goes on between the powers of rebirth and the powers of rot. (If you plant corn, beans or squash too early, that is exactly what their seeds do: rot.)

To really rub it in, last week the children asked me questions, and I had no answers. Rather than seeing this as an opportunity to teach how life never gets old, and is always full of new things, I just felt I was failing to live up to my reputation for being amazingly knowledgeable. Rot even was effecting my brain. For example, a child asked me, “What animal is this from?”

Beech 12 FullSizeRender

(Oh the irony! Here it is April, and rather than the fresh and new, I am consulted about an old bone. ) I had to confess I didn’t know. My guess was it was an old pig bone, and then, to hide my ignorance, I pointed out the gnawing marks left by deer mice, and also disseminated a bit about scientists who know their bones.

The next question was about foam coming from the side of a tree.

Beech 11 FullSizeRender

 Again I had to confess I had no clue. I had noticed it before, but never had come across an explanation in my reading. So I made a guess. I had wondered, when I saw it before, if it was rising sap fermenting in the tunnel made by some sort of wood-boring beetle. Sounds good, at any rate. But then curiosity killed the cat. I googled “foam on trees”, and discovered it was “slime flux”, and caused by bacteria. So then, on top of admitting I didn’t know, I had to admit my wild guess scientific hypothesis was wrong, which no thinker enjoys doing.

Not the best day. Rather than the fresh and new, I get brought bones and bacteria, and get my fat ego humbled to boot.

In such situations I find it best to retreat from my position as an authority figure, and to just do my job, which is to watch the kids. Call it licking-my-wounds if you will, but it is what I do when it is not the best day.

When I am sulking in this manner I like to turn to old,reliable ways of cheering myself up, for example noticing the beauty of red maple blossoms.

Beech 6 IMG_4698

This is what mists the treetops raspberry.  They are so small few notice them.

Beech 3 IMG_4700

They also make an interesting nibble, though I prefer the golden-green blooms of the sugar maple, but they weren’t out yet. Then I got a craving for beech buds, and sauntered over to a low hanging branch, and noticed something interesting. The buds were especially plump.

Beech 9 IMG_4706

When I unwrapped the fat bud I discovered it was fatter than usual because rather than leaves it held a flower.

Beech 10 IMG_4707

This is likely just another sign of rot. Our beech trees are stressed by a virus from Eurasia. When a tree is stressed, it makes nuts like crazy, attempting to reproduce before it dies. And now our beech trees are going the way of the American elm, chestnut, and butternut. Thank you very much, Internationalists. Our squirrels will starve. But we will have our revenge. An exploding population of American gray squirrels is running roughshod over the landscapes of Eurasia. (And it serves them right.)

As I contemplated this situation in my grumpy manner I absentmindedly nibbled the beech bud,  and was surprised how good it was. The flowers sweeten the flavor. Then I remembered my job. I was suppose to be watching the kids, and they had become suspiciously quiet.

When I turned I saw I was a teacher, after all. I saw a line of quiet children strung out behind me like ducklings, or perhaps like small monkeys behind a daddy gorilla. They were all nibbling beech buds.

I figured that, if I’m stuck with the job, I’d better do it right, so I taught them, “You don’t want to eat too many of those things, or it will make your tongue feel all hairy.”

(Yet another little-known-fact from my vast store of wisdom.)

[Photo credits for “old bone” and “foaming tree” pictures go to Marlowe Gautreau.]

LOCAL VIEW –Refrigerated Blooms–

R Bloom 1 FullSizeRender

R Bloom 3 FullSizeRender

Winter weary, wanting spring to slow down,
I don’t half mind refrigerated blooms,
As if some florist had snuck into town
And wanted no wilting by rain-wet tombs,
No fading of flowers by flag stoned graves.

Who am I kidding? The spring never stays
And there is no cold that completely saves
Yellow daffodils under sky’s many grays.

How can I hope when my hopes always wilt?
The glass is half full, but the half-glass’s spilt.
Rust never sleeps as dream-towers are built.
I stand before God; my achievement is guilt.

God alone lasts; it grows clearer and clearer
As wilting looks back at me from my mirror.

R Bloom 2 FullSizeRender

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barneo Bear Incident–(Updated)

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Barneo F7 18033962_1344607375616357_5874720438280785513_n

It sadly seems that the Russians are incapable of getting through a of year running a tourist trap at the North Pole without doing something that causes the heads of the politically correct to explode. Of course, the politically correct are very touchy  sensitive, and I myself have been known to pass through polite circles leaving accidental craters in my wake. But the Russians can’t seem to avoid offending elitist whack jobs nature-lovers.

Two years ago it was a crashed jet that besmirched the pristine snow.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/arctic-sea-ice-barneo-2016-the-mystery-of-the-missing-jet/

Last year they offended the Norwegians by having soldiers march about, and the Norwegians offended the Russians by instituting a three-day-wait for tourists going to Barneo, so bags and backgrounds could be checked.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/arctic-sea-ice-some-barneo-bombast/

Sadly I think tourists may have been turned off by how badly they were treated last year. Norway may have killed the goose that laid the golden egg, by being so politically correct, for Svalbard stood to make a nice chunk of change from North-Pole-tourism. Or perhaps the elite are nervous about their wealth, with Hillary losing, and are less willing to pay $30,000 for a five day junket to the North Pole. In any case, there seem to be far fewer tourists this year.

Not that I pay any attention to all the fun they are having. Nope, not me. I am utterly focused on the sea-ice in the background, and I’m not at all jealous. Nope, not me. Disinterest is my middle name.

In any case, this year everything has gone like clockwork, but as they collect snow to melt for water, who is the water for?

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Barneo F2 17992025_1343550232388738_680360811705048603_n

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However it was with great dismay I then noticed they were already disassembling the tourist lodges, two weeks early.

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However there was hope for the future. The lack of customers might be explained by the failure of Norway and Russia to iron out their differences until the last minute. Also the wonderful efficiency of the crew might be seen as practice, and as a dry run for next year.  What’s more, commitment to landing on the sea-ice might be seen in the fact a small passenger airplane called the L-410, (originally developed in the late 1960’s), was resurrected and production has started again, and one landed at Barneo.

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A few skiers did show up, and found beautiful weather and conditions that appear far better than last year’s. (I love the pictures they post, which allow me to study the sea-ice.)

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Right at this point, when it seemed the Russians might get through a year without offending anyone, a 1500 pound bear walked up to introduce itself to a 140 pound woman, and the woman was politically incorrect, whipping out a gun and blasting the bear.  There may have been a desire to hush up the incident, but it later made the Barneo Facebook page. Here is a translation:

“Our season rarely follows a rigid schedule: one day we’re relocating the camp because of a crack, another day we’re trying to deliver spare parts from Moscow for broken tractors, and so on. We did this season without such kind of a cataclysm, but… An incident has occurred, a sticky one, and – most importantly – a dangerous kind of event.

I already used to tell about bears who terrorize skiers on the route: invaders are walking within 50 meters from the group, men put them off with rocket launcher, and they get back after a while. Each group leader has a rifle for that case.

So, a few days ago it happened that one skier fired a pistol at a bear. She had a Magnum, a combat weapon. I’m not a gun expert but I know this unit has a huge penetrating power. The bear was wounded and then disappeared. It’s hard to say how appropriate it was for the purpose of self-defense; it really may be do-or-die situation. But. The group leader Dirk Dansercoer did not informed the chief expedition leader at the Barneo Station about the incident. He did not informed the person responsible for safety of all of us. It means that people who wounded a dangerous creature concealed the fact that all groups following the same course are in danger from now on. It’s hard to predict how a wounded bear behave.

As soon as we started to get troubling messages that one of the groups is followed by a bear leaving footsteps of blood, we explored from Dirk Dansercoer (who already was at Longyearbyen) the details of the incident. Today all the groups are aware of that danger, they have established a day-and-night duty. And we scheduled a hotwash for all of the guides to elaborate rules for that sort of incidents.”

I can’t really blame a woman for defending herself, but I just know the Russians will catch hell for this. (Groan)

Not that I care. Disinterestedness is my middle name. What is it to me if a lady has a bear for dinner, or vice-versa? All I care about is sea-ice, right?

The ice Barneo is sitting on has slowed its drift in the kind weather, though the temperatures are slowly dropping, from -15°C on April 16 to -24°C on April 18 (which demonstrates the Arctic continues to lose heat under clear skies, despite 24-hour-a-day sunshine. The sun is simply still too low. Any warming is still imported from the south. But the imported air chills more slowly now.)

Barneo F10 18034195_1343988812344880_495692716340196140_n

 UPDATE

There is more to this than meets the eye. From yesterday’s Barneo Facebook page:

In the matter of yesterday’s message about the bear incident: as we just learned, the case is more complicated than it appears to be. Mr. Dansercoer misinformed us. Now the incident is exploring by Norwegian Police; as far as we know, they have a footage and witness testimony. We’ll inform our readers as soon as we get exact knowledge.

But then I suppose the lawyers got involved. From today’s page:

Victor Boyarsky, a member of the International Polar Guides Association, has just informed us that the Bear Shooting Case study is scheduled soon after completion of the Barneo season. They will make a decision after consultations with all the people involved. Until that moment we won’t make any comments on the matter.
http://www.polarguides.org/ipga-guides/guide-directory.html…

What interests me most is the mention of “footage.” Now, that would be an interesting bit of film to see. I hope it appears on You Tube. But I suppose the reputation of an arctic guide is at stake, so we should be patient. I do know one thing: Those bears could care less about our rules and regulations.

In other news, a new lead (crack in ice with, initially, open water exposed), apparently has made one end of the runway unusable, so they extended the other end. I can’t find any pictures of it yet, nor a description of how wide it is, but here is a nice picture of a “pressure ridge” (what happens when the two sides of a “lead” slam closed):

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ARCTIC SEA ICE –Beaufort Buildup Bedlam–

Way back in the year 1247 some goodhearted monks created a place for deeply troubled individuals called “Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem”. Over the years the local folk shortened the name of the place to various versions of the word “Bethleham”, and finally wound up with the word “Bedlam.”

I have decided we need a similar place for people deeply troubled by sea-ice. After all, sea-ice is a sort of Rorschach test. Look at this and pretend it is sea-ice, and tell me what you see.

Rorschach test InkblotTest

If you see “the end of human existence as we know it”, there are various Bedlams I can suggest you be committed to. If course, you do not want to go into an asylum run by a madman, and therefore I suggest you avoid sites run by people who enjoy  dressing up in Nazi uniforms.

Skeptical Science Nazi Herr Cook

It is better to commit yourself to a Bedlam run by a compassionate monk, and the best Bedlam I have found is “The Sea Ice Forum”, run by the good monk Brother Neven.

Mind you, just as the original Bedlam back in 1247 was stilted towards Catholic ideas, you need to expect a modern Bedlam to be stilted towards the modern religion of Global Warmingism. Just as, concerning a subject we don’t scientifically know about, such as life-after-death, a Catholic will speak with great authority, so too will an Alarmist speak with authority about sea-ice before the satellite era, though we truly know next to nothing about it.

The little evidence we have needs to be ignored by certain inhabitants of Bedlam, in order to continue to see “the end of human existence as we know it”. What is kept behind blinders are geological studies of shorelines, certain core studies of the sea-bottom, and, most interesting to me, the places where whalers and explorers found open water. For example, the doomed Franklin expedition found open water one year (1845) and not the following two years.

Franklin Map Franklin's-Lost-Expedition

To me it seems a certain suspension of cynicism must be involved, to believe the situation at the Pole is dramatically different this year (as some Alarmists believe it is).  It is sort of like, when you read “Lord of the Rings”, you suspend your doubt that trees can walk around and talk to you. Such belief may be fine in a fantasy, but it is not so good when it involves spending billions of tax dollars. Yet somehow I can’t seem to penetrate an Alarmist resistance to seeing there may have been times of open water in the Arctic Sea in the past. Even photographic evidence fails to get behind the blinders. I can show them that even in the spring, when sea-ice is thick and only starting to fall from its maximum, submarines apparently found open water at the Pole on March 17, 1959

Sub at Pole 1959 download

And on May 18, 1987.

Sub at Pole 1987 3-subs-north-pole-1987

And yet this year we have jets landing up there on April 16, 2017.

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Of course, when I speak about such things I really do come across as a wet blanket and something of a party-poop. If you are going to participate in Bedlam you are suppose to get hugely exited about every little crack in the ice, as if it a “sign.”  You say, “It’s a sign” and make your eyes very round, and nod. That is the way to gain acceptance.  Also you can gain a lot of status if you monkey around with data and make a graph (unless you are a party-poop and point out the data is upside down, as Michael Mann’s graph was.).

Therefore, when you visit Bedlam, my recommendation is that you keep your lips buttoned. Be a so-called “lurker”.  It is well worth the visit to a good site, partly because ( I confess) there is something fascinating about weirdos,  and no one can see you are gawking, when you silently lurk.

One thing that is fascinating is how they constantly stroke each other for reassurance. It is downright touching. (Pun). However keep your tongue firmly planted in your cheek when they pull out their graphs. The graphs will always draw a line showing how much sea-ice there was in the past, as if they knew. In fact it is what they believe, and they arrive at their belief  via dubious means. I tend to roll my eyes when presented with a graph like this:

Extent Polyak et al 2010 fig2a

The problem I have with such graphs is that, before the satellite era, there is only airplane data, and, before the airplane era, there is only data from the edges. The Nimbus 5 satellite only began collecting pictures in 1972, and the Nimbus 2 pictures only reach to 1966. Long distance aircraft were not developed until World War 2, and had little reason to fly over the Pole at first. A few zeppelin flights explored the arctic, (for example the Norge in 1926 and the Italia crash in 1928), but they had no idea our bedlam would require specific details about the exact area of open water versus solid ice. Before that we have only scattered reports from brave and sometimes doomed men. For example, from the diaries of the failed Arctic Balloon expedition of 1897 we know the sea-ice north of Svalbard was not solid,  “Andrée called it ‘dreadful terrain’, with channels separating the ice floes, high ridges, and partially iced-over ice-ponds”.

Andre 1897 image

Nor did Nansen, traveling over the ice in 1895, neglect to bring along the kayaks that in the end saved his life. Considering we have so little data, and the data we do have does show that the ice had leads of open water, all calculations which assume the Arctic Sea was shore-to-shore ice are highly suspect. If we instead estimate and subtracted the unseen areas of open summer-water from the total extent, (as we now do), the extent of some years would obviously be lower.

(The belief the Pole was sheeted with solid ice before 1979 is a belief that is ironically diametrically opposite to a prior incorrect belief from the early 1800’s, which suggested that the center of the Arctic Sea was open water.)

But zip your lip about all such uncertainty, in Bedlam. If you yap you will only spoil their awe over standing, in real time, this very moment, as wonder-struck witnesses to “the end of human existence as we know it”.

And actually the inhabitants of Bedlam are quite good, when it comes to noticing the smallest patch of open water, now. This keenness of eyesight makes them useful, even if what they conclude may be the wildest of speculations.

For example, high pressure can stall over the Beaufort Sea, in which case it is called the Beaufort High, and if it is properly located it will create polynyas of open water called the West Beaufort  and Bathurst polynyas. If you spot this happening now you are welcome in Bedlam, but if you point out it happened in 1975….not so much.

Beaufort Polynyas poly-3-bathurst-and-w-beaufort-polynyas_1975-vs-2015_polarbearscience

However, if, rather than the Beaufort High, a low pressure called “Ralph” stalls, then rather than a clockwise gyre you get a counter-clockwise eryg, as I described here:

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/arctic-sea-ice-demise-of-the-beaufort-eryg/

And the result will be that, rather than the ice being pushed away to form a polynya by the shore, the ice will reverse and be piled up against the shore. This will create a very different deployment of sea ice, as can be seen by comparing the ice of late March in 2016 (left) with 2017 (right):

It does not make people in Bedlam happy when ice is crunched up against the coast like that, but they have seemingly inexhaustible hope. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there was a chance the eryg was turning back into a gyre, and indeed a Beaufort High has formed and the ice has moved away from the shore. It is nothing like last year, but gives cause for bedlam in Bedlam. (One funny thing is that some begin their observations with, “Ugh Oh!”  Actually they are celebrating the fact they have a sign of imminent doom, but it would be danged improper to go “Whoopie” about “the end of human existence as we know it”.) In any case, they save some wonderful satellite shots of the polynyas starting to form, which is a very real reason to visit the Sea Ice Forum site. The image below was offered by Brother Neven himself:

Bering Strait is to the upper left. Notice that the West Beaufort Polynya forming up there is larger than the Bathurst Polynya, to the lower left, and the Bathurst Polynya is nowhere close to the size of last year’s.

Hopefully below you will see some lovely satellite views of the West Beaufort Polynya forming, submitted to the forum by the blogger “JayW”. Superb submission! This is why it is so worth visiting the Sea Ice Forum. (Bering Strait is at the bottom.)

The question that arises in my mind is, “Is this open water evident from shore?” So I turn to the Barrow webcam, looking north from a place higher than men could stand, back in the old days.

Barrow 20170418 07_27_39_65_ABCam_20170418_152400

And the answer is a simple “No”. The only movement that can be seen out to sea is the movement of shadows as the sun swings around in the arctic sky. (Temperature is -2° [-16°C])

My next question is, “When they say the ice was wall-to-wall in a long-ago-year, such as 1912, are they merely guessing? Are they assuming because it was stuck fast to the shore in Alaska that it extended as a solid sheet clear across to Russia? How do they know what was occurring out of view?”

The humble answer is, “They, and we, don’t know”. Graphs that use proxies are largely guess-work, and are at risk when the grafters are more liable to get grants if their guess-work is in a certain direction. However the graphs are gospel in Bedlam.

Me? Oh, you know me. I’m as gentle as a lamb and never raise a ruckus, and only confide my private views in the confines of this obscure blog, and even then I’m astonishingly spiritual and modest, if you want my opinion. I just sit back and watch, and, if I chuckle, well, sometimes you just can’t help it.

Below are the sequence of recent DMI maps. They basically show the Beaufort High forming and stalling. It is interesting to see that the high fails to really develop the southeast gales last year’s did, and is displaced to the west more, so that the region where the Bathurst Polynya might be expected to form may even get north winds, bringing the ice back in to shore. This would be bad news for those hoping the entrance to the Northwest Passage clears out.

The temperature maps are interesting for they, at first, show cold builds at the Pole even though the sun never sets. The sun is simply still too low to warm the arctic, and the arctic continues to lose more heat than it receives. Later the temperature maps show the Pole warming, but this seems to be because the stalled Beaufort High is bringing a steady flow of Pacific air north through Bering Strait.

If possible I’ll update later. If not,  I’ll make up a good excuse.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Jets at Barneo Halted by Storm–

The video below was taken by a drone flying above last year’s Barneo base, and at the start shows the sort of pressure ridges they were dealing with, which forced them to move the entire base in the midst of their operations.

This year the ice seems smoother, and so is the operation of the base.  They have drifted south past 89°N latitude, which will be handy for the cross-country skiiers headed up there to ski “the final degree”.

Barneo E1 17991859_1341818599228568_987010751619004285_n

You can see the direction-of-drift shifted from to the southeast to the southwest, and the rate-of-drift increased. This was due to an influx of air all the way from the Pacific that raised temperatures some twenty degrees to -15°C.  You can see the skies, which had been a vibrant blue, turning gray in this video taken by a woman walking about the camp.

Here is the layout of the camp seen from above.

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Flights had to be canceled for a day as the “milder” air generated a snowstorm, with temperatures at -17°C

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But it is not entirely uncomfortable to sit around indoors.

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And soon the skies cleared and the jets could bring more people north.

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Including a rock band, conducting a “Top of the World” tour.

 

In conclusion, the idea that “The Polar Icecap has melted away” is not true quite yet.

NOTE: Yesterday the Barneo base reported from 88º56’N, 018º15’E, but back on April 10 it was at 89º11’N, 033º10’E.  I noticed a second Army Mass Balance buoy (2017B) has been deployed, and was reporting from 89.19° N, 30.07° E on April 12. It seems likely it was deployed from Barneo, as the coordinates match so well.  Obviously Russians and Americans can get along, in the wild world of sea-ice. Can cats and dogs be far behind?

They placed this buoy on ice roughly five feet thick. It hasn’t reported since April 12, but it did graph the temperature rise as greatly moderated Pacific air moved in.

2017B Temp 20170412 2017B_temp

LOCAL VIEW –Snow Goes–

VIEW ON FRIDAY

Snow go 1 IMG_4621

VIEW TUESDAY MORNING 

Snow go 2 IMG_4657

We’ve had one of those spells of summer that sneak backwards into spring, just as some winter can creep forward, and make April a crazy month which makes us all behave like bipolar fools. It was 77° on Monday and 83° on Tuesday. (25° and 28° Celsius).

The initial result was two-fold. First it created mud, and can you see the second result in this picture?

Snow go 3 FullSizeRender

What you should notice is a total lack of fighting.  A fit of springtime-ambitiousness so overwhelmed the boys they became too busy to brawl.  I was amazed, especially as it lasted two solid hours.

After the children went home I took a walk out to the flood-control reservoir with my wife, granddaughter and dog to watch the sunset. There was not a breath of wind, and I expected the water to be like a mirror. It seemed a perfect time to think about peace and serenity, but wouldn’t you know it? Three pairs of Canada geese were scoping out a pond which likely is only big enough for two pairs, and they were constantly chasing each other, honking like a rush hour, taking off and landing or running atop the water, and the surface was never like a mirror, even when they took a break between battles.

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As if to highlight the lack of peace, a beaver surfaced, saw my dog, and Ker-whack! It slapped its flat tail on the water, (which is their alarm-call for other beavers).

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Don’t ask me to make sense of spring. Boys will work like beavers and be peaceful, as vegetarian geese and beavers are anything but. Sometimes it is wiser to just sit back and be a witness.

You raise my eyes from chain-gang shackles
To castles in clouds, but then I descend
And my chains remain. A witch’s cackles
Reminds me my dreaming wakes in the end.

You melt snows with the wild hope of spring
And again I am dreaming, planting seeds,
But again I descend with molted wing
Like Icarus, as my garden grows weeds.

Again You come, and hope ends one more night
But this time I’m not going to pursue
Some distant dream, for I’ve now seen the light
And understand that it’s coming from You.

Why should you seek a far distant star
When the light is shining right where you are?

Snow go 6 FullSizeRender.jpg

Arctic Sea Ice —North Pole Marathon at the North Pole Jetport—

 

As reported by Reuters:

Wrapped warmly against the cold, a group of runners set off for the barren white landscape for one very cool race – the North Pole Marathon.

Some 50 running enthusiasts from around the world braved harsh conditions for Saturday’s 42.2-km (26.2 miles) race on the frozen ice of the Arctic Ocean, staged at the Barneo Ice Camp.

Wearing balaclavas, goggles, gloves and layers of thermal clothing, participants had to complete 12 laps of a course lined with markers. A refreshment tent was on hand for those needing hot drinks, snacks and to warm up.

As well as the cold, runners were also faced with soft snow and small ice pressure ridges.

Polish runner Piotr Suchenia crossed the line first with a time of 4 hours 6 minutes 34 seconds, while for the women’s race Frederique Laurent from France triumphed with a time of 6 hours 21 minutes 3 seconds.

“It was probably mentally the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, physically it wasn’t the worst, I just couldn’t get a rhythm on the soft snow,” runner Gareth Evans said.

“(I) wouldn’t change it for the world, it’s a very unique place and delighted to be a part of it but a beach in Miami sounds good right now.”

(Writing by Reuters Television and Marie-Louise Gumuchian, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Things seem to be proceeding more smoothly at the Barneo Base than they did last year.  So far the slab of ice they have chosen to build their blue-ice jetport upon has held together, whereas last year the ice was more tortured and they had problems with leads appearing right on the airstrip. Temperatures have been down around -30°C, and reportedly dipped to -40° at the time of the marathon, which was held during the “night” when the sun dips just a bit lower, up north of 89° north latitude.

So far they haven’t been hit by the gales that plagued the base other years,  and the amazing operation has unfolded like clockwork.  I always wonder what explorers of the past would have thought, had they been able to to look into the future, and witnessed the galley and cafeteria. (I like the doubly-quilted ceiling.)

Barneo D1 17634651_1332856986791396_1752661396841256060_n

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Barneo D3 17799074_1332856823458079_5077287031729865110_n

I also wonder if the chit-chat around the tables is politically correct, and about how the sea-ice at the Pole is vanishing, even as jets land on it.  I have heard that one sales-point is to tell people they may be the last to ski on the icecap, as it is vanishing.  (Hey, if it gets people to spend $30,000 for a three day junket, who can blame the salesmen?)

This year the ice looks surprisingly flat, considering the storminess of the winter. I expected more pressure ridges.

Barneo D6 17626128_1320388111371617_3345921013952026014_n

Barneo D5 17800250_1328019477275147_2218578663724973526_n

The blue object is, I think, a portable bathroom, which is another item the original explorers lacked. (I think I will avoid dwelling on the sufferings of the past, regarding this subject.)

The Barneo base continues to drift south-southeast, though its rate of drift has slowed.

Barneo D4 17800015_1332856476791447_4457869314423734205_n

One interesting tidbit is that they are reporting temperatures some ten degrees colder than the DMI temperature maps show.

The DMI thickness map (modeled) shows the ice to be around ten feet thick at the base:

DMI4 0410 FullSize_CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20170410

The Navy thickness map sees ice only around 6-7 feet thick.

Thickness 20170411 Attachment-1

Of course these maps tend to generalize, and average away the local variations. The Russians likely chose a thicker slab of ice for their blue-ice jetport. Now is when we need an actual field worker taking a core, but I haven’t heard whether our crew that sets up the North Pole Camera got enough funding this year. (Last year they didn’t.) (The year before they reported they were hitting salt water after only drilling down four feet, but I was unsure if they chose a frozen-over lead where the ice was thinner.) In any case I have the general impression the Barneo base is on thicker ice this year.

(This is slightly off topic, but note how all the sea-ice along the coast of Russia has been shoved to the west sides of the marginal seas, while the east sides have the thin ice of frozen-over polynyas. The west winds were unusually persistent this past winter, creating a different set-up for the summer melt.)