ARCTIC SEA ICE –The Surge Snipped–

The Pole continues to make for interesting theater, though the drama has died down from what it was a week ago, when temperatures were soaring to 35 degrees above normal and the ice at the north edge of Barents Sea was retreating. Fueling this weather was a strong south wind from the Atlantic that at times pushed right past the Pole towards the Pacific, thus confusing everybody, because a south wind became a north wind without changing direction.  This flow achieved its peak around November 14:

By November 16 the flow was pushing an Atlantic low and its secondary up through Fram Strait, whereupon, due to the strict laws of this website, they are automatically dubbed “Ralph”. The southerly flow, while remaining southerly, had swung east, and was now coming less off the Atlantic and more off shore from Europe, but it nearly was able to push above-freezing temperatures to the Pole.

So strong was this flow that the sea-ice, which usually is expanding south as a thin sheet of ice, was pushed north by strong wind until it was briefly well north of Franz Josef Land, and unable to refreeze because temperatures were above freezing in that area. This produced a brief and unusual dip in the ice “extent”graph, which usually is rocketing upwards at this time of year. However the ice swiftly grew back down to Franz Josef Lands’s north coast as conditions began to change, and the graph resumed its upward climb.

dmi4-1123-osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

The surge from the south had raised eyebrows by raising temperatures to unprecedented levels (in a history that goes back 58 years).

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However my eyebrows were raised by the steep decline that followed.

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This interested me because, whereas other places can get colder air from lands further north, there is no place north of the North Pole. Therefore it must get cold air imported from colder tundra to the south, but I didn’t see any strong flow from such tundras. This meant the cold must instead be home grown. Or, to put it more scientifically, the heat was lost locally, radiated upwards into the unending winter night.

Still, it seemed odd to me that the warm southerly flow should just turn off like a spigot. My curiosity sought reasons, for the cessation was obvious as early as November 17, because the first and second lows, following a storm track straight north to the Pole, (incarnations of “Ralph”), weakened with surprising speed. It was as if they were cut off from their warm inflow of mild, moist air, while the third storm in the sequence came to a dead halt and refused to head north, and just sat off the coast of Norway and twiddled its thumbs, remaining fairly strong.

I wondered if the stalled low off Norway might be consuming all the available energy, but this didn’t satisfy me, for the isobars in the above map still indicate a strong flow from the south. Why wasn’t the warmth heading out over arctic waters? The temperature anomaly map still showed the above-normal temperatures moving north in central Europe, but then being bent east at the top. What was stopping the import of heat north to the Pole?

surge-7-gfs_t2m_anom_eur_21

I’d likely still be mystified, but dawn broke on Marblehead when I visited Joseph D’Aleo’s blog over at the Weatherbell Site, and during the course of one of his elegant descriptions of complex situations he turned on the light-bulb in my noggin.

Just as a meandering stream straightens its course from time to time, cutting across the neck of a loop and leaving an oxbow lake behind

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So too can a loopy jet stream decide to straighten up its act, and the “surge” was part of a loopy jet:

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When a jet straightens up it act, the cut off part of the stream is not called an “oxbow”, but rather a “cut off”, (which shows that meteorologists are occasionally more sensible than geologists).  By November 23 the upper air maps showed the “cut off low” was sitting down over Spain. Over Spain a large part of the surge was no longer heading north, but caught up and going around and around and around, like a taxpayer caught up in a bureaucracy.

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You will notice that at the top of the above map the jet is basically zooming west to east. The surge from the south has vanished, making a mess of all my forecasts that calculated the surge would move east this far one day, and this far further east the next. The surge simply disappeared, or at the very least fell over and surged west to east. It was confusing. (Actually the same thing happens when I straighten up my own act. It confuses people who depend on me to be loopy.)  In any case, this morning’s surface map had a reflection of the cut-off-low stalled over Spain, but what about the North Atlantic low? It will plow west-to-east across Scandinavia in the jet, nothing like the lows that headed straight north, last week.uk-met-20161126-42268142

The tipped over surge can be seen giving some relief to central Asia in the temperature maps.

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In the anomaly map the west-to-east surge looks like an arrow, making a layer cake out of the map (to mix my metaphors). The old cold is to the south, still capable of generating a few headlines, but likely to be slowly moderated out of existence. The new cold is along the top, and likely needs to be watched, for it seems likely to be a lasting feature. The “surge” itself seems likely to linger but weaken, but will remain interesting to watch.  At the very least it will give some Asians a break, after they have been through an autumn colder than some winters.

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But this is all off the point, which was (in case you can’t remember), that the mild air is not surging up to the Pole any more, and that the vast pool of mild air that was transported up there is slowly cooling, day by day.

I should note that Joseph D’Aleo mentioned that when a jet really gets roaring west to east it can act downright human. (After humans have straightened out their act, what tends to happen next? Answer: Their resolve buckles.) In like manner, we should be on our toes, watching for where the jet will next buckle, and get all loopy, (like a human falling off the wagon after keeping a New Year’s resolution as long as they can bear it).   However, for the time being, up at the Pole, “Ralph” has little hope of reinforcements from the Atlantic.

Not that “Ralph” has vanished completely. Largely he has retreated to the Canadian Archipelago, as high pressure dominates the Arctic. At the end of my last post there actually was a small ghost of Ralph by the Pole, and hint of Ralph’s “signature” in the temperature map, hooking mildness towards the Pole, despite the power of the expanding high pressure. (See the tiny low by the Pole?)

The next day Ralph’s ghost was just a dent in the high pressure’s isobars. Freezing temperatures had snuck down to the northeast coast of Svalabard.

 

The next dawn Ralph, like all good ghosts, was vanishing, because that is what ghosts do at dawn. (If you you squint you can still see a microscopic low under the Pole.) The only real import of air towards the Pole was from central Siberia.

The following dawn saw an odd dimple in the high pressure’s isobars, on the Canadian side. It looked like (if you use your imagination) a face, that the ghost of Ralph had punched. Freezing temperatures were engulfing Svalbard. By evening the ghost of Ralph reappeared, (as good ghosts do at dark), just north of the Canadian Archipelago.

Today saw the freezing isotherm slump well south of Svalbard, and Ralph retreat and regroup north of Canada. Models are suggesting Ralph will soon start attacking the Pole from the Canadian side, though with colder air than before. The North Atlantic flow is totally from the north, and Scandinavia looks likely to get a dose of north winds.

The north winds are allowing the sea-ice to build south again where the “surge” had forced it to retreat, in the north part of Barents Sea, and sea-ice is again touching the north coast of Franz Josef Land. There was also a slight reduction on the Pacific side, due to strong south winds and a brief mild inflow a week ago, but that has been more than made up for by regrowth, which has now engulfed Wrangle Island.

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A major difference from last year is that Hudson Bay was half skimmed-over last year, and the refreeze hasn’t even started this year. I think this will soon change. The Bay’s waters are shallow, and it tends to freeze over with remarkable speed, which contributes to the speed of the growth of the “extent” graph.  I’ll bet a nickle the Bay is entirely frozen by Christmas.

Even though the flow from central Siberia has been weak, it appears to have nudged the thicker ice just off shore, in the Laptev Sea. Watch for the formation of polynyas along the shore there, for that is indicative of the export of ice into the Central Arctic Basin.

Baffin Bay is swiftly icing over, but remains behind last year’s rate of growth..

The Kara Sea’s sea-ice shrank back before the “surge”, but that sea has since swiftly grown sea-ice on its eastern side.

The reversing winds have seen multi-year ice start down through Fram Strait, along the east coast of Greenland, but the ice down towards the coast opposite Iceland in Denmark Strait is largely home grown.

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I’m not sure how it is possible, but some models see a colder version of Ralph moving up from Canada to regain complete control of the Pole in a week to ten days. Stay tuned.

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ARCTIC SEA ICE —A Barents Sea Blaster—(June 11-15, 2015 — Concluded)

Our last polar storm, which I guess I’ll call “Polly”, has faded away towards Bering Strait, swinging an interesting secondary along the coast of Alaska. Meanwhile notice a new storm brewing in the Kara Sea.

DMI2 0610 mslp_latest.big

I suppose I could have called the new storm “A Kara Cruncher”, but it is suppose to retrograde back into Barents Sea, so I’m leaning towards “A Barents Blaster”.  Let”s give it a name. To show I’m not preferential I’ll name it after both seas, and dub it “Karabar”.

DMI2 0611 mslp_latest.big

The thing Karabar will do is start to flush ice south through Fram Strait. This ought to make Alarmists happy, for a similar situation developed in  2007 and gave them low ice extents to bewail. They are not happy unless bewailing, which has never made a lick of sense to me, but I suppose that is just how some people are.

I’ll be updating later, as there is some interesting history to relate, regarding what occurs when ice is flushed south into the Atlantic. However I wanted to post this news while it was hot. (Or actually the temperature of ice water).

UPDATE JUNE 12  Impossible Occurrence Occurs

“Karabar” has centered itself over Barents Sea and is developing nicely, if you want to focus on a flow down through Fram Strait. (Which I do). However first I suppose I should take care of some housecleaning, regarding the fate of “Polly the Polar Gale”, which is rapidly fading away over by Bering Strait.

DMI2 0612 mslp_latest.big

One thing I’ve been wondering about Polar gales like “Polly” involves the simple fact that what goes up must come down. North of 60° latitude what goes up in the south comes down further north, as heat from the equator follows a three step process, on its way to being dissipated at the Poles:

Polar Cell atmospherecirculation

The thing about a storm like Polly is that the rising air is right at the Pole, and can’t go further north. In the nice, neat system portrayed above, it is a wrench in the works. You can’t have the Polar Cell running backwards without “grinding gears” with the Ferrel Cell,.To make the system work you either have to remove the Polar Cell, and have the Ferrel Cell extend right to the Pole, or else create a little Cell north of the Polar Cell, and, to keep it from feeling inferior, give it some sort of grandiose name like “Superpolar Cell”.

I tend to doubt the Ferrel Cell can extend to the Pole, as all the jet streams would tie themselves into a knot, or else shrink to a black hole of some sort. Even in the summer you tend to have the boundary between polar and subpolar air marked by gentler and kinder summer fronts lazily orbiting the earth. Therefore I’m going to play with the idea of a “Superpolar Cell,” right in the middle of the Polar Cell, sort of like the hole in a doughnut.

Basically a “Superpolar Cell” is created when a storm running along the boundary between the Ferrel and Polar Cells becomes a renegade, and punches right into the guts of the Polar Cell, and then lives in those guts as a sort of tapeworm, until the atmosphere, furious about being compared to a tapeworm, strangles it. (Please tell me if I’m getting too technical.)

Once a storm like “Polly” is strangled from any inflow of warm air, it seems what goes up must come down. However, because it is trapped, (in the center of a doughnut as it were), it can’t be transported by some sort of superpolar jetstream to some other hemispehere, and therefore goes down in roughly the same place it went up, (at the very least, within the Arctic Circle), like a sort of yo-yo. And because the atmosphere does not like being called a yo-yo any more than it likes being called a tapeworm, a distinct chill is felt, an icy mood despite summer sunshine.

This chill, perhaps caused by the collapsed corpse of poor strangled Polly,  can be seen in the 12z runs of both in the always-warmer GFS model and the always-colder Canadian model, pictured below. DMI2 0612 gfs_t2m_arctic_2

DMI2 0612 cmc_t2m_arctic_3

Having recieved this chilly reception, I am reluctant to tell the atmosphere what it is doing is impossible, but someone must do it. “Atmosphere, what you are doing is impossible.”

If the air is going up and down like a yo-yo, the air that comes down should be warmer. What should happen is what happens to air going over the Rocky Mountains. Polly lifts air up and snows over the Pole, and all the water vapor turning into snow releases lots of latent heat which does not come down with the snow (as the snow, being solid, doesn’t shrink more that a most minuscule amount as pressures rise, and is not subject to adiabatic heating as it falls.) The latent heat should remain with the air, and later, when Polly collapses and the air descends, it should be warmer, like a Chinook is warmer.

To be honest I don’t really understand this adiabatic cooling and heating stuff. But smarter fellows tell me moist air heats and cools less than dry air. Moist air rides up one side of the Rocky Mountains losing heat at .54°C/100 m, snows out all its moisture and becomes dry air, and then descends gaining heat at 1°C/100 m, as a snow-eating Chinook. There is no cotton picking way Polly should be creating cold air. Those maps you see above are lies, I tell you! Lies!

I’m sure some will say that the heat is lost to outer space from the tops of the clouds, but I once tried saying exactly that to a very smart person, and received quite a drubbing. (He used all sorts of facts and figures and satellite data, and I nodded and pretended to understand, while secretly vowing never to bring up the topic with that fellow ever again.)

What his argument boiled down to seemed to suggest that the tops of clouds are so very cold they can’t lose heat. Adiabatic cooling has them down as low as minus 70, and the satellites that measure how much heat is lost don’t measure much heat being lost from something that is starting out that cold. They may reflect incoming sunshine, but they don’t lose more than a tiny amount of heat brought up from the surface. Therefore what goes up must come down, and should come down warmer.

Having explained to the Atmosphere why it is wrong, I don’t expect it will listen to me. (It probably is a good thing it doesn’t listen, because if it had listened when I was a boy no one could have gone to work, because schools would have constantly been canceled due to storms.)

It really should be getting warmer, when you consider the sun now never sets north of this red line.

ARCTIC_CIRCLE_021106 And when I just checked the buoy down near 70° on the coast of Alaska, it doesn’t look like any freezing is occurring, despite the midnight sun dipping low,

Buoy 2015A 0612 camera1

The more recent report has temperatures down to  -0.19° C, which is still too warm to freeze salt water.

At Buoy 2015B, out on the open ocean northwest of there, temperatures are down to -1.60° C, which is right at freezing point of the slightly brackish salt water (made slightly fresher by melting ice). A new, wide lead has opened.

Buoy 2015B 0612 camera2 And to east of there Bouy 2013F, co-located with O-buoy 10, is showing thawing, but reporting -0.11°Obuoy 10 0612 webcamAnd even further east, Buou 2014I, co-located with O-buoy 11, shows signs of thaw and still has above-freezing temperatures at +0.59°, but they’ve dropped more than a degree.

Obuoy 11 0612 webcam

Far back to the west, at O-buoy 12 north of Bering Strait, where I have been expecting the earliest and quickest melt (away from the coasts), temperatures have been steadily below zero, though now there’s a hint of a warm-up. This recent spike towards freezing is the only sign I can find the atmosphere is listening to me.

Obuoy 12 0612 webcam Obuoy 12 0612 temperature-1week

I’ll try to get back on subject, and deal with “Karabar” and the Atlantic side, later, but I thought you should know about poor Polly.

UPDATE JUNE 13 

Poor Polly continues to fade away, and any cold air involved in her demise looks like it is being recycled back over the Pole, as a weak Pacific-to-Atlantic flow is appearing, in through Bering Strait and out through Fram Strait. (In this map it is midnight on Fram Strait and noon in Bering Strait.)

DMI2 0613 mslp_latest.big

The 12z (noon in Fram Strait and midnight in Bering Strait) forecast maps for the always-warmer GFS and always-colder Canadian models continue to show the cold remains of Polly, but not much of a signature for Karabar.

DMI2 0613 gfs_t2m_arctic_2DMI2 0613 cmc_t2m_arctic_3

The main thing Karabar is doing is flushing ice out of the Arctic Sea through Fram Strait, even as the mild PDO flushes warm water into the Arctic Sea through Bering Strait.

DMI2 0613 arcticicespddrfnowcast In some ways this is heaven for Alarmists, for there will be loss of ice towards Bering Strait due to melting from beneath, and melting on the Atlantic side because ice is exported through Fram Strait to warmer waters. They will able to celebrate an apparent forthcoming decrease in extent, employing thought processes which are dubious, but which I think go something like this: “Yippie! Yippie! Yippie! Ice extent is decreasing and that means we are in an Arctic Death Spiral which means the End Of The World is coming which makes me very happy because now I won’t have to work a Real Job!”

There may be some factors involved, which those who jump to conclusions are not considering, which I have been meaning to discuss, but I do have a Real Job, and run a Real Business, and that means I have to hustle even on a Saturday. However I hope to find a free moment in the middle of the morning, and to sit back and play about with some interesting ideas.

IDEAS ON PACIFIC INFLOW AND ATLANTIC OUTFLOW

I never really did get any time off today, and the way things are going I likely won’t get much time to dawdle in the manner I most enjoy, and therefore I figure I’d best quickly sketch out my ideas this evening, rather than noting observations. It seems if I keep putting it off I’ll never get around to it. (That has been my attitude all day; lots of things I’ve put off have come back to bite me this week, but that is more of a subject for a “Local View” post than a “Arctic Sea Ice” post).

On the Pacific side, the inflow may not have the melting I have been expecting, because the “warm” spike of the PDO seems to be entering a state of transition.  The warm area in the north Pacific, affectionately called “The Blob”, has gradually moved east until it no longer fills the mouth of the Bering Strait. In fact a mini-blob of colder-than-normal water now is south of Bering Strait.

Sea Surface anomalies June 14 2015061400_054_G6_global_I_SEASON_tm@lg@sd_000 The above map shows anomalies, and a few degrees above or below normal creates lots striking red or blue. In actual fact the temperatures within Bering Strait are cold, and the waters just south of Bering Strait are slightly less cold, though the colors give you the sense the opposite is true. It is helpful to compare the anomaly map with a map of actual temperatures. Things such as “The Blob” become far less apparent.

Sea Surface temperatures June 12 sst.daily Too often anomaly maps are used to show bright red in the arctic, without mentioning bright red may indicate temperatures barely above freezing. In some cases, because salt water is involved, red may even indicate a temperature below the freezing point of fresh water.

Keeping the relativity involved in mind, red can be a helpful color because a slight variation in temperature makes a big difference, in terms of melting ice. After all, a degree makes all the difference, when the degree is right at the freezing point. It makes the difference between solid and liquid.

Lastly it is important to remember water can exist as either liquid or solid, at exactly the freezing point. If ice at freezing is floating in water at freezing, and no heat is added, the ice will not melt. Some heat must be added to the system, and go from being available heat beside the ice to being latent heat within the melted ice. If you are into measuring such things, a huge amount of heat is sucked out of the system, melting the ice each summer, and then an equally huge amount of heat is freed each winter as the ice refreezes, simply within the phase changes from solid to liquid and back to solid. In fact James Hansen once explained away the failure of the Arctic to become as ice-free as expected by saying all the heat had been “hidden” because the melting turned it into latent heat. (He failed to mention that same heat “reappears” when the ice refreezes in the fall.)

Keeping all these things in mind, when I look at the anomaly map and see the blue mini-blob south of Bering Strait, and The Blob shifted so far east against the west coast of Canada, I get nervous about my forecast for much melting on the Pacific side of the arctic. Even though the PDO remains in its “warm” phase, the devil is in the details, and this “warm” PDO has different details than last year’s. Considering it looks like there will be less available heat, and a degree makes such a difference, there may be less melting.

(By the way, it will be interesting to watch what happens to “The Blob” next fall. I have a hunch it may fall apart rapidly as winter comes on, and cause winter to begin like last year’s, but mutate half way through.)

Looking at the same anomaly map, and shifting attention to the Atlantic side, it seems there is the clear signature of a “cold” AMO. It is a blue, backwards letter “C”,  from the tropics up the coasts of Africa and Europe and then back beneath Greenland. The only remnant of the “warm” AMO is some above-normal water northeast of Iceland (and extending off the right-hand-side of the map into Barents Sea, and on through the Kara Sea, on the right-hand-side of the map).

Sea Surface anomalies June 14 2015061400_054_G6_global_I_SEASON_tm@lg@sd_000 The switch from “warm” to “cold” AMO is something we don’t fully understand, for the last time it happened was before we had the satellites and buoys we now have. Many of our models, especially the models that involve the stratification of the sea-water, may need to be altered to account for radical changes we are about to observe.

For example, the difference in the temperature of the sea water at the surface may be hinted at by how swiftly people died, floating in the water near an iceberg after the Titanic sunk in 1912; (the cries ceased within an hour); meanwhile the three survivors of the Hood, after it exploded during the battle with the Bismark in the spring of 1941, floated for four hours in Denmark Strait yet were recovered alive and conscious.

If the water would remain liquid then figuring out the stratification of seawater would be far simpler. Basically the very cold arctic waters would sink down beneath the milder waters of the Gulf Stream, and in fact take a dive to the bottom and join the snail-like flow of deep ocean currents. However large rafts of ice refuse to sink, and bob merrily along, often defying the currents and instead sailing with the winds, even if doing so involves invading territory claimed by warmer currents.  Even as the bergs shrink in warmer waters they are creating surrounding envelopes of colder water at the surface, that move as they do, and even if this cooler water sinks beneath the warmer water it is doing so in unusual locations, and causing chaos to more organized currents which exist in computer models, (even if not always in reality.)

Sometimes it is helpful to look at extremely exaggerated examples, in order to get an idea of what goes on when subtlety makes clarity difficult. When I posted on the the Tambora eruption in 1815 here:  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/1815-1816-and-1817-a-polar-puzzle/ I received all sorts of interesting feedback,  (especially when it was re-posted at WUWT and I could enjoy 150 comments), and included a link to a treasure trove of information:  http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/historic-variation-in-arctic-ice-tony-b/

Perhaps it had to due with various cycles getting nudged out of their ordinary swings by a huge, mystery eruption (likely in South America) in 1810, and the gigantic Tambora eruption in 1815, but the arctic discharged a massive amount of ice down into the Atlantic at that time.

Huge discharge of Arctic Ice screenhunter_37-feb-10-07-22Huge discharge 2 screenhunter_38-feb-10-07-23

It should be noted that so great was this discharge of ice that icebergs were grounding on the beaches of Ireland as late as August. It is thought that the poor growing season that afflicted Europe after Tambora erupted may have been due to the North Atlantic being unnaturally cold, rather than the ash in the stratosphere diminishing the sunlight.

In any case, it should be obvious that, in the above example, the discharge of ice created a reletively “ice-free” Arctic Sea, at least on the Atlantic side. There might be headlines about how this proved Global Warming was occurring, were it to happen today, even as Europe was about to be hit by notably colder weather.

It seems possible to me that, when the AMO moves into its “cold” phase, icebergs may be able to move farther south through  the colder water, not merely adding to the cooling at the surface, but to some degree deranging the conventional locations of places where down-welling and up-welling occurs. It is just one more thing to think about, when considering the “flip” of the AMO. (I wrote about it once already, here: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/author-of-its-own-demise/ and this was also re-posted at WUWT, gaining me 107 comments to think about.)

In conclusion, just because the storm I dubbed “Karabar” is discharging ice down through Fram Straot is no cause to feel assured warming has occurred, or may continue next winter.

SUNDAY EVENING UPDATE

The flow continues in through Bering Strait and out through Fram Strait.

DMI2 0614B arcticicespddrfnowcast

“Karabar” weakens as it continues to retrograde into the North Atlantic, kicking a secondary (“Karabarson”) east along the Barents Sea coast, and drawing a weak low I’ll call “Klyuchi” (because that is the city it is over) north from the steppes east of the Urals. “Klyuchi” may be the next storm to penetrate the Polar Cell and stand upon the Pole as a “Superpolar” cell, but only after wandering along the periphery of the Polar Cell for a solid week, traveling all the way around to north of Alaska before spiraling inward like a soap bubble to the whirlpool of a bathtub’s drain. (Alas! Again I am becoming too technical!)

Apparently “Polly” is gaining a sort of second life, having collapsed dramatically and flopped about in Hollywood death throes close enough to the boundary between the Polar and Ferrel Cell to gain a new feed of moisture, or actually a weak low pressure moving north through East Siberia.  This is perpetuating the flow in through Bering Strait, but the weak ghost of Polly will get in the way of that flow, even as that flow pushes the ghost of Polly back towards the Pole, eventually to become the weakness that draws “Klyuchi” north.

DMI2 0614 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0614B mslp_latest.big

At this point all of this activity looks like it will involve very weak systems, with light breezes, and the Pole will assume its more ordinary summer quietude.

Karabar was less impressive than I thought it might be. Buoy 2015E: hasn’t been wiped out, despite being placed on thin ice to begin with, and now on thinner ice, driven southwest dangerously close to the edge of the ice in Fram Strait. Likely it is designed to float, and report on water conditions, for they didn’t bother include an expensive camera. I doubt it will be reporting ice-conditions much longer, but currently the ice is 87 cm thick, and the temperature is  -0.10° C.

Buoy 2015E June 14 _track

I’ve been less impressed by the movement of Buoy 2015D: which is co-deployed with our faithful North Pole Camera.

Buoy 2015D 0614 _trackDespite being subjected to 20-30 mph winds by Polly, and breezes up to 16 mph by Karabar,  Polly seemed to move it more east than south, from a position at 06/06/1200Z  of 87.564°N,12.382°W, to a position at 06/08/0600Z of 87.489°N, 5.976°W. As Polly faded and Karabar started to brew up the camera drifted as far east as, at 06/12/0600Z, of 87.245°N, 3.296°W, but then it started back west to, at the last (delayed) report, a position, at 06/13/2100Z, of 87.146°N   3.907°W. The Mass Balance report for the 14th, (which has no time stamp) states it is now at 87.11° N, 4.97° W.

On other words, we haven’t even made it down to 87° north, yet. As I recall last year we were down close to 85°, and well to the east, north of Svalbard, and the ice was all full of leads and pressure ridges (which destroyed the camera in July.) This year we see much more boring ice, and mostly signs of thaw and refreezes.

NP3 1 0614A 2015cam1_6 NP3 1 0614B 2015cam1_5 NP3 1 0614C 2015cam1_4NP3 1 0614D 2015cam1_1

After the recent thaw the temperature has dropped back to  -0.16° C, and it seems the ice is 6 cm thicker and the snow is at the same depth as it was when it was deployed back on March 25.

NP3 1 0614 2015D_thick

All of which goes together to suggest the ice is more solid this year, and we may have to wait longer to see the thawing begin, up this close to the Pole.

Obuoy 9 has continued to grind its way east along the north coast of Greenland, with viability poor and temperatures hovering just below freezing.  If we could see better we might on the coming days see the shoreline fade into the distance, before coming near again as we pass Station Nord, and then turn southeast into Fram Strait. Obuoy 9 0614 webcam

Obuoy 9 0614 temperature-1week We have to travel far to the west to O-buoy 11 to find sunshine and hints of thaw, (which may have ended. Just beyond the pressure ridge in the distance there has been a lot of activity over the past two weeks, barely glimpsed through the teeth of ice formed by the ridge. Leads have opened and closed, and floes have surged left and right.

Obuoy 11 0614 webcamObuoy 11 0614 temperature-1week

As this post is (supposedly) about the Barents Sea Blaster, I’ll skip the buoys closer to Bering Strait for now. (In actual fact, I need to get to bed.)

LATE MONDAY NIGHT (TUESDAY MORNING) WRAP-UP

It seems I wasn’t able to avoid the ‘flu going through the children at our Farm-childcare, (and also the local public schools), and I’ve spent an amazing amount of the past two days simply snoozing. Now I’m wide awake in the wee hours, and figure I might as well wrap up this post about the Barents Sea blaster, which was less of a blaster than I expected.

Our faithful North Pole Camera is so unimpressed that it has turned around and is now daring to creep back north a bit, which is no way to get down to Fram Strait and hurry the ice-melt.  As the winds from Karabar peaked around 20 mph at 0300z on Sunday morning, and then gradually slacked off, we made it down to, at  06/14/1200Z, a position of 87.105°N, 4.652°W, but then backed off to, at 06/14/2100Z, a position of  87.109°N   4.916°W. The co-located Mass balance buoy 2014D, (less delayed but with no time stamp) states that creep has continued, and places us 87.11° N, 5.04° W late on the 15th. (Latest report, early on the 16th, shows eastward creep beginning again, with our faithful buoy at 87.11° N, 5.00° W.) The most recent thaw has ended, with temperatures back below freezing at  -0.28° C this morning, after getting up to +0.67° C at yesterday’s late report. A picture from that time still shows little sign of thaw.

NP3 1 0615 2015cam1_1

Despite the thaws, it takes a while to get the melt-water pools going, this far north. For example, two summers ago we had one of the widest (if not deepest) melt-water pools I’ve ever seen the North Pole Camera show, which created quite a stir in the media (and was even dubbed “Lake North Pole”), but that pool never formed until late July. Two years ago, on June 29, it still looked fairly wintry:

np-june-29-npeo_cam2_20130629141045

(The view was more interesting in 2013, with an open lead to the distant left and a pressure ridge to the distant right. That was when my hobby of watching ice melt first gained me some interesting viewers and comments, and this obscure blog abruptly went from ten views a day to four hundred:  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/north-pole-ice-melt-watching-the-summer-thaw/  )

I’ll conclude this post with a map of Karabar fading away northwest of Scandinavia, Karabarson drifting across Scandinavia, and “Klyuchi” being kicked north and bulging into the Kara Swa. The ghost of “Polly” drifts over towards Bering Strait, and has pulled thaw north through the strait. All in all it looks less stormy, and as if it is time for a new post, which I think I’ll dub, “Klyuchi and the Quietude.”

DMI2 0616 mslp_latest.big

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.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE MAXIMUM —WHY SO LOW?—

I have been urged to put aside my novel for a day, and comment on the sea-ice maximum. I only do so out of fondness for old friends, for I have personally become more interested in what I discovered while studying sea-ice than the sea-ice itself.

What I discovered was that both the science involved in the so-called “Arctic Death Spiral”, and the media’s efforts involved in reporting the “Arctic Death Spiral”, were shoddy at best and highly suspect at worst. Truth did not seem to matter as much as selling a particular political view, and, because I feel that any political view that disregards Truth is doomed to disaster, this behavior seemed like that of lemmings rushing towards a cliff.

Therefore my mind is more interested in contemplating the apparent madness of my generation, than it is in studying sea-ice. My novel looks back to when my generation was just stepping out into the world, and it contemplates how my generation’s sweet and naive hope for “Peace, Truth and Understanding” could, in some cases, be amazingly corrupted.

However I still do watch the sea-ice, as it ignores all politics and reflects the Truth of the Creator, and its motions can rest the mind with the same sort of serenity one derives from laying on ones back and watching clouds.

I’ll pick up from where I last left off reporting after Christmas, with the post:   https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-sneak-attack-onto-europe/

At that point a surge of mild air up towards the pole ahead of several North Atlantic Gales had relapsed or sagged back south in the north flow behind the gales, as the storm track of those gales slumped down into western Siberia. The flood of cold air built an elongated east-west ridge of high pressure over Europe. To the south of the ridge cold winds from Siberia flowed west, and there was snow even on the north coast of Africa. But our polar-view maps see only the milder west winds bringing Atlantic air east over the top of the elongated high. This mild air is clashing with cold air over the Pole, and brewing a storm over Svalbard. Across the Pole Pacific air has been pulled through the Bering strait and generated a nifty storm north of Alaska.

This was one of the few times all winter the Pole’s temperatures were below normal, but the pool of cold was being eroded from both sides.  .

DMI2 1229B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1229B temp_latest.big

By Dec 31 the gale over Svalbard had grown, while the Pacific storm faded south and strong high pressure built. Mild air was dawn up into Barents Sea, as cold air flowed south through Fram Strait down the east coast of Greenland. More cold air is being exported south to Hudson Bay. Less usual is the reverse cross-polar-flow, from Alaska back to Siberia, north of Bering Strait.

DMI2 1231 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1231 temp_latest.big

By January 2 that reverse-flow has vanished, replaced by Pacific air pouring north through Bering Strait as Atlantic air pours north over Svalbard. These influxes warm the Arctic Sea’s surface temperatures, but only south of Bering Strait and south of Svalbard is the warmth enough to melt sea-ice.

I think these influxes represent cooling, for the planet as a whole, for this is occurring during the darkest days, and much heat is lost to outer space. The sea-ice may be split and tortured by the shifting winds, but it is largely pushed towards the Pole, and compressing. Less than normal amounts are being flushed south through Fram Strait, as is shown by less ice moving down the east coast of Greenland, but that flow has increased at this point, as the North Atlantic gale is in a sort of “normal” position, bringing gales down Greenland’s east coast..

DMI2 0102 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0102 temp_latest.big

By January 3 the amount of very cold air over the Pole has decreased, due to the Pacific and Atlantic invasions. This is an indication we are not seeing a “Zonal” flow, where winds go around and around the Pole, and the cold is contained up there. The invations of warming-than-usual air we are seeing up towards the Pole are matched by exports that cause arctic outbreaks further south.

In terms of sea-ice, there is a great deal of movement. The ice is split apart, forming “leads” which swiftly freeze over (but lose a lot of oceanic heat in doing so) and then are slammed together again, forming “pressure ridges” which are like mini-mountain ranges of sea-ice, ranging from only knee high to over fifteen feet. Not only do they extend upwards, but have roots extending downwards (because 9/10th of an iceberg is under water.)

During the summer stormy conditions can reduce sea-ice, especially if the water is stratified and a layer of warmer water lies below. During the winter stormy conditions likely increase sea-ice by exposing more water to temperatures well below the freezing point of salt water. Also the wider leads allow water to be to some degree churned, which prevents stratification, and allows the water to be more efficiently chilled.

The invasions of oceanic air likely increase snowfall, which actually may decrease the amount of sea-ice by insulating the ice, and by slowing the growth of ice on the underside of flat areas of ice. On the other hand, as soon as the sun rises at the Pole on the spring solstice, that same snow-cover protects the sea-ice, by reflecting the sun’s rays.

DMI2 0103B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0103B temp_latest.big

On January 5 the invasions of oceanic mildness had generated a genuine arctic gale. These storms stress the sea-ice a lot. I’ve also noticed that, while they represent updrafts of mild air, they are often followed by increasing cold. They may lose a lot of heat, but how this might be done generates a lot of debate.

DMI2 0105B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0105B temp_latest.big

By January 7 the gale has faded down towards the Kara Sea, but high pressure is bulging north from Alaska, and the pressure gradient between that high and the weakening gale is quite strong, and pulling Siberian air across to Canada.

When a strong flow like this gets going the cold air screams off the Siberian coast with such power that the ice is pushed away from the shores of the Laptev sea. There can be open water when the Siberian winds are down near seventy below. Of course this open water freezes swiftly, but even as a new skim of ice forms it too is pushed out to sea. During these situations the Laptev Sea creates and exports amazing amounts of ice. This winter this ice-creation also occurred along the coast of the Kara Sea.

This process of ice-creation actually can make it look like there is less ice, on the “ice extent graph.” The graph shows less ice along the Siberian coast, as the ice has been pushed towards Canada. The thinner ice along the Siberian coast is easier to melt away in August. However what is difficult to measure, in terms of “extent”, is all the ice crushed up against Canada by the Transpolar Drift.

A very strong gale off southeast Greenland is creating a wrong-way flow up in Fram Strait, halting the export of sea-ice.

DMI2 0107 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0107 temp_latest.big

By January 10 the cross-polar-flow is being interrupted by new invasions of Pacific and Atlantic air. The wrong-way flow in Fram Strait is weaker, but continues, and there are even weak impulses of low pressure heading that way, rather than taking the more normal route between Svalbard and Norway.

DMI2 0110 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0110 temp_latest.big

By January 12 a final, weak wrong-way low has moved to the northwest of Greenland, as a more conventional gale is moving up between Iceland and Norway.

What is interesting to note is what has become of all the oceanic air imported to the Pole. It has chilled down. This is the fate of all air, in 24-hour darkness.

Also the Siberia-to-Canada cross-polar flow has reappeared.

DMI2 0112B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0112B temp_latest.big

By January 14 the Atlantic Gale is weakening, and the cold keeps building over the Pole.

What is interesting about these gales is how different they are from last winter’s. Last winter’s tended to stall further south, and I said they should be dubbed “Britannic Lows” rather than “Icelandic Lows.” Because they were positioned further south they tapped into the Azores High and brought up mild southwest winds, giving even Finland a milder winter. This winter it is as if the Azores High is walled off. Instead the big gales tap air from either side of Greenland and from Labrador, and even after crossing thousands of miles of water warmed by the Gulf Stream they make a far colder southwest wind, when they get to Europe.

The cross-polar-flow is starting to break down. Watch how it collapses towards Iceland.

DMI2 0114B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0114B temp_latest.big

By January 16 the old gale has drifted off to the Kara Sea and weakened, and has been replaced by a new gale, as the cross-polar-flow has swung down to Iceland.   Watch how that flow continues to collapse down towards England. (This is a lot like what happened around Christmas.)

DMI2 0116B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0116B temp_latest.big

By January 17 the flow is down the coast of Norway towards England, and the new gale is weakening and sagging south. In essence, the storm track has swung clear across the Atlantic, from aiming the wrong way up Fram Strait over Greenland to crashing into Europe. As this dramatic sway has occurred, the Pole has been left alone, and cooled to normal.

DMI2 0118 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0118 temp_latest.big

DMI2 0120B meanT_2015

At this point something else dramatic was occurring that doesn’t show on the maps. It was of great interest to me, because I wondered if it might occur over a year ago. (I’m not sure where I wrote the thoughts down; it may have been while chatting with someone in the comments section.)

Last winter, when the Atlantic Gales stalled-out so far south and east that I dubbed them the “Britannic Low”, it may have brought benign mildness to the east of the centers, but to the west north winds rushed south over Iceland and vast stretches of the Atlantic, including the Gulf Stream. It may have seemed like the arctic air was spent harmlessly over waters where no one resides,  but I wondered what effect all that cold air, which rushed south week after week even as Europe enjoyed week after week of low-heating-bills, might have upon the sea water’s temperatures. It seemed the north winds must chill the Atlantic waters, and do so to considerable depth, because some of the gales were enormous and the seas must have been gigantic, and stirred the waters deeply.

Although the water was cooled thousands of miles from Europe’s coast, all that water is on the move. True, it moves less than a mile per hour, but a layman like me can do a back-of-an-envelope calculation, and I figured the cold water would arrive off Europe in around a year. There was nothing very scientific about my calculations. It was more of a wondering than any sort of theory.

Then, around a year later, the sea-surface temperatures cooled surprisingly swiftly towards Europe , compared to normal. You can bet my eyebrows mooned, when I noticed this. It effected the calculations used to determine the AMO (Atlantic Decadal Oscillation). Although that oscillation was not expected to switch over to its “Cold” phase for several more years, this January saw it plunge to levels on the “Cold” side not seen in decades.

All bets are off. This is a big shift, and the last time it happened was before we had satellites. We are entering Terra Incognito.

Not that the maps got all that dramatic. January 19 showed things seeming to swing back to another wrong-way flow up through Fram Strait, and, even as cold east winds afflicted areas of Europe and the Mideast south of these maps, new invasions of milder air were gathering to attack the Pole from both the Atlantic and Pacific side.

DMI2 0120B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0120B temp_latest.big

January 21 shows the invasive process continuing.  The cross-polar-flow is less obvious, for rather than a stream of isobars it is shown by blobs of cold high pressure moving from Siberia to Canada.

DMI2 0121B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0121B temp_latest.big

At this point large gaps appear in my notes. I apologize, but we were getting clobbered by blizzards in New Hampshire. Survival, at least in a business sense, focused on snow-removal, and if I was going to stagger indoors and record anything for posterity, recording how a New Hampshire town battled a severe winter seemed more newsworthy than arctic sea-ice far away. However I did note a few things.

On January 26 another big Gale was crossing the Atlantic, as a very cold high pressure sat atop the Pole. Between the two they created a strong wrong-way flow through Fram Strait.

DMI2 0126 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0126 temp_latest.big

On February 1 the gale is cetered south of the Baltic and the high pressure has shifted towards Svalbard, Franz Joseph Land and Barents Sea, but the flow is still the wrong way through Fram Strait.

This stuff matters, if you are accounting for sea-ice. The ice that doesn’t come down through Fram Strait does two things. One, it makes the “ice extent” graph look lower, because there is less ice drifting down the east coast of Greenland. Second, because that ice only heads south to be melted, it means there is more ice left behind up in the arctic, which may mean the “ice extent” graph will show more ice in the summer, many months away.

For only the third time all winter, temperatures neared normal in the arctic.

DMI2 0201 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0201 temp_latest.big

DMI2 0201B meanT_2015

By February 3 the wrong-way flow was bringing mild air up west of Svalbard to nudge against very cold air, which always seems a recepie for storm to me, but I didn’t expect the storm that developed.

DMI2 0203 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0203 temp_latest.big

February 6 shows the Noodle Storm, pulling very mild air right past the pole, driving a cross-polar-flow from Siberia to Canada, and also a “correct” flow, for a change, down through Fram Strait, and then down to Scandinavia.

It would have been fun to study this in greater depth, but at this point winter was using the people of New England as a punching bag.

DMI2 0206 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 0206 temp_latest.big

By February 8 the Noodle Storm was sagging south into Europe, and the cross-polar-flow was pronounced, and winds were dropping to a calm in Fram Strait. The Pole is doing a good job of cooling all the mild air brought north.

DMI2 0208 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0208 temp_latest.big

(There is quite a gap here, as I figured I didn’t have enough to do, and should also write a novel.) The February 15 map shows what I think is left of the Noodle Storm has drifted to central Siberia, bringing its milder air with it. Cross-polar-flow continues, now bringing arctic highs across Bering Strait. A powerful gale is hitting Iceland, but will you look up in Fram Strait? Everything is going the wrong way again.

DMI2 0215 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0215 temp_latest.big

By February 18 the gale has passed well north of Scandinavia, and the flow is the right way in Fram Strait. Mild air is pouring towards the Pole from both the Atlantic and Pacific sides, but blobs of cold high pressure continue to march from Siberia to Canada.

DMI2 0218B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0218B temp_latest.big

On February 23 a micro-gale caught my eye, as it approached the Pole. Not that I had time to study it, though they are an interesting Polar phenomenon,  and may be like hurricanes. As you can see, I couldn’t get my act together enough to save a temperature map.

DMI2 0222B mslp_latest.big

I did remember to get a temperature map twelve hours later. I didn’t like the looks of that blob of Siberian high pressure being squeezed across to Canada. I likely should have paid more attention to the powerful gale southeast of Iceland. However mostly I wondered what the mirco gale was doing to the sea-ice at the Pole. The isobars are packed and the winds must have been strong.

DMI2 0223B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0223B temp_latest.big

Twelve hours later I forgot the surface-pressure map, and only got the temperature map. (By this point most of the population of New England was approaching delirium, as snow depths passed six feet in places.) It does show how that mirco low sucked milder air right up over the Pole. It also shows mild air coming through Bering Strait from the Pacific, and the cold cross-polar-flow bringing more air from Siberia to Canada, and then down to New England. This was starting to annoy me. I mean, enough is enough.

DMI2 0224B temp_latest.big

By February 26 the first Gale has weakened, taking the route north of Norway, as the mild Pacific air has generated a storm of its own. Between the two the cross-polar-flow looks to be weakening. A powerful gale approaches Iceland from the west.

DMI2 0226 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0226 temp_latest.big

Four days later it looks like the Pole has stopped exporting cold, and is gathering its resources. A final glob of cold is passing into Alaska, but sucking Pacific air north in its wake. North Atlantic low pressures extend all the way to central Siberia, and have pulled some milder air up the entire eastern side of the North Atlantic.

DMI2 0302 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0302 temp_latest.big

On March 3 the Pacific invasion has started again, and the Atlantic invasion continues despite the swiftly weakening low and the building high pressure north of the Kara Sea.

DMI2 0303B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0303B temp_latest.big

By March 6 the Atlantic surge has become impressive as the Pacific surge retreated. Once again cross-polar-flow is developing.

DMI2 0306 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0306 temp_latest.big

March 9 shows the Atlantic invasion at its high point (I think.) A sprawling gale is over Svalbard, wheeling mild air up over the Pole itself. However it is still dark over the Pole for another eleven days, and that mild air can only chill.

A meandering cross-polar-flow persists.

DMI2 0308B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0308B temp_latest.big

The invasion of Atlantic air spikes the arctic temperatures.

DMI2 0308B meanT_2015

And now, at long last, we look at the ice extent graph:

DMI2 0309 icecover_current_new

Hopefully by subjecting you to all these maps I’ve shown that edge of the sea-ice has been eroded north a lot this winter by influxes of Pacific and Atlantic air. Also, because the bitter Siberian air headed across the Pole towards Canada, there was less bitter cold air left behind to create sea-ice off the Pacific coast north of Japan, (where there is much less ice than normal.) However the fact remains: There is less ice at the maximum.

The question immediately asked is: Does the lowness of this graph indicate the world is warming?

No. It means the cold air was distributed differently this winter. If the flow was “zonal”, the cold air generated by sunless winter days in the arctic would have stayed up north, and frozen northern waters. However the flow was radically “meridinal”, which means the cold headed south. As a consequence warm air has repetitively flooded up into the arctic, on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides, and frayed the outer edges of the sea ice, on those sides. Meanwhile there was significantly more ice on waters that are not used in the calculations for the sea ice extent graph. For example, take the Great Lakes:

Great Lakes Feb 26 glsea_cur

Or take the saltwater bays off the east coast of the USA.

East Coast Sea Ice b-umfxaciaa2qmm

The freezing of these waters, which ordinarily are not ice-covered to such an extent, could be used to argue the world is in fact colder, if one wanted to go that route.

The exact same “albedo” equations used up at the Pole can be used on the Great Lakes and the East Coast of the USA, and could demonstrate a huge amount of sunlight is being reflected back into space. After all, there is no sunshine at all at the Pole right now, but the sun is high in the sky further south. By the time the southern ice is melted it will have reflected a sizable amount of heat, but don’t ask me to fool around with the numbers. It would take a lot of “absorbing” for northern ice-free waters to counter that “reflected” deficit.

And that doesn’t even consider the surplus ice in the waters around the South Pole. It doesn’t take a lot of brains to compare the areas of ice, and the latitudes the ice is at, and determine the “albedo” arguments simply don’t add up.

In order for the “albedo” argument to work, there must be less solar radiation reflected and more absorbed, resulting in increasing temperatures. The problem is, the idea doesn’t work even if you utterly ignore the Great Lakes and the East Coast of the USA and the Antarctic. In order for it to work, the ice must decrease at the North Pole.

Even after a winter like this, where the arctic was robbed of a lot of its cold, there are some signs that the ice is increasing. Less ice seemed to be flushed south through Fram Strait, and more ice seemed to be packed together at the Pole. However in order to see these signs you have to do your homework, and become acquainted with individual chunks of ice.

For example, consider the buoy 2012G, which is tracked by the purple line in the map below.

Army Map Active_track

For over three years I’ve watched this buoy as it has wandered the Arctic Ocean, part of a mass of ice that has more than doubled its thickness, from less than six feet to more than twelve. Watching it does not give one the sense ice is getting thinner and weaker.

Another buoy, “Obuoy 9”, past roughly the same area by the Pole two years later, but took a radically different course, and is now north of the Greenland coast. ( See map at  http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#overview/gpstracks  )

If you do your homework and follow such buoys, (many of which have anemometers, thermometers, barometers, and cameras attached), you swiftly learn how mobile the sea-ice is. One buoy I followed began close to the Pole in April and grounded on the north coast of Iceland 8 months later. Most of the ice on the Arctic Sea has a life expectancy of less than two years, and the ice at the edges seldom lasts longer than a few months.

More than half of the ice melts every year, and one year it was three quarters. Then it grows back. You can write both the screaming headline “67% Of Arctic Sea-Ice Melts!” and the headline “Arctic Sea-Ice Triples!” on the same year, and not be a liar.

Considering these amounts are so huge, it is a bit ridiculous to obsess about small seasonal variations in the maximum and minimum extent. They have nothing to do with either a coming “Ice Age” or a coming “Death Spiral”. They have everything to do with the planet’s futile but constant effort to achieve balance, when it it is constantly knocked out of balance by sunspot cycles, and also the simple fact Earth is tilted, and we have seasons.

As the planet attempts to arrive at equipoise it manifests various actions and reactions, and the PDO and AMO are such actions and reactions. Those who want to understand why the ice comes and goes the way it does would do well to study those cycles, and what causes them.

Two major things are likely to influence the melting and reformation of sea-ice over the next few years. The first is the switch of the AMO to its “cold” phase this past January:

AMO January amo(2)

The second is that the sunspot cycle is reduced, and we are seeing a “Quiet Sun.”

DMI2 0224 sunspots latest

My private wondering is about how the “Quiet Sun” may alter the PDO and AMO. They may not behave as we’d expect them to, if they were following a stable 60-year-cycle, because the sun was far from “quiet” 60 years ago.

However if things behave as they behaved in the past, I would expect the shift of the AMO to “Cold” to result in a swift increase of sea-ice on the Atlantic side, over the next year. There is no sign of this yet.

THINGS TO WATCH FOR

As more than half the ice melts away this summer one can measure whether the melt is above-normal or below-normal by visiting a Cryosphere Today page that graphs the melt of all the various Seas, and whether the melt is above or below normal. For example, Hudson Bay can be viewed here:  http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/recent365.anom.region.13.html

If you scroll down to the bottom of the Hudson Bay screen you can see a handy map that allows you to swiftly click to the graphs for other areas.

I chose Hudson Bay because it will be interesting to watch. Usually it is entirely ice-covered by now and entirely ice-free by August, however on rare years not all the ice melts away. Last year the ice barely melted away, but the water was quite cold to begin the winter, and froze swiftly. Now the ice is thick and has piled up deeply against the south and east coasts. The refreeze of Hudson Bay means a lot for the east of the USA, for until it freezes its open water moderates the temperatures of arctic air coming south, and it serves as a buffer. It would not bode well for the northeast coast of the USA if a winter began with ice already in Hudson Bay.

Another place to watch will be Barents Sea north of Scandinavia. Last year, with the AMO only briefly dipping to the “cold” side, the ice actually increased in Barents Sea even as it retreated everywhere else. I am not sure how this is even possible, with the temperatures rising all over the arctic to above the freezing point of salt water. It must be that the ice that already exists drifts south. In any case, it may happen again. If it does happen, it may explain the surprising increases of ice hinted at, in that area, by old, Danish maps showing where the edge of the ice was as the AMO turned “cold”, back in the days before we had Satellites to watch with.

Happy ice-watching!

ARCTIC SEA-ICE RECOVERY –Sneak Attack onto Europe–

The last two weeks has been interesting to watch, though the growth and extent of the ice is fairly normal. Here are the extent maps from December 12 (to the left) and December 27 (to the right).

DMI2 1212 arcticicennowcastDMI2 1227B arcticicennowcast

As Hudson Bay and the Bering Strait have frozen up, most of the growth in ice from now on has little to do with the Arctic. You could almost call it cosmetic. It will be occurring in the Pacific, or the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, or the Baltic Sea, and therefore will be fleeting, and have little to do with the Arctic Sea itself, which is what all the fuss is about in the summer.

I tend to watch the arctic ice-thickness maps, which can give you an idea where the ice is moving. It moves far more than many imagine. For example, hundreds of square miles of thicker ice that had been lodged north of Franz Josef Land was shifted west by storms and crashed into the north coast of Svalbard, over the past month. This created a sort of polynya of open water where the ice had been by Franz Josef Land, which swiftly froze over and became thin ice.

DMI2 1227B arcticictnowcast

If this large body of ice continued to move west it might be flushed south through Fram Strait, which could create a situation much like occurred in 2007, when the thick ice was flushed south of the Pole, leaving the Pole with a thin skim of ice as summer approached, and, because the thin ice melted easily, the people who assume the icecap is in a “Death Spiral” had something to hype. (The main difference between now and 2007 is that there is much more thick ice north of Canada now.)

Watching the thickness maps allows you to see where the ice is piling up and where it is thinning, and gives you a rough idea on the total volume of ice up there.  There are many interesting processes occurring that you seldom read about.  For example, the same strong winds that blew the ice away from Franz Josef Land also blew the ice away from the south coast of the Kara Sea, and you can see that ice as thin blue lines of thicker ice now out in the middle of the Kara Sea.

Ice really piles up on the west coast of Baffin Bay, and grinds southeast along that coast and then along the coast of Labrador towards the North Atlantic. Ice also can pile up on the south and east coast of Hudson Bay, while the north coast can see polnyas form, so that even though the north was the first to freeze and the south was the last to freeze, by spring the south has thicker ice than the north. Lastly, ice can be seen piling up just west of the Bering Strait on the north coast of Russia; last year this ice was piled up 20 feet thick there by spring.

Watching the thickness maps brings many surprises, especially when storms wrack the ice. In the dead of winter, with temperatures at -40°, I have seen leads of open water form that are scores of miles across and hundreds of miles across. The open water freezes to thin ice almost immediately, but sometimes you can still see signs of that thinner ice months later. In a similar manner storms had a lot to do with the build up of thicker ice north of Canada.

At times the thick ice can crumble and be spread out into open waters, and mess up all sorts of neat calculations in the process. Where a cold current often sinks when it meets a warmer current, and more saline waters want to sink beneath more brackish waters, it is physically impossible for the ice to sink, and it bobs merrily onwards on top, often significantly chilling both the temperatures of the surface waters and the air, until it melts away. Therefore a strong wind transporting ice south can alter temperature maps with startling speed.

I imagine there are times when such alterations make a difference in the forecasts generated by computer models. They may even explain why the models utterly failed to foresee the cold that slumped south onto Europe recently. Just as it only takes a single pebble to start an avalanche, a single miscalculation can mess up a computer model.

Although the models did not see the cold coming, Joseph D’Aleo and Joe Bastardi on their blogs at the Weatherbell site did say we should be on guard for cold waves to hit Europe, as the autumnal patterns were similar to years in the past that saw cold waves hit Europe. They didn’t explain how it was going to happen in a step-by-step way, so I watched very carefully to see if I could see the steps as they occurred.

Back on December 12 we were seeing south winds bring warm air flooding north over Scandinavia, as the Atlantic storms veered north towards the Pole. A lot of Barents Sea was above freezing. Cold air was exiting the Arctic down the east coast of Greenland.

DMI2 1212 mslp_latest.big DMI2 1212 temp_latest.big

 

This pattern continued on December 14

DMI2 1214 mslp_latest.big DMI2 1214 temp_latest.big

 

And peaked around December 17

DMI2 1217 mslp_latest.big DMI2 1217 temp_latest.big

By December 19 the storms were no longer heading up to the Pole, but were moving east along the north coast of Russia. Barents Sea was cooling down, and to the east of the storm cold Siberian air was drawn up over the Arctic Sea and then dragged back west, and the milder Atlantic air lost its influence over the Pole.

DMI2 1219 mslp_latest.big DMI2 1219B temp_latest.big

 

By December 21 the new storm track had the east winds to its north starting to drag cold air back towards Scandinavia. The following Atlantic Gale didn’t bring such a flood of warmth north.

DMI2 1221B mslp_latest.big DMI2 1221B temp_latest.big

 

By December 24 the new storm track had penetrated weakly to the Pacific side of the Pole, and chilled Pacific air was being drawn over the Pole, but was too cold to warm the Pole much, and the cold air over the Pole was heading south to Scandinavia, and below freezing temperatures seeped down the coast of Norway.

DMI2 1224B mslp_latest.big DMI2 1224B temp_latest.big

 

By the 26th of December the cold was building over the Pole, and the strongest low pressure was east of Scandinavia, transporting Siberian air back west over its top towards a Barents Sea that was now far colder, especially to its north. The Pole was as cold as it ever gets, except on rare occasions, and the weight of that dense air was spreading out, including down towards Europe.

DMI2 1226B mslp_latest.big DMI2 1226B temp_latest.big

 

Today we see the following North Atlantic low is weak, without a surge of southerly winds, and the isobars hint of a discharge straight from the Pole to Scandinavia and areas further south.

DMI2 1227 mslp_latest.big DMI2 1227 temp_latest.big

This afternoon’s map shows the weak low bringing snow to Britain and the cold continuing to press south over Europe.

DMI2 1227B mslp_latest.big DMI2 1227B temp_latest.big

The computer models didn’t see this cold coming, even a few days ago, but now much of western Europe is below normal. As this cold continues to press south it is likely create elongated high pressure west to east. There may be a warm-up over Scandinavia as winds turn west to the north of the high pressure, but east winds to the south of the cold high pressure will bring very cold Siberian air further and further towards the Mediterranean, and a southern storm track will bring snows to Italy and perhaps even the north coast of Africa, before the cold is moderated.

DMI2 1227B gfs_t2m_anom_eur_1

 

 

However I have no business talking about Africa in a post about the Arctic, so I’ll just show the graph of temperatures north of 80 degrees latitude, which informs us the arctic is loaded with midwinter cold, and has plenty to spare.

DMI2 1227B meanT_2014

Besides dumping cold down on Europe, some is being dumped south into Canada and the western USA.  The thing to remember is that not only the Pole creates cold, but all areas of Tundra and Taiga generate cold as well, during these shortest of days. Better look for where you left your mittens.

DMI2 1227B gfs_t2m_noram_1

(These maps are created by Dr. Ryan Maue at the Weatherbell site.)