ARCTIC SEA ICE –Point Barrow’s Ice–

With many eyes focused on the the Northabout, as it tries to battle through the ice at the western entrance of the Laptev Sea, some are missing a wonderful chance to study the ice at the far side of the Pole. Skies have been clear, and north winds brought ice ashore at Barrow, which I missed because I was too engrossed in the Northabout’s travails. I only managed to save a picture of the final bits of ice before they washed away.

Barrow Webcam 0805 05_22_23_24_ABCam_20160805_132000

For a few more days you will be able to see the sea-ice on the shore and further out to sea in the ten-day-animation of the Barrow Webcam here:

What fascinated me was how substantial the bergs appeared. From outer space no individual bergs could be seen, and the water looked like it had milky swirls, but some of the bergs looked as tall as a man, when they grounded.

Then, when the bergs were blown west and out to sea by southeast winds, I wondered where they had gone. Temperatures can get quite hot over the Tundra, and though they cool towards the coast, during some summers Barrow has seen temperatures in the 70’s in late July and early August. Sea-ice is liable to melt swiftly when it gets close to shore. Had this ice melted?

This is where the Explorer comes in handy, for it allows you to zoom in from outer space. It can be found here:

Zooming in on Point Barrow, the ice can still be seen, lurking not far off shore:

The problem then becomes telling the ice from the clouds. In the above shot there are a few wisps of cirrus over the sandbars along the coast, and a triangle of high cloud to the bottom right, but all the other milky wisps are ice. They look slushy and even ephemeral from afar, but face to face they become far more meaningful and substantial. From outer space the sea barely seems to have any ice, but down on the surface in a small craft the seas seem far more “ice covered.”

This leads to all sorts of bickering about what constitutes an ice-covered sea. 15% ice-extent seems to be the accepted line between ice-covered and ice-free, though I would not like to try to cross water with 10% ice coverage. For one thing, as the above picture shows, the ice is not evenly dispersed but, just as the sand forms sandbars along the coast, the ice seems to form ice-bars out to sea, and they could definitely bar a small boat’s way.

Another subject often debated is how much sunshine the open water is absorbing. The water looks nice and black in the above picture, and as if it would suck up sunshine, but when the sun gets low on the horizon water, especially when it is glassy, reflects sunshine even more efficiently than white snow. Then, when the sun dips below the horizon, as it is starting to do each day in Barrow, open water loses heat more efficiently than water sheltered by an igloo-roof of sea-ice. In other words, the “abedo” equation is more complex than Al Gore described, with open water gaining heat when the sun is highest and never sets, and then losing heat as the sun sinks lower and sets.

Right now we are finishing a time when the North Pole actually gains more heat than it loses. We are beginning to lose more heat than we gain. From now until the sun sets in September the thaws grow shorter, fewer, and more far-between. Most of the melt comes from below.

This “basal melt” is tricky, and I am constantly being fooled by it. It has to do with the temperature of the water under the ice, but we have too few sensors under the ice to have a good idea of when, how and why it varies. And it obviously does vary, because sometimes the “ice-bars” visible in the  picture above can vanish with startling rapidity, while on other occasions they just persist until they refreeze.

So far this summer we have seen the latter more than the former. Last April the Alaskan coast got off to such a speedy start, in terms of becoming ice-free, that those who root for an ice-free Pole were gloating and chortling. Even when temperatures were still well below freezing off-shore winds had created huge Polynyas of open water both to the west and to the east of Barrow, and if the sea-ice had melted in the manner it did in 2012…but it didn’t. Instead it just floated about refusing to melt, and even came back to the ice-free coast and littered the beaches. The nerve!

The last variable involves how cloudy the Pole has been. Not that Barrow ever gets much sun, tending to be cloudy more than half the time, but further out towards the Pole it is usually sunnier, but this past year a meridional pattern has brought storm after storm to the Pole, basically smashing the ice to smithereens.

The weather patterns up over the Pole deserve more study, for they seem to break laws obeyed by patterns further south. Often I’m baffled by their behavior. In fact the triangle of cloud at the bottom of the above shot is worthy an hour of wonder all its own, as it is part of a puzzling cloud formation best seen by taking a few steps back, and viewing Barrow from deeper out in space:

At this distance some of the thinner ice-bars are all but invisible, but we also see bigger bergs, looking like chips from outer space, but the size of several Manhattans, further out to sea. Then, when we step out even further, Barrow becomes tiny as we see a bigger picture:

At this point the discussions can become a bit silly, for if you are rooting for an ice-free Pole you spot that area of open water well out into the pack-ice, and that becomes your focus:

However if you are like me you simply shift the focus, and win the argument. You point out the subject under discussion was not a ice-free area in the Arctic Sea, but rather that the entire sea would be ice-free. You point at an area further south, back towards Barrow, and in a somewhat impolite tone state, “That does not look very ice-free to me.”

In the end I can’t help but think this will be another summer that frustrates everyone. There is still a lot of basal melt to go, so there may be some surprises, but I think we will wind up with too much ice to make the Alarmists happy, but too little to make the Skeptics happy.

And in our preoccupation with area and extent, we may totally miss something wonderful. We could be using the wrong metric, and attempting to smell a rose with a microphone. For, when I look at the ice, it seems wonderfully smashed up. The real news could be hidden in the change in the storm tracks, and in the meridional pattern, and we might be completely missing it.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Reinforcing Ralph–

I don’t have the time to name the individual lows and highs that ramble about the Pole this summer, let alone name the pockets of cold and warm that show up on the temperature maps, like I did three summers ago. But I do pamper my mischievous side enough to name the general area of low pressure that has been sprawling over the Pole, “Ralph.”

Ralph keeps looking like he will fill and fade away, and I’ve been expecting high pressure to regain a dominate position, as the high pressure “Igor” did a few summers ago. To my surprise Ralph keeps calling for reinforcements, and boyishly keeps his position as king-of-the-mountain atop the planet. When we last looked on June 28 he had absorbed a blurb of low pressure from east Siberia (R3, which stands for third reinforcement), and was north of the Canadian Archipelago.

Then June 30 saw R4  swing across Bering Strait from East Siberia to the Beaufort Sea, to lend Ralph a hand.

Then June 30 saw R5 move north from central Siberia to help out. There was a bit of a hubbub about this low being an ice-eater, but it wasn’t.

Some might suggest the July 1 map showed Ralph gone, and R4 in the the Canadian Archipelago with R5 north of East Siberia, but I’ve grown fond of Ralph, and I rule. I saw Ralph stand bravely in the middle, on the Pole, and fiercely prevent high pressure from ridging over the Pole. Some models impudently snubbed Ralph and kept suggesting the high pressure would reestablish itself in the long range, but when the long range became the present tense it never happened. This maps show the high pressure coming as close as it ever came to regaining the Pole.


Then July 2 showed Ralph draw R5 north, and keep control of the Pole. The high pressures were wimps, and were squeezed south in Canada and Siberia.

(Missing July 2 12Z Map)

On July 3 R6 nudges north over Norway, as Ralph remains victoriously king of the mountain.  Ralph sees no reason reinforcements shouldn’t come from the Atlantic.

On July 4 R6 slides north over Svalbard and Ralph welcomes him up at the Pole.

On July 5 they celebrate as a decent summer storm.

(12 Z July 5 map missing)

Lastly, on July 6 we see Ralph is still rocking. A low is loop-de-looping over Finland, but prevented from coming north by a high pressure ridge being pumped up between it and Ralph. Models have been suggesting this ridge would at long last regain the Pole as Ralph finally faded south into Asia, but more recent runs are starting to suggest that Ralph will not be be so meek, and instead will swing around across Bering Strait and come right back up to the Pole via the Beaufort Sea.

At the risk of being a bore, I’d like to return to something I keep harping upon, which is that in theory Ralph shouldn’t exist.  The three dimensional idea of a Polar Cell existing north of Fellel Cells envisions descending air at the Pole, but Ralph, as a low pressure system, would involve ascending air.

Polar Cell cells_mod

This involves attempting to get your mind around a three dimensional image of what exactly is going on up there.  Does the polar jet develop a branch that spirals in to the center? Is there a Fourth Cell, which should be called some yet-to-be-determined name such as “Extrapolar Cell” or (I modestly suggest) “Caleb Cell”? Or is it chaos? (Even if it was chaos, there would still be a changing chart of inflows and outflows and places air rose and air fell.)

In the end I tend to simply wonder, without answers. Even the above chart sees the Pole as a sort of doughnut, with a hole of descending air at the center.  What seems to occur is the doughnut becomes a cinnamon roll, with a spiral towards the center, and then a low moves up the spiral and becomes a low lodged at the center of the High, (a doughnut within the doughnut), at which point we  would have a short lived “Fourth Cell”, named Ralph.

If Ralph involves rising air then there would be outflow at the top, and inflow towards the bottom, and with that lower inflow at the surface one would surmise that the sea-ice would be crunched towards the Pole. This leads me to an interesting DMI chart of volume, which is attached to their thickness map.

DMI 00706 FullSize_CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20160705

What is interesting is that the volume has moved away from being at the same level as 2012, and now is at the mean for the period 2004-2013. Meanwhile, in terms of extent, we continue at 2012 levels.

DMI3 0706 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

What one would tend to conclude is that, though the extent may be the same as 2012, the ice must be thicker, to have the volume be greater.

It is also interesting to to compare the extent with the area. Remember that the area is always less than the extent, for extent calls an area “ice-covered” even if there is open water. In fact extent can call an area ice-covered when it is 85% open water. Area graphs, on the other hand, attempt to exclude the open water, (to only include the pixels that are white).  For this comparison I use the NANSEN graphs.

EXTENTNansen extent 0706 ssmi_ice_ext

AREANansen area 0706 ssmi_ice_area

Here again we see that, while extent is as low as 2012, area is greater now than in 2012. This would suggest 2012 involved more leads of open water, and the sea-ice is packed more tightly this year. Conclusion? The ice has more volume and is packed more tightly. One would surmise this would cause it to melt more slowly, but, as always, all depends on the water swooshing beneath the ice.

My guess is that the water beneath the ice began colder than last year, because the storms of last winter broke up the ice a lot and exposed a lot of the water to bitter cold winds before it could refreeze. Now I am wondering whether Ralph may be bringing any milder waters north, by sucking inflow at the surface. (It is a pity the SST maps up at the Pole are so unreliable.)

The NRL maps show a quicker melt of Beaufort Sea this year, but the major melt of last year occurred over along the Siberian coast, and the ice is thicker and hanging tough there, this year. 2016 is to the left and 2015 to the right.


I would think that the inflow into Ralph would make the Pole warmer than normal, but, perhaps due to Ralph’s clouds, they have been slightly colder than usual.

DMI3 0706 meanT_2016

Our lone camera, O-buoy 14, is down close to the melt of the Beaufort Sea, so I would not be surprised to see the ice break up this month. It did see a bit of sun during a cold snap a day ago, after a long spell of gray clouds.

Obuoy 14 0705 webcamObuoy 14 0705 temperature-1week

Temperatures have since recovered, as have the dreary grays of a cloudy summer. It looks like wet snow and perhaps rain may be falling.

Obuoy 14 0706 webcam

Obuoy 14 0706 temperature-1week

O-buoy 14 has been drifting back to the east, which suggests Ralph has also reversed the movement of the Beaufort Gyre from clockwise to counterclockwise. (What a troublemaker.) Once again we see that the motion of Sea-ice is greatly influenced by the air above, even as the melt of Sea-ice is greatly influenced by the water below. The influence of CO2 is a runt in comparison, and may even be so small it is invisible.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Remaining Calm–

You have to be careful discussing the factors involving this year’s ice-melt up at the Pole, for at times 90% of what is discussed has nothing to do with Sea-ice.

In my view all the furor and hoop-la spoils the serenity of watching the ice melt, so I do my best to avoid it. Unfortunately nothing makes people more irate then speaking these two words, “Calm down.” (If you don’t believe me, try using them on your wife or husband…but strap on a helmet first.)

In actual  fact things do grow more calm to the north this time of year, which is why, (as we remember heroes on this Memorial Day), we remember D-day was planned for June 5, 1944. The North Atlantic was suppose to be at its least stormy in June. But, as is often the case with the weather, things did not proceed as forecast,  and a storm hit. One of the reasons D-day succeeded was because the Germans didn’t think the Allies would invade in a storm, but the Allies only delayed until June 6.

It is perhaps foolish to predict anything, especially anything involving the vast, silly storm called “Global Warming”, but I have done it. I predicted furor and hoop-la, and that part of my forecast has been 100% correct. The rest of my forecast is as follows:

The ice-melt will get off to a fast start, but slow as the summer proceeds, and in the end the minimum ice-extent  will be about what it was last year. I base my  guess on the following:

1.) During the winter the ice was very active, and sea-ice was compressed towards the center of the Arctic Sea. Also there was less cross-polar-flow, with less ice exported from the Siberian side to the Canadian side, so the ice is thicker towards Siberia. This suggests that, when the ice-edge melts back to these areas of thicker ice, the retreat of the ice-edge will slow.

2.) The fact the sea-ice was active involved the opening of many  leads in the Beaufort Sea. The exposure of the water to  cold winter winds likely chilled the water under the ice, and disturbed the stratification of seawater into various levels, with warmer but more saline waters less able to sneak under the ice northwards. Therefore I assume the water under the ice is colder.

3.) The waters south of Bering Strait were two degrees colder than 2015 throughout much of the winter, which suggests any water sneaking north through the strait would be colder, (and therefore less able to melt ice from beneath), than last year’s (very effective) waters.

4.) The export of ice south through Fram Strait was fitful, and at times even reversed, during the winter, which resulted in more sea-ice being left behind up at the Pole. As this export slows in the gentler winds of summer, more and thicker ice will be left behind, slowing the melt on the Atlantic side.

5.) The melt will begin rapidly, not due to the actual melting of ice, but because polynyas formed where the ice was pushed away from shore. This off-shore wind exposes water to cooling, but also results in up-welling of slightly warmer water by the shore.

6.) Even where up-welling doesn’t occur, huge arctic rivers pour snow-melt-floods north into the Arctic Sea, and, even though this water is ice-water, it is warmer (32F) than the ocean’s ice-water (29F), and it is also less saline until it mixes with the sea. This creates a “lens” of milder water along the coasts, speeding the ice-melt. As this “lens” pushes out to sea it becomes more mixed, and loses its effectiveness, in terms of melting.

7.) As the summer proceeds the warming effect of the El Nino will start to fade, and the effect of the “Quiet Sun” will become more apparent.

There you have it. I have already been told, “Caleb, you ignorant slut”, for making my forecast, so no one needs to say that again. In any case, I won’t know if I am right, wrong, or (most likely) partially correct, until August. Therefore I am simply going to stay calm, and sit back, and enjoy the show.

I had a tap on my shoulder and was reminded what really matters on  Friday evening. My wife’s brother was in a bad accident during the last snow of April, when a car came sliding across the road and crushed in his car’s driver’s side door. After an insurance hassle and physical therapy he got things back together, and was driving his brand new truck on Friday when a car came across the center line, smashed the vehicle in front of him, and managed to flip and once again crushed in the driver’s side door of the vehicle he drove.

Craig crash 20160527_165110

There was about a three hour delay between the time the wonders of the internet produced the above picture and the time I heard from the hospital that my brother-in-law was bruised, royally pissed off,  but otherwise OK.  Three hours is long enough to contemplate how much sea-ice really matters, in the scheme of things.

Not one hell of a lot. I wouldn’t even know it was there, if it weren’t for satellites, the internet, and fools who think it matters more than the practical details of ordinary life for ordinary people.

Generations upon generations have  lived their lives without a clue about what was occurring in the arctic, with the ice coming and going. It didn’t matter that sea-ice was at times nearly absent at the Pole, and at other times sea-ice grounded icebergs on the coast of Ireland, unless you lived on the coast of Ireland, or were a whaler seeking rich hunting grounds.Whaler 3 AmericanWhalersCrushedInTheIce

In some cases those whalers were hunting up in waters that people now completely freak out about, when they are open water rather than ice-covered. The history is available for those who bother to look. The whalers were glad the arctic was more ice-free on summers when the ice allowed them to sneak north. They didn’t freak out about open water in the mid 1800’s, so I want to tell people who freak out now, “Calm down”, but, like I said earlier, that doesn’t work. It especially doesn’t work when billions upon billions of dollars are involved, as people attempt to control the weather with hocus-pocus (when a Hopi priest could likely do a dance that would be more effective, far more cheaply).

The people most prone to hysteria are those who’s entire livelihood is based on the hysteria; ranging from honest professors to dishonest professors, from honestly ignorant idealists to snake-oil salesmen, from honest politicians representing deluded constituents to corrupt politicians lusting for power and gold.  The world has gone bonkers, and has forgotten common sense even to the degree where people can’t agree girl’s bathrooms are for girls, and what really matters gets ignored, until you get a tap on your shoulder. Then you remember. And then it seems most sad we are spending billions upon billions on dust in the wind.

In any case, there is little I  can do but take my own advice and “Calm down”.  I can point out that the current uproar about the polynya northeast of Alaska is about a situation we have seen before.

Poly 3 bathurst-and-w-beaufort-polynyas_1975-vs-2015_polarbearscience

I will likely be then told, “Caleb, you ignorant slut, it is much worse this year”.;2015-05-27/6-N75.7439-W143.49899

The above link takes you to a really a cool site, for it lets you slide about the arctic and zoom in and zoom out, noticing things Alarmists don’t mention, such as a bit more ice in the west of Bering Strait this year, and that it was more green inland in Alaska, last year, but it is not worth arguing that there is more ice north of the Mackenzie River delta this year, for there isn’t. And considering you are given the link to focus on that specific thing, it is impolite to focus elsewhere. And it is especially rude to tell a kind person who gives you a link that they are an ignorant slut. Therefore I usually avoid that.

As a general rule I find Alarmist put me in the shoes of defending the indefensible, but find it is best to traipse lightly by that trap, enjoying the wonder of a new spring with unique weather. Nothing irks Alarmists more than embracing the very thing they think will devastate you, and instead rhapsodizing about how wonderful it is.

And it indeed is a genuine wonder how smashed up the Beaufort Sea is, after all the winter storms. I think the El Nino created a very meridienal flow, and its lagging after-effects are keeping the temperatures merely normal, rather than giving us the below-normal cold waves we saw up in the Beaufort Sea last May and early June, (that, with a sheer guess, I think were due to the “Quiet Sun”.)

To compare two years with different weather patterns is a bit like comparing apples with oranges, but pointing out last year had ice increasing when it usually melts makes this year look less alarming, when you compare a 2015 map with a 2016 map.

Then I expect to hear, “Caleb, you ignorant slut, can’t you see how warm the water is north of the Mackenzie Delta?”

SST 0528 arcticsstnowcast

I like to nod and enthusiastically agree. It is really wonderful! Alaska had a mild winter (even as Mongolia had record cold) so the Mackenzie River is pouring out a nice freshwater lens. Also the off-shore winds that created the polynya also created up-welling. How cool! There may even be some sunshine slightly warming the water, though the sun has been dim the past week.

Obuoy 14 0529 webcam

At this point I scratch my jaw and say, “Odd”. Then I wait, until asked, “What? What’s odd?”  Then I shrug and say, “Oh, I just noticed the NRL map above shows -1°C where Obuoy 14 is located, but the buoy itself is reporting -5°C. I suppose the buoy is reporting the air, and NRL is reporting the water under the ice.  But…odd…”

Obuoy 14 0529 temperature-1week

“What? What’s odd?”

“Oh, it’s just that the picture shows the Mass Balance Buoy at that location is trashed. I just wonder how anyone knows what the temperature of the water under the ice is? It’s such a pity the buoys were so poorly placed and badly maintained, because they are so handy to have, when it comes to double-checking satellite data. But maybe they’ll rehire that guy they had last year, who was so good at recontacting buoys that went periods of time without signalling. It would be nice if we could get O-bouys 8b, 13 and 15 back, as well as Mass Balance Buoys 2015G, 2015I, and 2015J. Oh well, at least we have Mass Balance Buoy 2015F, reporting -4.31° C.  But…odd…

“What? What’s odd?”

“Well, its just that it seems cold over the ice…

Arctic 0529 cmc_t2m_arctic_2

…and high pressure seems to be blowing that cold air right towards the Mackenzie Delta…

Arctic 0529 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_2

…And…well…you’re so concerned that the less-cold water north of the Delta might melt the ice, but wouldn’t those cold winds cool that water? ”

“Caleb, you ignorant slut.”

“Calm down.”


2016 to 2015

 2016 to 2014  

2016 to 2013  

2016 to 2012

 (Aside: In 2012 there was much less fracturing of the Beaufort ice and the water beneath was very stratified, with lots of warmer water available under the ice, which became very apparent during the polar gale that summer, when a great deal of ice melted in a matter of days.)

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Springtime For Alarmists in Hysteria–


It is hard to bear the rejoicing in Alarmist circles, as they see evidence we humans have shot a hole in our boat’s bottom, and our planet is a sinking Titanic. Why exactly they are so joyful that the end of life on earth is nigh, I don’t understand, but the symptoms are undeniable, if you lurk about Alarmist sites. The sea-ice is at record low extent, for early May:

DMI3 0512B icecover_current_new (1)

For Skeptics like myself this is a terrible and tragic situation, for I wish it was true. If the sea ice was really fading away we could get back to growing barley in Greenland, and providing food and unfrozen water on Greenland in January, without relying on imports,  for the 2000 cows and 100,000 sheep and goats the Vikings managed to keep alive. However it is an illusion.

If you draw one of those arrow-straight “trend lines” that Alarmists are so fond of, you can see this year’s rate of decline won’t even match last year’s lows, but Alarmists are already congratulating each other, for they are sure the ice will remain the same distance below-normal it now is, and this year’s minimum extent will beat 2012’s record low minimum. This is tragic to watch, for they are being teased by a tormenting destiny, which rather than ending their delusion with a splash of cold water in their feverish faces, is actually egging them on with incidental evidence they are not crazy, when they are.

For example, ordinarily I can gently nudge them to saner thinking by pointing out something like the yearly drop of arctic temperatures to below-normal in May. But this year, (likely due to the lagged effect of an El Nino already fading away),  for the first time in years, temperatures are not dropping below normal in May.

DMI3 0512B meanT_2016

I don’t see why fate has to be so cruel to Alarmists. It is like encouraging an addict, like telling a person ruined by heroin or crystal meth that they appear normal, and no one suspects they are not quite right, when everyone in town knows they have such a monkey riding their shoulders they can’t even hold an ordinary job.

I really don’t like seeing my fellow man reduced to such a tragic state, but it makes things much harder for me when all the “scientific” evidence just encourages the deluded. Heck, I have to go all the way back to 2010 to find a case where temperatures stayed above normal this late in May, before dipping below normal.

DMI3 meanT_2010

And when I have to go back six whole years Alarmists will accuse me of grasping at straws. And maybe I am, though they are the ones drowning.

It is somewhat embarrassing how unquestioning they are about certain things. For example, the fellows measuring sea-ice have to tweak their devices around this time of year, because of certain problems satellites have recognizing wet ice from open water. They do the best they can, but sometimes as they tweak things, ice abruptly appears or disappears. The funny thing is Alarmists are furious and out to behead people, when ice abruptly appears, but when it abruptly disappears they don’t raise a finger, nor a feather, and remain smooth and unruffled.

Just for an example, check out the waters north of the Mackenzie River Delta in these two maps, from May 9 and May 10. An impossible amount of ice simple vanishes in 24 hours.

Thickness 20160509 ictn2016050818_2016050900_042_arcticictn.001

Thickness 20160510 ictn2016050918_2016051000_042_arcticictn.001

(The best way to compare is to open the two maps to new tabs, and then click back and forth between them.)

I am fairly certain that one to two feet of sea ice did not vanish that swiftly, basically overnight. Most likely it involves a data-gathering-tweak. However I will say this: If one to two feet of sea ice appeared that quickly, Alarmists would be all over it, and some would accuse Big Oil or Big Coal or Republicans or people-who-attend-church. It’s silly they can be in such a panic about one sort of unlikely situation, and heedlessly complacent about another.

As for me, I just note that a large area of ice, vanishing like that, would likely dip the sea-ice extent graph, and I leave it at that. To double-check, if so inclined, one can go to the Canadian Ice Service map:

Canadian Extent 20120512 CMMBCTCA

This map makes the polynya look smaller, and therefore one is driven to use their lying eyes, and to utilize the actual satellite picture of the waters, here:

I think I am going to have to learn how to “save” close-ups from this site in order to make certain points. I don’t know how to do it yet, so you are going to have to trust me that the Polynya is bigger than the Canadian map shows, but the “open water” has more swirls of drifting ice than the NRL map shows.

But what is not obvious is that when open water appears at this time of year it is not because air temperatures are up to the melting point of sea water. It is because the ice has been shifted somewhere else. And this is yet another cruel trick reality has to tease Alarmists, for it drops the extent of the ice without actually melting any.

I get a bit tired of explaining this same dull point over and over, but got drawn into doing again at Steve Goddard’s new site after reading this post:   I stated:

When the light returned to the arctic, and we could use our lying eyes to assess the visible satellite pictures, it was quite obvious a lot of ice in the Beaufort Sea has been shifted towards Siberia all winter. Not only were there the dark cracks of freshly opened leads, but the light grey cracks of leads that opened months ago and have since frozen over, in some cases to a depth of 3 to 6 feet.

A slight amount of the moved ice did get sucked south through Bering Strait and join the parade of sea-ice that moves down the east coast of Asia much like ice moves down the east coasts of Greenland and Labrador. But most of the moved ice stayed up in the arctic, creating numerous pressure ridges in the East Siberian Sea and quite a pile-up along the coast of East Siberia.

This body of thicker ice will not effect the ice-extent graph until later in the melt season. Then we shall see if the East Siberian Sea is slower to melt, because the ice is thicker.

In the winter of 2012-2013 there was a similar movement of ice in Beaufort Sea, causing a great hubbub in the Alarmist community because it seemed to them that, if the ice broke up in the middle of the winter, surely it would fall apart and melt more quickly in the summer. It didn’t happen. One idea I heard was that so much water was exposed in the winter by leads that the water temperature was lowered under the ice, slowing the melt in the summer.

The thing I remember about that summer-of-2013 was the terrible trauma Alarmists went through when the ice failed to melt as they expected. I really don’t like seeing such pain, and I can’t see why, having suffered that way once, they want to do it all over again.

But I suppose that is the thing about an addiction. There is something about the “high” so attractive that one goes-for-it, heedless of the ruin it will bring about.  Pity such people, but do not expect them to admit they have a problem until they are completely ruined.

All an onlooker can do, until the addicts are ruined and plead for help, is to go to work and do your job and record the truth as it happens.

The weak swirl north of Greenland didn’t attack the Pole like the winter ones did. The North Atlantic gale is not stuck over Iceland , but is further north, drifting slowly towards Barents Sea north of Norway. Models were showing it getting up to the Pole a week from now, but now are backing away from that idea.


The models continue to bounce all over the place, concerning whether the North Atlantic low will wander up to the Pole or not. In the short term it looks like the ridge of the high pressure will stand fast, and the weak but sprawling low over the East Siberian Sea will drift across to the Canadian Archipelago while weakening. That low has drawn some Pacific air north through Alaska and then off shore, giving O-Buoy 14 an early thaw, which will give Alarmists more joy. The thaw is already over, and the ice is still much colder than the air only inches below the surface, but a thaw is still a thaw.

Obuoy 14 0513 temperature-1week

This ice is quite far south, having just moved past 77°, compressing north midst the ice that has been generally pushed away from the coasts of Alaska and Canada. Therefore the thaw is not included in the mean-temperatures-north of 80° graph we look at. Hopefully the compression will not build any pressure ridges that take out our only remaining camera.

Obuoy 14 0513 webcam

The snow does look like it softened a little during the thaw.


Here is the wind field that opened up the polynya (also called a “shore lead”) back in April.

Poly 1 2016-05-12101712

(Hat Tip Steve Goddard @   )

And here is a satellite view of the ice starting to crack and leads forming back on April 21. (South, and the coast of Alaska, is to the left in this picture.)

Poly 2 beaufort-gyre-video-screencap_21-april-2016_labelled

(Hat Tip Susan J. Crockford @

She has a good post here:

Beaufort Sea fractured ice due to strong Beaufort Gyre action – not early melt

And last but not least, in case you hear this polynya is “unprecedented”, here  are pictures of similar situations last year and in 1975.

Poly 3 bathurst-and-w-beaufort-polynyas_1975-vs-2015_polarbearscience

This is also from Susan J. Crockford’s research.

Tracking polar bears in the Beaufort Sea in April 2016 and early polynya formation




ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barneo Politics–

After a silence we have a report from Barneo, which suggests the Norwegians made it impossible to use Svalbard as base of operations. The key sentences are these:  “Then on April, 7 we got further problems from the Norwegian authorities. Trude Petterson, The Independent Barents Observer reporter, found a threat to national security in our conventional activities.

As best as I can tell, the Russians have had to shift to Franz Josef Land as a alternative, and will likely do so in the future, if they continue the Barneo bases. It will be rough on the economy of Svalbard to lose the tourists, I imagine. I’m not sure what has happened with the tourists this year, or heard anything about the planting of this year’s North Pole Camera.

The ice appears to be sound, though there are a lot of pressure ridges.

Barneo 8A 13083366_1023415584402206_7795010859968768566_n

Barneo 8B 13051705_1023415624402202_4868506117936992761_n

The Barneo site continues to drift south towards Fram Strait.

Barneo 8C 13087629_1023415681068863_8066820128088290364_n

The red line at the top is the “Race Against Time” expedition, which originally was planned to travel from the Pole to Canada. Likely all the delays caused them to back out of that plan, and take an easier route. I find their site a little amusing, for they are stressing how warm the Arctic has been this winter, but describing how the ice is thicker than it was when Mark Wood crossed the same area two years ago. There are many more pressure ridges, which they describe as “boulder fields”. It is no joke hauling sleds over such barriers.

It is worthwhile to compare this years ice with last year’s. (If you open each map (link)  to a new tab you can then switch back and forth to better see the comparison.) (2015 is to the left; 2016 is to the right.)


It is clear that the ice is thinner in Barents and Kara seas, but largely because that ice has been exported, and crunched over to the Pole. Ordinarily a pressure ridge is too small to be seen in these satellite-derived thickness-maps, as a pressure ridge gets averaged-out, however in the above 2016 map a long curving “mountain range” of ice averaging nine feet thick curves directly over the Pole. In order for this to not be averaged-out, it must consist of  numerous smaller pressure ridges, some which obviously would be more than nine feet thick. So far I have been unable to get a good view of this feature from satellite pictures, due to clouds. It curves all the way down to the area north of Greenland’s northeast corner, and is likely bound for Fram Strait. Ice is pushed closer to the northwest corner of Svalbard this year, and likely is chilling the tendril of the Gulf Stream that enters the arctic there, as it is melted.

The Polynya northwest of Alaska is larger this year, as are the polynyas along the North Slope coasts of Alaska and Canada. The ice missing from these areas has largely been swept over towards East Siberia, which has thick ice piled up on its coasts, and thicker-than-last-year ice out to sea. This area will likely be slower to melt this summer, especially as the Pacific seems colder. It will be interesting to watch the Laptev Sea in August, when the freshwater floods from the Lena River reach their peak, as the floods will likely be greater (and perhaps colder) this year due to deep snows inland in Siberia. These surges of fresh water have a big effect on that coast of the Arctic.

One feature I watched last summer I dubbed “The Slot”, north of Alaska. A feature-of-this-feature was “The Reef”, which formed The Slot’s southern edge. This never completely melted away, as it originally consisted of some huge pressure ridges, and I’ve watched it all winter as it was swept around all the way to 160 degrees east longitude. It likely forms a considerable pile of ice-chunks over there. The ice north of Siberia is by no means flat “baby ice”. It is a pity we lost our two O-buoy cameras that were over that way.

In order to have all the ice piled up towards Russia it needed to be exported from the Beaufort Sea, which the satellite views show as being crisscrossed by a web of leads and frozen leads, some quite wide, and some frozen-over quite thickly. That sea’s water has been losing heat all winter through these leads.

O-buoy 13 continues to be swept east north of Alaska, and pictures a cold and windswept scene, with temperatures showing a diurnal swing between -10°C and -15°C.

Obuoy 13 0423 webcamObuoy 13 0424 webcam

O-buoy 14 is further east, has finally melted its lens free. We were lucky to not lose this buoy over the winter, as a small pressure ridge grew right at its feet. Note the Mass Balance buoy tipped  (and likely not reporting) to the lower right.

Obuoy 14 0423 webcamObuoy 14 0424 webcam

This buoy’s thermometer seems more effected by sunlight, and over the past few days has shown a diurnal swing between -22°C and -7°C, with the high temperatures less high when the wind picks up. (Judging from shadows, there are some decent pressure ridges off-camera to the left and behind our left shoulder.)

This should be a very interesting summer, as the El Nino is rapidly fading, and cracks of blue, below-normal water are already showing up off the coast of South America, indicative of a La Nina coming on. The North Atlantic is cooler,  and “The Warm Blob” is largely gone from the North Pacific, (though some residual heat from the El Nino may be heading north past Japan).

SST Anomaly 20160421 2016anomnight_4_21_2016

There will be a “lag time” before any La Nina coolness effects the Pole, but the Scripps model is showing an absolute whopper of a La Nina. Likely it is overboard, and things will not be this extreme (for it would set records) but usually Scripps is a fairly decent model, and the situation does bear watching.

Scripps 0423 Screen_Shot_2016_04_23_at_4_17_56_AM

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Killing Fields–

The true “Killing Fields” were places in Cambodia where innocent people were slaughtered by the insanity of the Khmer Rouge genocide, back when I was in my early twenties. It was a horrible place and time, and a bitter disillusionment for those who felt peace would come if American forces withdrew from Southeast Asia. “Killing Fields” are two words which should be accorded respect, not because genocide has a shred of dignity, but out of respect for the more than a million innocent people who died. “Killing Fields” are not words which should be used to describe an area where sea-ice melts.

But Certain Alarmists are not known for having good taste. John Cook, creator of the Skeptical Science website, and creator of of the preposterous “97%-of-all-scientists-believe-in-man-made-Global-Warming” soundbite which even the American president quotes, seems to find the Nazi uniform either humorous or attractive. There used to be plenty of examples of this “humor” at his website, but they were removed due to embarrassment, but the web never forgets, and they were preserved here:

Skeptical Science takes ‘creepy’ to a whole new level

However a single picture of John Cook from his own website will suffice to make my point about bad taste.

John Cook Nazi1_herrcook

Considering one reason I was originally attracted to the subject of sea-ice was because of the sheer beauty of the snowscapes, there is something repellent in the connection some Alarmists make to the most foul episodes of human history. The simple fact I am dubbed a “Denier” epitomizes the bad taste, for that word formally was reserved for those who denied the foulness of the Nazi genocide.

In actual fact I think associating those-who-point-out-the-obvious (that the sea-ice has failed to melt away as predicted) with mass murderers is more of an example of “denial” and “fascist behavior” than any of my own many examples of bad manners, (due to my short temper). It denies there is a difference between the honesty involved in being forthright, and the brutality involved in killing those who disagree. Nor does it just water-down this difference. It becomes the very  ugliness it accuses others of being.

I can endure being told I’m mistaken. In fact, once I smooth my ruffled feathers, I actually admire the people who correct me, for I am big and can have a fierce face, and sometimes the people correcting me have been quite small and by nature timid. The fact they have the courage to tug at my sleeve and, in a most polite manner, tell me I’m a fool, is something that touches my heart. It moves me.

I am moved in a different manner when Alarmists say Skeptics should be prosecuted, imprisoned,  and even shot. I understand they think they are saving the world, but so did the Khmer Rouge.

Therefore, besides mentioning it to make the above point, I am not going to use the words “Killing Fields” to describe places where the sea-ice melts. To do so seems bad taste. Why? Because the Khmer Rouge took pictures of their fellow Cambodians, who they were about to kill; their actual neighbors who might be guilty of only having a writer’s-callous on their middle finger (which proved they were “guilty” of being “polluted” by Western concepts), and I have seen those pictures, and the eyes of those innocents haunt me.

We need to remember them. We need to stand up to bullies, even when they claim they are “saving the world”. This is not a time when silence is golden. Rather silence is a sin.

To avoid losing my temper and raving like a lunatic, what I am going to try to do is simply point out the beauty inherent in the Truth.  I’ll start by avoiding using the phrase “Killing Fields” and instead using something that means “Areas conducive to sea-ice melt.” I suppose I could use the acronym ACTSIM, but we already have too many acronyms.  I’m just going to call them “melt-areas”.

The best way to become aware of where they are is to go lurk at Alarmist sites. Doing so is sort of amusing, because Alarmists huddle over sea-ice maps like generals over maps of a battlefield. It is as if they are waging a war over sea-ice, and cheer the melt of the smallest ice-cube. (It has never made much sense to me, as they also assert less ice is a bad thing.)

There is often a bit of confusion apparent, as open water can appear in the arctic that involves no melting at all. A wonderful example is currently occurring off the northwest coast of Alaska. High pressure has been parked over the Beaufort Sea for a fortnight, bringing that area winds steadily from the east.

The movement of the ice can be seen in the NRL map:

Speed and Drift 20160420 arcticicespddrfnowcast

Strong winds like this do not melt ice. They move it. When it moves away from shore an area of open water forms. It is called a “polynya” if it is close to shore. In the dead of winter it swiftly skims over, but now, with the sun up and days longer than the nights, temperatures are not so cold and the open water skims over more slowly.

In the past, north of Alaska this has tempted adventurers to make an early start at the Northwest passage. The only problem is that, if the winds shifts, the ice can come right back to shore. A couple of springs ago one such gutsy sailor found his boat suddenly surrounded not only by sea-ice but by curious polar bears. He stuck it out much longer than I think I could have managed, but after a harrowing ten days the coast guard sent out an ice-breaker to rescue him.

That being said, a look at the NRL map shows the pocket of light purple northwest of Alaska, indicating a skim of thin ice six inches to a foot thick (and likely slushy “pancake ice” as well).

Thickness 20160421 arcticictnnowcast

What is less apparent is that the “missing” ice hasn’t melted. It has been crunched up over towards Russia. The Alarmist sites are not big on mentioning this, and tend to crow about the thinner ice, and how swiftly it will melt in the summer.

It may, but we shall see. As soon as the ice gets dusted by snow it is just as white as thicker ice, and reflects sunlight just as well. The real melt comes from below, from the Pacific, and the Pacific is two degrees colder than last spring, south of Being Strait.

Another interesting area is the northwest side of Hudson Bay. There the ice has been pushed away from the coast as well, and the new ice is thin. However, like last year, all that moved-ice is crunched up to the southeast.

But none of these areas involves melting, this early in the spring.  If you want to see a real area of melting you need to travel to the east side of Fram Strait, right off the west coast of Svalbard. A warm tendril of the Gulf Stream moves north there, often keeping the east and northeast coasts of Svalbard ice-free even in the dead of winter, even when the north winds are cold and bringing the sea-ice south. This is a true “melt-area”, where you can watch sizable ice floes dissolve. (You can see the streamers of cloud made by the cold winds as they shift from west to north, in the pictures below.)

Svalfloe 1 svalbard 11Svalfloe 2 svalbard 13Svalfloe 3 svalbard 15

It should be obvious the melt is not due to the very cold winds, nor to trace amounts of CO2. It is due to the marvelous meanderings of the Gulf Stream, and the fact a tendril passes that way.

Svalfloe 4 svalbard current


The yellow dot in the above map is where the warm water takes a dive, and starts flowing under the cold water. If you wonder how warm water can sink and cold water can rise, it is due to the salinity. Salty water sinks and more brackish water rises, and the yellow dot represents where the salinity starts to trump the temperature.

What is fascinating is how variable this “yellow dot” can be. If more ice moves over that warm current it makes the water both fresher, as it melts, and colder.

This is what people should be focused on, and not the obscure and likely inestimable amount CO2 effects the temperature of ocean currents. Why? because, with the AMO wavering on the verge of shifting from the “warm” to “cold” phase, the ingredients that go into where the current takes a dive and the “yellow spot” will be located  will also change.  That in turn will effect where ice forms and where it melts, which in turn will effect the weather, and where fishermen can fish, and even where the fish will be.

Some big changes are already starting to appear in the sea-surface-temperature anomaly maps. The biggest is the bit of blue just off the coast of Peru, indicative of the El Nino fading into a La Nina.

SST 20160418 CgahiESWwAAuZoW

Also notice how the “Warm Blob” in the north Pacific has eroded, and now in some ways is becoming a “Cold Blob”, while the odd “Cold Blob” south of Iceland has spread over to the coast of Spain. The AMO is still “warm” due to the milder waters north of Norway, but this is not a typical “warm” AMO.

Lastly, look at the chart of the AMO below, and consider the year 1975. What changes might we expect, if those conditions return? How might the “yellow spot” by Svalbard shift?

AMO 201603 esrl-amo-thru-mar-2016





ARCTIC SEA ICE –Beaufort Sea Crack Up–

Beaufort Crack Up 6a0133f03a1e37970b01b8d1ba3a52970c-800wi

Most of my attention has been focused on Barneo, due to my interest in the North Pole Camera, and up there the ice has been converging much of the winter, and building pressure ridges, due to what I called “The Swirl” in my last post. In this post I’ll look at a place where ice often diverges.

My reason for doing this is not because I am fair and balanced. God forbid! I must be honest with you and state my honest intention to oppose the dishonest. Some, and Mark Serreze in particular, have been so incredibly unfair and incredibly unbalanced that the only way to respond seems, in a sense, to be as unbalanced in an equal and opposite fashion.

Of course this is neither spiritual nor scientific. However I pretend to be neither a saint nor a scientist. What I desire to be is an American thing called “a humorist”, and my chief weapon is to reduce my opponent’s arguments to absurdity.

This is not very hard with Mark Serreze, considering he is on record as saying the Arctic would be ice free by now. He is a person who  has reduced his own arguments to absurdity, and the fact he is still paid a six figure salary is proof the government cares little about Truth. In fact it seems an exercise in futility, and also absurdity, to continue arguing.

We already had the argument about Beufort Sea ice crack-ups back in February of 2013, when this splendid crack-up occurred:


I described all the hoopla that occurred back then about midway through my post “Fun With Sea Ice” (which was eventually printed over at “Watts Up With That” in January, 2014),  so if you are interested in all the details they can be found here:

But we have already been through that, and I think the more serious Alarmists know it looks a bit silly to get too excited about a Beaufort Sea crack-up. These things are bound to happen, due to the motion of the Beufort Gyre.

Transpolar Drift 360px-BrnBld_ArcticCurrents.svg

It is the flow of the Beaufort Gyre that tends to crunch ice up against the north coast of the Canadian Archipelgeo, and rip ice away from its west coast, creating massive leads and polynyas.  It also rips ice away from the Mackenzie Delta and north coast of Alaska, and piles it against the north coast of East Siberia.  To get a true feeling of this ocean in motion the current NRL animation (past thirty days) is helpful.  (Bering Strait in lower left corner; MacKenzie River in lower right corner.)


This animation shows high pressure north of Alaska swirling the ice around, and creating large polynyas northwest of Alaska and north-northwest of the McKenzie Delta.

It is interesting to debate how thickly theses open areas will be skimmed with ice, whether that ice will be black ice that allows sunlight to penetrate, or snow-dusted ice that reflects sunlight, and how much these areas might speed the summer melt. (It should be noted that if a low pressure replaces the high pressure, all the ice could turn right around and come crunching back to the coast.)

I myself am looking further south, into the Pacific, as I wonder about this coming summer’s melt. What was called the “Warm Blob” seems to have been largely replaced by a “Cold Blob.”


To me it looks like the waters south of Bering Strait are a full two degrees colder than last spring. I should hasten to add that these anomaly maps can change as spring shifts to summer, but if this “Cold Blob” persists, it can and will slow the ice melt north of Bering Strait.

Just something to chew upon, as we ponder the situation.