ARCTIC SEA ICE –Polar Sunset–

See the source image

The Pole is bipolar (what we used to call manic-depressive). The heaven of a day six months long gives way to the hell of a night six months long. The wonderfully mad people who wander about in such extremes are wonderfully swayed, and even the primmest scientists, who like to fool themselves into believing they are objective and rational and unaffected, are prone to showing signs of being moody like the rest of us.

The moodiness leaks into the writing and postings of those who sail icy waters or attempt to trek across the ice. In the brilliance of July we used to get glimpses of their manic ecstasy: Odd pictures of nudists on sea-ice. There was little of that last summer, with the world derailed with the coronavirus nonsense. But the Pole ignored us, and went about it’s business of thawing and then refreezing more or less as usual.

There were of course the slight variations which fanatics like myself like to focus on, and make a big deal about. The thaw started a little earlier and lasted a little longer than usual.

This interested me, as the exact opposite was true down at latitude 42 degrees, where I live in New Hampshire. We had a late frost in the spring and an early freeze in the fall, which made our growing season one of the shortest I can remember. Was the cold air displaced from the Pole to more southerly latitudes? I have not the time to do such research, so I just cast the idea out there, in a sense delegating the work to young whippersnappers who have the time and inclination.

I once was such a young person, and in fact one reason I have no pension and must work in my old age is because I took my retirement when young. I did a ton of research when young, rather than getting a Real Job. Surely there are still youths such as I once was, able to study obscure stuff (other than how to win video games).

This past coronavirus summer I could find no crazy whippersnappers attempting to sail the Northwest Passage, or trek across the ice, or set a new record and achieve a new first, such as making it to the Pole on pogo-sticks, but the dearth was redeemed by the MOSAiC Expedition. This bunch of crazies consisted of scientists copying Nansen, and drifting across the Pole in a ship frozen into the ice. They did all sorts of stuff I have been delegating to others, over the past decade. For example, where I said we should take temperatures, they took temperatures. And where I said we should put cameras, they put cameras. If our planet was sane, we would already have heaps of wonderful data made clear in well-written articles, rather than long lists of numbers.

But our world isn’t sane, so besides walking on dangerous sea-ice, the scientists had to, and have to, walk on eggs, in terms of politics. Some of the international team were from China, and one needs to have care about speaking the Truth when one’s leaders are not fond of the Truth. Also one must be careful about denying the theory of Global Warming, for political reasons, no matter what the data says. To top it off, the Coronavirus panic hit the world when the scientists were far from the maddening crowds, snug aboard a warm ship in the deep dark of a frozen arctic winter, and they had to be careful about commenting about how the rest of us panicking people looked, from afar. Yet, despite the fact they had to so careful about ludicrous things, they still gathered wonderful reams of information we never knew before. Their eyes sparkle, as they know more than they are allowed to say. I look forward to their discoveries leaking out.

To return to the above graph, one can see that the temperatures were actually below normal, by a hair, through much of the summer. In my eyes they were not below normal enough. Why? Because the sun has been very “quiet”, and the Pole is a place where low energy from the sun should be especially obvious. The Pole “should” be colder, whereas other places “should” be warmer, as I see things.

It is counter-intuitive that less energy from the sun should make the world warmer, but that is only because we tend to think less energy must be measured by thermometers. It is also measured by oedometers, for less energy from the sun makes less wind. Less wind makes for less up-welling of cold water where winds are offshore. Less cold water makes for more warm water at the surface of our oceans, and a warmer planet.

The only exception to this “rule” (actually a theory) is the Pole, where the sea is covered in ice and upwellings are not brought about by wind, especially when the sun first rises in late March, and sea-ice is at its maximum and the Arctic Ocean is totally covered. Therefore, because the Arctic Ocean is the one place on earth where wind has little influence, it should be the one place on earth where we see the sunshine of a “quiet” sun make things colder (during the summer when the sun shines). And this is exactly what we have seen, in recent years……until last summer.

I have the sense a change is in the wings. The counter-intuitive situation was a temporary adjustment, but now will become more intuitive. After all, the very word “counter-intuitive” means something is violating our common sense. And it goes against our common sense that less energy from the sun should make us warmer.

In a sense the planet has been borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, using warm surface waters to pay a debt created by the “quiet” sun. This can only go on so long before the debt catches up with the bank account. The surface waters use up whatever surplus heat they had to spare, and things return to a new normal where once again upwelling of cold water can occur. And so it is that, after a long lapse, we are again seeing the periodic upwelling called “La Nina”.

It should take a while for this sudden appearance of colder-than-normal water on the equator in the Pacific to work north to the Pole. The north Pacific still remembers the kinder times. And the Pole is still under the influence of kinder times, so we should expect low levels of sea-ice at the minimum. But, though the levels were indeed low, we are faced with a disconcerting problem.

What is the problem? Well, first let me show levels are low, (but up from 2012).

What is puzzling is that, though the sea-ice covers a low area of “extent”, the sea-ice that remains is surprisingly thick. Usually much of the remaining “volume” of sea-ice is piled up against the north coast of Greenland, in a narrow strip, but this year that thick ice is absent, yet “volume” does not show a down-tick, for the sea-ice between Canada and the Pole is quite thick.

In essence what we have seen over the past year is the sea-ice be pushed from the Eurasian side of the Pole to the Canadian side, creating more open water than we are used to on the Eurasian side, and ice thicker than we are used to on the Canadian side. This polarizes Alarmists and Skeptics (ha ha) because the Alarmists can make a big deal about the open water as the Skeptics make a big deal about the thicker ice.

The only thing I am certain about is that the good ship “Arctic Death Spiral” has taken another torpedo. It actually keeps sinking like the Titanic each year, but some people make a boat be a basketball, and it bounces back up to a yearly resurrection, only to be sunk yet again.

This year the torpedo involves all the thicker ice between Canada and the Pole being so-called “multiyear-ice”, which, as I hope you remember, we were suppose to see less and less of, according to the Arctic Death Spiral theory. But reports of its demise have been greatly exaggerated, and this year multi-year has made a come-back. Unless some sort of major flushing of sea-ice south through Fram Strait occurs during the winter, by next spring there will be a solid core of sea-ice between nine and twelve feet thick between Canada and the Pole, which will make it all the harder for the ice to melt away next summer. (It may even represent the core of the beginning of a so-called “recovery” back to cold AMO ice-extent-levels such as we saw in 1979).

Not that my original objections to the Arctic Death Spiral theory needed to be validated by increases in sea-ice. Originally my focus was Greenland Vikings, and certain evidence that Greenland was much warmer in the Medieval Warm Period, and the idea the Arctic Sea may even have been wide open during some summers, back then. It took the dread out of the “Death” in “Arctic Death Cycle” if we’d already been there and done that, and hadn’t become extinct. In fact it made an ice-free Arctic Sea look like a good thing, and part of a kinder and gentler climate.

The backlash I earned simply by talking about Vikings tanning in the sun of a warmer Greenland came as a shock, for I discovered I was a “denier” and “wingnut”. It awoke me from my naïve innocence to the fact I was not dealing with science, but the dogma of radical politics.

It did not take me long to suspect the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Mark Serreze, was promoting not science, but rather a “narrative”, and that someone behind the scenes was forking out big money and a cushy position to make it worth Mark’s while. He was apparently paid to generate hoop-la about an Arctic Death Spiral. That hoop-la, and not science, became his job. Of course, if you pointed out any science which countered the hoop-la, they needed to make a racket to drown out your calm and rational voice. They also often labeled you in some way that allowed them to escape the fact they couldn’t debate worth a damn. One magic phrase they use was “conspiracy theory”, and to this day they continue to whip that accusation out, if you so much as question. Whenever you hear that phrase, and especially when you are accused of it, you should be alerted to the fact you are dealing with a mind that doesn’t want to debate. It is tantamount to muttering, “balderdash”, (which may express honest emotion, but scores no points, in a true debate).

As far as I can tell, the purpose behind preferring hoop-la to truth is money, which gains power, which gains more money, which gains more power, on and on with the money and power gathered in the same insane manner some women collect thousands of shoes in their closet. The besotted have more than they need or know what to do with, and, because such hoarding is disconnected from Truth and in fact opposes Truth, it degrades the quality of their life. They become pitiful.

However before I become too haughty I should fully disclose I’ve never really been tempted by large amounts of money and a cushy position. Would I myself pass such a test? There is only one way to find out. Drop by tomorrow and offer me a large amount of money and a cushy position.

In actual fact I have quibbled about ice cubes bobbing about in the Arctic Ocean for nigh on two decades, without pay. It makes me wonder: What’s in it for me?

Initially I liked the beauty of the sweeping views, and my pay was the same pay I get from watching clouds cruise across the sky. Added to that was the sense of adventure I got, never leaving my armchair, as I read about Vikings and explorers like Nansen. Also, back when science was actually discussed, I derived a sense of wonder as I learned how harmonious chaotic systems can be; it is hard to call chaos chaotic when looking at the sweeping swirls of a cyclone.

However increasingly I ran into the iceberg called “the narrative”, which is quite effective when it comes to sinking a buoyant mood. An Arctic sunset is beautiful, lasts two weeks, and is uplifting. I can’t say the same about Mark Serreze.

Mark Serreze photo portrait

In my gloomier moods I tend to think I have wasted a lot of time, arguing about sea-ice. I likely would have been better off doing something more constructive, such as knitting. But in another sense perhaps this all has been practice for the battle of our lives.

One thing I have noticed over the past twenty years, both in terms of discussions about sea-ice and in terms of politics in general, is that the besotted have become increasingly besotted. The appetite for money and power seems insatiable, when not governed by Truth. The bribe which once seemed enough to diminish craving instead feeds a increase of craving, and one wants to double the dose. One wants more and more money and power, until one starts to want more than a sane person wants, at which point one starts to desire other people’s money and other people’s power. One wants to tax others and take away their liberty, which increasingly violates a certain component of Truth we don’t understand scientifically, called “Love”. In essence as soon as one steps into the webs of deceit they sell their soul to the devil, and become involved in a death spiral having nothing to do with ice.

Over the past twenty years I’ve watched certain scientists battle this insidious trap, which usually begins with a harmless-seeming compromise. Scientists need funding, and to gain it some will exaggerate a little, telling a little white lie for the sake of supporting their family and their staff. In some cases they are aglow when they first get the grant, and gain the power to go to the arctic landscape they adore, but that glow fades. I’ve watched them over the years. Their faces harden and become cynical, and in some cases they start to look ill. The compromise eats away at them, and in a few glorious cases they can’t abide the dishonesty and eventually blow a gasket, and go from being spokesmen of the Global Warming narrative to people you never hear about any more, unless you look very hard, whereupon you discover them posting on an obscure blog from a remote location in Siberia. It does not pay to bite the hand that feeds you, (especially when it’s a Stalin’s. Few return from Siberia like Solzhenitsyn did).

What is fascinating to me is how much of this suffering can be avoided when people, risking being called naïve chumps and suckers, simply stand by the Truth. They are neither tempted by money and power, nor bullied by belittling, and stand their ground. It is especially odd that standing still seemingly gets them somewhere. Truth seems inanimate and cold to some, but, perhaps because It includes Love, Truth seems to have a way of guiding and even protecting people who make It their guru.

Truth also has the benefit of obeying certain laws, such as the law of gravity, which it pays to attend to, and which you violate running the risk of crashing. Engineers who ignore the Truth will build stuff that crashes, and the same holds true for people who ignore the Truth in areas where the eventual crash is not so obvious, such as politics.

In any case, over the past twenty years I’ve watched things slowly build towards a crisis. On one side are those who stand by Truth, and on the other are those willing to disregard Truth for money and power. To think I originally turned to the topic of sea-ice as a way of escaping all the woes of the world!

I still turn to sea-ice for escape, for there is always much to wonder about. This year the refreeze of the huge area of open water along the entire Eurasian coast, nearly to the Pole and across Bering Strait, will be chance to see a situation which likely resembles the Medieval Warm Period in some respects. Having so much water open will allow upwellings which don’t usually occur, and changes to the stratification of the water. Even if the water freezes over by mid November, the usual “fresh water lens” atop saltier water will likely have been churned right out of existence. I delegate a great deal of study to whippersnappers, who must investigate how this reshuffling effects the various currents meandering under the growing sea-ice.

The MOSAiC expedition is doing exactly this. After the Transpolar Flow ejected them where the sea-ice breaks up south of Fram Strait, they powered up their good ship Polarstern and motored back north, sticking to the more open waters of the Eurasian side, and then planted themselves back in the sea-ice to enjoy the ride down towards Fram Strait a second time, and also to take careful observations of what actually happens when the ocean refreezes. They have all sorts of good gadgets, which enables them to measure salinity and temperature and which-way-and-how-fast-the-water-is-flowing at various levels under the ice. Their data will be freely displayed as long lists, and hopefully I’ll eventually learn how to read it; (currently I can’t make heads nor tails of it). But what is most wonderful is that they gather actual data, which on many occasions has surprised them, as it differed from what they expected, which is the theory which is entered into computers and is called “modeled data.”

I am not as surprised as they seem that the “modeled data” is proven wrong. The people programing the computer are paid by benefactors who desire a certain “narrative”, and it is hard to not display a sort of bias when you might get fired if the computer model disagrees with the boss. Computers tend to agree with the boss paying for the electricity, but the actual North Pole works for a different boss, called Truth. It doesn’t care a fig for any mortal’s money or power. It does what it does, and usually what it does is beautiful.

One thing the MOSAiC scientists uncovered was that the air right next to the sea-ice is colder than modeled, which likely explains why (back when we could watch with the O-buoy cameras) we saw meltwater pools freezing over when our satelite-and-computer-generated maps showed temperatures above freezing. But they also have been discovering stuff hidden from our prying eyes, in the waters under the ice. Besides all the critters and festoons of algae I mentioned in earlier posts, they are discovering unexpected turbulence.

As I understand it, nine-tenths of an iceberg is under water, so than when you see a pressure ridge six feet high wandering across the top of the ice, it is matched by a sort of keel sticking down fifty-four feet under the ice. When this keel is pushed through the water as the ice is moved by wind, it acts like a spoon stirring the sea. Apparently this was not considered when the modeling was done for waters under the ice.

This seems to suggest that perhaps those who fund scientists should stop telling the scientists what they are expected to find, and instead to allow them to discover the Truth. For the Truth is something very nice to chance upon, in this rough old world: It is true.

Also it is beautiful.

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Surface Melt Ending–

One thing many do not comprehend about the Pole is that during the summer it collects more heat-per-acre-per-day than even the equator. The sun never sets, and if the Pole were a flat area of land at sea level the heat would continue rising, 24 hours a day, until burning hot air-masses were created, and then expanded south. I’ll leave it up to science-fiction writers to figure out the meteorology of such a planet.

Our Earth is quite amazing enough as it is, and is created with a sea full of ice to the north, which moderates the effects of the 24-hour-sunshine wonderfully. But things do get slushy up there. As far back as we have records explorers have remarked about how “rough sledding” occurred in July. The original inhabitants of Fletcher’s Ice Island (T-3) stated the need for hip-waders, due to the depth of slush in some areas, back in 1952. So the summer melt is not a new thing.

Below is a picture of the surface of the sea-ice on the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska in Mid-July, 2016. (From Susan Crockford’s excellent “Polar Bear Science” site, and originally from NASA.)

Melt ponds in the Beaufort 14 July 2016 NASA sm

The above picture has four fascinating features I’d like to point out.

First, to the upper left, is a melt-water pool with a darker blue bottom. This darkness may be soot and dirt, which collects more sunshine because it is dark, or it may merely be because the ice is thin and about to become a hole to the deep sea beneath.

Second, to the upper right, extending halfway down the right margin, are three pools joined by a drainage stream, with the headwaters pool even managing to carve a canyon through a weakness in a sizable pressure ridge. This demonstrates how the melt can create drainage systems atop the sea-ice.

Third, at the very bottom is some “dirty ice”. This once led to arguments about whether the “soot” was “natural” (from volcanoes), or “man made” (from Chinese coal-powered plants.) More recently we’ve become more aware the sea-ice has algae growing on the underside, and when such cakes of ice are flipped they present a dirty face to the world.

Last but not least is the large, triangular melt-water “lake” at the center of the picture. This lake is entirely bounded by three pressure ridges and has no outlet, and the lighter hue of its water shows it is entirely atop ice. It is likely shallow, but causes problems, for the microwave sensors used from outer space will tend to see such water-covered-sea-ice as “open water”. In fact such sensors may well look at the above picture and report it is 50% sea-ice and 50% open water. This data then gets reported to various map-making models which show there being far less sea-ice than actually exists.

Susan Crockford (and astute bloggers, and people who comment at this site), have pointed out that, now that we have radio collars on some polar bears, we can see bears wandering about on what the maps show as open water. Either the bears have an ability to walk on water we didn’t know about, or we have some problems with our graphs and maps. Susan goes into how this phenomenon is manifesting this summer in Hudson Bay, here:

In other news, the MOSAiC expedition drifted down south of 80 degrees north latitude, and on July 29 had to disassemble their base on a large, flat chunk of sea-ice to avoid littering the sea-floor with expensive pollution.

Packing up instruments in Met City, which is situated directly next to a melt pond. Auch das Zentrum der meteorologischen Arbeiten auf der Scholle, Met City, wird abgebaut. Es befindet sich mittlerwile direkt neben einem Schmelztümpel.

Apparently they are going to use their icebreaker Polarstern to continue researching conditions along the edge of the sea-ice, and then head back north to again get stuck and observe the refreeze during the autumn. They have gleaned all sorts of new data involving temperatures and salinity of water at various depths under the ice, conditions in the ice, and temperatures and humidity in the air above the ice. Much is going to require further study (I haven’t the time to even decipher much of the data) but they have already seen some preconceptions will need to be adjusted. They have also seen a lot of cool micro-critters we knew next to nothing about, and been on the edge of some fascinating whirls of water that form as southbound currents brush against northbound currents in Fram Strait. For example, check out the whirl by the red 80 degree north in the clip below. They crossed this whirl.

Personally I find such knowledge fascinating, and feel that, although the gleaning of such knowledge may seem obscure, it is far more likely to be beneficial to humanity, dollar for dollar and in the long run, than the billions Bill Gates is spending to make tens of billions more than he invested, with a vaccine we likely can do without.

Joe Bastardi at the “Weatherbell” site shared a graph comparing this summer’s sea-ice melt to the record melt of 2012, which I think shows why Alarmists were so excited a month ago, and why headlines broached sensationalism’s ever-expanding limits, only to now go silent.

2012 was a rough year for sea-ice Skeptics. If you look back to April in the above graph, you can see that in 2012 the sea-ice was actually at above-normal levels. Back then I publicly wondered if we were starting to see a “rebound”, and the start of a return to a “cold” AMO situation. Six months later I had to eat a lot of crow. In fact I was in a semi-denial state, until I actually got in touch with some people, (via the internet), who had actually flown over the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and witnessed how much ice simply vanished, in a matter of 72 hours, during the sub-960 mb gale which occurred that August. That taught me my lesson, and though I still venture my opinions, I’m prone to couch my words in pillows of “maybe’s” and “might’s”, for one is often astonished by the doing of the arctic. One never should crow about anything unless they are able to eat the crow.

There is still no sign of a gale this year, though I think the possibility increases as the fading summer heat starts to clash with the first beginnings of winter chill. Currently there is some weak low pressure and subfreezing air towards Bering Strait which might brew something up.


One interesting phenomenon, as the sun sinks at the Pole, is that often the coldest temperatures seem to occur south of 80 degrees north, perhaps because they start to experience actual nights down towards the arctic circle. Such cold air evades detection by the DMI temperatures-north-of-80-degrees-north graph, which has shown the warmest second-half-of summer we’ve seen in some time, which I think is due to the lack of sea-ice towards Eurasia.

I’d like to conclude this post with a wonderful bit of free-thinking I came across, which included some thought which seems preposterous and made me laugh, but also got me wondering, as it involved undersea avalanches I’ve heard a little about (primarily off Hawaii), but never extrapolated to other places in the manner the blogger “OffTheGrid” does. (As if we don’t already have enough to freak out about.) As I understand it, he suggests there are lakes of water under extreme pressure under Greenland’s icecap, and the melt-back of glaciers due to Global Warming allows such highly pressurized water to be released like a massive fire-hose, stirring up huge amounts of sediments which carve the sea-bottom and disturb the ecosystem terribly.

Itp 94 deployed by the Mosaic campaign has finished Its run and returned some very disturbing readings. Dissolved oxygen at near zero for the whole Atlantic side transit. Dissolved and particulate organic matter, turbidity through the roof. I desperately hope the DO sensor was faulty. But it would explain why all the polar bears were way out on the Atlantic front.

Major high turbidity upwelling from well below 760m depths was detected out near the pole. Suspect that sediment and methane laden bottom freshwater flow from Laptev and/or 79N NE Greenland subglacial outbursts have busted the deep halocline stability out in the deep basin bringing up ex-hypersaline bottomwater mass from the deep basin. VERY scary. Our much appreciated contributer
Veli albert kallio is the world acknowledged professional expert on this kind of thing. We’ve had discussions previously about this sort of possibility, with Wadhams and other experts I work with involved. I’ll get a conference going. We may have to look at urgent oxygen and salt restoratation in deep benthic Atlantic side of the Lomonosov.

Would be very helpful if Uniquorn can do one of his locations/date animations over bathometry so we can localise events clearly. Polarsterns been sampling that eddy for precisely that reason.

This looks like well over 20 gigatons of subglacial outbursts in the NW alone in the last few weeks. Not only are they heavy with up to 90% rock, capable of carving canyons over 1000 km out into deep ocean basins, but the surging of fast glaciers can melt the bedrock at 1500 C plus, so they can be very warm indeed.

I found OffTheGrid’s comments on one of Nevin’s Arctic Sea Ice “Forums” involving “MOSAiC News”, and noted some in that forum muttering OffTheGrid’s comments should be censored or “edited”. But I tend to think it is better to allow all ideas to be floated, if a forum is to be a true forum, even if a trial balloon is a lead balloon. After all, it was said about Winston Churchill, “The man’s mind flashed a hundred ideas a day, and three were good ones.” The best solution to problematic thought is not to stop the mind’s thinking, but to have goodly critics about, who can politely point out our mistakes.

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch–

I have a great yearning to escape the “new normal” and get back to how things used to be. I suppose I might try to escape into an old-style sea-ice post, but I refuse to be cowed by the “cancel culture”. “Cancel culture” has so narrowed what is acceptable to say, and so greatly expanded what it is not acceptable to say, that some people seem afraid to so much as peep, for fear that their peeping will be politically-incorrect. But I will insist on my right to peep, and will begin by peeping something the so-called “Woke” will writhe and cringe at, and may even call racist. But I Say, “So what?” Bring it on. Let’s go back to how it used to be. I refuse to be silenced by fear, for quailing means I am silenced by myself.

I feel I simply have to say this: It is unfair that sea-ice has suddenly become unimportant, and demand that we form WIM. (White Ice Matters).

There. That ought to get me banned somewhere.

Having done my part to drive society, (none too sane to begin with), completely bonkers, I will escape to the beauty of the sea-ice. After all, when I started this long series of posts back in 2013 escapism was my primary aim. I wished to escape the heat of summer, and had no idea Alarmists had bristles it was very easy to brush the wrong way. I knew weather had become a political subject it was not wise to bring up at cocktail parties, but didn’t know sea-ice was the same. I soon learned, to my surprise, that I was a very offensive person. What was my offense? Speaking any small truth which in any way, shape or form questioned “the narrative”.

Initially the Great Debate between Alarmists and Skeptics was whether the sea-ice was in a “Death Spiral”, and whether summer sea-ice would all be gone in the summer by 2014, as Al Gore had prophesied. If Gore had been an Old Testament prophet he would have been taken to the edge of town and stoned to death for being a “false prophet”, on October 1, 2014, but instead he made millions, and is still deemed some sort of “authority” by some, though no one is specific about exactly what he is an authority upon.

In a way Alarmists remind me of myself, and how I never lost at ping-pong as a youth. When I lost the first game I’d immediately say, “Best two out of three.” When I lost the second game I’d say, “Best three out of five.” Even if you beat me twelve times in a row, I’d say, “Best thirteen out of twenty-five.” Eventually you’d tire of playing, and I’d say, “I win, because you quit.”

This is also known as “changing the goal-posts”. I was looking forward to another game of that, this summer, though now Alarmists have at least had the good sense to place their prophecies far enough in the future to ensure a good many of us will not be alive to see if they verify. For example, “The Arctic sea-ice will be gone by 2050.”

Though I’ll be surprised to live to 2050, what I hope to live to see is: What happens during the shift from “warm” to “cold” AMO. The mechanisms are not well understood, but seem to involve striking shifts in the paths of currents, especially the warm ones. All we are certain of is that there are scattered historical notations of the last shift from “warm” to “cold” AMO, and these notations describe big changes in the southern location of sea-ice, and the location of fish, with a few records of surprising, ten-degree changes in the temperature of the sea-water. How this shift happened is a matter of speculation, but we are far more able to gather new data now than back before we had satellites, and now have buoys able to report via satellite. If we live to see such an AMO shift the new data we gather will likely end all worry about the Arctic Ocean being ice-free, for the Pole will shift towards increased ice, (until the next time the AMO shifts to “warm”).

On the other hand, it also would be good to witness a true “optimum”, for, judging from what I can gather, an optimum creates the sort of benign climate which we should be wishing upon our grandchildren. But that is a subject for another post. This post is about this summer, which should make Alarmists happy, as it has been slightly warmer at the Pole.

We even saw temperatures-above-eighty-degrees-north-latitude spike above normal. Such spikes have been quite rare in recent years, (though not so rare earlier in the DMI history, which goes back to 1958).

Ordinarily it is hard for warm air to reach the Pole at the surface during the summer, because the air must pass over sea-ice, which creates a thin layer of chilled air at the surface. Occasionally south winds find a route over open and ice-free water, in which case the air is less chilled. This year the sea-ice was largely blown from the Eurasian side to the Canadian side, so the open water is more towards Eurasia. My impression is that is precisely the direction from which the south winds were able to come, retaining a few degrees more heat than usual, and which led to the recent spike, which has already ended.

With the funding of camera-buoys cut off, I’ve been getting my fix of melt-season pictures from the good ship Polarstern, and the MOSAiC expedition. For a time the large berg of thicker sea-ice they are moored onto was hesitating, drifting west rather than south, but now it has resumed its southward drift towards the edge of the sea-ice in Fram Strait. Sadly the pictures will soon cease, as the expedition arrives at its conclusion. However in my view the expedition has been a howling success, with many ideas verified with actual data, and many other ideas exploded.

Currently they are enjoying the balmy days of summer’s 24-hour sunshine, and even the large berg they are moored to has sizable melt-water pools on it.

They cannot roam as far on the ice, for away from the larger berg the sea-ice has become broken bergs floating freely.

One reason for the break-up is the tides. I noticed this back when we followed O-buoy 9 through the same area. Rather than two high tides a day, as occurs down where I live, there seems to be one, and this means for half the day the water flows east to west, and for half the day it flows west to east.

The boundary between the thin layer of cold air at the surface and warmer, moister air not many meters aloft makes thin fog commonplace, including the phenomenon of “fog bows.”

As they have approached the edge of the ice, they have increasingly faced the danger of bears, who have refused to look thin and starved and pathetic, but rather offensively (to Alarmists) obese. Also they are offensive because they are white, and have the privilege of being at the top of the food chain.

The newspapers have been strangely silent about the fact the bears look so well fed. But then, the newspapers are not always interested in science. However the bears are:

(Notice the sheer bulk of the pressure ridge in the background of the above picture. Such bulk is hard to measure with satellites, and is one of the things which makes ice “thickness” and “volume” measurements so problematic.)

For the first part of summer the levels of both “extent” and “volume” have been shrinking at a faster rate than ever seen before, and there seems to still be a chance we will see a new record set for record low extent. However I remained skeptical, as the ice that remained towards Canada contained many pressure ridges, which tend to mess up both “extent” and “volume” calculations. They can mess up “extent” calculations because as they melt they crumble and then spread out like a small pat of butter over a large piece of toast, and they mess up “volume” calculations because from outer space they are too thin to be seen, and aren’t included in the original calculations. In any case I’m expecting the steep decline in will flatten as the melt encounters the thicker ice, and I saw the first hint of such a delay in decline in a recent blip in the extent graph.

A little blip like this can be crushing to the Alarmist side for, with a mere flat-lining quirk of 48 hours duration, it robs them of their ability to use the word “unprecedented”. Yet the same quirk is heartening to the Skeptic side, which can be uplifted from profound gloom to wild cheering. All in all, watching sea-ice melt is far more exciting than you’d expect.

The above graph does not include the years 2007 and 2012, which are the two years in the modern record with lowest extent. 2007 saw a large amount of sea-ice flushed down into the Atlantic, and 2012 saw a sub-960-mb gale churn up slightly warmer waters on the Bering Strait side of the Pole, which led to an astonishing amount of sea-ice melting in very few days. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for occurrences of the same situations, but currently neither is occurring. In fact a gentle wrong-way south wind in Fram Strait is delaying the southward flush of sea-ice, and the low towards Bering Strait is remaining weak at 995 mb, with light winds.

What is interesting to me is that the weak low has created a large area of sub-freezing temperatures over the Beaufort Marginal Sea towards Alaska. This is unusual, this early in August. There was nearly no areas below freezing on the isotherm map on July 29.

But a large area has appeared by August 1:

(Much of this sub-freezing air is south of 80 degrees north, and therefore does not register on the DMI graph of polar temperatures.)

In August the area of 24 hour sunshine begins to shrink swiftly towards the Pole, and areas towards the Arctic Circle begin to experience brief nights. We start to see diurnal variation become more of a factor. The above map has noon at the top, while twelve hours later noon is at the bottom, in the map below.

(Correction. Due to an error on my part the map below shows the situation 24 hours later. Hopefully I’ll find time to update with a map from 12 hours after the map, later today.)

Here is the 00z map for August 4. Still plenty of sub-freezing patches of air around.

The 12z map shows the Beaufort Sea in late morning, after a full “nights” cooling, whereas the 00z map shows the Beaufort Sea in late evening, after a full “days” warming. Only in the most southerly reaches is there any actual night, or twilight, but the sun does dip low enough towards the horizon to cause a diurnal change, so it pays to look at maps twelve hours apart. In both cases below freezing temperatures are appearing, which reverses the thawing at the surface, sometimes skimming melt-water pools with ice. The sea-ice continues to thaw from the bottom up, but sub-freezing temperatures at the surface slows the process of melting the ice. The refreeze begins when temperatures start to crash in September as the sun dips down to the horizon, and the six-month-day draws to a close.

What I tend to focus on is whether the “extent” graph can dip to the levels of 2007 or not. If it doesn’t, then the graph between 2007 and now, a period of thirteen years, is flat, and it is difficult to state there is all that much less sea-ice, and definitely impossible to speak of “accelerating decline” or “a positive feedback loop.” Or that has been and continues to be my contention.

Tony Hellar prepared a video speaking about the same subject here:

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Beyond The Balderdash–

In some ways these are sad days for sea-ice Alarmists, despite the fact the melt-season is in high gear, and currently looks like it will be a good one (if you prefer a warmer climate.) The days are sad because sea-ice has lost its status as a vitally important issue, with the public’s focus shifted to pulling down statues. The topic of melting icebergs has been relegated to a back burner, where it simmers away, the ice melting much as it has melted for thousands of years, with interesting cycles but no massive earth-shaking changes.

The shift in public attitudes must also be alarming to sea-ice Alarmists because people no longer pretend to be scientific. There used to at least be a pretense that science was involved; one at least wore a white lab-coat to appear to be a scientist when speaking balderdash. Now wearing a white coat has itself become politically incorrect.

I could see this coming. To tear down statues is not all that different from altering the temperature records; one does not like the record of the past so one tears history up like Nancy Pelosi ripped up President Trump’s State Of The Union speech.

Nancy Pelosi Rips The State Of The Union Speech And The ...

We old-timers have been aware of such shenanigans for decades, since James Hansen gave his speech about the dreadful future promised by Global Warming before congress back in 1988.

For a long time I thought this was a fair debate, involving differing interpretations of shared data. I was stunned when I first understood the data itself was being fudged, faked and falsified. This occurred when Steve McIntyre looked at James Hansen’s data and forced him to backtrack for a while. It occurred thirteen years ago, on August 8, 2007.

I was hugely scandalized that data should be “adjusted”, but, when I vented my displeasure, I experienced my first nasty backlash from those who virtue-signal more than they think. Now thirteen years have passed, and the situation has festered like a boil building to a head. We are currently experiencing a lot of pus coming out, and it is uncertain whether the patient will survive.

The entire “Black Lives Matter” balderdash likely has Martin Luther King rolling in his grave, for it most definitely does not involve men being measured by the quality of their character, but instead involves a superficiality even shallower than skin-color, called “virtue signalling”.

It involves bullying, and the way to stop a bully is to stand up to him. However many are in a state of shock and are (for the moment) cowed. People are attempting to placate the bully by backing off and genuflecting every virtue signal they can think of, which only encourages the bully and makes him more obnoxious.

Virtue signaling is about as superficial as you can get, involving things like the color of your hat. If I take off a blue hat and put on a red one it means little about what thoughts occur beneath my hat, but some make a big deal and threaten. The entire process of thinking and debating and sharing ideas has given way to a state of temporary insanity.

It is said that a mob goes mad as a group, and regains its sanity one by one. I am praying that this process has already begun.

One silver lining is that beyond the balderdash, far from the maddening crowd, the sea-ice scientists are being left alone. They must like doing their work without the scrutiny of the press being so pestering. The Polarstern plowed its way back to its original locale in the sea-ice in early June, and the scientists are now back to work in the non-stop sunlight and thaw of summer.

One thing I am fascinated by is their study of the ecosystem on the underside of the ice. The algae and krill are more lush than expected.

It might seem absurd to suggest that such festoons of algae could have anything to do with politics, and it is to be greatly hoped that the scientists on the ice escape all such absurdity, but I can look back fifteen years and recall receiving a tongue lashing for even suggesting such algae might exist.

The problem seems to be that the politically-correct assume they own an answer without ever bothering to examine the evidence, and at times arrive at conclusions even before any evidence exists to be examined. However I was a curious cat who had eyes and tended to see things that didn’t fit the narrative.

In the past it was felt that the Arctic Sea was like other seas, and life thrived along the edges where seaweed had rocks to grow on, but that the waters became relatively sterile as you moved out into the deeper places where there was less seaweed. Because seaweed was at the bottom of the food chain, without it creatures higher up on the food chain would become scarce as you moved away from shore. Therefore the politically correct view was that, as sea-ice shrank away from the shores, arctic cod, and especially seals that eat cod and polar bears that eat seals, and which rafted together on the sea-ice, would have less and less food. They would starve and it would be evil humanity’s fault for shrinking the sea-ice.

As I recall a discussion was occurring about “soot” on the sea-ice, back before Skeptic sites like “Climate Audit” or “Watts Up With That” or “Real Science” existed. I think Joseph D’Aleo’s “Icecap” site existed, and though John L. Daly had passed away his site was still up as a resource, but I tended to hang out at the uproarious Accuweather “Global Warming” site, which at that point hadn’t become the echo-chamber it later became. In any case, the debate back then was about whether the ash would accelerate the melting of sea-ice, and whether the ash was natural and due to volcanoes, or unnatural and due to coal-fired power plants. There were various links to pictures of “dirty ice”, and among the pictures was what looked like a berg flipped upside-down, with its underside fouled by algae like the bottom of a boat. Therefore I proposed a third reason for “dirty ice”, namely algae.

Yikes! The backlash was amazing. I had questioned the narrative, and got to see how the politically-correct behave when you fail to virtue-signal in a manner that supports their narrative.

Now fifteen years have passed and the idea of the sterile Central Arctic has been quietly discarded, for it turns out the Arctic Ocean is unique, because so much algae forms on the bottom of sea-ice that krill and cod can thrive even in the middle of the ocean. In fact a new theory was devised, stating less sea-ice would starve animals because there was less ice for algae to grow on. This theory became problematic because, first, the sea ice is close to shore in the spring and only gradually withdraws, and second, it has been discovered there are opportunistic open-water species of algae that thrive when the ice vanishes. These discoveries are on-going and fascinating, but fail to answer this question: Did the politically-correct ever apologize for being incorrect, and for bashing those who asked smart questions?

No. They always shift the goal posts when their “consensus” becomes too absurdly incorrect, but they never apologize to those they sneered at, even when it turns out the people who questioned had valid reasons to question. If anything, some of the politically-correct have gotten even worse, doubling down until they are frothing at the mouth and tearing down statues.

Hopefully such thrashings are the final spasms of a dying beast. Likely it is wisest to resist getting dragged down to their level and brawling, especially as some of us are getting too old for such fun. However it is not wise to back away from a bully. Instead confront them with the Truth they do not want to hear, quietly and kindly and with steadfast persistence.

One person who has been good at persisting is Susan Crockford at her “Polar Bear Science” site. She has been terribly smeared and bad-mouthed, but simply states the scientific numbers about polar bear populations increasing. Her summary of how the “consensus” is incorrect, and how it is downright hysterical at times, can be found here:

Part of the politically-correct narrative is to portray polar bears as thin and starving, helpless and meek. Susan calls pictures of emaciated elderly bears “polar bear porn”, explaining polar bears are at the top of the food chain, and starvation is a common form of death for ancient bears. However hungry, lean bears, filmed to tug on viewer’s heart-strings, sometimes fail to be properly meek and pitiful.

Another who has persistently stressed Truth, as opposed to “The Narrative”, is Tony Heller at Real Science. He is very good at pointing out the discrepancies between the raw data as it was actually collected, and the “adjusted data” which largely erases the blazing heat of the Dust Bowl years. Also he points out much conveniently-forgotten history regarding times of low sea-ice in the past. Recently he has focused on how the “consensus” is attempting to censor dissidents, (including himself.)

It is sad that so many are blinded by the politics, for an interesting summer is developing on the Arctic Sea. I was not surprised by the swift melt towards Eurasia, as much of its winter’s ice was blown to the Canadian Side. However I confess surprise at the melt north of Bering Strait, for the PDO seemed to be trending towards its “cold” phase during the winter. The abrupt reappearance of the “hot spot” south of Alaska caught me off guard. In any case both the “extent” and “volume” graphs are at record low levels for early July, which seldom means much by September, but should make Alarmists happy. It is what they should be focusing on, rather than toppling statues.

What will be interesting to now watch is whether the melt slows, for most of the unusually thin ice has melted, and now the melt is reaching the thicker, piled-up ice, which is always difficult to measure in terms of volume. I can’t recall ever seeing so little sea-ice in the Kara Sea at the same time so much remains in Barents Sea and around Svalbard. Usually the situation is reversed. Also, north of Fram Strait, the Polarstern and MOSAiC expedition is drifting west rather than south, which suggests that (for the moment) the sea-ice is staying up in the Arctic rather than being flushed south.

For a while there were some weak manifestations of “Ralph” (Anomalous Low Pressure) at the Pole, but now high pressure rules. The spring and early summer has been less stormy than usual, with lots of sunshine and with the typical light fogs that form when mild air touches snow. Temperatures all over the Pole are currently above freezing nearly everywhere, which is typical for July.

However these above-freezing temperatures have averaged just a hair below normal, which we can perhaps blame on the Quiet Sun.

Stay Tuned.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –High Summer–

This is an amazing time at the Pole, where it could become a very hot place. Despite the low angle of the sun, it is high enough to continually warm the ground beneath.

Imagine the sun rising in your neighborhood on a cool summer morning just to the point where it starts to warm a little, but then imagine it just stalls there. At first it wouldn’t warm much, but as hours passed the gradual warming would add up. Even though it didn’t get as high as it gets in your neighborhood at noon, it also wouldn’t sink and cool with another night. Persistence pays, for after twenty-four hours it would have heated more than your neighborhood’s sun does, on the same summer day. The simple fact the sun never sets at the Pole makes the Pole a place receiving more radiance than even the equator receives. For six months the sun never sets at the Pole, and just rolls around and around the horizon, heating and heating and heating. If there was any justice on this flipping planet, the Pole would get warmer than the equator, by July.

Here’s a little “solar insolation” chart that proves my point. The equator gets a steady 33 to 36 units of energy year round, but during the height of summer, (in July on the North Pole and in January on the South Pole), the poles are getting 45 units of energy. (North Pole summer is at the top-center.)

It seems to me that, if we insist upon freaking out about sea-ice and viruses and the color of skin, we really should be freaking out more about the Poles not getting as hot as they should. Surely, among the trillions of stars, there are millions of planets the size of ours, and tilted to an angle similar to ours, and I’ll bet they have the decency and self-respect to get hot at the Poles, and to send blazing hot warm-fronts southwards during the height of summer, and I’ll bet they look at us and say, “What a bunch of freaks!” (At the very least, it would explain why we Earthlings freak out about everything.)

The reason our Poles don’t warm like they should is because the south one is a vast plateau of ice nearly two miles high, and the north one is a sea clotted with ice. This tends to suggest our Creator was having a bit of fun when he made our abode. And I’m not going to begrudge the Maker a bit of fun. I imagine it’s no easy job creating a universe. If you have grievances, take them to Him. (He’ll likely ask you where you’ve been). But don’t come grousing to me. I’ve been trying to create the Great American Novel for decades, and seldom get past page six.

Another bit of fun our Creator had while messing about with our planet was to create mountains that don’t even have the decency to stay in the same place. Entire continents drift about like unemployed bureaucrats, and nothing but mischief can come of that. In the geological past conditions were so different that it actually was warm up at the Pole, and a jungle grew up there, with hippos in the pools. They must have been hippos with really big eyes, to see in the dark six months of the year. Hippos with a lot of hair to keep them warm in the winter, that they shed in the spring. But I digress.

The point I am trying to make is that it is perfectly normal for it to get warm at the Pole in the summer, but every blasted year some blithering reporter wets his pants about how ice is melting, or how it has gotten hot over the tundra.

I was actually reassured to see the BBC freaking out and getting hysterical in this manner. As a person who enjoys sea-ice, I was starting to feel a bit forgotten, the way acid rain and the ozone hole have been forgotten, as everyone rushed off to be alarmed by a flipping virus too puny to take on most any blokes but poor, old folk who are toeing the threshold of death’s door. It was good to see the BBC revert to a more traditional and conservative pack of complete claptrap, which I could relate to.

What bothers me is that I’m never fast enough, when it comes to exposing the claptrap as the pure pseudoscience it is. Other websites always beat me to the punch. Usually it is “WUWT” or “Real Climate Science”, but on this occasion it was “Not A Lot Of People Know That”. They just whipped out the old records to show the BBC was wrong, and temperatures up over 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) are not “unprecedented” on the Tundra, and therefore not all that “astonishing”.

Of course recorded history doesn’t impress hysterical Alarmists all that much. To them history is a statue to topple, a weed to rip from their lovely, lovely garden where you shoot all messengers. Rather than learning from mistakes, you shoot the honest fellow who tells you you’re mistaken. Maybe it doesn’t solve the problem, but at least you don’t have to hear about it. Instead you only hear the squeaking flattery of people kissing your….posterior.

This may make your posterior feel good in the short term, but in the long run it is sad. In his drooling dotage Mao had people so cowed they would only bring him reports of what a howling success his economic reforms were. In fact the opposite was true. Yet no one dared tell him so, and instead brought him falsified figures, showed him doctored photographs, and took him to carefully prepared villages where everyone spoke glowingly about how wise his reforms had proven to be, and Mao was so far gone he believed it all. Meanwhile, behind his back, the “Gang Of Four” he had chosen as his hand-picked successors faced a growing throng that wanted them…replaced. “You cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

The summer at the Pole is a short term event, only two months of the year. However it is seductive. One of the saddest tales I’ve heard, of adventurers on the ice, involved two chums who were so hypnotized by the warmth they neglected to put on the usual, protective, “dry-suit” garb, and were crossing a stretch of sunny ice in their long underwear, when the ice gave out, and they plunged into water chilled below the freezing point of fresh water. One of them set off their emergency signal, but when rescuers rushed to the scene in a helicopter all they found was a sled dog, running around an empty hole in the ice.

Truth can be a bugger, if you mock it. And one of the best ways we’ve found to avoid mocking Truth is to honor history. Don’t tear down statues; learn from them. If you don’t learn from mistakes you are doomed to repeat them.

It is for this reason I have studied all I can find about sea-ice, and the diaries and logs of those who have traveled where I have never been. It began because I enjoyed sailing, and enjoyed the exploits of fellows who dared amazing voyages in the north. My Skeptic side was born as I admired the Vikings, and immediately became aware Alarmists wanted to erase the Viking’s history. It did not fit their “narrative”, and indeed they wanted to entirely “erase the Medieval Warm Period.” They didn’t like the facts and figures the same way some don’t like statues, and want to topple them.

Back then they did not topple statues of Eric the Red and Lief Ericson, but what they did amounted to the same thing. They fudged and falsified data, attempting to make Greenland look warmer now than it was when the Norse could dig graves in what is now iron-hard permafrost, and Vikings could raise 100,000 sheep and goats where we now can’t raise ten, without imported fodder. What they were attempting was so obviously clap trap, and so like like burning the books of history, that I took a stand.

We are talking twenty years ago. Perhaps longer, but it was twenty years ago that Alarmist behavior first began to raise more than just a suspicion, on my part. I had actual evidence certain people were mocking the Truth.

At first people laughed at me, and called me silly and paranoid, but as the years have gone by it has become increasingly obvious some are mocking the Truth. Heck, twenty years ago no one talked about “Fake News”, but now it is practically a given. No longer is this a trivial disagreement about an obscure subject: Sea-ice in some far off place most of us will never see. Instead we may well be seeing things come to a head, and be midst the battle of our lives.

In some ways sea-ice is becoming irrelevant. Instead the focus is on abolishing the police. I don’t want to go there. Instead I’ll return to sea-ice for the same reason I originally went. I need an escape, and looking at sea-ice is like watching a cloud in the sky.

Not that I can ignore the BBC, and not that I can resist countering their Alarmist trivia with counter-trivia they are careful not to mention. For example, the North American (where I live) snow cover has been well above normal all year, and continues above normal even as it retreats north and fades away in the summer heat.

This trivia is worth blathering about because blindingly white snow-cover reflects sunshine, (and makes you wear sunglasses), and having extra reflective snow makes a mess of the BBC “albedo” arguments, which state that, because there is less ice and snow, more sunshine must be absorbed, which supposedly will overheat the planet.

Another bit of trivia involves Greenland’s icecap melting, which it does every summer, (at lower altitudes near the coasts), under the intense arctic sunshine. The BBC likes to show the amazing melt-water streams rushing to the sea, and to then fret about rising oceans, but this year mum’s the word, (so far). Why? Because the melt is retarded this year. In fact there have been two winter-like snows this June, adding rather than subtracting. In the brief time we’ve kept records, there has never been a storm in June that added over four Gt/Day to Greenland’s icecap. This year there has not been one, but two.

Like I said, this is trivia. It is a small part of our Creator’s amazing creativity, which involves so many variables it makes your head spin in awe. However, if the BBC is going to put on a white lab coat and raise an index finger with their trivia, it’s nice to counter-point with a raised finger of trivia that makes them look like imbeciles.

In the end what matters most is not trivia, but the Truth. Are you for it or against it?

In the last Civil War someone asked Abraham Lincoln if God was on the side of the Northern States, and he replied what really mattered was whether the northern states were on God’s side. The same is true today, as things take on some of the aspects of a Second Civil War. If you prefer the political correctness of Fake News, you do not stand by Truth, and cannot expect Truth to stand by you.

Meanwhile the clouds cruise by overhead unconcerned. The sea-ice is melting like it always does under the unending summer sun, at first at the periphery, but increasingly all over the place.

Under the endless sunshine three quarters of the ice melts every year, and this year is no different. There is less sea-ice during a warm AMO than during a cold AMO, as expected.

Temperatures climb up to two separate plateaus. The first is when temperatures reach the point where salt, which loses its power to melt ice below a certain temperature and blows around the Pole like dust in the wind, regains its power and start melting the ice again, sucking up a lot of heat in the process. (Think of the salt in the ice of an old fashioned ice-cream-maker, sucking the heat from the cream.) And the second is when the melting point of water is reached. Melting ice also sees a lot of heat sucked up, with available heat becoming latent heat during the phase-change from solid to liquid. Until the water becomes ice-free the water remains stuck at the freezing point, influencing the air just above it.

The temperatures at the Pole hover just above freezing due to all the sea-ice and ice-water, despite the nonstop sunshine. There is nothing new about thawing, slushy sea-ice in the summer. Here are the temperatures from 1958. The blue line represents the freezing point. Each summer the temperature is above freezing for roughly sixty days.

The most notable variable seems to be the effect of the AMO, which is hanging onto its “warm” phase, despite wavering down towards the “cold” phase at times last winter. It will be interesting to observe (God willing) the changes expected to occur when the switch becomes definite. It is forecast to happen during the next five years.

In the meantime the variable I like to watch is where the sea-ice is pushed by the wind. During the last year, despite a lack of big gales, there has been a steady push offshore from Eurasia, piling the mass against Canada and Greenland.

Barring major events, this situation will mean the Northeast Passage is likely to be passable while the Northwest Passage is likely to be impassable. Of course, the behavior of sea-ice is less predictable than the behavior of the BBC. The BBC will focus on how ice-free the water is along the coast of Eurasia, while failing to note that despite temperatures well above freezing and the sun remaining up at midnight, the sea off Barrow, Alaska remains clotted with ice.

The thicker sea-ice was also moved south towards Fram Strait, which initially sped up the drift of the MOSAiC expedition, but eventually made resupply a problem. It was difficult finding flat ice to land planes on, due to all the pressure ridges, and eventually it was decided to rev up their icebreaker Polarstern and sail down to Svalbard, resupply, and plow back to their original anchorage in the ice. This has proved difficult. First, they were delayed getting to Svalbard, as the ice was so thick that some days they didn’t move much farther than the ice drifted. They did finally extract themselves, resupply, and now are heading back north through the ice, but are now being slowed by the thicker ice again.

As they struggle north they are feeding my craving for views of the summer sea-ice. One thing interesting to see was how excited they were by a flipped berg with algae on the bottom. Of course, I pat myself on the back. I noted such things using the old floating North Pole Camera and the O-buoys, and though I couldn’t study the micro-critters to the degree they are, I published a post about how marvelous micro-critters are, on WUWT back in 2015.

It is good to see these young whippersnappers catching on. They are learning the algae on the ice-bottom is different from the open-water algae. Fascinating stuff!

I wish them well, up there in that splendid summer sun.

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –May Gale Blasts MOSAiC Expedition–

The past winter saw a surprising number of powerful lows cross Barents Sea into Kara Sea, with the north winds behind these gales pulling sea-ice south around Svalbard. The most recent gale took a more traditional route, hooking back west in a retrograde manner and passing right over Svalbard.

The MOSAiC Expedition, in the sea-ice about a third of the way to the Pole from Svalbard, experienced winds of 83 km/hr north of the gale, as the sea-ice accelerated from a nearly stationary drift to a drift  of over a kilometer an hour for a while. The bow-radar on the Polarstern showed a lead open and close, but not a great break-up of sea-ice. The sea-ice, which had been showing a slow drift southeast, was jerked west-southwest.

The MOSAiC Expedition, north of all the Barent Sea storms, has seen sea-ice in the Transpolar Drift move about twice as fast as usual. The hook to the southeast  was unusual, and perpendicular to the drift the Fram saw, New Years to Mayday, in 1896.

MOSAiC May 1 fsVIrgp

The recent jerk to the west-southwest is more in line with the Fram’s Track. It will be interesting to study the condition of the sea-ice, once the weather clears and the satellite view improves. Currently it looks like the gale tore the sea-ice from the north coast of Svalbard.

Svalbard May 13 Screenshot_2020-05-14 arctic io - Daily Satellite Images + Observations, 4-N90-E0(1)

What I wonder about is how much the sea-ice was compressed between Svalbard and the MOSAiC expedition. The Polarstern is suppose to head south towards Svalbard to be resupplied, and what they desire for such a journey is leads, and not pressure ridges.

There is an excellent video of part of the Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn”s trip south from the MOSAiC site to port, showing how it has to back up and then ram to get through even ordinary sea-ice, yet has a far easier time once it finds leads skimmed with baby-ice.

In all, the journey of the Kapitan Dranitsyn from the MOSAiC site to port took three and a half weeks. The ship made it about halfway back to port in the thick sea-ice, and then was met by the Russian icebreaker Admiral Makarov, that refueled it. I think it took four days to complete the refueling. They then proceeded to the edge of the sea-ice in Barents Sea, but had to wait before venturing out into the open water because a gale was raging and the seas were too high. (I guess icebreakers are not designed for ocean storms.) They had to wait a week for the waves to subside under fifteen feet, but the MOSAiC scientists aboard got to observe how sea-ice fractures under the duress of huge swells. When the gale subsided they rushed across Barents Sea and two days later safely arrived in Tromso. (Likely some of the scientists had further adventures getting back to their home countries through the travel-bans of the Pandemic.)

It will be interesting to see what the Polarstern experiences, heading south.

The storm brought milder air over the arctic sea, including the year’s first patch of above-freezing air north of the Laptev Sea.

DMI meanT_2020 290513

The sea-ice “extent graph” shows the typical decline for this time of recent years:AAA DMI 020513 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

Interestingly, the “volume” graph hasn’t fallen much, suggesting much of the sea-ice lost on the “extent” graph is baby-ice at the periphery, without much bulk to it.

DMI Volume 200513 Screenshot_2020-05-14 FullSize_CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20200513 png (PNG Image, 1337 × 1113 pixels)

Stay tuned.



ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Shift in the Drift–

Last post I talked about my yearning to see the Russian records of how the sea-ice drifted, in the cases of their 41 Arctic Ocean Bases, going all the way back to  1937, (as well as the 14 Barneo floating tourist-traps for the ober-wealthy, since 2002.).  Unfortunately such information is in some ways “top secret”, (in terms of industrial espionage, if not military). Because of this hidden record-keeping some shifts in the flow of sea-ice are described as “unprecedented” when in fact they have been seen before. The Russians themselves described two general flows of the sea-ice, translated as “circular” and “wash out”, yet the more political side of NOAA made a big deal of a change in the flow during the very-low-sea-ice year of 2012:

If that shift-in-the-drift was a sure sign of Global Warming, as certain Alarmists suggested when the above video was published in 2012, then surely the shift-in-the-drift away from that pattern to what we see now must refute Global Warming. Except it doesn’t. Alarmists either have very short attention spans, or have such overpowering confirmation-bias they’re blinded, or perhaps both.

The current drift is shown by the movement of the Polarstern and MOSAiC expedition, and is quite like the movement of Nansen’s ship “Fram” 130 years  earlier. (Blue line is the Fram after it was lodged in sea-ice).

This similarity is a little embarrassing for Alarmists, (especially when NOAA was stating currents had dramatically changed, only eight years ago). Fortunately for Alarmists, the Polarstern is moving much faster than the Fram did, and likely will cross a similar distance in perhaps only a third of the time it took the Fram. This can be used to suggest that the sea-ice is more “rotten” and that there is less of it, which may well be the case. (Although it may also be that the Polarstern is in the middle of the Transpolar Drift, while the Fram was closer to the Eurasian coast and may have been slowed by a counter-current which runs close to the coast.)

I tend to look about for other reasons the sea-ice may have been thicker in Nansen’s time. One thing that many have noticed is that the sun was “quieter” back then, if you look over the previous five decades. Nansen sailed the Fram at the end of sunspot cycle 13.

The very high sunspot totals (and low number of “spotless” days) of cycles 18 through 23 represent a time our Sun was quite energetic and pouring extra heat on the planet. Though we are now returning to quiet conditions, the arctic is currently still cooling from the warmer times which are called “The Modern Maximum”.  In Nansen’s day, however, the arctic was warming. In fact the high totals of “spotless days” before Nansen sailed are likely not as impressive as they look in the above graph, when you compare the above upward blip with the greater Dalton Minimum which preceded it, and the Dalton was preceded by the Maunder Minimum which is even more impressive. As measured by Carbon 14 in tree rings,  the energy of the “Modern Maximum” is especially impressive. (The graph below ends with the year 1950.)

I can’t help but wonder if Nansen and the Fram were sailing in an Arctic Ocean which “remembered” far colder times, whereas the MOSAiC scientists and the Polarstern are sailing in an Arctic Ocean which “remembers” warmer times, though those warmer times are now over.

Therefore I have a confirmation bias all my own. I am keeping a sharp look-out for changes which shift away from the lower ice-extents of the present to the higher extents of the past. For there can be little doubt the sun has gone quiet.

(Above from Joseph D’Leo’s blog on the Weatherbell Site.)

As my confirmation-bias looks for increases in sea-ice I often see the exact opposite of what I expect, because my thinking is too simplistic. Some of the ways the planet responds to a “quieter” sun are not what you would expect, and are counter-intuitive. Here are two I’ve mentioned in past posts:

First, you’d think less energy from the sun would make air colder and therefore drier, but instead the air gets warmer and moister, because the surface of the sea is warmer and more moisture evaporates. How can this be? I think this occurs because less energy from the sun also makes the winds less, and without strong Trade Winds the very cold waters can’t up-well along west-facing coasts as surface waters are blown off-shore. Therefore the first response to a “quiet” sun would be warmer seas (and El Ninos) and moister, milder air.  And Indeed the El Ninos have been strong and the La Ninos a bit feeble recently, and to this day the planet looks above normal at the equator.

However such warmth draws upon the bank account of the past, robbing from Peter to pay Paul, and there are indications that, in the Pacific, it is superficial, and is currently being eroded away from below:

Only when the cold water reaches the surface and a La Nina occurs is my bias confirmed.

Second, one would think a “quiet” sun would immediately create more sea-ice in the Arctic Sea, but in terms of an important component it creates less.

The captains of icebreakers in the arctic keep a sharp lookout for “biggy bergs”, which are different from sea-ice of the same size and thickness. When an icebreaker nudges against typical sea-ice seven feet thick the sea-ice is a conglomerate, made of a multitude of thinner slabs, and the bow of the icebreaker finds it easy to break apart the many smaller slabs. However when a seven feet thick section of ice has broken from a glacier, it is rock solid, and the icebreaker gets quite a jar, meeting a “biggie berg”, even if the icebreaker doesn’t sink like the Titanic.

What is interesting about “biggy bergs” is that they are more common when the arctic is warming, and are few and far between when the arctic is cooling. And every Alarmist knows why: Warming causes glaciers to calve more. When times get colder the glaciers stop calving, and extend out to sea more, in some cases becoming shelves of ice.

During the “Modern Maximum” some of the big shelves created by the “Maunder Minimum” broke off, creating handy platforms for the spy-vs-spy bases of Americans (for example “Fletcher’s Ice Island”) and Russians  (for example the basement of their base “NP 22”, which was occupied more than eight years.) However, besides these large “ice islands”, which are few and far between, there are a great many “biggy bergs” deposited into the arctic ocean from glaciers that face north, and whose calving ice is not swept south in Baffin Bay or south along the east coast of Greenland, and instead bobs about in the Arctic Ocean along with more ordinary, conglomerated sea-ice, which is formed yearly by winter cold.

To me it seems “biggy bergs” must have an influence on both “volume” and “extent” of sea-ice, and it seems counter intuitive to me that the colder it gets the less they are seen (because north-facing glaciers cease calving them as it gets colder).

There is a third counter-intuitive thing happening I haven’t yet been able to put my finger on. All I know is that once again my confirmation bias has been sat backwards onto its butt. It has to do with how fast the Polarstern has been progressing across the Pole, and what this means in terms of Svalbard. With so much sea-ice rushing towards Fram Strait, by April 1 sea-ice surrounded Svalbard to levels I’ve never before seen.

The build up of sea-ice around Svalbard is a little embarrassing for Alarmists, for a few years ago the situation was reversed, and south winds had pushed the sea-ice north of Svalbard even on its eastern side, which is relatively rare, and which Alarmists took to be a sign of Global Warming (and the doom of cute baby polar bears).  Now the sea-ice has returned with a vengeance, as have the highly adaptable bears (though hopefully the bears feel no vengeance).

Alarmists likely want to look away from Svalbard, but actually should take heart, for the “second lowest sea-ice extent evah”, in 2007, was achieved largely because a great deal of sea-ice was flushed south through Fram Stait. (Sea-ice south of Fram Strait is doomed to melt in southern waters).

(The site “Polar Bear Science” has a good post on the recent high sea-ice Svalbard situation here:)

Highest Svalbard sea ice since 1988 with Bear Island in the south surrounded

The problem with comparing the situation now with 2007 is that…well…it isn’t the same. That is what is troubling me, and I can’t quite put my finger upon.

Some things are similar: For example 2007 was also close to the minimum of a sunspot cycle, however 2007 was coming off a high maximum while we are now coming off one of the lowest maximums in the past 200 years. Also 2007 was at the heart of the “warm” AMO, while there are indicators suggesting we are now at the very end of the “warm” AMO.  Lastly, while Alarmists like to show decreasing sea-ice by starting their charts in the high sea-ice year of 1979, even their charts show things bottomed out around 2006-2007, and there has even been a slight rise, if you begin the “trend line” at that time rather than at 1979. For example, here is graph for extents in the month of March.

March 2020 average graph 1979-2020 NSIDC

You can’t help but notice the extent is now higher than 2006.

However what was most puzzling to me on April 1 was the sea-ice to the west of Svalbard. That should make any sea-ice geek quirk an eyebrow, for that area is nearly always free of sea-ice. That is where the Fram popped out into open water after crossing the Pole, 1893-1896, and that is where Willem Barentsz “discovered” Svalbard (Vikings likely were there earlier) in 1596. The water is usually open there because a northernmost tendril of the Gulf Stream, the West Spitsbergen Current, bounces off the coast of Norway and heads a little west of due north, entering the Arctic Sea on the east side of Fram Strait.  This current usually has a very impressive ability to melt sea-ice.  I have witnessed strong west winds push large masses of sea-ice across Fram Strait, and seen (in satellite photos) the entire mass of ice shrink and vanish in a few days. But this year hasn’t seen that. What the heck?

My guess is that the WSC (that is what we true geeks call the West Spitsbergen Current) has been cooled this year by the powerful storms we (last winter) saw not stall by Iceland (as is more ordinary) but remain huge into Barents Sea and even the Kara Sea. When such “Icelandic Lows” stay by Iceland, surges of mild air are brought north, sometimes all the way from the balmy Azores, on the storm’s east side. But, when the storms are displaced east, as they were this year, the same waters get north winds on the gale’s west side. This year we saw the waters that hold the WSC blasted by north winds gusting to hurricane force, with waves up to forty feet tall. Not only would this churn and chill the WSC, but it would physically transport the water at the very surface of the current in the wrong direction.

This moves us into an interesting topic, if you are a true geek, involving a sort of water budget.  It must be balanced. The water entering the Pole must be balanced by by water leaving the Pole. The WSC entering the Pole is more than matched by, on the far side of Fram Strait, the very cold EGC (East Greenland Current). More water leaves the Pole by sea than enters by sea, for evaporation is low due to sea-ice and cold temperatures, and much extra water enters via some of the world’s biggest rivers, as well as glaciers.

What is most fascinating is the fact various currents often (but not always) keep their identity as they travel around under the sea-ice. Water from the south tends to be saltier, but is made less salty as it melts sea-ice, yet can still be identified as a separate current.  Some currents dive beneath other currents, because the buoyancy of a current is determined by its salinity and its temperature, which are always changing. When waters are quiet, undisturbed by storms under ice, they can stratify into various layers, with each layer part of an identifiable current. Therefore the WSC, after passing through Fram Strait, forks into the Yerkmak and Svalbard branches, which can be traced all the way around the Pole until they exit as the RAC (Return Atlantic Current) which heads south in the middle of Fram Strait between the Colder and less salty  EGC heading south to the west and the milder and saltier WSC heading north to the east.

To make things either more interesting or more annoying, (depending on your temperament), is that, when you return the following year, things may have changed. For example, the WSC may have three other branches (perhaps more) besides the Yermak and Svalbard branches, but they are not seen every year.

In my humble opinion the study of such currents, and the way they change, is very important. Why? Because they set up certain areas of sea-surface-temperatures (such as the “warm blob” in the Pacific) which have been seen to have a major influence on the route taken by atmospheric jet-streams, which can determine things such as which-crops-are-wisest-to-plant-where.

One such change is the shift in the AMO from “warm” to “cold”, which we know little about because the last time it occurred satellites had barely been invented. It involves some major shifts-in-the-drifts which we will in many ways be seeing for the first time (by satellite, at least). The scant records we have from the past indicate the changes are major. For example, the prime fishing grounds for herring can shift hundreds of miles.

The above newspaper article from 1922 describes how swift and dramatic the change from a “cold” to “warm” AMO was around Svalbard, however it took more than a decade for the warming to start reaching the Russian coast and making the Northeast Passage more passable. (It was fortunate the sea-ice was still low when Hilter invaded Russia, for the British learned it was suicide to attempt to send Russia supplies via the arctic routes during the broad daylight of summer, and despite Stalin’s objections the British only dared do it in the darkness of arctic winter. Had sea-ice been more formidable then supplying Russia might have failed and Hitler might have succeeded.) But, to return to my point,  I assume the change back from “warm” to “cold” might also be swift and dramatic, and might also be first seen around Svalbard.

One major element of the shift-in-the-drift involves a simple fact: Cold water sinks. When the EGC brings cold water south along the east coast of Greenland it stays at the surface because the shallow continental shelf keeps it from sinking, and also to some degree by the fact less saline water is more bouyant than more-saline water, even if it is colder. However down around the latitude of Iceland the bottom falls, and so does much of the EGC.  In a manner that makes niagra falls look like a trickle, humongous amounts of cold water plunge to the ocean’s abyss, and seemingly such cold loses all ability to influence the surface.  But does it?

Allow me to subject you to a simple thought-experiment. Imagine a large box of water is plunged downwards. What will this do to waters at the surface, and what will this do to the waters beneath?

At the surface it is obvious that waters must rush in to replace the water that sinks. But what determines whether it will be warm water rushing up from the south, or cold water rushing down from the north?  History hints both have happened, and that what determines the flows of waters is as varied as what determines the flows of air on a surface weather map. But, on occasions when the flow of waters is increased from the north, the EGC transports south cold water that refuses to sink, called sea-ice. This sea-ice at the surface can change the temperature of sea-surface water hundreds of miles further to the south, changing air temperatures and the weather of lands downwind, and also causing more waters to chill and sink.

Beneath the sinking cold waters is the abyss, which we know little about. However we do know water can’t compress, and when water presses down from above the water beneath must move to make room. Some of this movement is explained by deep sea currents. However such currents are very slow, nor do they vary much. When a charge of bitter cold arctic air causes much more cold water to sink, the deep sea currents don’t speed up, (as far as I know, at this time.)  Therefore things are not adding up. When water presses down from above room must be made for it, but where is the room made?

Two ideas have occurred to me. One idea is that room is made by bulging the thermocline upwards, but this bulge would become a sort of wave moving away through the thermocline like the ripple from a splash, an undersea phenomenon which as far as I know is undocumented, but which, if it did exist, would have some effect when the wave hit a distant coast. A second idea is that, just as when you push a brake pedal an immediate effect is seen in rear brakes far from the actual pedal, when cold waters sink south of Fram Strait, an immediate up-welling effect might be seen in some place far away, because water can’t be compressed. I am well aware this second idea is outlandish, but is it as outlandish as this: (?)

Patient, hard-working scientists have mapped the slow currents of the abyss, and to some degree have mapped the undersea rivers which connect where waters sink and where up-welling brings deep waters back up. Yet none of these rivers ends at the biggest up-welling, off the coast of Peru, which is part and parcel of the switch from El Nino to La Nina.

Thermohaline circulation - Energy Education

Only recently have maps started to include a branch of the thermohaline circulation past the coast of Peru, but this shows a warm surface current and not the cold up-welling so vital to the creation of La Nina’s (and to the fisheries of Peru.)


The generally accepted idea is that the up-welling off the coast of Peru is caused by strong offshore Trade Winds blowing from South America westward into the Pacific. These winds blow the warm surface water towards Australia, which causes cold, nutrient-filled waters to be drawn up from the depths to replace the displaced surface water.  The problem with the idea is that the up-welling has a degree of independence from the wind. At times the up-welling can even occur before the increase in the Trade Winds, in which case the colder water appears to be causing the increase as much as the increase causing the colder waters. This has two effects. First, it makes El Ninos and La Ninas notoriously hard to forecast, and second, it allows madmen like myself to suggest that pushing water down in Fram Strait can cause water to up-well off the coast of Peru.

In any case the shift-in-the-drift off the coast of Peru has major repercussions, in terms of the world’s weather, just as the shift-in-the-drift in the North Atlantic associated with the switch of the AMO from “warm” to “cold” has major repercussions, in terms of the world’s weather. Such major repercussions are interconnected in ways we do not yet understand. Inquiring minds want to know. Scientists state “further study is needed”, holding out a cupped palm for money.

In my opinion the late Bill Gray’s desire for funding to better understand thermohaline circulation was intuitive genius, while Al Gore’s petty prevention of such funding was the initial travesty which has seen Global Warming politics befoul science. Money which could have been wisely used to further our understanding has been redirected to political hacks. Things important to study have been neglected to study the incidental. Not that I have anything against the study of polar bears, but bears can’t determine which crops to plant in Kansas, while the shift-in-the-drift can.

In order to redirect funding in unproductive ways, politicians always seem to need to invent a crisis, whether it be acid rain, or ozone holes, or global warming, or a corona virus pandemic. The problem is that when you are too unproductive you wind up broke.

End Rant.

In any case it will be interesting to watch the sea-ice in the North Atlantic as the winter gales die down and the quieter summer weather arrives. For five years now the two long-term measuring points of the Norwegan Current, which feeds into Barents Sea, have been noting a decline in water temperatures:

Sea-ice extent is within two standard deviations from normal, and high for recent years, though still low.

DMI 200424 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

Both the Kara and Laptev Seas have seen a lot of sea-ice exported north into the Central Arctic this winter, and thin baby-ice now skims them, so I expect a fair amount of Alarmist hoop-la to occur when they become ice-free this summer. This may be reflected in a plunge in the extent graph, as they melt. However the hoopla may then die down as the extent graph flattens, as other parts of the Arctic Ocean see sea-ice more stubborn. If the PDO remains in its “cold” phase it will be especially interesting to see if sea-ice remains stubborn north of Bering Strait.

The “volume” graph is currently very low for this time of year, likely due to the thin ice in the Laptev and Kara Seas, and also due to an incapacity inherent in measuring the volume of pressure ridges, which are numerous in the Central Arctic due to all the sea-ice transported north from the Kara and Laptev Seas. I expect the “volume” graphs to become more normal later in the summer, when pressure ridges tend to crumble and spread out, and be included more easily in the totals.

The MOSAiC expedition is now experiencing 24 hour daylight, and I am enjoying the pictures I crave, which have been sorely missed since the camera-buoys stopped being funded. The scientists are enjoying the one part of the world without corona virus, and witnessing first hand how very dynamic the sea-ice is. A large lead snapped the cables powering one of their remote station, forcing them to operate at a reduced capacity with generators for around three weeks until they were able to lay a new cable.

MOSAiC lead Screenshot_2020-04-23 MOSAiC(1)

Other leads have opened and crushed shut again, forming pressure ridges.

MOSAiC Pressure ridge 4-20 Screenshot_2020-04-23 MOSAiC(2)

MOSAiC Pressure Ridge 4-16 Screenshot_2020-04-23 MOSAiC

Some of the things they are studying are fascinating, such as the biology under the ice. Other studies seem based on the Global Warming narrative, and make me want to roll my eyes. (I will bite my tongue, regarding measuring the nearly non-existant amounts of nitrous oxide exuded by the Arctic Ocean.) (Of course, data is data, and when I was young I would have counted the number of leaves on a tree, if it let me avoid getting a Real Job.)

What really interests me is the shift-in-the-drift, but things do get more tranquil in the summer, and the currents slow down. (The WSC north through Fram Strait nearly halts at times.) While the Polarstern had been making steady progress towards Fram Strait, it recently experienced a bit of “wrong way” drift.

MOSAIC wrong way Screenshot_2020-04-23 MOSAiC(3)


This expedition is experiencing some interesting resupply problems they are not talking about, due to the rest of the world going crazy due to the Corona Virus. If they dawdle too much, getting down to Fram Strait, their story could get interesting.

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barneo Put On Ice–

The Corona Virus has taken another victim, as around March 15 the yearly Barneo polar-tourism event was cancelled.  Though the cancellation was necessary, it is a pity, for I enjoy the Russian’s attitude concerning sea-ice. They have about a million times the experience of the shallower Alarmists, who merely parrot the “settled science” which they have been gullible enough to accept as a talking-points. Where Alarmists have but dogmas, the Russians have actual experience. After all, the Russians have been landing aircraft on sea-ice since the 1930’s, and built their first Barneo-like base by the North Pole in 1937.


We are talking 72 years worth of experience, largely ignored by Alarmists, (and also are describing a great improvement in the sort of aircraft that the Russians land on the sea-ice with).

Russian aircraft Barneo 2018 barneo_0

I must appear to dislike modern streamlining and other improvements, when I confess I sort of liked the old Russian bombers, which could carry their own fighter-bombers tucked like chicks under each wing:

Russian Tupolev_TB-3

The Russians had their own way of doing things, and it is interesting how their paratroopers exited their old bombers:

Russian Paratroopers_jumping_from_Tupolev_TB-3

Although these ungainly-looking bombers look odd to us now, back in the day they set records for climbing to various altitudes lugging various weights, and also set the record (for that time) in terms of the duration of a flight, able to fly roughly eighteen hours without refueling (likely with additional fuel tanks). This allowed them to keep their bombers at airports a safe distance behind the battle-lines, as Hitler’s surprise attack sent the Russians reeling in retreat, and yet to still shock Hitler by bombing  Berlin at night as early as 1941. Although very vulnerable in daylight, these ungainly bombers helped Russia withstand the German onslaught, able to even move tanks if need be.

Russia had to know a lot about arctic conditions in order to be resupplied during World War Two, both by the British via convoys through Barents Sea, and by Americans via airlifts up through Canada, Alaska and then along the entire Siberian coastline. One character who stands out, in terms of such arctic knowledge, was Mark Shevelev, a pilot who somehow managed to skate through Stalin’s paranoid reign without winding up purged, (despite having Jewish parents), eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant-general and passing away in 1991 at the ripe old age of 86. He likely possessed more knowledge about sea-ice in his little finger than Greenpeace holds in its entire collection of thick skulls.

Полярный летчик Шевелев

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.or/w/index.php?curid=62460887

Unfortunately much of this knowledge is not easily accessible.

Before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990 Russia created a total of 31 bases drifting on sea-ice, each one gathering data, and each one having a beginning and end, and a path across the arctic, but the only actual drift-map I have found is from the first one in 1937:

Russia first base drift

A list of the bases, (including the Russian post-Soviet-Union bases which restarted such such exploration, after a fifteen year pause), can be found here:

One of the main reasons such bases were funded (the United States had a few, the chief being “Fletcher’s Ice Island” [“T-3”]), was because the two sides wanted to keep an eye on each other’s submarines during the Cold War, and consequently they also kept an eye one each other’s ice-floe bases, with much of the information kept top secret. There are all sorts of tales of submarines playing hide and seek under the ice, and one of the coolest tales to come out of that time (1962) was “Operation Coldfeet”, wherein a Russian sea-ice-base failed to disintegrate after it was abandoned, and Americans parachuted down to the sea-ice to investigate the abandoned base. This presented the investigators with a bit of a problem: How the heck to retrieve the men (and evidence) when there was no flat ice nearby large enough to land a plane upon. The answer was to snatch the men up from the ground using a moving plane, and this adventure was the first time “Sky Hook” was used.

I’m surprised that the people being rescued were not killed by whiplash, but perhaps the arrangement had some give, like a bungee cord. In any case the intelligence-gathering was a tremendous success, and a great deal was learned about the Russian’s ability to acoustically gather information about American submarines. (The fact a tremendous amount was also learned about sea-ice, during all these spy-vs-spy shenanigans, seems to have been a sort of side effect.)

My point is that we (and especially the Russians) are perfectly able to counter Alarmist contentions that the sea-ice is now at dreadfully low levels, “unprecedented” in human history. The Russians have data going back which allows them to see a decrease in sea-ice into the early 1950’s (which was fortuitous because winter convoys  through a conveniently ice-free Barents Sea kept Russia from perishing during the darkest days of World War Two) followed by an increase in sea-ice until around 1979, followed by the cycle decreasing again until now.

If one wonders why the Russians don’t counter the Alarmists with loud rebuttals, the answer may well be, “Never interrupt your rival when they are making a mistake.” The Russians want to take the lead in developing their arctic resources, (which Greenpeace frowns-at and calls “exploitation”),  and therefore Russia sees no great advantage in correcting the errors of their competitors. If others insist upon being politically-correct and scientifically-stupid, Russia will not be so rude as to interfere.

I personally prefer the Truth, and have posted all sorts of examples from history of open water at the Pole, even in March and May when sea-ice extents are high.

Submariene at Pole 1959 uss-skate-open-water

It is amazing how much obvious history Alarmists chose to be blind to, when they cling to their idea that we have never before seen sea-ice as thin as we now see at the Pole. For example, here is a newsreel from 1934 describing a schooner blithely sailing through an area where more modern-yachts were turned back, when attempting the Northwest passage, last summer.

Eventually one concludes (if one is me) that some Alarmists just don’t like history. When their psychiatrists ask them to remember their childhoods they likely respond, “What childhood?” This explains why they seem unable to resolve their psychological difficulties, chief of which is that they deny they have a problem and instead call me the “denier”. Theirs is a terrible state to be trapped in, and we actually should feel pity for these unfortunate people,  for all knowledge is based upon the foundation of those who came before us and who discovered things which they handed forward through the mists of time to us, but these poor Alarmists resent the past, blame it for every possible challenge the present presents us with, and think the best thing to do is to purge all history from all books and start from scratch, as if amnesia is intelligence. (End rant.)

In other words, on one hand data is suppressed due to the spy-vs.-spy skullduggery of political and industrial espionage, and on the other hand data is denied by the blind faith of political dogma (which often replaces the blind faith of religious belief, when priests have too obviously been greedy and lustful and have broken people’s religious faith.)

And then there is deplorable me. All I want is the data, so I can watch the sea-ice and wonder, and perhaps glimpse a pattern which perhaps repeats.

There is no particular magic involved in the forecasts which spring from observations. A child can do it. Just as when the sky gets dark and one hear grumbles of thunder, one becomes wary of a storm, one watches the sea-ice for certain indicators. And just as, when one hears grumbles of thunder, the storm may pass to the north or the south and not hit you, uncertainty is involved in sea-ice forecasts, but uncertainty shouldn’t lead to despair and the abandonment of all observations.

As the Corona Virus is forcing us to self-isolate, I think this might be a good time to do some digging, and see if we can learn more about the Soviet Union’s sea-ice bases. Although I grew up deeming Russians “the bad guys”, one has to admit some amazing men achieved some amazing things in the arctic, and a lot we know about the arctic came from their research. (For example, they discovered the submerged mountain range running across the bottom of the Arctic Sea.)

One thing which could be better understood through the examination of the Russian sea-ice bases is the drift of the sea-ice. Usually it is described as two main features, the Transpolar Drift and the Beaufort Gyre.

In actual fact the two features may swing through cycles where first one and then the other predominates. The Russian descriptions I have been able to find seem to suggest their sea-ice bases traveled one of two routes, one of which flushed the base down through Fram Strait, and the other which cycled the base around the Pole.

Just looking at the list of Russian bases I gave earlier, I note sometimes bases were abandoned surprisingly close to where they began, despite the passage of long periods of time, suggesting the Beaufort Gyre was displaced far from the Beaufort Sea, and the base described a circle on the Siberian side of the Pole. (Some bases were abandoned not because the sea-ice became untenable, but rather because they drifted too far from Russia and too close to Canada, which created resupply problems, if not political ones.)

One base of particular interest is Base NP 22, which drifted around for eight and a half years, from September 13, 1972 to April 8, 1981. This base lasted longer than any other base, and also was operational when sea-ice levels peaked in 1979. It would be interesting to learn what the sea-ice and the sea-ice-drift was like, at that time. Therefore, if you are stuck in a period of “self quarantine” or “social isolation” and would like to be helpful, search about the web and see if you can find anything about this expedition for me.

Even when things can’t be found in official histories, on official news sites, or on government search engines, it is amazing what people post on there personal sites or in places like Facebook. Some of the old-timers who were on those Russian NP bases are likely now old and garrulous geezers like I am, and perhaps they wrote memoirs. In any case, I’m  curious.

A few years back a Jet suffered a collapsed landing gear at the Barneo site and could not be repaired, and the usual suspects were accusing the Russians of polluting the Pristine Arctic by allowing the jet to just sink, when the sea-ice melted. The Russians responded in their usual manner; they do not dignify such accusations by even behaving as if they heard them. But I was curious, and started poking about, and found photographs which suggested the engines (at least) were valuable enough to save.

Barneo jet engine barneo-2q-image307244_74b1ce7f97f8b128f6a43f11d5797852

The humorous thing is that the images were not found in any official government disclaimer, but rather in the chatter of employees on Facebook pages. The Russian government could have defended itself, but seemed to feel that becoming defensive would be lowering itself.

Perhaps a certain element of egotism is involved. Governments have their dignity, and at times they refuse to stoop to answer inane questions. This seems especially true when the questions are nasty and accusatory.  At times “Fake News” is as much in the questions as it is in the answers, (which is something that formerly was not as apparent as President Trump has made it become). But attack-dog questioning  was always obvious to me, in the realm of arctic sea-ice, especially when the Russians faced questions by people who were known “activists”, such as Greenpeace. The very word “activist” is suggestive that a thing beyond mere curiosity is “active”, behind a reporter’s grilling.

In a better world we wouldn’t ask questions in the manner of a lawyer who is paid to arrive at a certain verdict. Rather we would ask questions because we wanted answers to things we didn’t understand. Sadly some seem to think they already know everything, and that “the science is settled”. When they raise their hands at a press conference it is like a proud child in a classroom, eager to show off an answer they already know, but not really interested in learning anything new. Rather than knowledgeable they look like know-it-alls, rather than conceiving they are blinded by preconception.

For example, imagine the conclusion an Alarmist would jump to, looking at the below picture of a prefab house at the Russian N.P.  36 base.

Russian NP 36 prefab house 800px-Sp_01

If you were an Alarmist you would take one look and, because everything is seen through the filter of Global Warming, (just as things look rosy to one wearing rose-colored glasses), everything looks alarming to an Alarmist. Some version of “Look how bad the melting is!” would be the first, and somewhat involuntary, utterance.

In actual fact those who live in wintry landscapes know that, even when the sun is low in December, one can find less harsh conditions out of the wind at the face of a south-facing cliff. The snow melts first at the base of a barn’s south wall (which is where farmers prefer to work, if they must work outside), but at the Pole in July every wall is south-facing, and rather than set the sun rolls around and around the horizon. Therefore every object sitting on the arctic snow has a tendency to wind up on a pedestal like a statue. For example, the DC-3 that crashed on Fletcher’s Ice Island was originally at the level of the snow:


But years later was elevated:

Fletcher's DC-3 2 t-3-picture-r4d-on-pillar-apr-62-t3

Simply by wandering from site to site, seeing as much of the Pole as I could from my armchair, I found my views of the Pole were altered, especially concerning what conditions are like during the height of summer. There is no “cool of the evening” because it never is evening, and the temperature seldom drops below freezing. (The slush on and around Fletcher’s Ice Island could be so deep the men stationed there wore hip-waders, back in the 1950’s). Consequently I’ve become less alarmed than Alarmists are, by signs of melting at the Pole in July.

In fact, I originally was drawn into the tussle with Alarmists due to a melt-water pool that appeared at the Pole in July, 2013:

Lake North Pole

This resulted in quite a hubbub among Alarmists. One article began, “If the image above doesn’t scare you about the effects of global warming, you must have ice water in your veins. That’s the North Pole — or at least that’s where the camera started its mission. It’s now a lake.” I attempted to soothe the above writer by pointing out it was just a melt-water pool, and would likely drain down through the ice when it found a crack, which was exactly what happened.NP July 28 npeo_cam2_20130728131212

The sad thing was that before I was proved correct my comment was deleted from the Alarmist site for being that of a “denier”. However here at this site I went from my usual 40 views a day to 700. That was my introduction to the wonderful world of sea-ice politics:

When I reread the above post from July, 2013, I am struck by my own ignorance. I’ve learned a lot since then, simply following the principle of “curious minds want to know.” But back at the time what I was struck by was the fact that Alarmists didn’t even know melt-water pools would drain down through the sea-ice, but still could look down their noses at me as if I was the ignorant one.

Sad. But the fact some put appearing knowledgeable over actually knowing shouldn’t be allowed to stop us from learning a little more, and here’s what I’m curious about:

The Russians talked about two distinct flows in the arctic, one flushing sea-ice down through Fram Strait and one cycling sea-ice around the Pole. This past winter seems like a flusher. The Polarstern, holding the MOSAiC expedition, (and its associated buoys) has been making good progress down towards Fram Strait.

I notice this path is similar to the route shown taken by the first Russian N.P. expedition in 1937. The men on that expedition were picked up by icebreakers in Fram Strait, and delivered back to Russia aboard the icebreaker Yermak, built in 1898.

File:Yermak icebreaker.jpg

Russia still picks up its sea-ice expedition crews using icebreakers. Here are the crew of N.P. 36 being retrieved:

So who do you suppose we should go to, to learn about icebreakers, or about sea-ice? Greenpeace, or the Russians? Not that I’d be inclined to go to the Russians for advice on other topics, but in terms of sea-ice, the Russians rule and Greenpeace drools.

If I could, I’d go to them hat in hand and be very respectful, asking for more information about the past. I have my hunches that the discharge of ice into the Atlantic may have something to do with how the AMO switches from its “warm” phase to its “cold” phase, which has implications for farmers and fishermen further south, but that will have to wait until a future post, (if the Corona Virus doesn’t get me first).

Stay tuned.


Some people seem to have forgotten that sea-ice is dreadfully important, according to Alarmists. The fate of the world is determined by icebergs in the arctic, but instead everyone is in a tizzy about some piffling virus down south that will be here today and gone tomorrow. But fear not, for your courageous correspondent will not allow such distractions to swerve his piercing concentration from what truly matters: Sea-ice.

Or…well…as an ex-smoker with compromised lungs, perhaps I do wonder, just a bit, if the virus might be the end of my world, but, if so, the rest of the world will do just fine without me, and like the old song goes, “there’ll be one child born to carry on.”

In the meantime I refuse to dwell on morbid stuff, and prefer the antidote, which is Truth. I’ve decided the poet John Keats was more right than he could have known, at age twenty-four, when he wrote, “Beauty is truth; truth beauty”.

When I originally entered the discussion, concerning sea-ice, it was due to the fact the wonders of the web allowed me to visit the arctic in July, via the North Pole Camera, and besides making my hot days feel cooler, I was was ravished by the sheer beauty of the vistas revealed. However, clashing with this loveliness was what has come to be called “Fake News.” Back then it was called “The Consensus”,  and “they” were outraged whenever I pointed out what the North Pole Camera made quite obvious: The sea-ice was not in a “death spiral”.

Fifteen years have past, and the quivering indignation of the politically-correct has gotten old and stale (to me at least). It is quite obvious that they care, and care deeply, but it is also obvious they do not care about the Truth. Therefore, if the Real does not matter, they must live in an odd state of unreality, swooning over shadows when not running after rainbows. As a poet, I always thought I was the hopeless romantic, but the politically-correct make me look like a rank amateur,  when it comes to waltzing about in the wonder-world of an opium eater.

In fact, though I never thought I’d see the day I’d say this, poets and true scientists are brothers, for both are in love with the Truth. And they both have come to recognize they are disliked by the politically-correct.

Considering a virus from China, with an IQ of .00001, might snuff out my brilliance in a matter of 36 hours, if I happened to inhale it, I am not inclined towards being patient any longer with the politically-correct. Fifteen years is long enough. If those bozos don’t get it by now, then I fear their cases are hopeless. In some way, shape or form they are addicts, who would sell their grandmother’s false teeth for their next fix, even if their next fix is not heroin, but rather some politically-correct desire such as power, or money, or fame, or sex, or not having to work a Real Job. They have stepped beyond being merely ignorant, and have become actively opposed to Truth.

I think it is hard on the American psyche to deem any man so opposed to Truth that they are in effect an anti-Christ. Americans respect differing views, and the two-party-system is a way of making differing views work together and to, through compromise, make  something better than either side is able to achieve alone. It is like two eyes, on either side of a nose, creating a depth perception neither eye owns. However for such a system to work Truth must rule. Both sides must be honest about what their views are, bring forward honest facts, and treat the loyal opposition with dignity.

“Fake News” involves none of that. Truth is disregarded. Rather than the opposition being treated as loyal, and with dignity, they are wished dead. Rather than principles of love the ruler is, (and there is no way to say this kindly), anti-love, and anti-Truth, and therefore by definition the anti-Christ.

I think the American public has been slow to wake up to the monstrous dishonesty of what they have been dealing with. They have been dealing all along with a cyclops, who cares not at all for any view but his own, and who is only interested in pretending to support “diversity” as a way of gaining power, planning on then crushing diverse views because they are seen as opposing views. But Americans, with kindness and generosity, would never call the person they are debating anything so rude as the anti-Christ. They can’t imagine a neighbor could be opposed to the very foundations of American liberty-of-views.  At times they’d deem even a rabid dog a “differing perspective”. Only recently has it started to occur to many, “These people don’t care about my views; they want me gone.” Often this wake-up-call hits home as they realize, when watching Fake News, “These people don’t care a hoot about Truth.”

At the risk of sounding like one of those people who says, “I told you so”, I must remind you that more than a decade and a half ago I told you so. We who like the subject of sea-ice have been dealing with the happy horseshit of politically-correct Alarmists since our hair was still brown. We have been abused, and abused, and abused, on and on and on, and all for what? For telling the Truth.

Therefore, while others are just waking up to the horrid and disgusting falsity involved in “Fake News”, to lovers-of-the-Truth-about-sea-ice, such falsity is old hat. To some degree sea-ice lovers are jaded. If I die in thirty-six hours, strangled by own phlegm, it will be in the knowledge I fought the good fight, and that we would not be in the mess we are in had anyone heeded what I warned about, fifteen years ago. You other folk, who stood idly by as things went from bad to worse, will have to carry on without me.

Big deal. My death will not stop the spring from coming. Truth is almighty. The daffodils will bloom and honking geese will come north without needing my directions as a traffic cop. Truth is infinitely bigger than I am, and also infinitely bigger than the politically-correct, and will overpower and outlast both of us.

The preacher Andy Stanley tells a good tale, imagining what Saint Peter thought as he took his last look around Rome as he was led off to be martyred. He must have wondered if he had made the slightest difference, by standing by Truth. What he couldn’t see was that the Coliseum would someday be in ruins, but a massive cathedral would arise and be called “Saint Peters”, even as “Caesar” became a name given to dogs.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic I’ll say that I sometimes see the skepticism of True Scientists as a sort of modern day martyrdom. It is not as bloody and physically cruel as martyrdom was in the time of Rome, but it may in some ways be more painful, for it tends to be a psychological martyrdom. And at times I’m sure such thinkers look around as Saint Peter once did, and wonder if they have made the slightest difference. I say they have, for if they stand by Truth they stand by That which wins in the end.

However I’m becoming morbid, and I said I wasn’t going to do that.

Therefore, because I may not be dead in thirty-six hours, I’ll just do what I did when I started these sea-ice posts, all those years ago. I’ll just sit back and observe the sea-ice.  It is a beautiful part of the world, and observing such beauty is to observe a certain Truth, whether you are a scientist or a poet. The fact the politically-correct get irate when you speak what you see only demonstrates that they are psychologically troubled individuals.

Before I move on from the absurdity of politics to what is actually happening at the Pole, allow me to share an example of a time simply observing-reality got me in trouble.

Years ago there used to be cameras floating about the Pole, sending us pictures of what was actually occurring on the surface. There were also satellites miles overhead estimating conditions at the surface. At some point the satellites were stating temperatures at the surface were well above freezing, but I noticed the cameras showed the melt-water pools on the sea-ice were skimming over with ice, and snow flurries were drifting snow over that skim of ice, and therefore I suggested the satellites might need to be re-calibrated.  Lord Oh Lord! Did the politically-correct ever scold me! How dare I!? I must be a “science denier”, to question the satellites!

Now, years later, a bunch of genuine scientists are drifting on a “MOSAiC” ship up by the Pole, and one thing they have “discovered” is that there is an astonishing difference between temperatures at the surface, and temperatures measured by weather balloons only a few meters above the surface. Temperatures at the surface are much colder.

Well, Du-u-uh! I could see that years ago, which was why I suggested satellites should be re-calibrated. But where I earned scorn, the MOSAiC scientists may win a Nobel Prize. Now I ask you: Is that fair?

It does not always pay to be ahead of your time. Ask Alfred Wegener, who suggested continents drifted, fifty years before it became politically and geologically correct to say so. Wegener (and others like him) is (and are) proof the politically-correct are actually backwards, and are therefore silly when they describe themselves as “progressive”. The Truth is: The most progressive thing already exists, and awaits us giving up on our saddles on high horses of status and popularity, and instead dismounting and walking on the grounded firmness of facts, of Truth.

That being said, I will depart from my preachy, high-horse lectern, and instead will practice what I preach by walking the beauty of what actually is going on up there at the Pole.

This time of year is when the daylight breaks on the northernmost sea-ice, and the sun then refuses to set for six solid months. You might think, under such non-stop sunlight, the sea-ice would immediately start to get thinner. People get this impression looking at the “extent” graph beginning its yearly decent in  March:

DMI extent 200331 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

In actual fact the initial decrease in the “extent” occurs far from the Pole, in places off the edge of arctic maps like the Sea of Okhotsk or the Saint Lawrence Seaway.  At the Pole the ice keeps right on getting thicker, sometimes even after air temperatures at the upper surface touch freezing.

How is this possible? It occurs because the ice does not thicken at the top (unless you count the meager snowfall) but rather at the bottom. All that is needed to thicken the bottom is for the water against the ice to give up its heat to ice slightly colder than the freezing point of salt water, (which varies depending on the salinity of the water, but tend to be around -1.7º Celsius, or 29º Fahrenheit). And during the coldest part of winter, the ice at the top may be forty below, the ice three feet down twenty below, and the ice next to the water at -1.7º Celsius.  In May, just because the surface has warmed does not make the ice three feet down immediately warmer; it still is at twenty below, and therefore the ice beneath it still behaves as if it is winter, and keeps getting thicker.

The process of melting the sea-ice therefore involves warming the core of the ice, which is three feet down. Not only the must the water beneath the ice lose its heat upwards, but the air above the ice must lose its heat downwards. It takes time to erase a sort of memory-of-winter that lives in the ice, and for a long time the sun can shine brilliantly without seeming to have any effect. Even when the snow starts to wilt and the first melt-water appear as slushy darkness on the surface (usually in late May or early June) it can remain well below freezing three feet down.

Another interesting and highly complex dynamic involves the fact that salt has no power to melt ice below temperatures of -21ºC (-6ºF), but increasing power as the temperature increases. At +1ºF a pound of salt will melt 4 pounds of ice; at +20ºF it will melt 6 pounds of ice, and at +30ºF the same pound will melt 46 pounds of ice. This creates fascinating and complex dynamics, first as the ice gets colder and then later as the ice gets warmer. (Don’t ask me to explain it all because I can’t.) In the end the salt tends to be exuded from some of the ice, becoming brine, as temperatures cool. Lots of this brine bores down through the sea-ice, but some at the surface gets stranded and finally exists as a fine powder, as the water sublimates away in the dry atmosphere. Below temperatures of -6ºF salt blows around with drifting snow without having any effect, and when temperatures are a little above -6º the salt melts just enough to make the drifting snow into a crisp, hard surface (which has some name I can’t remember at the moment). In any case there is more salt than one would expect at the surface, (and also in the atmosphere right up to the stratosphere, contributing to ozone holes because the salt holds traces of iodine and bromine.) This salt caused great consternation among early arctic explorers, for they thought their supply of drinking water could come from the sea-ice, but at times the ice was too salty to drink. (They learned to look for “old ice”, which was largely salt free.) But we don’t need to drink the water, so what interests us this time of year is the change between ice at 20ºF and 30ºF, when the salt goes from melting six times its weight in ice to 46 times its weight. And if that isn’t complex enough for you, entertain your mind with the fact that using salt to melt ice makes temperatures colder (think of an old fashioned ice-cream-maker.)

If you look back through my old posts, and especially the comments, you will see the topic of salt discussed as far back as 2012 by people far smarter than I am. You would think Alarmists would be interested, as it seems obvious salt melts ice, and Alarmists are big on the topic of ice melting. A few were indeed interested, but they tended to become Skeptics as they learned the devil is in the details. Other Alarmists didn’t want to hear about the details, for they were only interested in the narrative, “The sea-ice is in a Death Spiral”, and if you brought up details it meant you were a “science denier”, for “the science was settled”. (This is not scientific thought, but it did teach me about how “Fake News” is created.)

Considering we’ve been discussing things like salt, and the time it takes to warm the ice three feet down, for eight years, it is just a little annoying that some of the scientists aboard the MOSAiC expedition are walking about with their index fingers poking up in an Eureka manner, saying stuff we wondered about eight years ago. However the point should be made that, while we were sitting on our duffs squinting at images from a camera on a buoy, they have actually gone up there in the dead of winter, and are gathering actual data. In effect they are the buoy, and they are the camera, and they are gathering all sorts of data I never even considered. I am happy for them, and their excitement.

I thought it would be fun to go through a month worth of maps, (keeping in mind that a bit below the Pole, towards Svalbard, is the MOSAiC crew).

When I last posted maps a very zonal flow had kept cold concentrated at the Pole, as milder air from the south wrapped around the edges of the cold, from west to east.  After a single feeder-band brought the Pole its warmest (but still well below freezing) temperatures of the winter, temperatures had crashed to the coldest of the winter.  Meanwhile what I called a “spear” of milder temperatures had moved west to east along the Eurasian coast.

What was interesting about the following week was how that “spear” of milder air along the Eurasian coast chilled. In the temperature maps you can see the green isotherm areas fade and turn blue. This demonstrates that even though the sunlight has returned and is pressing towards the Pole, in early March, the days are still too short and the sun is too low to prevent heat from being lost to outer space.

After a week the high pressure at the Pole, a sort of center of the Polar Cell, is being squeezed out and eroded, and we seem to be getting back to a pattern seen earlier in the winter, where low pressure dominates from the North Atlantic to along the Eurasian coast, while high pressure dominates from Bering Strait to the Canadian Archipelago. If the center of the Polar Cell exists at all, it has swung from Bering Strait nearly to Hudson Bay. The low pressure around the periphery has reverted to the Atlantic side, but the lows are shadows of the massive storms we saw earlier in the winter.

Around March 9 we again see the oddity of this winter. Other winters lows seemed to weaken as they left the North Atlantic and were starved for warmth and moisture, but this winter we have seen storms of surprising strength in Barents and Kara Seas. Above we see a weak low probing towards the Pole from the Kara Sea, and following lows entering Kara Sea, bringing up a feeder-band of milder air. The two are about to combine and cause a ruckus. Watch how the isobars tighten over the location of the MOSAiC expedition, intensified by a high pressure being pumped up over the Canadian Archipelago. An Aleutian low gets sucked north over east Siberia to weakly enter the mix.

If you look at how tight the isobars are in the above map, you can understand things might have been less than comfortable for the scientists working in the MOSAiC expedition. Notice how, though the storm (now a borderline “Ralph” (anomalous area of low pressure at the Pole)) has drawn a feeder band north, that milder air isn’t reaching the MOSAiC crew. They have been experiencing extreme cold for a long time, yet the ice around their ship starts cracking up.

MOSAiC first crack Screenshot 2020-03-13 at 18.19.22

For some of the scientists the opening of this lead was a fortuitous event, for they wished to study something I’d never consider: The amount of greenhouse gasses that escape from the ocean into the atmosphere via open water at the Pole. They could measure the amount of CO2 and methane without needing to trudge and tempt hungry polar bears, seeking open water. They didn’t have to even leave their ship. And surely such data is interesting, in it’s way. (Not to me, much, but likely to others.)

However the fact the sea-ice began breaking up around the ship, despite temperatures being below normal, also awoke other scientists to something bumpkins like myself understood years ago: Open water at the Pole can occur even in the coldest conditions, if the winds are right. This was known by Navy captains aboard submarines under the ice way back in the 1950’s. But it is nice to see what was Truth then is still Truth now, and that young whippersnappers are still able to raise an index finger, say Eureka, and see the Truth.

However, as delightful as science is, some aboard the ship must attend to more banal subjects, such as survival, and the stressing and crack-up of the sea-ice did not make life easy for such people. Nor did a thing called, “The Corona Virus”, occurring to the south.

The crack-up of the sea-ice complicated matters, for the next delivery of supplies was planned to be by air, with aircraft landing on a nice blue-ice airstrip on a nice plate of sea-ice, but the stormy weather cracked the ice. So of course those in charge of logistics made plans to fix the airstrip by extending one side of the broken floe’s rump-of-an-airstrip, and they were busily at work when they heard maybe the idea of delivering by air was a bad idea, because some involved in the flights “tested positive”, and it might be a bad idea to introduce the Corona Virus to the Polarstern and MOSAiC expedition. Instead it might be wise to drift down to Fram Strait with the supplies they had, and be helped down  there by an icebreaker, if need be. And after that a silence descended, concerning logistics, I suppose because the slightest hint the expedition was being tested or in trouble might result in sensationalist headlines. Such attention would be quite the bother, when you want to gather data about methane escaping through cracks in the Arctic Sea.

I suspect there is very cool story involved, for when you compare the above picture with the picture below, you just know the ice has been through a commotion.

MOSAiC later cracks imageedit_3_7297760318

The scientists aboard the ship have seen first hand how, even at very low temperatures, open water can appear. They have also witnessed how swiftly such water freezes over, and how the sides of such leads then can clap together and form pressure ridges. Air temperature matters little, concerning sea-ice, for what is here today can be gone tomorrow. Open water can appear and then disappear in the blink of an eye. (View from MOSAiC radar.)

MOSAiC open and shut Radar_Animation_Polarstern_seaiceportal(20200315_20200323)-crop-clahe

Of course bumpkins like myself knew about all this years ago, using data gathered by our lying eyes from much, much cheaper cameras on much, much cheaper buoys, but I will confess it is good to get some affirmation from people who have actually gone up there and put their lives on the line, and don’t just sit on fossilized duffs gazing at computer screens like I do (when my wife lets me).

I confess I worry just a bit about those men and women up there, but I am glad I don’t have to set up equipment connected by cables in minus fifty windchill, only to see cables snapped by some dumb lead. Instead I merely concern myself with whether the sea-ice is moving that cast of characters towards escape in Fram Strait, lickity-split. And so far, so good.

(See drift of buoys associated with MOSAiC at end of post.)

Speaking as a poet and not a scientist, one thing I noticed when I was young and foolhardy,  and went to sea and found myself in over my head, is that I escaped with my life. At times I could take no credit for my escapes, and had the sense kindly guardian angels watched over me. (Either that, or a man born to be hung cannot drown.) I get the same sense watching the isobars in the maps below. Perhaps it is merely the arctic cooling the North Atlantic as the AMO shifts from a “warm” phase to a “cold” phase, but it is handy if you are in an ice-bound boat up there, and want to be blown down to Fram Strait. I’ve watched the drift of ice up there a lot over the years, and often noticed “wrong way” flows where the sea-ice is bottled up and prevented from moving to Fram Strait, but this year the Trans Polar Drift seems especially accelerated, which may turn out to be good news for the fellows aboard the Polarstern.

I’m not going to comment on the maps much, except to note you can see the storms prefer the Eurasian side, and also see air from the south swirled and cooled as it heads towards the Pole, but the Pole start its yearly warm-up.



The Pole continues to lose more heat than it gains until mid May, roughly a month before the solstice. In the winter it can only gain heat from south winds and the water under the ice, but now the addition of sunshine, riding ever higher in the sky, tips the energy-balance toward a point where, for roughly sixty days, the North Pole actually gives the planet more heat than it loses. (If it were a flat, dry desert it would become baking hot, but fortunately our Creator designed a nifty refrigeration system up there.)

DMI meanT_2020 200401

Don’t get April-fooled, and stay tuned.

UPDATE: Below see drift of buoys associated with MOSAiC expedition down towards Fram Strait.


ARCTIC SEA ICE –Icebreaker Rescued–

The Kapitan Dranitsyn left the MOSAiC ice floe with the team of leg 2 on 4 March and met Admiral Makarov at 84°48′ North and 42°35′ East on Saturday, 14 March. (Photo Credit Steffen Graupner)

This episode is interesting because it demonstrates the sea-ice is thicker than exspected up towards the Pole. The Kapitan Dranitsyn, in successfully resupplying the MOSAiC expedition, was forced to plow through thick sea-ice at times, seeking the thinner refrozen leads, and consumed far more fuel than expected. It did not have enough fuel to plow its way back to Russia. (One does not want the gas gauge too close to empty, up on the Arctic Sea, for the fuel must be used for heating as well as powering the engines. At some point one must chose between powering forward and avoiding freezing to death.)

When it became apparent Kapitan Dranitsyn did not have enough fuel to make it back the Admiral Makarov was sent north to refuel it. After the ships met refueling took three days. I am curious how they handle diesel at temperatures when it tends to jell, (and it becomes obvious why the Russians turned to nuclear powered icebreakers.)

Rather than poking fun at the Russian’s struggles with the especially thick ice and especially cold temperatures, I tend to marvel that they can travel through the Arctic Sea in the dead of winter. The United States has no such ships nor such experience. I’m not sure of the state of the “Space Race”, but Russia is winning the Ice Race.

The MOSAiC site was hit by strong winds from another big storm in Barents Sea, and a lead formed that intersected the ship.

This crack should be handy, for they have been trying to study the gases released from the water in such leads, which involved dangerous hikes far from the ship. Now they hardly have to leave the Polarstern at all. However I wonder what stresses this puts on the ship’s hull.

Likely some Alarmists will suggest such a crack proves the sea-ice is thinner, but such leads open and then clap shut (forming pressure ridges) all over the Arctic Sea every winter, and by spring it is hard to find flat areas of sea-ice large enough for blue-ice airstrips.

The storm that stressed the sea-ice by the Polarstern did bring some slightly warmer air north, but temperatures remain cold up there. The coldest temperatures have swung around to the Atlantic side, and though a bit above the 1958-2002 mean overall, they remain colder than they’ve been in recent years as a zonal flow keeps the cold locked in the north.

The “extent” remains the highest in five years.

Stay Tuned.