ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barneo Battles–

Every year at this time a remarkable battle against the elements occurs close to the North Pole, as the Barneo Jetport and Tourist Trap is constructed, and then deconstructed, upon the shifting surface of sea-ice that covers the Arctic Sea.

Besides the battle against the elements, there are other battles, involving the greed of nations to exploit the arctic, and also the wish of some to see the arctic made into a National Park. Some who interfere, (with those seeking to exploit the arctic),  are conservationists of the best sort, but others are Satan’s Useful Idiots environmentalists. In any case, it is no easy task to get the Barneo base up and running.

This year there has been a lot of polite silence about what the hold-ups are. This makes me very curious, and also to a degree suspicious.

At the risk of sounding paranoid, I will state that there are those who would like nothing better than to block the construction of Barneo. Though they may state their opposition is due to an altruistic desire to keep the sea-ice pristine and pure, and unspoiled by jet-airplane exhaust, in actual fact they indignantly dislike the fact jets land on sea-ice that they have publicly stated would be gone by now.

Jets landing at the North Pole is “bad press”. However, if they could block the construction of the Barneo base, it would be “good press”, because they would never admit that they themselves blocked the construction, by throwing hammers into the works, but rather they would insist Barneo wasn’t built because there was no solid sea-ice to build it upon.

That excuse will not work this year, for this year there is ice solid enough to build upon. Neither “Climate”, nor “Weather”, is the reason the project is ten days behind schedule. The cause of the hold-up is unexplained. In fact we may never learn what sort of crap the promoters had to battle through, but it is not the sea-ice. The ice is thicker, where they are looking to build Barneo, than it has been on prior years.

The translations of their Facebook reports are as follows: From April 7:

“N 89 * 26.72 ‘and E 129 * 42.35’ are the coordinates of Jalousie-2.

There are now 23 people there: 12 helicopters, the head of the flights, the ice reconnaissance vehicle, the mechanic tractor driver (they flew from the Jalousie-1 point) and 8 paratroopers (among them the doctor) who landed with the Il-76 along with the fuel.

Tomorrow from this small camp a helicopter will fly out to search for an ice floe under the Barneo base.”

“Jalousie” is the translation (?) of the Russian “Zhaluzi”, which is the word they use to dub the base-camps they establish before the actual Barneo base is established. As I described in an earlier post, what they do is a remarkable display of faith, for they fly helicopters out past “the point of no return”, and then the helicopters land and await more fuel, trusting people will show up and airdrop the fuel. (!).  This first base is “Zhaluzi 1″. Aftwe fuel arrives they then fly on from this first base to establish “Zhaluzi 2″, and it is from that second base the reconnaissance is done that establishes the Barneo Base.

The translations from their Facebook reports of April 9 state:

 “The ice floe was found near the Jalousie-2. Annual, the thickness of 180cm.  Not far from this ice floe is another, reserve. Today, the guys will move from the Jalousie-2 to a new location, transport the fuel, and tomorrow, if the weather permits (it, unfortunately, is unstable), they will take two tractor and paratroopers from IL-76. And they will start building a runway.”

I hope you are able to read between the lines, and understand how gutsy these individuals are. They are way out on a limb, and when they state, with disinterested Russian Phlegm, that the weather, “unfortunately, is unstable,”  it is a bit like a sky-diver saying, “the parachute, unfortunately, is not functioning very well.”

For some reason the Danish Meteorological Institute has abruptly stopped issuing its North Pole maps of temperature and surface pressures. I haven’t heard any explanation. Fortunately I can fall back on the maps Dr. Ryan Maue made it possible for the Weatherbell Site to offer. They show the anomalous low pressure I dubbed “Ralph” moving up from the Kara Sea, to become a royal pain-in-the-ass for individuals attempting to establish a resort on shifting and groaning, cracking and crunching, moaning and squealing, sea-ice at the Pole.

April 8:
GEM mslp 0408 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1
April 9
GEM mslp 0409 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1April 10
GEM mslp 0410B cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1

This is not the sort of weather you want to have, when building a tourist trap on the North Pole. However the Barneo crews are unbelievable. In past years they have seen deeper gales, and in recent years have bulldozed runways only to see the sea-ice crack, and bulldozed second runways only to see those runways crack, and gone on to bulldoze a third runway. One reason they seldom post on Facebook is because they have no time to lounge at a computer.

It looks grim to me, as they are off to such a late start, and the weather is so rotten, but I do see a few glimmers of hope. One hope is that storms that far north tend to be arid, and the current storm is only dusting the landscape with less than an inch of snow.

GEM prec 0410B cmc_precip_mslp_arctic_2 (Off topic, but look at that slug of moisture slamming into southern Greenland!)

Not only are the snows slight, but, (if you look back to my past Barneo posts from prior years), you’ll see these fellows have seen worse. These gutsy fellows have worked in gales, with winds gusting above 50 mph, so the current winds of 20 mph, with gusts to 30 mph, are….well….maybe they aren’t “a piece of cake”, but they’ve seen worse.

Lastly I’d like to point out a thing they mention, that Alarmists will blithely ignore. They state the sea-ice is 1.8 meters thick. (Six feet).

Hello? I know many would feel a bit queasy about landing a jet on ice only six feet thick, atop a mile-deep ocean. But they have to land on thin ice. Such thin,  flat, fresh “baby-ice” is better than thicker ice, because the thicker “multiyear ice” is all fractured and crushed into an uneven mass of pressure ridges. That being said,  does anyone care to mention how thin the ice, which the jets landed on in prior years, was?


>Why not? Well, it might be because in prior years the ice was only 1.2 meters thick. (Four feet). And it would not support “the narrative”, (would it now?), to say the “baby-ice” was four feet thick in 2015 but now the “baby-ice” six feet thick?  Rather than suggesting the sea-ice is melting away, some might be “misguided”, and suggest that it is now thicker.

Well, it is thicker. Call me “misguided” all you want. I’m tired of listening to Alarmists gyrate their brains in order to produce their bent logic. They will point out the edge of the ice, far to the south, was pushed further north this year, and this makes this year’s “sea-ice extent” less. This is true. Yes, yes, yes, this is true. But will they raise their eyes just a little bit north to where sea-ice is 50% thicker? No, no, no.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying conditions couldn’t change by next year. Conditions vary enormously at the Pole. (For example, around 1817 so much sea-ice shifted south there was open water north of Greenland, but bergs grounded on the coast of Ireland, [and Western Europe experienced “A Year With No Summer”, likely due to a chilled North Atlantic.])

All I am saying is that we should be honest about current conditions. It is silly to only look at the edge of the ice down by Svalbard, and ignore the thickness of sea-ice where they are struggling to set up the Barneo Base. If you obey that sort of bias you are like a stallion wearing blinders; all your might is made meek.

Not that this sort of petty debate means anything to the fellows struggling to create the Barneo Base. I imagine their pay is pretty good, for a ordinary toiling Joe (though a comparative pittance, to a banker or politician.) What I can’t imagine, and envy, is the sheer struggle they experience, working under such unbelievable conditions.

I envy them because, in my younger days, I worked some horrific jobs, and the fellows I worked with did not fail, and consequently we made a little more money than other slobs. But the money didn’t matter as much as the memory. The money was soon spent, but the bragging-rights are everlasting.

For example, when you buy a tin of sardines, or some pickled herring, you likely cannot imagine the fellows unloading and tinning and pickling the fish in the dead of winter, when salt water freezes.  You had to be there. And I have been there.

In like manner, the tourists spending between $30,000 and $60,000 to recline on cots in tents at Barneo, and enjoy prepared meals from a kitchen, likely feel they are experiencing some degree of hardship, for, after all, they upon the Arctic Sea. But they have no idea of the hardship experienced by the Joe’s who set up their tents and cots and cafeteria.  The tourists experience mere “inconvenience”, compared to the brutal conditions experienced by the rough and tumble Joe’s, who make upper class adventures possible

If it is possible to move a thousand privileged people through Barneo in the 21 days it is open, as much as 60 million dollars will be involved. Any wonder people are willing to work their butts off? Not that the workers will each make 60 million. But they will make more than they’d make if they stayed south.

However that 60 million will not be available, if Barneo is unable to open. And therefore the workers are battling like you wouldn’t believe, fighting all the odds, to make it possible.

Man Oh Man, do I ever wish I was young again. That was the sort of fight I loved to dig my shoulder into: To make the impossible possible.

Consequently I have never understood those rich people who think it is smart to avoid hard work, and who instead think it is a sign of intelligence to trick people, and mislead people, and to say sea-ice is thinner when it is in fact thicker.

I could go on, but will leave it at that.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barneo Base Set-up Running Late–

Barneo 1 632

Alexander Orlov, wearing the bright blue shirt in the above picture of the “blessing of the 2017 Barneo expedition”, was the brains, brawn and heart of the amazing yearly event on the arctic ice, and with his wife Irena  (in white kerchief) had shouldered the burden of improving an encampment which he found to be very unsafe, (and his wife found to be very uncomfortable) when they first visited in 2002. In the above picture he shows little sign that he knew he had only five weeks to live. He completed the 2017 expedition, and completed his life.

The loss of such a crucial person undoubtedly makes it harder the following year. Usually the Barneo camp is established by the final week in March. In recent years the latest establishment of the base was March 31.

Barneo 2 18034254_1348604608549967_1961900318052645606_n

This year is off to a late start.  Irena has had to work alone, without her husband, and there have apparently been some problems, which she doesn’t go into.

“At first we planned on starting the aerial reconnaissance in the middle of March, but there was just no way to do that, for the difficulties we met were almost inextricable. But “almost” doesn’t mean “totally”, so we still had a chance. And we didn’t lose it. Hard times are gone, and we’re basically over the hump. This night the low platform with two tractors and landing equipment is departing to Tver, together with the landing team. Tomorrow they will leave to Murmansk to prepare the first airdrop of fuel storage tanks at the Jalousie-1 point. Take a look at the tractor’s loading:”

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Barneo 4 29572931_1603317013070775_6286306139557314037_n


Barneo 5 29694740_1604176379651505_7744059594372839495_n

This is only the start of a colossal effort which will create a jetport on arctic sea-ice for a very short period of time. It boggles the mind. Mi-8 helicopters fly north to the the most northerly fuel dump on Srendy Island to refuel, and then basically fly north from there until they run out of gas. Then they land and await more gas to be airdropped to them. This first base is called “Zhalyuzi 1”. Once the helicopters have more gas, they fly on to establish a second base, called “Zhalyuzi 2”, and it is only then, after another airdrop, that they  seek to find the perfect ice-floe, “oval-shaped, detached from the surrounding sea-ice, and…at least 2 km long so that it can accommodate a 1,200 m runway and the (Barneo) camp”. (Irena’s words).

This is not the end of the effort, because in the past such oval-shaped bergs have split, and one year four separate runways had to be bulldozed, before the tourists arrived.

In the past I have been too scornful of tourists who pay what I make in a year for a three day adventure. I think I’m just jealous.

It should be stated that all this effort is not merely done for tourists. In a war-time situation Russia might need to build an airbase in a big hurry on arctic sea-ice, and the construction of Barneo is good practice. However the experience has apparently suggested to some in the Russian military that such a base might be too short-lived to be useful, except in certain contingencies in April. Therefore they are apparently toying with the idea of bigger and bigger ice-breakers, nuclear powered, approaching the size of an aircraft carrier. Once a floating-island-icebreaker, that jets can land on, is built, Barneo will become obsolete.

For safety’s sake Barneo is usually closed down, as a tourist trap, the third week in April. After that the runway might become slushy and unsuitable for jets. However I have seen evidence that the runway is not unsuitable for smaller aircraft with skis, and scientists hang out at the site well into the summer. Though all the comfortable accommodations for tourists have been disassembled and removed, a few huts remain, and there are plenty of pictures of the site where melt-water pools are evident, that were apparently taken in June, or even July, and also pictures indicating the final removal of personal is done by ice-breaker and not aircraft.

Back in 2016 a jet came down very hard on the ice. They always land hard and brake hard, in such a short landing strip. On this occasion the hard-landing didn’t even dent the sea-ice, but the the jets’s landing gear crumpled. Suddenly the Russians had a jet to remove from the pristine arctic, or they would face the wrath of Greenpeace, and also Norway. This taught me a lot about the petty politics Irina has to deal with. My observations are made here:

I think the above post may give one an inkling of the “difficulties” Irena has had to deal with this year, and why she is off to such a late start. Her late husband Alexander Orlov is likely rolling in his grave about how later the start is. However she seems cool as a cucumber and confident her staff will work with same ferocity they displayed other years, when cracks in the runways seemed to make the situation impossible.

An excellent interview of Irena by the blogger “coldartist” from March 31 appears here:

As an aside, during the interview, Irena mentions that, judging from satellite imagery, the sea-ice in the area is “pretty solid, varying from 1.82 m to 1.60 m…:”

My ears perk forward at that, for that seems a tidbit of “Real News”, as opposed to the “Fake News” one is plastered by at other sites. I pay attention to small details, and recognize sea-ice 5-6 feet thick is thicker than sea-ice 4 feet thick, which jets have landed upon in the past.  Back when the Barneo base involved the scientists who gifted us with the “North Pole Camera”, I recall the scientist who froze his fingers putting that camera in place commenting on how the ice was “only” four feet thick.

Now that fellow is no longer invited north. The funding for the “North Pole Camera” has dried up. It is not because the fellow ever stated Global Warming was in any way a fraud. Even if he didn’t drink the Kool -Aid, he gave every indication of serving it and being a loyal Alarmist. However his cameras failed to “further the narrative”.  In fact his cameras seemed to be an anathema, and a “Denier”, for the cameras failed to show the sea-ice melting away.

In like manner, the funding for the O-buoy cameras has dried up. Why? Perhaps they too failed to “further the narrative”. Surely I sound paranoid, but it just seems odd to me that a few years ago we had many cameras scanning the sea-ice, and now we have none.

Now, if we are to continue to use our own eyes, and see what the sea-ice actually looks like, and to compare it with various “interpretations” derived from satellites, it depends on a woman named Irena. Also it depends on rich tourists, who want to spend at least $25,000 for a three day vacation, seeing for themselves what the sea-ice looks like, and that it hasn’t melted away, and that jets can actually land on it in April.

To me it seems a tragic state of affairs that we must depend on rich tourists to post on Facebook, to see the Truth, whereas those we once trusted to tell the Truth, (including even the Pope himself), seem more inclined towards the balderdash called “being politically correct”. To some it is more important to appear correct than to be correct.

If you are depressed, I don’t blame you. It is a very depressing state of affairs we live midst. But, if you hunger for the Truth about sea-ice, continue to use your eyes. Unless the blinders become complete, there will be evidence available. And, even if the politically correct make the blinders complete, and the Barneo base no longer reports actual conditions, continue to stand by the Truth. For then Truth will stand by you.

In other words, stay tuned.