ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Summer Thaw Delayed–

Just a quick update while I’m on vacation.

Temperatures over roughly half the Arctic Sea are now above freezing, which is quite normal and natural under the 24-hours-a-day sunshine. It comes as a surprise to some, but temperatures at the Pole average above-freezing 24 hours a day (because the sun never sets) for a period of roughly sixty days. Not that there are not some pockets of cold, especially where it snows, but when you average things out temperatures register at a degree or two above freezing. However this year the pockets of cold out-number the areas of thaw, and temperatures are late getting above the “blue line”, which indicates when the mean temperature exceeds freezing.

DMI5 0611 meanT_2018

This comes as something of a surprise to me, as a large storm just moved up and across the Pole from the Kara Sea. The west side of the storm brought north winds and record cold temperatures to western Russia,  (robbing the arctic of its cold), while the east side of the storm brought south winds and record high temperatures to the coast of the Laptev sea. I paid attention to this warm air as it moved out over the Arctic Sea. I fully expected an upward spike in the DMI temperature graph. Much to my surprise there was a tiny downward spike.

How is this possible? Did the storm have a cooling effect, in some ways like a thunderstorm on a hot summer day? Was the warm air hoisted high, and cold rain and snow dropped to the surface to replace it?

The storm is now filling and fading, stalled north of the Mackenzie River Delta and west of the Canadian Archipelago. A storm like that usually puts a good dent in sea-ice totals, but the only real change I can see is that last week’s roaring south winds, over the Laptev Sea, pushed the sea-ice north, and expanded the polynya around the mouth of the flooding Lena River.  Over all the sea-ice continues thicker than last year, with “volume” (according to DMI) at the highest levels in five years.

DMI5 0611 FullSize_CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20180611 Stay tuned.


ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Spring Floods–

Above is a NASA loop showing the flood waters pouring out from the Gusinaya River over the five day period of June 4-8.  (The problem is figuring out which Gusinaya River. I don’t think it is the one out on Wrangle Island, but rather one in East Siberia).

The thing to be aware if is that this is happening all around the Arctic Sea, as huge north-flowing rivers turn from winter trickles to summer floods. For example,  the Lena River is nearly frozen to the bottom in February, with only 3% of its yearly flow occurring that month, but then rises over sixty feet by summer. The influx of all this fresh water along the arctic coasts greatly changes the nature of the sea-ice along the shores, tending to swiftly make it more slushy. At first the fresh water is very cold, as it is from melting snow, but later in the summer it can create relatively mild areas of open water by the deltas. The fresh water tends to form a “lens” over the more saline waters.

There can be relatively rapid melts close to the deltas, but the water’s heat is quickly used up by the transformation into latent heat which occurs during the melting process. There tends to be a lot of arguing about what happens next, as the water sometimes stratifies and can be identified over time and distance, and sometimes gets churned and mixed by storms.

In any case I thought the picture of the flood was interesting. I used to be baffled by how quickly coastal ice could vanish in places, such as the Mackenzie River delta in Northern Canada, before I became aware of the colossal yearly floods. What is fascinating me now is how the floods vary, due to droughts to the south, and how this can effect sea-ice. Also I ponder the differences in the timing of floods; some years they are earlier and some years they are later.

Currently there is a very meredional  flow, with a stream of unusually mild air streaming north from the middle of Asia all the way to “Ralph” up at the Pole. Alarmist are quite excited, as there are records being set for warmth on the coast of the Laptev Sea.

Arctic Floods 2 FullSizeRender

Of course, on the other side of that cold front, cold air is streaming south into western Russia, where records are being set for cold temperatures.

Stay Tuned.


ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Ralph’s Return–

The storm I’ve been watching looks like it is heading north and will cross right over the Pole, continuing on to Canada.  “Ralph” (anomalous low pressure at the Pole) is back!

You can’t get much less “zonal” than to have storms crossing over the Pole. So my forecast is shredded. Time to go back to the old drawing board. Arno Crawing Board 2a5c1bb996b52b84daf9c5c70d02864a

My theory was that what made the flow zonal was the atmosphere getting things back in balance, and what made the flow loopy (meridional) was things being put out of balance, which would require a greater exchange of heat from the equator with cold from the Pole. Therefore an El Nino’s warming should require greater looping of the jet, while a La Nina’s cooling should flatten the jet and make things more zonal.

This definitely isn’t happening. Perhaps it is the “Quiet Sun” making the Pole cooler, and keeping things out of balance even when the La Nina cools the tropic a little. For the Pole is cooler than normal.

DMI5 0607 meanT_2018

The storm hasn’t yet made the sea-ice “extent” graph plunge all that swiftly. It continues below normal.

DMI5 0606 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

The storm hasn’t yet caused the “volume” graph to crash either.  It continues unexpectedly higher for this date than at any other year of the past five.

DMI5 0607 CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20180607

Watching the Nullschool “winds” map, it looks like the storm is pushing the sea-ice across the top of Fram Strait, west to east, rather than flushing it south through the Strait. A polynya should form in the Kara Sea, with strong winds pushing the sea-ice north.

Null 1 FullSizeRender

But one thing fascinates me. Looking at the Nullschool sea-currents map, it looks like an eddy has formed just south of Fram Strait. For the time being this diverts a milder current, which usually heads up the east side of Fram Strait, hugging the west coast of Svalbard, and wheels it about to the south. If less mild water enters the Arctic Sea this could slow the melt.

Null 2 FullSizeRender


I’m not sure how accurate the Nullschool maps are, but they are something to keep an eye on. I’m also not sure why it took nearly to June for NOAA to update its AMO graph for April. Perhaps they don’t like the fact the AMO is trending colder.

AMO April 2018 amo_short

We will have to keep a sharp eye on the currents in the North Atlantic to see if a shifting AMO changes them. In the past there have been large changes, with fishing grounds shifting hundreds of miles further south. However the main thing that fascinates me is the loopiness of the jet stream. It has brought storms crashing into Greenland later in the spring than normal, and though some thaw has started at the edges of the ice-cap, that decrease is countered by snows at higher altitudes towards the center.

Greenland MB 20180607 todaysmb

For a while the increase in total mass resembled years where the increase fell off sharply, but now it has separated on the graph from those years, as it just keeps rising.

Greenland MB 20180607 accumulatedsmb

Last but not least, a cold AMO would tend to make it colder in eastern Canada, so we should keep an eye on Hudson Bay. Currently the melt at the edges is keeping pace with last year, but the ice in the center of the Bay is far thicker. (2017 left and 2018 right.)

All in all it is looking like it could be a fascinating summer, even without cameras. It would be indicative of a “Quiet Sun” effect, I imagine, if “Ralph” continues to reappear before the El Nino.

All we need is a volcano to blow up there to really get things crazy.

Stay tuned.


This could get interesting.

Usually things get benign (or boring, depending on your inclinations), at the Pole in June. The 24 hour sunshine warms the air to the temperature of the water, and there is less of a trouble-causing clash between north and south, and winds calm down. Back when we had cameras we tended to see sunshine slowly soften the crisp snow and turn it to slush, as temperatures slowly rose until most of the Arctic Sea was just above freezing. We have been moving in that direction this year, but an interesting storm is brewing on the coast of the Kara Sea.

Usually these lows roll east along the Siberian coast. At most they stall and loop-de-loop, before proceeding east in a weakened state. This one may plow straight north across the Pole.

The European model sees it slowly moving up to Fraz Joseph Land by Friday.

June 1 ecm_mslp_arctic_5

The GFS model has it faster, and deeper, at roughly the same spot by Thursday.

June 2 gfs_ptype_slp_arctic_14

Notice how the GFS has milder air and rain pulled up from central Siberia. (The GFS is always a little milder, for some reason) But mostly the storm has snow, and not the sunshine and thawing we expect in June. But the sea-ice will be bashed and crashed.

By the weekend the GFS sees the storm weakened. (A weakened weekend). And it is directly over the Pole. Snow is still falling and sunshine is scarce.

June 3 gfs_ptype_slp_arctic_23

The Canadian model (which is usually colder) elongates the storm and develops a second center towards Canada, so that by Friday it looks like this (Canada to left rather than to right):

June 4 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_20

The Arctic is more or less a desert, and the third of an inch of (melted) precipitation shown by the Canadian model is unusual. The Canadian has it in a more condensed area. (I think it may be using the milder air drawn up from Siberia to develop the second storm). Judging from temperatures, all the precipitation is seen as snow.

June 5 cmc_precip_mslp_arctic_20

(Thanks to Dr. Ryan Maue for developing these maps, which are available at the Weatherbell site [Week free trial available.])

All in all, I expect this storm will make a complete mess of all the careful calculations of Alarmists and Skeptics alike. Days of clouds and a swath of fresh snow will require a rebooting of “albedo” calculations, to begin with.

Then there is the smashing and crashing of sea-ice. The Pole is not the “ice cap” many imagine, and sea-ice is highly mobile, and becomes more mobile when fragmented by storms to smaller pieces. Judging from the location of the storm, it looks to me like not all that much will be transported south through Fram Strait, but that will have to be watched.

Lastly there are changes in the speed of the melt brought about by the mixing of stratified water under the ice. Sometimes milder water is brought up, when differences in salinity allow warmer water to slide beneath colder, fresher water at the surface, but these conditions vary from year to year. Also it is still early, and the water is still more protected from winds by winter ice (at least until it gets smashed up). Lastly, the inrush of fresh waters from huge, north-flowing arctic rivers like the Lena has only started, and the “lens” of fresher waters by the coasts is not as expansive as it becomes later in the summer.

There is lots to wonder about. One thought that occurred to me is that the power of this storm may be due to the fact the air over the Pole is colder than normal, perhaps brought on by the fading La Nina, and the “Quiet Sun”.

DMI5 0603 meanT_2018

I should confess that the cross-polar path of this storm is making complete mincemeat of my idea that the lagged effects of the La Nina would make the storm tracks more zonal. I assumed the cooler La Nina would lessen the clash between the warm tropics and the cold Pole, but perhaps the “Quiet Sun” perpetuates the clash. Things can’t get much less zonal than a cross-polar storm, and it looks like a “Ralph” (low pressure anomaly at the Pole) which I associated with an El Nino.

Not liking to admit I’m wrong, I cast about for excuses other factors. One idea that occurred to me is that the “wall” of thicker sea-ice, extending down past the New Siberian Islands to the East Siberian coast, may create colder air above, and a “wall” of high pressure that deflects storms north.

DMI5 0603 CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20180603

It will interesting to see if the storm produces a dip in the “extent” graph.

DMI5 0603 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

The only thing I’m certain of is that the storm will produce a hubbub at Alsarmist sites. It will be fun to do some lurking.

Worst would be if all the models are wrong, and no storm develops. What fun would there be in that?

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Pole Temperatures Below Normal–

DMI5 0529 meanT_2018

Any time one of my forecasts is correct I am struck by a sense of disbelief.

It reminds me of one time I got a long hit in a baseball game when I was twelve. I had swung the bat with my eyes completely shut, as hard as I could, and hit the ball with the “sweet spot” of the bat, for the first time in my life. When the “sweet spot” is involved the ball striking the bat makes hardly any noise, and you hardly feel it through the handle. As I opened my eyes I assumed it must be a foul tip, but moments later I heard the loud crash as the long line-drive hit the plywood wall in deep center field. My jaw dropped, and I looked towards the bench completely amazed, and by best buddy screamed, “Run, you idiot!  Run!”

In any case I said the polar temperatures north of 80º north latitude would drop below normal in mid-May, months ago,  and lo and behold they have. Perhaps they did so a few days past the middle of May, yet still, it has happened. This doesn’t mean my reasoning is correct; it may merely be a case of “the blind squirrel getting the nut”; however it does give me a chance to sit in the sun and bask in my five-minutes-of-fame.

When I was twelve, and had hit the only double of my little-league career, I was able to talk like a slugger, until the next time I struck out. In like manner, I will now pontificate like a learnéd scientist.

The Pole has been cooler than normal, starting in mid-May, in recent years, with the exception being right after a strong El Nino, and even then the temperatures only got up to normal. Not only does this throw a wrench in the idea CO2 will warm the Pole, but it also makes one cast about looking for another cause.

My idea is that the Pole, during the summer, is the one place on the planet where the Quiet Sun actually has the “cooling effect” my simple mind expected it to have. In all other places the effects are varied, and tend to muddy the waters.

A few months ago I simply inquired on my blog what effects the Quiet Sun might have, and received more comments at my obscure site than I’d ever before received. As I pondered the observations of many minds, it did occur to me that the Quiet Sun likely had more than one effect, and that not all effects would necessarily be cooling. Therefore the effects might cancel each other out at certain times and in certain places, and give some the idea the less-energetic sun had no cooling effect at all.

For example, besides measuring energy with thermometers we also measure energy with anemometers.  If the Trade Winds were at all less energetic, there might be less up-welling  of cold waters on the west sides of continents, which would warm the world’s temperatures rather than cool them. If you then threw this warming into the mix of other cooling effects the Quiet Sun may have, the result would be the indecipherable slumgullion we call climate.

But at the Pole things become wonderfully simplified in May.  Many factors ordinarily effecting the region grind to a halt. Both the air and the ice warm to close to freezing, and the water under the ice is close to freezing as well, so there is no clash in temperatures to generate uplift and storms. Also the Pole shifts from 300 days, when it is a part of the planet that loses energy to outer space, to 60 days when it gains heat from the sun, and this shift slows down ordinary weather patterns. The weather (usually) becomes quiet. (In fact this quiet was a reason D-day was scheduled for early June in 1944; the success of D-day was due to an unusual gale, and the fact the Germans assumed the Allies couldn’t invade in bad weather.)

Because other factors have become quiet, the Pole becomes a laboratory where the chief influence is the sun, and therefore the effect of the Quiet Sun can be seen in the record of temperatures. Or so I theorize. Using this theory I assumed that, as we are at the solar minimum (and also with temperatures cooled slightly by a La Nina), we would see temperatures at the Pole dip below notmal as soon as winter storms ceased and weather became calm. Sure enough, it happened.

We will have to see if this continues. I think it will. If temperatures are slightly below normal there will still be some thawing at the Pole (because there always is, with 24-hour sunshine), but there will be less than usual, which will effect the “extent” graph.

At the moment the “extent” graph continues low, but the decrease in sea-ice is largely due to areas outside the Arctic Ocean melting. It will continue to drop as Hudson Bay melts,  but the real crux of how low the minimum will be involves the Arctic Sea itself.

DMI5 0529 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

When we look at the thickness map some open water is seen in the Arctic Sea, but, as temperatures have yet to rise above freezing (except briefly in a few small locations) and still often are below -5º C, this open water is not due to melting, but rather are polynyas created by winds pushing sea-ice away from land. They are now apparent in the Laptev Sea and Bering Strait, north of the Mackenzie River Delta, in the North Atlantic, (and also, outside of the Arctic Ocean, in northwest Hudson Bay and northernmost Baffin Bay.)

Thickness 20180529 Attachment-1

Because this decrease in extent is due to winds, and not melting, it should actually be compressing and thickening the ice in the Central Arctic, and indeed this can be seen when we compare this years thickness map with last year’s, from the same date. (2017 to left, 2018 to right.)

Notice the Polynyas are roughly in the same places (though the Laptev polynya is skinned with ice last year, and more sea-ice is down in Fram Strait last year [where it was basically doomed to melt in the summer]) The big difference is how much thicker the ice in the Central Arctic is. This has resulted in a somewhat amazing increase in the “volume ” graph.

Volume 20180529 FullSizeRender

Volume is now the highest in five years, and is so close to the “normal” line that a somewhat cynical friend of mind thinks they will have to create a higher “normal”, by basing it on the years 1993-2004 rather than 2004-2013. Such monkeying-around with graphs may change the impression the general public gets from such graphs, but it cannot change the reality.

And what is the reality? The reality is that, once the ordinary melting around the periphery of the arctic is over with, the melt will slow down, as thicker ice must be melted, and the “extent” graph will flatten out, and we may see the sea-ice minimum nearly as high as in 2006.

The only hope for the Alarmists who hanker for an ice-free Pole would be the infusion of warm currents. Most of the summer melt occurs from the bottom up. Therefore I look to the NOAA graphs of the PDO and AMO, which tend to hint whether the waters entering the Arctic Sea will have the power to melt sea-ice or not. For some reason NOAA has failed to update the graphs I use since March. Perhaps they are switching to a different format, but my somewhat cynical friend would tell me (if he knew) that NOAA sure would be in a big hurry to update the graphs if there was warming to be seen, and therefore things must be colder.

Stay tuned.





ARCTIC SEA ICE —Sixty Days—(Updated)

Around here folk treasure the days when the sun sets after eight in the evening. It is a brief time when life simply feels blessed. The blessing seems too short, but still it is a blessing.

At the Pole there is a similar “window of opportunity”. It is a brief period, from thirty days before the solstice to thirty days after the solstice, when, although “it is more blessed to give than to receive”, the Pole receives more than it gives away.

For most of the year the Pole is like a politician. It is giving, but not as saint, for it is not giving away what it has created. It is giving away what the south has created, in the manner a politician gives away what the taxpayer has created. However for the next sixty days the Pole does what few politicians do, it creates more than it gives away.

The fact of the matter is that, if the Pole was a vast, flat. black asphalt parking-lot,  the 24-hour-a-day sunshine would build up intolerable levels of heat. Burning hot warm-fronts would charge south from the Poles by July, as is the situation on the planet Zextar.  You should thank God, (or your “lucky stars”, if you don’t like God), that you don’t live on Zextar. Instead we live on a beautifully designed planet called “Earth” where such ferocious warm-fronts can’t happen, because our South Pole is an ice-cap up at 9000 feet, and our North Pole is an ocean covered by a skim of sea-ice. Both poles discourage the creation of ferociously hot warm fronts, but both Poles, for sixty days at opposing solstices, experience sunshine at levels ideal for the creation of pools of heat.

Back when I was a rookie, in terms of observing sea-ice, I was startled to learn it even got above freezing for weeks on end at the North Pole. Every puddle I saw seemed to support the Alarmist contention that the Pole was melting. Now that I’m older and wiser, I am surprised the Pole isn’t even warmer than it is.

In the beginning I was shocked to learn it might rain at the Pole. Now I am shocked by snow in July.

In the beginning I feared I might be losing “the argument”, and that CO2 might indeed be melting the Pole, when I heard of rain, and of melt-water pools. Now I see the argument as silly, and what I fear is getting sucked back into it.

In the beginning I had a hard time not being sucked into arguments about “albedo.” I was tricked into thinking “albedo” was what determined the levels of sea-ice. I am proud to say that, even though “albedo” has little to do with determining the levels of sea-ice, I was able to defeat Alarmists even while accepting their false premise. (Look back through five years of my past posts, for examples).

In a nutshell, the premise didn’t pan out: I saw examples where lots of dark melt-water pools and dark sea-water decreased “albedo”, but sea-ice refused to shrink, and also saw contrary examples where unusual falls of midsummer snow increased “albedo” to its highest, yet sea-ice melted like crazy. At best, the arctic cameras we once had showed albedo might have a local effect on air temperatures, and on whether melt-water pools expanded or skimmed over with ice, but albedo had little effect on the bulk and body of sea-ice, as a whole. Consequently I was forced to seek a different cause-of-melting.

As a humorous aside, I should state that it was the Alarmist James Hansen who first alerted me to a power greater than sunshine and “albedo”, when it comes to determining polar temperatures. Some Skeptic had managed to corner Hansen, and he was forced to defend colder-than-normal-temperatures at the Pole during July, and his defense involved the fact that the phase-change from ice to water “sucked up heat”. He suggested that an unnatural  amount ice had melted, and it had sucked up heat to a degree where the increased melting made things colder. In other words, as CO2 melted sea-ice it could also lower temperatures.

I may be a bumpkin, but I do know that “what goes around comes around.” If melting ice “sucks up” a lot of heat in the summer, then freezing water “releases” a lot of heat in the fall and winter.  You can’t have it one way and not the other, but Alarmists never brought up the phase-change argument when temperatures were warmer-than-normal as waters froze, and only when temperatures were were colder-than-normal in the summer.

To make matters worse, some of the most significant melting occurred after summer was over, and temperatures had dipped below freezing in the fall. The sun had dipped down to the horizon, and the “albedo” argument no longer applied. On one occasion several hundred square miles of sea-ice vanished when the sun was too low to melt it, and air temperatures were below the freezing point of salt water. It was therefore blatantly obvious that the melting didn’t involve sunshine, or “albedo”, or air temperatures, or how CO2 might effect air temperatures. What mattered most was the temperature of the water under the ice, and, when I started to investigate sea-water, I started to understand it takes hundreds and even thousands of years for sunshine and air temperatures to make much of a dent in the massive inertia of mile-deep waters.

The best way to melt a lot of sea-ice in a hurry is for winds to blow it south to places where warmer water can melt it from below, and the second-best way to melt sea-ice is for a fickle and meandering branch of a southern current to probe north into the arctic, and again to melt ice from beneath. In both cases the controlling powers are ponderous and slow and oceanic,  and have next to nothing to do with the ups and downs of breezy air temperatures at the Pole. Mild temperatures at the Pole can even be part of a pattern that keeps sea-ice from moving south and keeps warm currents from moving north, while cold temperatures at the Pole can even be part of a pattern that pushes sea-ice south and draws warm currents north. To put it most succinctly, to care overly much about what happens to the top of the ice is silly.

Despite the fact I became aware of all of this in 2013, I still miss the cameras that showed us how the sweet sixty days of heat,either side of the summer solstice, melted the sea-ice from above. There is something utterly cool about the fact the North Pole is warming the planet, not due to CO2, or albedo, or anything unnatural, but instead due to the utterly natural fact the sun is relatively high and shining 24 hours a day. For 300 days a year the Pole is sucking the planet dry, constantly squandering its heat, and one gets used to thinking of the Pole as a place of ice and snow. It takes an enjoyable flip of conventional thinking to see the Pole, even briefly, as a place that warms. It has always done so, and will continue to do so, even if CO2 is reduced to zero.

In any case, for the next sixty days the Pole is a warming place. It has been like a chimney for 300 days, drawing heat away from our home, but for the next sixty days it is like a hearth, warming our home.

This represents a major shift to the atmospheric powers-that-be. It turns the tables topsy-turvy. In terms of the normalcy of weather patterns, it is like car shifting from forward to reverse at the height of a rush-hour.

I find this switch from a chilling Pole to a warming Pole fascinating, and have yet to see any paper that addresses the switch adequately, as being a yearly event that happens with or without any change in levels of CO2. It is a yearly jolt to the status quo, and, considering it is not fully understood, it seems silly to seize upon the slightest manifestations of its occurrence, and attribute them to CO2.

If I do seize upon some occurrence I do not understand, and attribute it to CO2, I am cruising for a bruising. It is likely that the yearly jolt from 300 days chilling to 60 days warming will then proceed in a natural fashion that involves considerable variety, and the variations will make a fool of me, as my one-size-fits-all, model-derived CO2 prediction will fail to manifest. If it does manifest one year it will make an even greater fool of me, for I will be jumping up and down yelling “yippee” thinking I’m right, when it’s occurrence is due to coincidence, and the following year my diet will be sheer crow.

It looks like this summer will be just such a case. According to model-derived CO2 predictions the arctic sea-ice should have been gone by 2014, but sea-ice shows every indication of not only failing to melt away this summer, but increasing (or, as some like to say, “recovering”.)

Not that I can explain why. I am not so arrogant. I share my hunches, but hope I do so in a humble manner, and freely admit when I’m wrong.

For example, I expected polar temperatures to dip below normal in mid May, but they persist at being barely above normal.

DMI5 0521 meanT_2018

I also thought sea-ice “extent” would trend towards “normal”,  and did not think it would remain “second-lowest”:

DMI5 0521 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

Lastly, I never expected increased sea-ice “volume”  to counter the decreased “extent”, to the degree it has. Where “extent” is “second lowest”, “volume” is on the verge of being “the highest in five years.”

AAA Vol May 21 FullSizeRender

This unexpected increase in sea-ice “volume” has made mincemeat of a recent Alarmist talking-point. It was stated that, although the “extent” was failing to fulfill the narrative (about the Pole’s sea-ice melting away), the fact the “volume” was at very low levels demonstrated how weak and flimsy the ice that remained actually was. It was suggested this “thinning of sea-ice” would reach a point where, though the “extent” was at the same level, the ice would be so very thin that it wouldn’t take much sunshine at all to melt it, and the entire Arctic Ocean would become ice-free in a very short period of time. Sounded good, but now the ice obviously isn’t “thinning.”

Why not? One reason is that winds have not been exporting sea-ice as much through Fram Strait, where it is doomed to melt in the Atlantic. Rather winds have compressed the ice in the Central Arctic, where the compression leads to thicker ice, and also leads to sea-ice remaining where the it is not “doomed to melt.” The thickening of the sea-ice shows when we compare last year (left) with this year (right).




In a general sense the Central Arctic ice is a foot thicker, (light blue is 6 feet while slightly darker blue is 5 feet.)

It is interesting to zoom in on specific areas, such as Bering Strait and the North Coast of Alaska. (2017 left; 2018 right.)


The fact these two maps are so similar must be disconcerting to Alarmists, because only a couple of months ago 2017 showed far more sea-ice than 2018. 2017 showed all sorts of sea-ice south of Bering Strait, in the Bering Sea, but all that sea-ice is now melted. (Skeptics could counter that, in the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan, 2018 was beating 2017, but there too the ice has now largely vanished.) What the Alarmists contended was that, while melting the Being Sea sea-ice in 2017 had kept the waters cooler in Being Sea, in 2018 the same waters would be warmed by sunshine and therefore warmer and therefore sea-ice north of Being Strait was doomed. But look at it. It is refusing to behave doomed, (so far).

Instead we see both maps show the often-seen polynya of open water off the northwest point of Alaska. Looking east along the coast we also see the often-seen polynya by the delta of the Mackenzie River, but here 2018 shows less of a polynya, and more ice to the north. In fact, as you look further out to sea to the north, 2018 definitely shows thicker ice (lighter blue) than 2017 (darker blue).

The thicker ice becomes most apparent when we zoom in to the Siberian Coast and the Laptev Sea.  2017 (left) shows the “Laptev Notch” while 2018 (right) shows the notch didn’t develop.


The Laptev Notch is thinner ice,. That navy blue hue represents ice that was three feet thick in 2017, as opposed to light blue ice which is six feet in 2018. The notch is created by the constant export of ice towards the Pole, due to bitter cold gales blasting out to seas from Siberia duting the coldest days of winter. Ordinarily we’d blame thicker ice in the Central Arctic on Laptev exports, but it is clear not as much ice was exported last winter, because far more ice is left behind.  Some ice has moved north, as is shown by the lilac hues on the Siberian coast, and the north coast of the New Siberian Islands. These are Polynyas of open water formed by ice shifting north to the Pole, and barely skimmed over with sea ice a foot thick. Such thin “baby-ice” often (but not always) melts quickly in the summer,  but there are far fewer such areas of thin ice to melt this year.

Scanning east to the coast of the East Siberian Sea, the ice is up to 15 feet thick (red), whereas it was only a foot thick last May (lilac).

We need new maps to compare the border between the Arctic Sea and the North Atlantic around Svalbard. (2017 left, 2018 right).

Here there was obviously more sea-ice in 2017 than 2018. Alarmists likely want to focus here, and indeed they did, during the winter, because unusual winds blew sea-ice away from the north coast of Greenland, and a polynya formed and skimmed over with new baby-ice only a foot thick, in an area where maps usually show sea-ice crushed up against the coast of Greenland, and sea-ice fifteen thick or even thicker (red). The winds have since reversed, and the ice has come south to crush up against northern Greenland again, but at times during the winter the Trans Polar Drift was reversed, and sea-ice that is usually exported through Fram Strait was pushed backwards to the Pole, thickening the ice there.

The ice pushed into Fram Strait is doomed to melt slowly or quickly. If it stays to the west it stays in a very cold current, and can make it to the southern tip of Greenland before melting. If it moves towards Svalbard it moves into a mild tendril of The Gulf Stream coming up from the south, and is eroded from beneath, sometimes with remarkable speed. 2017 shows sea-ice shoved south right up against the west coast of Svalbard, into that milder water, while 2018 shows that milder water exposed to winds and the churning of waves.

I don’t pretend to understand the difference between how the water is affected when protected by sea-ice, and when it is exposed to winds and waves. A lot of research is being done, but it is difficult to place buoys in areas where grinding sea-ice comes and goes. Therefore what follows is merely me surmising.

It seems logical that protected waters would likely be more able to create a situation where water is stratified, with milder water able to sink lower than colder water because it is saltier. Exposed water, on the other hand, would see such stratification destroyed by churning. This could change the effect of the mild current, as it gets north of Svalbard. However this is only wondering, on my part. I’m adopting a wait-and-see policy, and curiously watching the sea-ice north of Svalbard.

While winds were reversed one way in Fram Strait, they were reversed the other to the east of Svalbard in Barents Sea. The usual south winds were less common, and sea-ice that usually is pushed north at times instead spread south. However such ice is not as doomed as ice moving into Fram Strait. Not only can it turn around and head back north, but waters are generally colder, and it is slower to melt. 2018 has more ice in Barents Sea.

All in all it seems clear the past winter pressed ice north more than it spread it south, preserving and thickening the totality of the sea-ice. This is why the sea-ice “volume” has increased.

Before I depart I want to briefly discuss Hudson Bay. (2017 to left; 2018 to right).

The thaw had started last year and is barely starting this year. Last year more sea-ice was piled up against the southwest coast, and this year more is piled up against the east coast. The ice is thicker in the central Bay this year. Usually this matters little, in terms of the September minimum, because usually Hudson Bay melts away completely. Or that has been what I have observed.

However apparently the situation can change when the AMO shifts to cold. I have no clue of the engineering involved, but over at his excellent blog at Weatherbell, Joseph D’Aleo often skips the engineering of events, and simply points out that, in the past, when A happens, B follows. This drives me slightly crazy, as I want to know the “why”, however the “what” suggests a colder AMO leads to colder temperatures in eastern Canada.

The areas associated with a “cold” AMO have chilled since February.  In the map below blue shows areas that have chilled. The “cold” AMO horseshoe-signature is apparent in the Atlantic. (Off topic, but the cold Pacific La Nina is warming, and therefore fading.)

Right on cue, over the past 45 days temperatures in eastern Canada have stayed below normal:

This has me curious about whether we might see some sea-ice fail to melt on the east coast of Hudson Bay, this year. Back in the mists of history, the Records of the Hudson Bay company show some summers a surprising amount of ice lingered.

(I snitched the above maps from Joseph D’Aleo’s blog, which costs me about what a coffee costs, each day. However if you are very cheap and curious, a week’s free trial is available. His post is here:)

If even a small amount of ice remains it will increase the “extent” total in the Sea-Ice-Minimum next September, and cause some Alarmist heads to explode.

There is also Alarmist concern about the Greenland icecap melting away. So far this spring the melt has been retarded.

AAA Greenland FullSizeRender

I am wondering if this retarded melt is due to the cooling AMO. It is still early, but I am curious to see if it persists. Lastly, how will it effect the mass of ice added to Greenland?

Greenland MB 20180524 accumulatedsmb

The “wrong-way” flow in Fram Strait brought enough Gales slamming into Greenland to result in an above-normal dump of snow in the icecap this past winter and this spring. But the red line shows that 2011-12 also had above-normal totals at thyis time, yet around this time the totals began an “unprecedented” plunge to low levels that had newspapers in a tizzy and Alarmists bug-eyed. Will the same thing happen this year? Or will the cooling AMO result in no melt at all? The fate of the planet hangs in the balance! (According to some.)

Stay tuned.






Due to various interruptions I haven’t been able to post the DMI maps of pressure and temperature at the Pole. I’m now posting nearly two months worth of maps, primary as records for my notebook,  but also because it is a record of much of the 35° yearly rise of temperatures at the Pole (Celsius). A lot of interesting stuff occurs as the Pole shifts from six months without sunshine to six months when the sun is up, and the interesting stuff isn’t limited to the shenanigans of the winds and sea-ice. There are also the antics of Alarmists and Skeptics to observe.

Although temperatures rise from a mean down near -40°, it is important to remember that there are big swings in temperature during the winter, and temperatures up towards freezing are not unheard of even in the dead of the darkness. Alarmists tend to suggest such swings are a modern phenomenon, while Skeptics tend to look back at years such as 1972.

The swings in temperature are caused by surges of milder air brought up to the Pole by a loopy (meridional) jet stream, and are less common when the flow is zonal. When the south winds occur over land they can create polynyas of open water near shore, which Alarmists become wide-eyed about, as Skeptics yawn. Alarmists tend to feel the loopy jet stream is caused by a trace gas, while Skeptics feel different causes are involved, (and I personally look to cycles of the AMO and PDO, and shifts from a “quiet” sun to a “noisy” one.)

There can be little doubt that the past winter brought more surges of mild air north than we have seen in recent times. There were also surges of cold air far to the south, (but when you focus on sea-ice alone you develops a sort of myopia). Alarmists grew exited because the south winds blew the edge of the sea-ice north, especially in the Bering Sea (but also in Fram Strait, where the flushing of sea-ice down the east coast of Greenland was impeded). This led to Alarmists pointing at “unprecedentedly” low amounts of sea-ice in the “extent” graphs, but, because the sea-ice was condensed in the Central Arctic, there was an “unprecedented” rise in the “volume” graph, for Skeptics to counter with.

As summer comes on the contrast between the frigid cold at the Pole and milder oceans to the south grows less, and things calm down, but in our first map from March 19  the sun hasn’t yet risen at the Pole, though the sky is bright with twilight. Temperatures are still very cold, and great contrasts can occur.

At this point the Beaufort High becomes important, as its winds, (especially towards Alaska where it can clash with northwards extensions of the Aleutian Low), can break up the sea-ice even during the coldest winter. (This was especially notable in February 2013, when the thin “baby ice” skimming the open waters of the record-setting 2012 minimum was riven by leads of open water fifty miles wide. Alarmists felt this would hasten the summer melt, but the temperatures were at -40°, so not only were the leads swiftly frozen over, but the water under the ice was apparently chilled, so that the summer melt was less.)

The Beaufort High, if correctly positioned , can rip the ice away from the northwest coast of Alaska, and also the approaches to the Northwest Passage north of the Mackenzie River Delta. This year the Beaufort High has been smaller and weaker, and positioned in a manner where it has constantly blown ice north in Bering Strait, but has had less of an effect at the delta. In our first map on March 19 we see it in one of its stronger manifestations.







By March 20 a strong low was moving up into the Kara Sea on the Siberian coast. The south winds ahead of it bring air north from central Siberia. In the dead of winter these Siberian winds might be colder than the air over the ice, but it is a sure sign of spring (and Siberian thaw) that the maps show a plume of milder air press north in the isotherms of the temperature maps.







By March 22 the Kara low, in conjunction with an Aleutian low, have supressed the Beaufort High in a manner that creates strong winds from the south in Bering Strait, but calm and cold conditions at the Mackenzie Delta. Though the sun is peeking over the horizon at the Pole, it is still so low the plume of milder air brought north by the Kara low swiftly cools, but a new plume starts coming north from the Pacific through Bering Strait.














(Missing maps) By March 27 the Beaufort High is strung out and weakened, and its contrast with general low pressure on the Siberian side has created a Pacific-to-Atlantic cross-polar-flow. Alarmists were noting mild temperatures (for March) over the Pole, but Inuit communities in the Canadian Archipelago were experiencing record-setting cold.




(Missing maps) By March 29 a storm over Hudson Bay started pumping the cold air south, to begin building an April that had  record-setting cold in parts of North America. The Beaufort High was rebuilding, but centered with cold and calm over the Mackenzie Delta.




By March 31 the cross-polar-flow from Pacific to Atlantic is temporarily reestablished, again with south winds over Bering Strait and calm over the Mackenzie Delta. But the high over Alaska is building out into Bering Strait, and mild air will draw the low from over East Siberia towards Alaska, interrupting the flow.




This third plume of milder air coming north over Alaska creates low pressure at the Pole (AKA “Ralph”) as well as north winds at the Mackenzie Delta.



And at this point, right when things were getting interesting, DMI stopped producing its maps. At first I thought it was routine maintenance, and then that the good fellow who creates the maps was on a well-deserved vacation, and then that perhaps he retired without training a replacement. I was miserable. You never know what you’ve got ’til its gone. Also April was not at all spring-like, where I live in New Hampshire. Life was not happy.

I decided to switch over to the Dr. Ryan Maue maps produced over at the Weatherbell site. However they lack the simplicity of the DMI maps. Not that there is anything wrong with detail, but….













In any case, a weaker version of the Beaufort high  brought south and southeast winds over much of the coast of Alaska, pushing ice off shore, but again not so much at the Mackenzie delta. Also some weak versions of “Ralph” flirted with low pressure at the Pole. Then I noticed DMI was back in business.

It is notable that the darker blues are gone from the temperature map. This creates the appearance of “warming”, but in fact the Pole is simply losing heat less rapidly. The sun is still too low to overpower the heat lost to outer space, as can be seen when a plume of milder air moves up from the south. It still cools, despite being in sunshine twenty-four hours a day.


Weak cross-polar-flow from Pacific to Atlantic persists. Sea-ice shifts south in Barents Sea, and west in East Siberian Sea.  A low moves into the Kara Sea, and again a plume of milder air pushes north ahead of it.






The Kara Sea low crawls on to the Laptev Sea, and the plume of warm air ahead of it is notable. The polar flow is from Siberia to Canada. Off the map, it is very cold in the north of USA, with spring much delayed.


The Laptev Sea Low’s warm plume is a sort of feeder band which eventually fuels a weak “Ralph” low pressure at the Pole, as the Beaufort High weakens.




The weak “Ralph” continues on into the Canadian Archipelago and then the Beaufort High rebuilds slightly, as weak Atlantic lows roll east along Russia’s arctic coast.


Winds are slowing to more summer-like levels, as there is less if a clash in temperatures. A very lazy cross-polar-flow ambles from Pacific to Atlantic, but at long last this pattern starts to change., as low pressure develops in Baffin Bay and then battles over the top of Greenland.




As the low finishes its transit and starts to redevelop off the east coast of Greenland, another low is forming in the Kara Sea. As a buffer if high pressure forms between the two lows, we see wring-way winds from the South, stopping the export of sea-ice in Fram Srait, but a wrong-way north wind in Barents Sea, causing sea-ice to expand south at a time it usually retreats north. These wrong-way winds utterly screw up the careful calculations of sea-ice fanatics everywhere.







At this point the two lows have created two mild plumes, one north through Fram Strait and one north through the Laptev Sea, fueling a quasi “Ralph” north of Greenland.


(Missing maps) The Laptev low fades, and as high pressure build over the Russian coast we have a reversed flow over the pole, From Atlantic to Pacific.



A sizable plume of milder air is brought north over Svalbard, which experiences a thaw. However despite the fact it is a week into May the plume of mild air chills in the following maps. The relative warmth of sunshine, sea-water and imported air is still not quite enough to match the heat lost to outer space.

I should confess I was not expecting the plume, nor the feeder band forming a weak version of “Ralph”. Please forget my forecast of the La Nina causing a more zonal pattern. Didn’t happen.







Though the plume did give above-normal temperatures at the Pole, that heat was lost and temperatures dropped back to near normal.



I conclude these maps with a tight little low forming east of Svalbard, and a small Baffin Bay Basher, but for the most part the arctic tranquil and summer-like.










I’d comment more, but having this many maps seems to be taxing the capacity of WordPress and I’m afraid this whole post will crash. So I’ll add more with a separate post.