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)



From a Romanian site here:

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 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.

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

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 for the information about early snows in eastern Europe,) (which now includes Bulgaria:  )


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:

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. /  /

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.


I am very ignorant concerning computers, and I only mention this as a ignorant soul telling a Rembrandt his shoelace is untied.

The models amaze me with their accuracy five days into the future, most of the time. I have a hard time forecasting tomorrow. Therefore I rely on models, and notice when they are not amazing, five days into the future. Recently they have been spectacularly wrong, especially as you get up into northern latitudes.

I’ve been wondering if they think in a circular manner. They might see weather patterns going around and around the earth.  It might throw a wrench in the works, and be over-the-top, so to speak, when rather than around and around, cross-polar-flow brings things over the top.

The recent cold that clobbered Europe was unseen by models, even three days ahead of time. I think it may be because the models are based on a nice, “zonal” flow, and have trouble when the Pole is afflicted by what some (me) call a “loopy” flow, and others call “meridianal.”

The best model at handling such cross-polar-flow seems to be the Canadian “JEM” model, likely because Canada gets clobbered by cross-polar-flow more than most other nations. Perhaps the JEM model does not do as well with round-and-round the earth patterns, for it is not the best model overall, however when it does score a “coup” it seems it is because it added over-the-top cold to the mix. (Of course, the JEM model has a habit of creating over-the-normal super-storms, but no one is perfect.)

I thought it might be interesting to see what the JEM model produced, and what follows gives you an idea of the wrenches the Pole can throw into the works of any model that accepts a zonal flow as a basic premise.

(These maps are produced by a Rembrandt of the weather-map-world called Dr. Ryan Maue, of the Weatherbell site, however these maps are blemished by a bit of digital graffiti down the left sides. Likely Dr. Maue was operating on two hours of sleep when he wrote the code for this map, or perhaps the Canadian computers produced the glitch and the graffiti  is beyond Dr. Maue’s control. In any case, it is an untied shoelace, and I hope you will ignore it and enjoy the great art.)

All these maps can be clicked, or opened to a new tab, to enlarge them. Then they can be clicked a second time to enlarge them further.

The first, “initial” map shows a Pacific invasion has nearly reached the Pole, but a tremendously cold airmass in Siberia, (the hottest pink is -70°), is rushing north behind the invasion, cutting it off. (The clash between the the milder and frigid air is creating a decent polar storm.) This northward rush of Siberian air is what I called “the snout of Igor” last year, and makes me worry, though I am off the map and on the far side of the planet.

CPF1 cmc_t2m_arctic_1

The next map shows that a day later the Siberian air has charged right across the Pole. The Pacific invasion is cut off, but an Atlantic invasion is starting north west of Norway. (Notice the cold air has been driven from northern Scandinavia.) Things look bad for Canada, with that thrust of Siberian air charging their way.

CPF2 cmc_t2m_arctic_5

The next map, 48 hours later, makes one say, “But what is this?” A new invasion of Pacific air is attacking the cross-polar-flow from one side, as the Atlantic invasion proceeds from the other. Will the flow be strangled?

CPF3 cmc_t2m_arctic_9

After 72 hours the Pacific invasion seems to be overpowering the Atlantic invasion, and rather than the cross-polar-flow being nipped in the bud, it is developing a curve, or a sort of saddle. Warmth has pushed east of Finland into Russia.

CPF4 cmc_t2m_arctic_13

After 96 hours the curve in the cross-polar flow has become such an oxbow that the air is starting to aim not towards Canada initially, but west towards Scandinavia. Notice that west of Finland, the cold is no longer retreating east in Russia, but starting to advance west.

(I think this is where some models start to lose it.)

CPF5 cmc_t2m_arctic_17

After 120 hours the original cross-polar-flow has collapsed into a surge of cold back towards Scandinavia. However a new cross-polar-flow is starting, and the most-recent Pacific invasion is again being cut off. Northern Scandinavia is much colder.

CPF6 cmc_t2m_arctic_21

Lastly at 144 hours, (which is starting to enter la-la land, for models), we see some bizarre feature north of Greenland throwing mild air up towards the Pole.  (“I’ll believe it when I see it.”)  However what seems a little more reliable is, first of all,  that the new cross-polar-flow has hooked up with Canada, and the air in northern Canada is nearly as cold as Siberia’s.  Secondly, the old cross-polar-flow has sent really cold air crashing into Scandinavia.

(It is sort of like the cross-polar-flow was a meandering river, and cut off an oxbow, but in the atmosphere an oxbow does not just sit stagnant, as an oxbow lake, but is a mobile thing, as Scandinavia may see first hand, 144 hours from the time of the first map.)

CPF7 cmc_t2m_arctic_25

Please remember all of the above is occurring in the virtual world of computer models. It is theory, not reality.  However what is so fascinating to me is how different weather patterns look, when you view the globe from the top, rather than always from one side or another.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE RECOVERY —The usual but different—

Since I last focused on this subject back on November 29, the sea-ice has continued its usual amazing increase, a tripling and even quadrupling which happens every year, and in some ways is ho-hum news.  I only note it because next summer, when the decrease goes the other way, sensationalist headlines may read, “Ice decreases by huge amounts! Only a third of it remains!”  It sells papers. What puzzles me is why they don’t sell even more papers, in December,  with headlines reading, “Ice increases by huge amounts! Extent triples!”

Here are the maps for November 29, (left), and December 12 (right).

DMI2 1129 arcticicennowcast DMI2 1212 arcticicennowcast

The increase in ice is pretty much as to be expected. What I am focused on is slight differences from the norm, that may hint at changes in cycles, whether they be short term weather patterns or longer term 60 year cycles involving the AMO or PDO.

The swift freeze of Hudson Bay is ahead of normal, and of concern to me because the open waters of Hudson Bay to New Hampshire’s north is a buffer against the full brunt of arctic discharges. As soon as Hudson Bay freezes we are more susceptible to pure arctic outbreaks from due north. If the Great Lakes freeze we are more susceptible to cold from the Canadian prairie as well.  To my east, even though the Atlantic does not freeze outside of the bays, its waters can be signifigantly cooled by the right conditions.

One such condition involves the discharge of ice from Baffin Bay, which is a great producer and exporter of ice.  Even in the dead of winter when temperatures are down near forty below, open water can appear in the north of Baffin Bay, because so much  ice is exported down the west coast of the bay that a polynya forms in the north. That ice then continues along the coast of Labrador, and icebergs continue down into the entrance of the St Lawrence or even further. The flow is far more complex than you’d think, as currents can dive down beneath milder waters, but in general there is a counter-current to the south hugging the American coast, as the Gulf Stream surges north.

A second discharge of ice comes down through Fram Strait, down the east coast of Greenland towards and past Iceland. The ice in this current cannot dive even when the current’s water does, and therefore ice floats onward and effects the temperature of the North Atlantic. In extreme cases (1815-1817) so much ice is exported that icebergs can ground on the coast of Ireland, and Europe’s summer temperatures can be cooled.

It should be noted that the ice moving down the east coast of Greenland comes from the Arctic Basin, and therefore subtracts from the amount of ice left behind up north for people to fret about next summer. Although their worry about less ice in the arctic focuses on Global Warming, the concern should be cooling. Here is a quote from the year 1817:

“We learn that a vessel is to be fitted out by Government for the purpose of attempting again the north-west passage, the season being considered as peculiarly favourable to such an expedition. Our readers need not be informed that larger masses of ice than ever were before known have this year been seen floating in the Atlantic, and that from their magnitude and solidity, they reached even the fortieth latitude before they were melted into a fluid state. From an examination of the Greenland captains, it has been found that owing to some convulsions of nature , the sea was more open and moré free from compact ice than in any former voyage they ever made: that several ships actually reached the eighty-fourth degree of latitude, in which no ice whatever was found; that for the first time for 400 years, vessels penetrated to the west coast of Greenland, and that they apprehended no obstacle to their even reaching the pole, if it had consisted with their duty to their employers to make the attempt…”

The fact this discharge of ice is concurrent with “The Year Without A Summer” is mentioned in this post,  and further information can be found in this treasure trove:

While nothing as dramatic as 1815-1817 has occurred recently, I do like to keep an eye on the discharge of ice, and utilize a layman’s assumption that less discharge may make Europe warmer, while more may make Europe colder, the following summer.

This past autumn the ice-export down the coast of Greenland, and also down the west side of Baffin Bay, were below normal, but recently the extent has increased to near normal.  This represents a surge or pulse of ice that bears watching, IMHO.

On the Pacific side of the Arctic there has been an impressive increase of sea-ice in the Chukchi Sea north of Bering Strait. It is still below normal, but is closer to normal. I like to watch this area for two reasons. First, once it freezes over Siberian air can remain cold when it takes the “short cut” route from Siberia to Alaska, and second, it gives hints about the current nature of the PDO. The PDO has been in a short-term “warm” spike midst a long term “cold” phase, so I would expect ice in the Bering Strait to be below normal, but ice will increase as the short-term “warm” spike ends.

There are past records of “warm” spikes during the “cold” PDO, however this is the first time we’ve been able to watch it with the detail satellites allow us,  so of course I’m watching with great interest.

On the Atlantic side the exact opposite has been occurring. We saw, last spring and summer, a “cold” spike during a “warm” phase of the AMO. Right on cue there was more ice along the north coast of Svalbard, even those it was the warm season and everywhere else the ice was decreasing. Then this “cold” spike ended, and now, even though everywhere else sea-ice is increasing, the northern reaches of Barents Sea have seen a decrease in sea-ice.  (Even more intriguing is the fact there are some signs the AMO may be about to go through a second “cold” spike.)

At this point the arctic is pretty much completely frozen over, and my attention turns to how the ice is being pushed around up there.  However there are a couple of areas outside the arctic that freeze over, which are interesting to watch.

The first is the Sea of Okhotsk east of Russia and north of Japan. Extremely cold air has been pouring into the Pacific off Asia, and these waters are starting to freeze over swiftly. (Their refreeze were below-normal, earlier.) I have a hunch the variations in how these waters cool may have something to do with the end of the “warm” spike in the PDO.

The second is the northern reaches of the Baltic Sea, especially the Gulf of Bothnia between Sweden and Finland. Those waters are just plain fascinating to me, because so many fresh water rivers pour into the Baltic Sea that the further north you go the fresher the water becomes, until in the very north of the Gulf of Bothnia fresh water fish can swim in the Sea. Because the water is so much fresher it freezes more easily, and the northern Baltic becomes a hypersensitive measure of Scandinavian cold. When southwest winds and the Atlantic rules, there is little freezing, but when winds shift to the brutal east, the entire Baltic can freeze.

Having discussed the extent maps, I’ll swiftly go over the daily maps. I apologize for not being able to name the individual storms like I did last year. Other areas of my life got too bossy.

One obvious difference from last year has been that storms don’t ride along the arctic coast of Eurasia from Barents Sea, through the Kara and Laptev Seas, all the way to the East Siberian Seas, and meet up with Pacific storms in the Chukchi Sea. Instead they run into a wall, and are bent north to the Pole and even Canada, or south into Russia.

Back on November 29 an Atlantic storm had crashed into the wall and devided, with half heading towards Canada and half down into Russia. In the process it brought a huge surge of Atlantic air north over the Pole. Last year this Atlantic air surged over Europe and kept them relatively warm all winter, but this time that mildness was wasted on sea ice.

DMI2 1129 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1129 temp_latest.big

At this point something ominous happened, if you live in Scandinavia. My ears perked forward in interest, for it may be a forerunner of what could become a pattern, later in the winter. This time it was quickly rebuffed, but later in the winter ic could “lock in”.

What happened is that as the low pressure was defected south into Russia high pressure extended west to its north, creating a flow of east winds along the arctic coast. Brutally cold Siberian air rolled west (last winter I called it “the snout of Igor”), and Europe chilled, though not to the degree it could have chilled if the east winds had continued.

DMI2 1130B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1130B temp_latest.bigDMI2 1201 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1201 temp_latest.big

On December 1 there is a cross-polar-flow from the Atlantic to the Pacific, drawing mild Atlantic air right across the Pole. The flow is about as non-zonal as it can be. If you are into looking for proof of Global Warming, now is the time you point out a spike in temperatures at the Pole, but the exact same spoke can be used as a disproof.

What you need to do is think of how a summer thunderstorm uplifts hot and muggy air and breeds a cooling shower, and use that as an analogy for what is occurring on a far grander scale up at the cap of the planet. Warm air is uplifted, heat is lost, and the air comes down cooler.

Of course, this is a grotesque simplification, but when debating Global Warming, who really cares? (What is actually occurring as the mild air is uplifted up at the Pole is fascinating, and I don’t claim to understand it, but have learned enough to make it a subject for an amusing post I’m working on, and may even submit to WUWT. Rather than supplying any answers, it asked questions that need to be asked.)

Europe was spared the icebox of an arctic outbreak from the east by a series of lows that pushed the high pressure (and its east winds,) north to the Pole.

DMI2 1204 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1204 temp_latest.big

However rather than this low pressure bumping the high pressure over to Canada and continuing on to the east, the low itself got deflected north as high pressure again built ahead of it. A new cross-polar-flow, this time from Asia to Canada, began to appear, and temperatures at the Pole crashed.

DMI2 1206 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1206 temp_latest.big

By December 6 the most recent pattern began to manifest, and the final seven maps showing storm after storm failing to get across the Atlantic, and instead curling around north of Norway back towards Greenland. This has created a second invasion of milder Atlantic air to pour north through Scandinavia, on the east side of storms, as frigid winds howl down the east coast of Greenland and make Iceland cold on the west side of storms.

This pattern is (I assume) self-destructive, as eventually the North Atlantic (seemingly) will get too mild to its northeast and too cold to its southwest to perpetuate the pattern. Therefore I am watching in great interest to see signs of its demise, and to see what will set up next.

DMI2 1208B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1208B temp_latest.bigDMI2 1209B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1209B temp_latest.bigDMI2 1210B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1210B temp_latest.big DMI2 1211B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1211B temp_latest.big

DMI2 1212 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1212 temp_latest.big

DMI2 1212B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1212B temp_latest.big

DMI2 1214 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1214 temp_latest.big

As a final interesting tidbit to this post I’ll add the graph of polar temperatures, which shows the big warming spike caused by the initial invasion of Atlantic air, the crash as the Siberian cross-polar-flow developed, and the start of a second spike as the second invasion of Atlantic air begins.

DMI2 1214 meanT_2014

All in all I would say this winter is promising to be another winter when any semblance of a zonal flow is rare, and the sea-ice will be wracked and tortured by storms. It will be interesting to watch.

LOCAL VIEW —Gloom Vs. Cookies—

Our barometer has fallen slightly to 29.41, but the temperature remains steady at 34. It seems it has been stuck there for over a day. The rain has ceased, but the little brook behind the house is roaring down over the ruins of the old tannery, loud in the windless night. I snoozed after dinner, despite the noise of two grandchildren, and now am up with my usual insomnia. 

It is odd to think of how my wife and I wondered how we’d handle empty-nest-syndrome, considering how full our house has become. My middle son is out of college and applying for work while working the sort of grunt-jobs college is suppose to help you avoid, and both daughters are back, at least part of the time, due to boyfriend complexities it doesn’t pay to question too deeply about (though I confess curiosity.) .

It is amusing how they ease themselves in. It sort of starts as a visit, but gets longer. My wife is part of the conspiracy. I am like Beorn, and she is like Gandelf telling Beorn he is going to have 12 dwarfs and a hobbit for dinner, not by saying the total number of guests at first, but by slowly increasing the number during the course of conversation.


(My wife has the hat and stick, but not the beard.)

I am a bit like Beorn, frowning fiercely at my computer at maps of the weather, the economy, the political situation, and the spiritual situation. I am even a bit of a form-changer, for when I frown too much my wife plops my baby granddaughter in my lap, and all frowning must cease. However the racket does get loud in this small house, which may partly explain my recent insomnia. Insomnia is the only way I can get some peace, and concentrate. Tonight it was a bit strange, as I closed my eyes and dozed midst a racket, and awoke to total silence.

The midnight map shows storm #9 is stuck over us. The rain has ceased, but the gloom is likely to remain.  The radar shows backlash snows to the west, and some of that likely will wheel our way before we see any sunshine.

20151202C satsfc

20141210C rad_ne_640x480

(Click maps to clarify and enlarge.)

As I look west to try to see what sort of weather is coming our way, I see warmth flooding over the Canadian Rockies, and warm, above-freezing air right up into Alberta.  It seems impossible we will get anything but a sunny thaw, but over and over I’ve been fooled, as innoculous looking high pressure comes sneaking down from Hudson Bay, and pumps itself up with just enough arctic cold to shock us for a day or so, before a resurgence of milder air comes up the coast.  I am also suspicious because cross-polar-flow has built up a pool of murderously cold air up in the Canadian Arctic, and even though it seems in no mood to charge south as an arctic outbreak, it constantly leaks enough cold south to worry me.  Lastly, the days are so short we don’t really need Siberian imports to come across the Pole, as the deep snow up over Canada, and the fact Hudson Bay is frozen over, can take cool air and make it cold. You can see some of that cold leaking south in the intial GFS temperature map (from Dr. Ryan Maue’s amazing collection of maps at Weatherbell.)

20141210C gfs_t2m_noram_1 (click to enlarge.)

If I was an optimist I’d focus on the above-freezing air invading the Canadian prairies, but I’m prone to worry. The storms crashing into the California coast, and giving them needed rains, look likely to roll across the country one by one, and even if temperatures are above normal it will be cold enough to generate snow along the northern edge of each storm, and the way things have been going one of the storms will turn up the coast next week and we’ll have a repeat performance of either the Thanksgiving storm or the current storm.

It is hard to worry correctly about storms with so many children back in the nest.  I keep being distracted by issues that remind me a little of living in a Hippy commune back in the 1970’s: Who shall cook; who shall do dishes; who gets what shelf in the refrigerator; who shall play  what sort of music when. Of course, it is possible to brew up a whole new bunch of worries, especially when low pressure makes my bones ache.  I have the sort of poetic temperament that can make a maudlin melody out of a sunny day, and when the weather gets dark and dismal I really ought be at my best, however my wife has a unique counter-attack which little can withstand: She steams up the kitchen baking cookies.

In defiance of the dreary, my wife
Bakes cookies. The purple mist presses close
To yellow windows; longing for the life
And laughter within, its blue nose is loath
To leave the view of the love it lacks.
It swirls and drips, dribbling down the panes
As outside early night dabs dark, and blacks
The cold stove of sunless skies. It remains
Glued to the glass, sniffing the strange power
Of cookies. Cookies, mere cookies, defeat
The dark. Fragrant piles of cookies tower
And then, to be made more warm and complete,
Are wrapped with red ribbons in green cellophane
For neighbors; warm candles in cold Christmas rain.