A fascinating change in the pattern at the Pole is occurring, involving the winds in Fram Strait switching from south winds, which prevent the sea-ice from exiting the Arctic Sea, to north winds, which flush the sea-ice down into the Atlantic.
One interesting example of the bias of Alarmists is that both south winds and north winds are a sign of Global Warming. South winds bring milder air north, which is proof the Pole is warming, while north winds flush sea-ice south and reduce the amount of sea-ice in the Central Arctic, which is proof the Pole is warming.
In any case I’ll start with a bunch of maps, which will show the switch. We’ll begin back on March 18, when high pressure over Norway and low pressure north of Greenland had south winds in Fram Strait, and a clear “feeder band” of milder air probing up towards the Pole.
The “feeder band” fed the weak low north of Greenland, and it took an unusual route over Svalbard, strengthening and switching the winds from south to north in Fram Strait.
The storm became quite strong, but notice how the “feeder band” fades. Despite the sunrise at the Pole, the warmer air is still lost to outer space, and the temperatures at the Pole remain close to thirty below.
The storm fades into western Russia, but a small low follows over Svalbard, keeping the flow of cold air south through Fram Strait.
At this point I am noticing the low down by Iceland, and wondering if it will disrupt the pattern by taking a more traditional route. High pressure is being pumped behind the prior storm, over Scandinavia.
In the above map I am already noting that the Icelandic gale will not behave as I expect, as the prior low has pumped a ridge over Scandinavia, blocking the Icelandic gale. It will be deflected towards Fram Strait. This could get interesting.
Another big low moves up from Cape Farewell at the southern tip of Greenland to Iceland, and runs up against the blocking high over Scandinavia. That high is expanding south and west, growing into what would be a northern positioning of the Azores High, if it was warmer, but it is not a balmy high pressure.
The gale has managed to squeeze over the top of the high pressure, weakening a lot, and the flow in Fram Strait is now east to west, flushing out less ice. The blocking high has forsed the next gale up the west side of Greenland, into Baffin Bay.
As the Baffin Bay low transits the high icefields of Greenland it sucks a new “feeder band” up through Fram Strait, fueling a “Ralph” (Anomolous area of low pressure) over the Pole, as the old Atlantic gale sags into Russia. At this point I am sitting back and quite confident the flow down through Fram Strait is over. The blocking high pressure is bulging north south of Iceland, forsing a second Gale west up into Baffin Bay.
Only a day later and I am scratching my head, for again there are north winds in Fram Strait, despite the Baffin Bay low approaching from the west, which I thought would create south winds. However I figure the north winds will soon shift south, and my attention is diverted to the speed at which the “feeder band” is cooled, as it fuels the “Ralph.”
The Baffin Bay low fights its way over the blocking high and the 10,000 foot high icefields of Greenland, and is in Fram Strait, where winds are nearly calm. High pressure builds in its wake. I pay little attention. I am thinking of writing a post on how the “feeder band” cooled despite the fact the sun has risen, which shows the Pole is still losing heat to outer space. I am watching “Ralph”. Fram Strait is not a focus of my attention.
Yowza! What the heck happened!? Crossing the northernmost north Atlantic the Baffin Bay low totally exploded, and the high behind it became totally pumped, and the winds are screaming south in Fram Strait. Who the heck cares about the dwindling “Ralph”, or about “feeder bands” you can barely see any more?
The Baffin Bay low, (which now perhaps qualifies as a “Barents Sea Blaster”) never sunk down into Russia, but rather wobbled about southeast of Svalbard, helped by a Fujiwara dance with another Atlantic low which managed to squeak over the blocking high. The maps below basically demonstrate we have seen six days of roaring north winds in Fram Strait. (And many other things as well, but one needs to limit ones focus, at times.)
At this point we perhaps can sit back and attempt to see what the effect of six days of Fram Flushing has been. One rather cool effect is that the sea-ice, formerly crushed west into the east coast of Greenland, has been spread out, forming polynyas of open water or very thin baby-ice along Greenland’s coast, but actually crossing the Denmark Strait and touching the north coast of Iceland in two places.
However, before you plan to saunter from Iceland to Greenland, it is important to be aware “thickness” maps exist in a dream-world of “averages” and the average of a few big bergs and much open water is six inches. There is in fact no six inch thick ice to stroll upon, and you’d better be prepared to hop like a super-kangaroo to get from big berg to big berg. A satelite few of the ice-edge between Greenland and Iceland will give you a good idea of the conditions we are dealing with.
Of course, with ice being flushed south in Fram Strait, one looks north to see where the sea-ice is coming from. And indeed some big leads have opened north of Greenland. (Greenland coast at lowest right corner.)
If you look at these leads you will notice they are dark on their left sides and more milky to the right, which shows you how rapidly sea-ice forms with temperatures still down close to thirty below. In some ways leads may increase the production of sea-ice, especially in April. (In July it is totally different, with air temperatures above freezing.) To be honest, I am uncertain if exporting sea-ice through Fram Strait decreases the amount of sea-ice, or increases it.
In the short term the more sea-ice you flush down into the Atlantic, the less your total will be, because the Atlantic swiftly melts the bergs. However there are long-term consequences as well. What happens if you chill the Atlantic?
In the winter of 1816-1817 there was apparently such an amazing Fram Strait flushing that it seems pure hyperbole. The sea-ice didn’t just reach the north coast of Iceland; it reached Ireland.(Never seen since). So much ice was flushed south the waters north of Greenland were wide open. Coastlines never mapped before were mapped, and one whaler claimed he sailed up through Fram Strait, westward over the top of Greenland, and down through Baffin Bay. The English Navy was galvanized, for it seemed a Northwest Passage might be opening up. But the same time saw a “year with no summer” in western Europe, because the Atlantic had been so chilled by the discharge of sea-ice. (Meanwhile Eastern Europe was warm; apparently the chilled Atlantic caused the summer jet stream to dig unusually far south over Western Europe, but to loop north in the East.)
In any case, the current flushing (so far) is small potatoes compared to 1817. But it is interesting to think about the factors involved.
One factor is that if you greatly cool the Atlantic you also cool the water that ordinarily melts a lot of sea ice, when it enters the arctic as the northernmost tendrils of the warm Gulf Stream. If you cool those tendrils they can melt less ice, which leads to more ice and colder temperatures which leads to even more ice. In fact the very low sea-ice of 1817 sent the 600 ship British Navy, (recently unemployed with Napoleon defeated and the conflict with the United States ended), exploring open Arctic waters which they then saw become increasingly ice covered. In 1819 William Parry was able to sail far west in the sound which now bears his name, yet the Franklin expedition perished, trapped by ice in the same waters thirty years later. It might be that a discharge of sea-ice through Fram Strait is a sort of “tipping point” or “trigger”, which sets off cooling. Or maybe not. But it should at least be considered.
Fram Strait is important because it is the only deep connection the Arctic Sea has with the rest of the world’s oceans. The arctic cools vasts amounts of water, and cold water sinks, drawing warm water north to replace it. As the warm water comes north the colder water must exit south, but has difficulty doing so in shallow waters of the continental shelf, such as Bering Strait or the waters east of Svalbard. Only west of Svalbard is there a deep channel for cold waters that have sunk deep. Even so, some cold water spills over the shallow waters of the continental shelf on the Greenland side of Fram Strait, but, as soon as that water has a chance, it plunges downwards. South of Fram Strait, where the continental shelf draws closer to Greenland, there is a sort of underwater Niagara Falls, where huge amounts of cold water plunges down over the edge of the continental shelf.
As this cold water plunges down it is removed from the influences that control weather at the surface, and, though part of the thermohaline circulation, it cannot effect temperatures at the surface for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years, when it reappears as an upwelling at some other place on the planet. However if that water comes south with a bunch of sea-ice, the sea-ice cannot sink down to the abysmal deeps, but merrily continues to bob south at the surface, and consequently continues to be able to greatly alter weather at the surface. Those who sail northern fogs state you can feel the chill of an iceberg long before you can see it.
Despite six days of frigid north winds, current anomaly maps do not show much cooling of the north Atlantic.
I think ice-water causes problems for the models that produce such maps. Technically ice-water is as cold as water can get, for it is where ice and water coexist. Therefore, because water any colder would not be water but rather ice, ice-water cannot be “above normal”, because that would suggest a “normal” where water was fluid below freezing. However I have often seen such models describe ice-water as a degree, (and in one case three), above “normal”. Impossible. But in any case I am expecting to see the models catch on later in the season, and to see the North Atlantic cooled. Currently the cooling is only apparent east of Iceland.
Another effect the north winds have is to slow the flow of warmer waters to the arctic. The major warm tendril of the Gulf Stream in Fram Strait is the WSC (West Spitsbergen Current), which bounces off the coast of Norway and travels north roughly along the line of ten degrees longitude. This mild current is responsible for ice-free water on the east side of Fram Strait, and ice-free waters north and northwest of Svalbard, sometimes even in the dead of winter. However this water is only held at the surface because it is warmer than than surrounding water; in terms of salinity it wants to sink, because evaporation down in the tropics makes it saltier than surrounding water, and salty water wants to sink below fresher water. Therefore when the WSC chills to a certain point it sinks below the surface, and can melt sea-ice no longer. Six straight days of being blasted by northern winds likely has chilled the WSC more than usual. It may dive beneath the surface prematurely, and allow sea-ice to persist north of Svalbard.
Interestingly, the WSC remains recognizable even after it dives under the surface, due to its salt content and temperature, and hard working scientists have traced it as it describes a complete circuit of the Pole and exits, still different from colder water, on the west side of Fram Strait as part of the ice-clogged, southbound EGC. (East Greenland Current.)
I am somewhat amazed by the hard work done, getting beneath the sea-ice to measure these currents, especially as such study discovers no gold and isn’t profitable in any immediate worldly sense. I’ve noticed the discoveries don’t always jive with prior discoveries. I don’t think this is due to one scientist being “right” and another “wrong”, but rather because the currents wander. After all, like the jet stream high overhead, currents have no restraining banks like a river has, and are free to meander whither they will. What I imagine is needed is a salesman to sell the idea of under-ice sensors as numerous as weather balloons are above the ice, to trace the meanderings. Hmm. Good luck with that job.
Another effect of the north winds howling south through Fram Strait for six straight days would likely be to slow the speed of the WSC northward, while increasing the speed of the EGC southward. This creates interesting pneumatic problems, for water doesn’t compress and cannot stretch. Initially I would think that slowing the speed of the WSC by a tenth of a mile per hour would only delay the arrival of the water in Fram Strait slightly, but the effect upstream might in some ways be immediate. When you press a brake pedal the pneumatic effect takes no time to reach your brakes. The only give in the Arctic Sea pneumatic system is the level of the sea, and if the WSC is importing less water north as the EGC is exporting more water south, the level of the Arctic Sea should theoretically drop. And if it is then lower than surrounding seas, would that not increase the tendency of water to pour into the arctic in other places?
Lastly, the tundra and taiga are just starting to see days longer than nights, and snows are just starting to melt, which means arctic rivers, frozen to a mere trickle by the bitter winter cold, are just beginning to rise. The increases are astounding. For example, the largest river, the Lena, can rise sixty feet in spring floods. The import of fresh water into the Arctic Sea goes from near zero to vast amounts. This fresh water tends to form a “lens” atop the saltier water, and freezes more easily than salt water. Therefore the import of water to the Arctic Sea switches from largely being saltier water from the tropics in early April, to fresh water from rivers in June. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, (or put it in your climate model and watch the computer smoke and melt down).
The more you study sea-ice the more you become aware the variables are multitudinous, and perhaps chaotic to all minds but the Creator’s. Every year 20 thousand cubic kilometers of sea-ice are created, only to melt away every summer down to around 5 cubic kilometers that remain. By the end of summer the sea-ice is splotched with meltwater pools, and in places broken into slabs.
The satellites tend to see meltwater pools as open water, but the scientists slogging about collecting data (and rescuing equipment before it sinks) know such pools are usually but puddles on firm ice (though a few can reach down through the ice, holes down to an open sea a mile deep.)
It is a beautiful landscape. I wish we still had the Barneo polar tourist-trap and jetport, the floating buoys with cameras, and the intrepid adventurers skiing past polar bears, but pictures are getting harder and harder to find. Right now we’d be seeing the floating bergs were now firmly fixed in the winter’s new baby-ice.
We could examine where leads had opened, frozen swiftly over with baby-ice, and then clapped shut, stacking the baby-ice like plates.
All these images strike me as beautiful, and inspire no dread of a “Death Spiral”, nor of a planet broiling and boiling. A quick glance at the “volume” graph shows we have more ice than last year, and indeed more than in 2017, so it’s hard to fear it is all melting away.
In fact, rather than inspiring fear, the sea-ice inspires a sense of wonder. It is amazing how our Creator designed our planet to work, with its seasons and its ebbing and flowing. My mind is more inclined towards awe than towards dread, which makes the pseudo-scientists hired by politicians seem all the more like purveyors of panic porn. They make it their business to inspire fear, rather than appreciation of how well the world is made. They want to sell vaccines, rather than appreciate the excellent antibodies made by immune systems we already possess, so they downplay wonder and stir up dread.
God’s beauty currently does not manifest in Washington D.C., but it does manifest at the Pole. If you want to feel uplifted, shut off the Fake News, and study the clouds, or sunsets, or sea-ice.
As a final aside and wonder, I’ll point out that the current flushing of Fram Strait has drained the Pole of a lot of its cold air, exporting the cold all the way south to April snows in England. Yet despite the export of all this cold air, temperatures at the Pole are not all that far above normal, and indeed are closer to normal than they were at this time last year.
It will be interesting to watch the arctic for further developments. Stay tuned.