ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Cross-polar Switcheroo–UPDATED

In 5 1/2 days the flow of air up at the Pole went from Canada-to-Siberia (November 28, lower left) to Siberia-to-Canada (December 4, lower right.)

 

Personally I prefer Canada to export its cold air to Siberia, for that means there is less left over to freeze my socks off where I live,  south of the Canadian border in the state of New Hampshire. It seems to me that the last thing Canada needs during winter is the import of Siberian air.

I may be a bit prone to ranting about the subject of cold weather at the moment, as we have been at the center of a so-called “lollypop” on snowfall maps, and are dealing with 36 inches. (91 cm). It’s unfair, because the politicians in the capitals of Concord, New Hampshire 35 miles to our northeast, and Boston, Massachusetts 49 miles to our southeast, experienced less than six inches. If there was any justice they’d be the ones digging down three feet to get a stick of firewood, or even to get their mail. 

But maybe its for the best. If they had to deal with three feet of snow they’d likely invent some new tax or fee to deal with it, and never shovel a flake themselves.

I amuse myself by imagining what politicians would come up with. Perhaps they’d concoct a fee to supply every mailman with a snow-shovel to dig down to mailboxes with, but only a nickle of every dollar would reach the mailman, as 95 cents went to “administration”, which would of course involve the politician’s  Aunt Agnes and Cousin Waldo, plus anyone else who contributed to his reelection.  This alone explains why governments are so inefficient when they attempt to do what ordinary people do. When I shovel out my mailbox 100% of my energy goes into the job, but when politicians try to do the same job 95% goes to nepotism and cronyism, and the remaining 5% causes the Postal Workers to go on strike, for currently they refuse to deliver me my mail if my mailbox is under snow,  (even though I pay them to deliver it with my taxes),  and if you supply them with a shovel and tell them to deliver the damn mail even if it involves digging,  you will not only see no digging, but you will see no mail delivered.  In essence the entire tax-dollar is wasted.

In like manner, it seems my imagination is wasted, when I spend time on the antics of politicians. It seems far better to spend my imagination on the antics of clouds. Not only has the government not yet found a way to tax us for looking at clouds, (though they have invented a “view tax” to add onto the property taxes of houses on hills), but also clouds are 100% efficient, whether it is the cloud’s job to free the sunshine, or to dump three feet of snow on my mailbox.

One reason I look to the North Pole is because it gives me a heads-up to what my future may hold. It was good news that the cross-polar-flow went from Canada to Siberia, for it promised a break in the arctic outbreaks that afflicted us. But it is bad news that the cross-polar-flow has undergone the switcheroo. Mark my words, after a mild spell to start next week, the (bleep) is going to hit the fan around here, and I may manage very few posts about sea-ice, until spring.

One interesting thing about watching cross-polar-flow is that it doesn’t matter which way the air goes, it warms crossing the Arctic Sea. People tend to see the North Pole as the source of cold, but in actual fact the source is Tundra, and to a lesser extent Taiga.  Over Siberia temperatures can drop to -90 F, which gives us pretty pictures like this:

On Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, Anastasia Gruzdeva poses for a selfie as the temperature dropped to about 58 degrees below zero in Yakutsk, Russia.

However as that air is sucked towards Canada via cross-polar-flow one notes it swiftly warms, right at the surface, and the Central Arctic Basin seldom sees temperatures below -30ºF, very rarely sees temperatures below -40ºF, and never (that I have seen) reaches temperatures below -50ºF.

Meanwhile Alaska and northern Canada, though not as expansive as Siberia, can see temperatures below  -70ºF. When the cross-polar-flow  moves from Canada to Siberia, one again sees the surface temperatures rise.

What does this suggest? First, it suggests that the true sources of arctic cold are Northern Eurasia and Northern North America, and the Arctic Sea is actually a “heat-island” between two very cold places. Second, because the Arctic Sea is a “heat island” and because warm air rises, it must constantly be sucking air north to replace the air that rises.

If the air sucked north is from the Atlantic or Pacific, it is “maritime” air and slows the growth of sea-ice as it is relatively mild (though usually below freezing). But if the air sucked north is from Siberia or Canada it is “continental” and enhances the growth of sea-ice because it is very cold.  In simplistic terms all Alarmists should root for maritime air being sucked north while all Skeptics root for continental air being sucked north.

In actual fact the opposite may  be true. If you study the temperatures of air-masses,  it becomes obvious nothing squanders the planet’s heat as swiftly as a mild air-mass moving to the sunless Pole. In like manner, nothing preserves the planet’s heat as much as it’s coldest air never freezing lower latitudes, and instead being warmed over the Arctic Sea.

Some eloquent arguments  may then arise between those over-focused on sea-ice and those over-focused on air temperatures. Both are “wrong”,  for the situation is complex and involves multiple variables. One reason climate models fail is because they miss certain variables, or fail to give certain “weight” to certain variables, or even to vary the “weight” of variables (which creates varying variables). It is so complex it tends to give me a headache, so what I prefer to do is to make an overly simplistic forecast and then enjoy my failure. Fortunately no one is depending on my forecasts, for it frees me from blame and guilt, and, like a child at play, I think train wrecks are cool.

peter-arno-drawing-board-cartoon-new-yorker-1941-8x6

 

One train wreck in my forecasting has been due to attempting to see a pattern, when the pattern is a switcheroo pattern, which in essence is a lack of a pattern. If you try to base things on a Canada-to-Siberia flow then you get messed up when the pattern goes through a switcheroo and is the exact opposite 5 1/2 days later.

Another train wreck occurred because a pattern did persist even as things all around it were going through a switcheroo. What happened was that an upper air trough in eastern North America combined with a ridge to the west and brought a flow of arctic air persistently south, the first half of November.  Then this flow was interrupted by the Aleutian Low penetrating the ridge in the west, which allowed Pacific air to flood inland in Canada. What this usually means is that our north winds become noticeably milder, because it involves air from a different “source”.  That change was the “switcheroo”, but the arctic air wasn’t entirely banished from the north winds. Way over towards Greenland a thin ribbon of arctic air bled south, sneaking over the east side of Hudson Bay into Quebec. That was the “pattern that persisted”. Perhaps the arctic wasn’t breaking records and sending impressive blobs of high pressure south, (causing Texan ranchers to laconically drawl, “Nothin’ between here and the North Pole but a few strands of barbed wire an’ some cold cows.”) But the arctic flow persisted in the very east of Canada. That resulted in a personal train-wreck forecast, for that cold air was the reason that rather than rain we got three feet of snow.

If one is in the mood to be gloomy, that persistent drain of cold in the east of Canada, even when the west is flooded with Pacific air, does not bode well for the Great Plains and East of the USA. If it effects us even when the cross-polar-flow is Canada-to-Siberia, it will be far worse when the flow is Siberia-to-Canada. Our worst winters see the arctic sweep south down the east side of the Rockies, brew trouble by mixing with tropical air in the Gulf of Mexico, and send snowstorms up the east coast.  This early in the winter the Atlantic retains summer warmth, so the storms often contain rain or are all rain, but as the winter proceeds the big cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and even Washington D.C. get clouted, (and politicians get busy dealing with the climate by raising taxes).

Around here the last thing we want right now is rain. When you have three feet of snow on your roof the snow acts like a sponge in the rain, and the weight of all the wet snow can cause buildings to collapse. In fact I’m going to shovel the roof of my goat’s stable over the weekend. (When younger I made some extra money during bleak winters risking my neck in that manner, but now I just do it for survival, which I also call “fun”.)

There seems to be a lag of up to a week between events in Northern Canada and repercussions reaching us down here. A switcheroo up there leads to erratic weather down here. It’s still too early to be certain what the winter pattern will be. One looks for things to “settle down”, but one also is not entirely sure the switcheroo-pattern might not be THE pattern, and chaos will continue non-stop. Stay tuned.

(I’ll ad some graphs and the individual DMI polar isobar and isotherm maps later, when I find time. But now I have to go shovel a roof.)

*******

OK. Heavy rain is now reducing any snow that hasn’t been shoveled from local roofs, allowing me to scrutinize maps.

When I last posted a Aleutian Gale had been deflected north up the Siberian side of Bering Strait, (becoming “Hula Ralph #2”). The southerly gales up through Bering Strait actually pushed the expanding sea-ice backwards, increasing the open water (and warmer surface temperatures) north of Bering Strait. (Nov. 24 to left; Nov, 27 to right).

Sometimes these retreats of sea-ice can cause a dip in the extent graph, but in this example the decrease in the Chukchi Sea was more than matched by increases in the Kara and Greenland Seas and Hudson and Baffin Bay.

By November 29 Hula-Ralph #2 was rapidly weakening north of Alaska, and I was watching the next Aleutian Low to see if would follow the same path. Despite the vast impulse of Pacific air coming north through Bering Strait and across the entirety of Alaska, the Pole itself was still cooling, which was not what I expected. I expected the Pacific “feeder-band” to fuel more of a “Ralph” low north of the New Siberian Islands, but instead an Atlantic low strengthened at the top of Norway.

Over the next two days the Pacific influence continued to dwindle, to my surprise. The influx of pacific air cooled, precipitating very little snow, and the next Aleutian Low faded without coming north, though it did swing a secondary into Alaska. The Canada-to-Siberia cross-polar-flow was falling apart, but I still expected the Atlantic low to fade and high pressure to reassert itself on the Atlantic side, as all the Pacific air would allow low pressure to reassert on the Pacific side, resurrecting the Canada-to-Siberia flow.

The map of December 2 made a train-wreck of my expectations.

First, polar temperatures hit their lowest levels of the year, despite the huge invasion of Pacific air through Bering Strait. To be honest, the invasion seemed a spectacular flop. All the invasion seemed to accomplish was to lose an incalculable amount of heat to the arctic night.

Second, I failed to foresee the expansion of high pressure from Siberia, even as I failed to forecast the low pressure expanding north through Baffin Bay. A month ago a similar low moved right up to the Pole, but I had low confidence the current low could do the same, with the Siberian high advancing from the other side of the Pole. It seemed to me an irresistible force was meeting an immovable object, and I tend to avoid forecasting the outcomes of such affairs. 

The next day saw the two powers both stronger, and still at a stand-off, but the isobars between the two suggested the cross-polar-flow was completely reversed to Siberia-to-Canada.

The next day showed the Siberian high pressure won. Just as the Aleutian Low failed to penetrate north the prior week, and instead was deflected east, now the Baffin Bay low was deflected east into the Atlantic. The cross polar-flow was starting to suck in some milder Atlantic air through Fram Strait, creating a feeder-band north of Greenland.

One day later saw the high weaker, and a massive Atlantic storm strengthening. This storm had sub-950 mb and the power of a super-typhoon, but such beasts get little press, as there are not even shipping lanes that far north. But what does get press is temperatures at the North Pole, and this Icelandic Gale pumped the feeder-band north of Greenland fatter, and warmed the Pole. I found it odd that a feeder-band existed without a “Ralph”, and I was paying undue attention to the very weak low pressure north of the Canadian Archipelago. I dubbed that low “Wimpy-Ralph.”

Maps a half-day later day demonstrated what a wimp that Ralph was. Rather than being fed by the feeder band he was weaker, and pushed east.

A half-day later Wimpy-Ralph had made a train-wreck of my theory feeder-bands feed Ralphs, for he was weaker and getting pushed southwest. However Wimpy-Ralph was, besides crimping my egotism, crimping the cross-polar-flow. It no longer came straight across from Siberia, but now described a backwards “S”, first swinging towards Svalbard to scoop up some Atlantic air, before curving towards Alaska, and only then swinging down to Canada. (At this point it is interesting to think of the cross-polar-flow as a high-pressure-hose laying on a pavement. When it swings over in one direction, what do you expect will follow?)

Only a day later the cross-polar-flow is aiming down the east coast of Greenland, rather than curving around towards Alaska. How could such a dramatic shift occur?

First, the Siberian high pressure, though weakening towards Siberia, expanded greatly towards Canada, pushing Wimpy-Ralph down towards Hudson’s Bay.  In fact while the official center of the high pressure is still over the New Siberian Islands, the body of high pressure is generally moving across the Pole.

Second, if high pressure is moving away, low pressure tends to replace it, especially if other factors support growth, and in the Kara Sea we see growing low pressure from a “kicker” storm ahead of the weakening Icelandic gale now hitting the northwest coast of Norway.

The next day’s map shows the Siberian High and Kara Low performing a sort of Polar Waltz, something remotely like the Fujiwara Effect between adjacent Typhoons.  Let it suffice to say (because I can’t claim to understand it) that the body of the high pressure is dislodged from the coast of Siberia and is moving towards North America.

The following two days show stuff occurring on the Pacific side, associated with the Aleutian Low, and the Atlantic side, associated with the Icelandic Low, which may well be the subject of my next post. However, for this post, simply notice how the dislodged high pressure moves across to Canada.

I may well be laying the tracks for my next train wreck, but to me it seems the cross-polar-passage of an entire high pressure system is more significant than cross-polar-isobars which are here today and gone tomorrow.

For one thing, cross-polar-isobars only suggest winds “can” transport air from Siberia to Canada. The actual transport takes time. How long? You’d have to send up a balloon, and see how long it took to float from Siberia to Canada.

You can be certain the balloon wouldn’t follow the straight path suggested by one map, when following maps first curve the path towards Alaska and then down the east coast of Greenland.

However, when an entire high-pressure crosses the Pole, in some ways it is a big balloon, in and of itself. (And I know, I know, some don’t like to call a high-pressure a “thing”, and to say it is but a reflection out outside imbalances, but for the sake of argument allow me to state it has a reality and is an entity.) This balloon is not a hot- air balloon, rising, but is a cold-air balloon, pressing down and making barometers read “high pressure”. (In such a case a high-pressure represents a big blob of cold air, and therefore is a “thing”.)

The power of such Siberian cold can be hidden, for its lowest levels are warmed by the passage over the thin ice of the Arctic Sea. However the surface maps mute the true intensity of the cold. If we could only afford towers, or perhaps drones, to measure temperatures only a hundred feet above the sea-ice, we might see that the warming of Siberian cold passing over the Arctic Sea is superficial. It seems to me that I have seen constant examples of times such air, the moment it moves from the Arctic Sea into Canada, reveals its true nature. It was not truly made into a maritime air-mass by passing over the Arctic Sea, but rather was a Siberian air-mass with its very bottom, as little as six feet thick, turned into a maritime air-mass. How can I claim such a thing? It is because air “above-normal” over the Arctic Sea can become “below-normal” within a half hour of moving inland and over Canadian Tundra. This would be difficult to do, because Tundra’s “normal” is so much colder than the “normal” over sea-ice, but becomes possible when the layer of “warm” air is so very thin it is easy to mix out of existence.

In any case, it will be interesting to watch the high-pressure that has crossed the Pole, and to see if it is a “thing” that causes North America grief.

To conclude this update, I should revert to the subject of sea-ice, and state that neither the invasion of Pacific air through Bering Strait, nor the feeder-band that invaded north of Greenland and fed Wimpy-Ralph, slowed the yearly growth of sea-ice. In fact the growth has been so rapid we are no longer counted among the lowest years.

If you are into headlines, you need to change the September headline “Lowest Extent In Five Years” to “Highest Extent In Five Years.” (No bother, because you’re only changing one word.)DMI 191212 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

Hudson Bay is in the process of swiftly freezing over. (November 30 to left; December 11 to right.)

We are ahead of the same date in 2016 (left) but behind 2017 (right)

Hudson Bay Dec 10 2016 2017

As soon as the Bay skims over the cold is able to build much more swiftly to my north, and north winds become crueler here.

The only thing Alarmists have to crow about is sea-ice “volume”, which is notoriously hard to determine, but is currently quite low:

Volume 191210 Screenshot_2019-12-11 DMI Modelled ice thickness

I think the low volume is largely due to the open water north of Bering Strait, but that area is rapidly shrinking and Bering Strait is now bridged by sea-ice.

Thickness 191210 Screenshot_2019-12-11 DMI Modelled ice thickness(1).png

Also of interest has been the slow growth of a sort of mountain range of thicker sea-ice all the way from Svalbard to Wrangle Island. This range of ice has largely been created by the transport of ice from the marginal seas along the Eurasian coast. The Laptev Sea is always a great creator and exporter of sea-ice, as cold winds blow north from Siberia, shifting sea-ice away from shore and creating polynyas of open water which swiftly refreeze in the frigid winds. But this year it seems the Kara, East Siberian and even Chukchi Seas are also getting into the act.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Cross Polar Punch–

I awoke this morning, (before I actually opened my eyes), to the wintry chorus of roaring pines, moving majestically across the distance from my northern window to my southern one, and instinctively visualized where I last saw my warm slippers, and planned a bee-line to the wood-stove. In the predawn twilight it was 12 degrees out (-11 Celsius). When I made it to the wood-stove, and as I nursed my first coffee, I awoke my grumpy laptop and avoided depressing politics by checking out weather sites. In many parts of New England the arctic blast was setting records for the coldest morning, as far back as records go, for the date of November 13. I failed to avoid depressing politics, for many were commenting, “Global Warming? Bah! Humbug!” even as others insisted record-setting cold was proof of Global Warming. So I sought the best escape, which is either the sky itself, or weather maps of what the actual sky is doing, for the sky does what it does and doesn’t care a flying flip about your politics.

Because it was so cold, my eyes gravitated north, to where the cold was coming from. Arctic air leads to arctic research, (and, in this case, a short sea-ice post.)

I immediately noticed a “cross-polar-flow”. On surface maps you could basically follow the 1020 mb isobar from Greece across the North Pole to Canada.

What effect does this cross-polar-flow have? Well, it crumples my brow, for starters. Why? Well, I confess I was looking for some sort of “zonal flow”. A zonal flow traps cold air at the Pole by wrapping winds around and around the Pole. You can’t get more opposite from a zonal flow than a cross-polar-flow. It was time for me to get back to the old drawing board.

One interesting thing about a cross-polar-flow is that it doesn’t merely embarrass the idea of a “zonal” jet stream, but also embarrasses the idea of the apparent opposite idea, which is the “meridienal” (or “loopy”) jet-stream. Both ideas involve the bias of southern people who tend to think in terms of winds going around the planet, and who draw elegant and beautiful schemes of how this occurs.

The problem with this elegant and beautiful idea is this dratted thing called “Truth”. The North Pole simply doesn’t work in the manner that we, with our southern bias, assume it works, and therefore the Pole is constantly splatting a custard pie into the fair face of our beautiful and elegant theories. (Which likely explains why our long-range forecasts stink.) Rather than winds politely obeying the elegant and beautiful theory, (which winds sometimes do), winds become rude, and disobey. One way is by forming howling gales of low pressure (which I call “Ralph”) right where the above illustration shows high pressure at the Pole, and another way is by whipping over the top of the planet rather than around the top, which is called “cross-polar-flow.”

Rather than getting mad at Truth, and calling it “cruel”, I try to take the attitude of the poet John Keats, and rhapsodize “Truth is Beauty”. After all, a bit of custard pie in your face doesn’t taste all that bad, and anyway, any man who marries meteorology has married a wonderful wench who will mash wedding cake into your mug ten minutes after you say “I do”. Get used to it.

One reason cross-polar-flow should be attended to is because it has caused havoc in the the past. Between 1815 and 1817 it dumped an amazing amount of sea-ice south into the Atlantic, which resulted in the following statement in minutes of a British Admiralty meeting:

It will without doubt have come to your Lordship’s knowledge that a considerable change of climate, inexplicable at present to us, must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years, greatly abated...

(This) affords ample proof that new sources of warmth have been opened and give us leave to hope that the Arctic Seas may at this time be more accessible than they have been for centuries past, and that discoveries may now be made in them not only interesting to the advancement of science but also to the future intercourse of mankind and the commerce of distant nations.”
President of the Royal Society, London, to the Admiralty, 20th November, 1817

While the apparent cross-polar-flow of those times may have been good news for those who desired an ice-free arctic to enhance their explorations, it was not good news for those further south, where all that sea-ice went. Ice-bergs were grounding on the beaches of Ireland (which has not been recorded happening since) and the waters of the North Atlantic were chilled to a degree where Western Europe had a horrible growing-season called “The Year Without A Summer.”

It would seem logical to investigate such history, but sadly it seems some see such records as unhelpful to the “cause” of panicking the public about Global Warming. Current low-levels of sea-ice will seem less worrisome if people realize even lower levels were seen in the past.

The person who first dug up the Admiralty Records and brought them to the public’s attention was named John L. Daly. John died in 2004, and when he died a prominent Climate-scientist of that dark time remarked that his death was “in an odd way cheering news”. I was utterly disgusted when I learned of this, (in the “climate-gate emails”), for it was indicative of an attitude that did not look fondly upon Truth, or upon those who work hard to bring Truth forward.

In the 15 years since John L. Daly passed on I have seen little sign that certain Climate Scientists “in charge” are in any way wiser, or are any more likely to work hard to bring Truth forward. In fact there even seems to be an effort to erase the name “John L. Daly” from Climate Science altogether.

What a waste of effort! Life is too short, and there is too little time left over, (after dealing with worldly responsibilities like washing dishes), as it is. We should be spending every little bit of free time we have bringing Truth forward. What a loss it seems to waste that time by spending such slender moments pushing Truth back. I can only assume people who resort to such behavior are addicts. After all, heroin addicts will sell their grandmother’s cane and false teeth for their next fix. Certain Climate-scientists must need a similar fix, when they waste precious hours on earth fighting a man like John L. Daly, even though he has been beyond fighting back for 15 years. (Perhaps the news of John’s death was not so “cheering” after all, because perhaps the Truth which John stood for cannot die, and rises from the grave.)

I’m just glad I’m not addicted to whatever it is they are. I’d rather confess I am backwards than claim “science is settled” and that I stand at some “forefront”, when such a claim is proof even the most educated Climate-scientist is more backward than I.

How can I make such a claim? After all, I am not a Climate-scientist. I’m a mere bumpkin. But I do respect Truth. And this strangely makes me “more educated” then fellows who went to college. Why? I can only suppose it is because some element of their education made them too snobby and sophisticated to listen to some silly blond like Doris Day sing “Que Sera, Sera”. (Whatever will be, will be).

To return to the arctic, when I note cross-polar-flow occurs, I am merely noting, “Whatever will be, will be.” As a bumpkin I am not required to publish a paper with fifty footnotes, or to find funding to pay for others to wash my dishes as I research. I am free of all that.

Though I wonder why the cross-polar-flow happened, I am not required to say why. I merely state the Truth. I continue to wonder, but am not required to prove anything.

I’m glad I don’t have to supply any Truth, for, as I stated earlier, I was expecting a “zonal” flow, and expected the pocket of below-normal air at the Pole to expand. In a manner of speaking the cross-polar-flow brought milder air to the Pole and, as in a game of “king-of-the-mountain”, bumped the cold air off the top and down into Canada and Alaska.

Here is the temperature-anomaly map from November 11, showing the blue pocket of below-normal air at the Pole.

And here is the temperature-anomaly map just three days later on November 14.

Notice, in the second map, the spear of above-normal temperatures moving north through Eastern Europe. It becomes less obvious as it moves out over the Arctic Ocean, (because in November a continental land-breeze is colder than a maritime sea-breeze, on the arctic coast), but it seems fairly obvious the flow is not zonal, and we should see a mild “feeder band” warming the Pole. And sure enough, the DMI polar temperature graph shows a spike of warming.

Instead of seizing upon this spike as being proof of some preconception about Global Warming, I feel it is likely better to sit back and observe, humming “Que Sera, Sera”. There are far more questions than answers.

For example, sometimes you can follow a surge of milder air and see it keep its identity across thousands of miles. I once watched a spear of midwinter warmth surge from the Atlantic inland in Europe and cross the entirety of Russia, fading but still evident as it reached the Pacific. But this cross-polar-flow isn’t like that. Rather various atmospheric-entities were moving every which way like a bunch of baby ducks, and suddenly some mother duck quacked and got all the ducks in a row, called a cross-polar-flow.

Also I am never certain if the south wind bumps the cold off the Pole, or if it is the departure of a cold air mass that creates a vacuum that draws the south-wind north. What came first, the chicken or the egg?

In other words, on some levels my understanding amounts to a goose egg. (There, I worked ducks, chickens and geese into a discussion about the arctic.)

However one does not need to understand the Truth to observe the Truth. In fact Truth is the teacher, and we are just taking notes. Then we should compare notes with others, which is a delightful process, because it is as if we gain additional sets of eyes. What is absurd is to ignore the observations of others, including observers who are not with us any more, such as John L. Daly.

One interesting thing I noticed was that the edge of the sea-ice stopped expanding southwest in the Kara Sea, and even retreated north and northeast, pushed towards the Pole by the cross-polar-flow. (A second feeder band sneaked in through Bering Strait along the Russian coast and pushed sea-ice back a bit in the Chukchi Sea.) However the colder part of the cross-polar-flow completed the refreeze at the mouth of the Mackenzie River, and overall the sea-ice extent continued its yearly expansion.

One thing I’ll be watching to see is how the feeder-bands of milder air behave up at the Pole. If they form a stormy “Ralph” it may break up the sea-ice in places.

As I finish this post it is now the morning of November 14, and outside it 17° (-8° Celsius), with a steely gray overcast as southern air tries to push back north. We may briefly climb to 45° (+7° Celsius) tomorrow, before yet another arctic blast clobbers us. Hopefully that will drain the arctic of its cold, for at least a while. A snowy Thanksgiving only looks good on postcards.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Vortex Hubbub–

My favorite long-range forecasters, Josrph D’Aleo, Joe Bastardi and Tom Downs over at Weatherbell, forecast a sort of sandwich winter back in October. That is: Two slices of bitter cold with a thaw in the middle. They have gotten the first two parts, and now I’m adopting a wait-and-see attitude about the third, but I must admit it increasingly looks like they have hit the nail on the head. If the long term forecasts prove true, that team deserves confetti and a parade, or at least some kudos (whatever those are), because predicting a winter the October before it occurs is danged hard.

I don’t usually pay much attention to upper atmosphere stuff, as it is over my head, but I do note the high clouds on days I can see up that far, and know a few old-timer rules concerning the various types of cloud, how fast they are moving, and the direction they are moving in relation to the winds down here on earth. So far I have seen nothing all that alarming, but did order an extra load of firewood, due to this couplet:

The longer and stronger the January thaw
The more that February’s snowstorms will awe.

I figure this is largely common sense. Weather is seldom “normal” or “average”, but rather tends to swing back and forth between warm spells and cold spells, so it is quite pragmatic to expect a colder February after a warmer January. Also, because spring starts in February way down south on the Gulf of Mexico coast, storms can access some warm, juicy air in February, which can feed storms like gasoline into a fire, and brings us people to the north some amazing February and March falls of snow.

But what has this to do with arctic sea-ice?

Largely it is due to the fact the Arctic Ocean is the source of our coldest air. The way winds howl up there influence us, as well as the movement of sea-ice. Also, though it has less influence on sea-ice than winds do, if the arctic is robbed of its coldest air sea-ice will form more slowly and less thickly. (For this reason biased Alarmists tend to focus on times the arctic is above normal, utterly ignoring the not-inconsequential fact we bumpkins down south in New Hampshire are freezing our socks off.)

In any case, one phenomenon that influences both sea-ice and New Hampshire is a strong cross-polar-flow from Siberia across into Canada, and then down to New Hampshire. These winds create polynyas of open water along the Siberian coast, as ice is shifted across the Pole via the Transpolar Drift to smash as impressive pressure ridges against Canada.  At first this lessens the area of sea-ice, but then the polynyas freeze over, and the sea-ice recovers back to what it was, in terms of “area”. But in terms of “volume”, no sea-ice has melted, and the total amount has increased. (You have to pay attention to such details when in discussions with biased Alarmists, due to their tendency to pick and chose only the data that supports their bias.)

So far the winds down at the level of the sea-ice have been mostly gentle, but I do notice when the winds aloft are more vigorous. This is not to say I understand what is going on up that high, but just as old-timers around here notice the antics of high clouds, I’m sure savvy old Eskimos are noticing the high clouds streaming south, and coming to conclusions. Therefore I perked up when Ryan Maue  tweeted about a “vortex”, way, way up at the tropopause, getting whipped across from Siberia all the way down to another “vortex” located over Hudson Bay. I have yet to see any sign of this cross-polar-bullwhip translating down to the surface, but it does make me pause and scratch my jaw a bit.

Also the meteorologist Judah Cohen produced a comparison of the “Vortex” as models forecast it to be on February 3 with how the situation looked during a very cold period back in 2014. (2014 to left, with North America at six o’clock. 2018 forecast to right, with North America displaced to eight o’clock.)

 

Judging from all this above-my-head stuff, history could repeat itself, and we could see a return to bitter winter. However so far our down-to-earth maps don’t show it.

20180130 satsfc

Though we are currently getting some north winds from the low developing out to sea, they are nothing like the blasts we got after Christmas. Our current “cold spell” will get down to 17°F (-8° C), but you would be surprised at how kindly such temperatures feel, after your body has acclimatized to windchill of -30°F (-34°C). Not that I don’t hunch my shoulders a bit against the chill, but I have noticed fellows younger and more hotblooded than I sauntering about with their jackets unzipped. And this is a cold spell? If you look west in the map you can see plenty of Pacific air leaking into the flow, diluting and moderating the winter. West winds are so different from north winds, in New England, that I can see why Indians felt different angels in the spiritual hierarchy, (wherein God [or the Great Spirit] is the only One worthy of worship),  were in charge of the west wind. After bitter blasts from the north, west winds, even when not a true Chinook, are downright kindly.

Therefore there is no real short-term reason for alarm. True, the meteorologists who focus on the upper atmosphere have a better record for correct forcasts, but sometimes even they are wrong. In fact I hope they are wrong. I don’t like bitter cold. However when they agree with old-timer’s maxims, I am especially inclined to take heed. And I remember,

The longer and stronger the January thaw
The more that February’s snowstorms will awe.

And for this reason I have made a complete mess of the side lawn of the Childcare.

Woodpile FullSizeRender

The wise old Indians used to say, “if you want to know how bad the winter will be, look at the white man’s woodpile.”

In terms of arctic sea-ice, having the “vortex” move down to Hudson Bay should lead to above-normal temperatures over the Pole as a whole, but we will have wait and see how the cross-polar-flow translates down to the surface. Having very cold air blast from Siberia to Canada will please Alarmists with polynyas along the Siberian coast, but that coastal ice is far thicker than last year, and shifting it across the arctic could lead to far thicker ice in the Central Arctic.

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Yet Another Swirl–

Well, it is happening again. Warm air has swirled up to the Pole, where of course it rises, and forms low pressure right where the textbooks say the air should be sinking, and there should be high pressure. At the risk of boring those who visit this site often, here is the textbook idea:

Polar Cell cells_mod

This winter there has often been rising air, rather than descending air, over the Pole, because the Creator doesn’t need textbooks. In fact He never bothered go to college, because according to stuff I’ve read He was something called “omnicient” even back before He invented time. I wouldn’t know about that, because I do need to study, and even then I don’t know all that much. But I do know when the textbooks are wrong.

I think they have been wrong this winter because the El Nino pumped a lot of extra heat into the atmosphere, and, because our planet is always trying to smooth out the difference between hot places and cold places, the jet stream had to become more “loopy” (meridienal) to transfer the heat to the Pole. Rather than low pressure parading around the Pole in a nice, orderly “zonal” manner, lows have headed right up to the Pole itself.

At times it is possible to use the above textbook diagram, even with a low sitting atop the Pole. You just assume the descending  air has been displaced, and look for a high pressure area away from the Pole, and call that the “new center” of the above diagram. But the problem is that sometimes there are two, three or four high pressure areas, and they actually seem to be parading around the low pressure at the Pole, as if the above diagram needs a fourth circulation and a fourth cell, (to the left of the polar cell) called the “super-polar cell”, for at times the theoretical “high pressure at the Pole” has a hole of low pressure in the middle, like a doughnut.

Other times I think that towards the Pole the Coriolis effect is different, and the atmosphere can’t be bothered parading around in circles. If it has a job to do, it takes the shortest route. If it has El Nino heat to be rid of, it just heads to the Pole and gets rid of it, and to hell with the textbooks.

The current map has a bit of the “doughnut” look, with a ridge of high pressure being pumped across the northmost North Atlantic behind the polar swirl, though the storm will not linger at the Pole long. The “swirl” shows up nicely in the temperature map.

Be that as it may, everything is about to change. Even before we have figured out what happened we’ll be busy figuring out a new thing that is happening. First, we are approaching a very small window of time when the Pole isn’t constantly losing heat, but briefly gains heat from 24 hour sunshine, (and winds have to alter to get rid of the extra heat, for a few midsummer weeks). Second, the El Nino is no more, and a La Nina is rapidly appearing, which will greatly decrease the amount of heat the atmosphere has to get rid of, by sending it north to the Pole. If less heat heads north, what might the effects be?

In other words, the swirl we are seeing may be the last one. One feels a certain melancholy, as if saying goodbye to an old friend.

As this low swings up to loop near the Pole and then falls away towards Siberia I’d like to point out a few things Alarmists seem to miss, in their joy over El Nino effects. (They are pleased because the meridienal flow brings warm air up to the Pole, and slightly decreases the extent of sea ice at the edges. This seemingly, and perhaps only briefly, verifies their theory that the Pole is warming, is in a “Death Spiral”, and the Arctic Ocean will be ice free and absorb so much sunshine that we’ll all suffer terrible consequences.  Why this pleases them I don’t know, but it does.) (Maybe “misery loves company”.)

The problem is that a meridienal flow doesn’t just bring warmth north, but also brings cold south.  There have been snows in places that don’t see much snow, such as Saudi Arabia and Mexico, the past winter. And even when such places melt away the snow in a single day, the “albedo” of snow is particularly gigantic in southerly places where the sunlight is intense. In fact Saudi Arabia reflected more sunshine back to outer space in five minutes last January than the entire North Pole did in the months of December and  January. When this data was plugged into an Alarmist computer model, the government threatened to cut off their funding, (or so I have concluded, perhaps unfairly.)

This last fling of the fading El Nino, with its final low at the Pole, seems to not only be bringing snows to France in April, but even to me, here in New Hampshire in North America. Even if the snow only whitens the landscape for an hour, the amount of sunshine reflected as it melts will make all the “albedo” models change their conclusions, or they would change their conclusions, if the people plugging in the data were allowed to include all the data.

For what its worth, here’s the radar shot of the  snow and sleet  over New Hampshire this morning.

20160426 rad_ne_640x480

And here’s a forecast map of the frost (pink) over Britain, France and Germany tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

Europe Frost April 27 gfs_t2m_eur_5

The simple fact of the matter is our planet has myriad ways of balancing things out.

The meridienal pattern has also made the arctic stormy, and winds have shifted the sea-ice about and caused much cracking of the ice. Open water has appeared even when temperatures were down at midwinter depths, approaching -40°.  Alarmists like this, as they assume this shows the ice is weak, and will melt more easily in the summer. In actual fact exposing the sea to the cold may warm the midwinter air, but it cools the sea, and also creates more sea-ice.  You see, a lead five miles wide cannot form without piling up five miles of ice at some other spot in the arctic, and at the same time exposing sea-water to freezing, forming five miles of new ice in an area which, if it was protected by a roof of ice, would have formed far less ice. In actual fact, in the past we have seen that a lot of lead-formation (which seems to prefer the Beaufort Sea), actually creates so much extra ice and so cools the waters that the summer melt is reduced, not increased.

Lastly, Alarmists seem to rejoice when north winds flush sea-ice south into the warm tendrils of the Gulf Stream that enter the arctic either side of Svalbard. They are happy because you can see the sea-ice melt very quickly, with satellite views. What they do not seem to calculate is how much colder these currents become, if forsed to melt so much ice, and what effect that may have on the current’s ability to melt the bottom of the sea-ice, when the current gets farther north. Furthermore, the same north winds that bring the sea-ice south to the milder currents are bringing cold air to ruffle the top of the currents, not only chilling the top-most water, but reversing the direction of the topmost water.

Alarmists should hope for south winds between Norway and Svalbard, to hurry the tendrils of the Gulf Stream north. When those waters see north winds, as are blowing now, the Gulf Stream is not being assisted. Its waters are being chilled, and the topmost part of the current is actually blown south, which creates all sorts of interesting turbulence between south-moving surface waters and north-moving depths.  It is not a situation conducive to hurrying warmth north and speeding the melt of sea-ice.

In Conclusion, I’d say the effects of the El Nino are nowhere near as simple as some make them out to be. Already I’ve been proven wrong about some of my assumptions. Who would ever assume increasing the heat in the atmosphere would give Kuwait its first snowfall we have records of?

And, if increasing the heat can increase the snowfall in an ordinarily hot desert, might it not increase the sea-ice in an ordinarily cold sea? I’m not saying it will, but I am being humble and saying I’m not sure the after-effects of the El Nino will decrease the sea-ice extent this summer. In fact I’m betting my nickle that the sea-ice extent minimum will be the same as last year, next September, (and I think anyone who bets more than a nickle is a fool.)

The coming La Nina will decrease the heat. We need to be humble about our certainty (or lack of it) about the effects that will have, as well. If the atmosphere becomes more zonal, than general cooling will make sub-polar regions warmer.

By the way, O-buoy 13 shows moisture is being drawn north through Bering Strait. This will dust the black-ice of the new leads with white snow.

Obuoy 13 0426 webcam

The moisture hasn’t made it further east to O-buoy 14, so new leads near it will still have black ice.

Obuoy 14 0426 webcam

With black ice here and white ice there, can you imagine how difficult it would be to create an “albedo” model that was truly accurate?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE –North Pole Dumps On Europe–

I’ll have to be quick today, as work is overwhelming me.

The high pressure that was sitting over Beaufort Sea has shifted southeast into the Canadian Archipelago, and if you follow the isobars you can see it is now working in conjunction with a low just south of Franz Josef Land to create a cross polar flow that exports air into the North Atlantic.

If you follow the isobars backwards you notice the air is being sucked from the snow-cover of Canada, and to a lesser extent from the snow-cover of Siberia, before being exported onto the North Atlantic. Eventually this cold air continues down into Western Europe, where a large upper air trough sits.

Shiver Europe 2 gfs_z500_sig_eur_1

This has brought them very cold temperatures, for late April.

Shiver Europe 1 gfs_t2m_eur_1

And there have even been forecasts that snow will be in the air over Scotland, England, Germany and France this coming week.

Shiver Europe 3 gfs_tot_snow_eur_29(1)

To have snow in late April, even though the atmosphere has been pumped full of warmth by the (rapidly fading) El Nino, is going to put Alarmists in an embarrassing position, for it is hard to talk about Global Warming to a population that is shivering.

In actual fact the El Nino has seemed to create an imbalance, and the atmosphere is always trying to correct such imbalances, and one way it does so is to depart from a zonal flow around and around the Pole, and instead to get loopy, with a meridienal flow that at times comes right across the Pole. This may “warm the Pole”, but farmers to the south are not planting up on the icecap, and instead mutter curses to the south.

The best Alarmists can do is distract, by pointing up to the Pole and exclaiming how “warm” it is up there (though it is still well below freezing and no thawing is occurring).

DMI3 0425 meanT_2016

The problem is that the El Nino is fading fast, and a La Nina is expected. Some models are saying it will be a big one, which will likely lower the earth’s temperatures every bit as much as the El Nino raised it.

 

Scripps 0423 Screen_Shot_2016_04_23_at_4_17_56_AM

In other words, the climate is moving through a cycle. It always has and always will. CO2 has only the slightest effect. It is not worth spending billions to control weather we can’t control. However it is worth helping farmers replant when frost kills their seedlings for, after all, they feed us.

If you must worry, worry about high food prices; not about the fact sea-ice is a little below normal after a big El Nino. There is still more than twice as much sea-ice as there was six months ago. (On this date, back in 2012 when Sea-ice late reached record lows, (red line in chart below) sea-ice was at normal levels, which shows how much the extent-level matters at this early date.)

DMI3 0425 icecover_current_new (1)

 

ROMANIANS AND BRITISH AGREE: WINTER IS ONE MONTH EARLY

From a Romanian site here: http://www.antena3.ro/actualitate/trenuri-blocale-si-localitati-fara-energie-electrica-din-cauza-caderilor-de-zapada-318120.html

Comes news of an early season snowfall that stopped trains, mostly because the trains are electric and trees dropped limbs onto the lines over the trains.

Trenuri blocale şi localităţi fără energie electrică, din cauza căderilor de zăpadă 16

Crudely translated, the report states this:

Travellers from personal train Suceava – Cacica were taken by minibus and taken home after the train was stopped Sunday afternoon in the station Todireşti, said County Council (CJ) Suceava, John Catalin Nechifor, according to Agerpres. The train was stopped at the station after power line was damaged because of falling trees and branches that yielded abundant snow. However, Nechifor said that another issue was brought before the train Ilva Mica – Suceava which was stopped after probably , trees fell on power grid, between the towns Kindergarten and Larion. According to Nechifor during the evening railway line between Transylvania and Suceava will be functional.Also, President CJ Suceava showed that there were failures in the electricity supply in the area Campulung Moldovenesc, but in Vatra Moldoviţei teams E.ON interfering spot for redeploying the network.

Moldova has a report on this website http://stirileprotv.ro/stiri/actualitate/cod-galben-de-ploi-si-ninsori-in-toata-tara-si-cod-portocaliu-in-suceava-si-neamt-unde-stratul-de-zapada-va-depasi-10cm.ht and the report there contains the significant (crudely translated) statement, ” Traffic was blocked on the road between Suceava and Gura Humorului, where winds broke several power cables. Shortly after it started to snow heavily, two cars had crashed violently on the same road.All seven people, located in both cars arrived at the hospital. Young: “It’s too early winter, we did not expect, now move on warm clothes.” Hostel from the mountains of the county Neamt snow deposited on leaves still green trees and grass.

If winter came when the leaves were still green, even the trees got fooled. Considering they spend more time outside than humans do, it is little wonder if humans were taken by surprise.

The culprit for the cold has been a high pressure which, on my Sea-ice posts, I named “CPR” (which was short for “Cross Polar Ridge”.) This ridge of high pressure for a while extended from Bering Strait to Norway, and the winds on the Eurasian side of this cross-polar feature drew air from the East Siberian Sea to Finland and then south towards the Caspian. The cold air has resulted in snow-cover far south in western Russia.Swan 1 ims2015285

This same high pressure “CPR” has largely faded away over the Pole, collapsing south over Europe and now forming a ridge extending from just north of the Caspian Sea all the way west to Britain. East winds now blow in an arc from Siberia to Ireland.Swan 3 gfs_precip_mslp_eur_3Much cold air came south with this high pressure. (Temperature in this map are in Fahrenheit, and pink represents below freezing.) Swan 2 cmc_t2m_eur_3

It can be seen that this high pressure’s east winds would be transporting the cold air to the west, and riding the back of these east winds were Bewick’s Swans.

Britain facing 'longest winter in 50 years' as Siberian swan arrives early

Unlike the trees of Romania, ducks, geese and swans are unlikely to be fooled. This likely occurs because they spend a lot of their time with their butts in water, and know when water is about to freeze. It would be big trouble if your butt got frozen into a lake, and in the case of the larger birds some need water to run across in order to get airborne. In fact some go so far as to suggest it was ducks that first spoke the phrase, “Get my ass out of here.”

Apparently swans have a habit of staying just ahead of the freeze, and there is a Russian expression that states, “The swan brings snow on its bill”, because they tend to fly just ahead of the first severe cold. Therefore, when the first Bewick’s Swan landed in a sanctuary in Slimbridge, Glouchestershire a month earlier than last year, and earlier than ever reported since records started to be kept (in 1963), people feared it might signify the start of a long, cold winter.

http://travel.aol.co.uk/2015/10/13/uk-weather-longest-winter-50-years-siberian-swan-arrives-early/

The story was picked up by the Telegraph which added “Spurred on by bitter north easterly winds, many of the swans are currently gathering in the Netherlands, with 45 on Lake Gooimeer and 80 on Lake Lauwersmeer.” and they also had some cool pictures:Bewick's swans have migrated to Slimbridge every winter since 1963

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/weather/11926752/Britain-faces-longest-winter-in-50-years-after-earliest-ever-arrival-of-Siberian-swan.html

So there you have it, one of the rare cases of people in Romania agreeing with people in England.

People tend to form a beautiful variety of cultures which some, calling themselves “progressive”,  oppose, thinking a bland, international McWorld culture would be better, and individuality should be abolished in all its forms, including the variations that lead to some being called English and some being called Romanians. I think this would be a huge loss, and would be preferring the myopia of Cyclops to the depth perception which owning two eyes and two views allows.

However I must admit two views can involve distrust. Here in New England the Natives have always distrusted the Newcomers, and any deal made with “the other side” was suspect.  For this reason the word “Indian” was sometimes used (until it became politically incorrect) to indicate something you couldn’t trust. An “Indian Giver” was someone who gave you something they later took back, and “Indian Summer” was a late autumn warm spell liable to be followed by very un-summery weather. Even more politically incorrect was the word for an early cold snap, which often preceded an “Indian Summer”, which was called a “Squaw winter”. “Squaw” was the word for an Indian woman, and now is deemed very racist, sexist, and very, very naughty.  Therefore, in the bland spirit of internationalism, I should say, “Early Winter” and “Late Summer”. Bleah. I figure there are too few adjectives as it is, and if I have to say “An early winter followed by a late summer may mean a hard winter,” it lacks the meaning of, “A squaw winter followed by an Indian summer grows the stingy Yankee’s woodpile.” Political incorrectness communicates more.

In any case, the old, weatherwise Yankee I once knew didn’t say a squaw winter always foretold a hard winter. It did set them on edge, but they could speak of early snows that were followed by relatively mild winters. They knew weather is complex, and were always scanning the skies for updates.

However one thing they put a lot of stock in was the behavior of wildlife. I’m quite sure they would tell the people of England to pay attention to those Bewick’s Swans, even if the current cold spell is followed by a nice, long, warm spell.

(A hat tip to Ben Vorlich for alerting me to the swans in England. Also to http://iceagenow.info/ for the information about early snows in eastern Europe,) (which now includes Bulgaria:    iceagenow.info/2015/10/heavy-snow-in-bulgaria/  )

PS   …MEANWHILE, HERE IN NORTH AMERICA…

Here’s a report from Maine about how short the snow-free period was this year. (Maine is the most northeasterly state of the USA.)

PPS   …Meanwhile, in Russia…

From the site:  http://hmn.ru/index.php?index=1&ts=151014130514

Where snow cover was established?

IA “Meteonovosti” / 13:05 Wednesday, October 14

  October 14 national calendar – Protection of the day. On this day in Russia celebrated the meeting of autumn to winter. According to folk etymology, the name of the holiday is associated with the first snow that covered the ground. And where in Russia is now the snow has covered the ground? The snow cover is confidently gaining the north of the Far East. The white blanket has covered herself most of the territory of Yakutia and Magadan region, and in some places it has reached the height of 30 cm. Chance of snow (height 1-5 cm) is in the central regions of Khabarovsk and Primorye territories. In Eastern Siberia is a bit of snow, the snow cover was formed only in places Taimyr, Evenkia and north of Turukhansk district. But in Western Siberia, which in October had already been invaded by snow cyclone it is snow in most areas. In the south, the snow depth is substantially greater than 5 cm, but in the north, in the Yamal-Nenets district snow cover in some places more than 20 cm. Uncharacteristic early dressed in white Urals. After a heavy snowfall, which took place here at the end of the first decade of October, in the west of the Sverdlovsk Region the snow cover in some places more than 30 cm in many areas of the Perm region of 18 to 25 cm, is covered with snow and the South Urals. On the European territory of Russia is snow in the east Middle Volga (up to 5 cm). Closed by snow most of the territory of the Komi Republic, and in some places the snow depth reaches 30 cm. In the east of the Nenets Autonomous District of snow cover reached 10-15 cm. /  Meteonovosti.ru  /

Arctic Sea Ice —The Beaufort Switcheroo—(May 31, 2015)

The blogger “Chris PT” mentioned me in a YouTube video,

In the process he mentioned how watching sea-ice shrink and grow in the Arctic can be a bit like a sporting event, in that Alarmists all cheer wildly when more-than-expected melts, and Skeptics all cheer wildly when less-than-expected melts. I’m not sure I approve, considering billions of dollars are at stake, not to mention the fate of the planet (if you believe Alarmists.)  Also the arguing tends to disintegrate into discussions of the mental state and sanity of opponents, which has little to do with sea-ice, to put it mildly. Therefore I’m going to try to steer clear of such debate, when possible, and if I ridicule anyone it will be myself.

I will expose myself to ridicule by making a guess at what I think will happen. Then I will be wrong. Then I can have all the fun of ridiculing someone, by ridiculing myself.

One forecast sure to be correct this time of year is, “Warmer.”  Temperatures shoot upwards at the Pole, under the 24-hour-a-day sunshine, until they get above freezing and level off in late June. (The average climb in temperature is the green line in the graph below, and you can see how steep the climb is, from April through June.)

What is more difficult to forecast is whether the red line in the graph below will be above or below the green line. For some reason this is the third straight year that temperatures dipped below normal in May. It remains to be seen if they stay below normal for the rest of the summer, as they did the past two summers. I forecast that they will.

Switcher 4 meanT_2015

One way to get an idea how thick the ice is, which gives you a hint about how enduring it might be, is to study the NRL ice-thickness map.

Switch 6 arcticictnowcast If you watch this over a period of time some events become obvious. For example, all winter the ice was pushed from the northwest to the southeast across Hudson Bay, and by April the ice was piled up and thick to the southeast, and newly-formed and thin to the northwest. Therefore it is obvious ice will melt away first in the northwest. I forecast there will be some ice still left in the southeast of Hudson Bay in August.

In the like manner, a lot of ice was pushed out of the Kara Sea, so I expect it will melt more swiftly in the Kare Sea this year.  The Laptev Sea, on the other hand, did not export as much ice as last year. Last year the cross-polar-flow was so extreme that ice was pushed far from shore, leaving so much newly-formed, thin ice that, once melting began, an area of open water I dubbed “The Laptev Notch” formed during the summer, and stabbed north of 80 degrees latitude for a time. I forcast that notch to be far smaller this summer, and to have trouble melting north of 80 degrees.

If you don’t have the time to study the thickness-laps on a regular basis, you can watch a whole year be animated here:

What impresses me most in that animation is the bite the Pacific takes out ice north of the Bering Strait. That ice is solid and thick, at the start, but the influx of milder, Pacific water at the surface melts the ice from underneath, and ice that is ten feet thick in April can be gone by September.

I am expecting quite a bite to be taken from that ice this year, because the PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) is going through a “warm spike”, and the water coming in through the Bering Strait ought be especially warm. However already I’ve blown my forecast in some ways. For one thing, to the south of Bering Strait the water on the Siberian side has become much colder than normal, and that makes me nervous. If it becomes involved, the water coming in through Bering Strait won’t be so mild.

Also the nice, mild breezes that have been rushing up from the south, and affirming my forecast, are putting me through the old switcheroo. They are swinging to the east and becoming colder.

The coldest air is currently parked over the Pole, and along the north coast of Greenland.

Switcher 1 gfs_t2m_arctic_1

However a high pressure is parked north of Bering Strait,

Switcher 5 mslp_latest.big

In three days the cold air will be pulled off the Pole, and it seems the yearly warm-up will be well underway.

Switcher 2 gfs_t2m_arctic_18

The problem with the above map is that it shows the Beaufort Sea during the warmest part of the day. Even under 24-hour-sunshine the sun is higher at noon, and a diurnal variation does occur. Therefore, to play it safe, we look at the situation under the midnight sun,

Switcher 3 gfs_t2m_arctic_20

Now the situation north of Bering Strait and in the Beaufort Sea suddenly looks much colder. This does not bode well, in the short term, for my forecast of melting in that area.

The GFS model makes it look like the high pressure will remain parked roughly where it is, and an easterly flow will move a lot of the cold air north of Greenland to the west, along the Canadian coast and finally to the Alaskan coast. Yesterday I noticed Buoy 2015B: had dropped from above freezing to -3.19° C, and while it has rebounded to -1.33° in the “noontime” heating, the water its camera shows in a nearby lead looks suspiciously like it is skimming over with ice.

Bouy 2015B 0531 camera2

O-buoy #12 (which is due north of Bering Strait and most likely to first feel the effects of the “warm” PDO), has fallen from above freezing to -5°.

Obuoy 12 0531 temperature-1week Obuoy 12 0531 webcam

To the east across the Beaufort Sea, our old friend Obuoy 10 also shows an abrupt temperature drop

Obuoy 10 0531 temperature-1week Obuoy 10 0531 webcam

The buoy I’ll be watching is Buoy Buoy 2015A: , which is right on the coast of Alaska and effected by the sun-baked tundra just to its south. It’s camera is currently showing a lot of melt-water pools and temperatures are at +0.66°. If the camera starts to show the melt-water pools freezing over, then we’ll know the cold air has really backed west.

Buoy 2015A 0531 camera1

Of course, the cold will have to come from somewhere, and if the Pole is robbed of all its sub-freezing air, temperatures will likely rise up that way. They may even get their first thaw of the year. As it is, it is currently -8.42° C up at Buoy 2015D: , which is hard to see but is to the left of this picture, taken by North Pole Camera 1.

NP3 1 0531 2015cam1_1

In conclusion, what is really fun about watching ice melt is seeing surprises occur, and what you don’t expect. I did not expect this cold shot into the Beaufort Sea.

What happened last summer, and I expect to happen again this summer, is for there to be some of these cold spells that come right out of the blue, with their origins more or less a mystery. After all, you reach a point where there is no more cold air left at the Pole. In the current situation the Beaufort cold can be explained-away as a case of Robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul, but later in the summer Peter is broke, so you can’t rob him. It is when there are suddenly temperatures below freezing in July, without any apparent “source reason,” that your sense of wonder starts to come into play.

I’m looking forward to that.