ARCTIC SEA-ICE –May Gale Blasts MOSAiC Expedition–

The past winter saw a surprising number of powerful lows cross Barents Sea into Kara Sea, with the north winds behind these gales pulling sea-ice south around Svalbard. The most recent gale took a more traditional route, hooking back west in a retrograde manner and passing right over Svalbard.

The MOSAiC Expedition, in the sea-ice about a third of the way to the Pole from Svalbard, experienced winds of 83 km/hr north of the gale, as the sea-ice accelerated from a nearly stationary drift to a drift  of over a kilometer an hour for a while. The bow-radar on the Polarstern showed a lead open and close, but not a great break-up of sea-ice. The sea-ice, which had been showing a slow drift southeast, was jerked west-southwest.

The MOSAiC Expedition, north of all the Barent Sea storms, has seen sea-ice in the Transpolar Drift move about twice as fast as usual. The hook to the southeast  was unusual, and perpendicular to the drift the Fram saw, New Years to Mayday, in 1896.

MOSAiC May 1 fsVIrgp

The recent jerk to the west-southwest is more in line with the Fram’s Track. It will be interesting to study the condition of the sea-ice, once the weather clears and the satellite view improves. Currently it looks like the gale tore the sea-ice from the north coast of Svalbard.

Svalbard May 13 Screenshot_2020-05-14 arctic io - Daily Satellite Images + Observations, 4-N90-E0(1)

What I wonder about is how much the sea-ice was compressed between Svalbard and the MOSAiC expedition. The Polarstern is suppose to head south towards Svalbard to be resupplied, and what they desire for such a journey is leads, and not pressure ridges.

There is an excellent video of part of the Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn”s trip south from the MOSAiC site to port, showing how it has to back up and then ram to get through even ordinary sea-ice, yet has a far easier time once it finds leads skimmed with baby-ice.

In all, the journey of the Kapitan Dranitsyn from the MOSAiC site to port took three and a half weeks. The ship made it about halfway back to port in the thick sea-ice, and then was met by the Russian icebreaker Admiral Makarov, that refueled it. I think it took four days to complete the refueling. They then proceeded to the edge of the sea-ice in Barents Sea, but had to wait before venturing out into the open water because a gale was raging and the seas were too high. (I guess icebreakers are not designed for ocean storms.) They had to wait a week for the waves to subside under fifteen feet, but the MOSAiC scientists aboard got to observe how sea-ice fractures under the duress of huge swells. When the gale subsided they rushed across Barents Sea and two days later safely arrived in Tromso. (Likely some of the scientists had further adventures getting back to their home countries through the travel-bans of the Pandemic.)

It will be interesting to see what the Polarstern experiences, heading south.

The storm brought milder air over the arctic sea, including the year’s first patch of above-freezing air north of the Laptev Sea.

DMI meanT_2020 290513

The sea-ice “extent graph” shows the typical decline for this time of recent years:AAA DMI 020513 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

Interestingly, the “volume” graph hasn’t fallen much, suggesting much of the sea-ice lost on the “extent” graph is baby-ice at the periphery, without much bulk to it.

DMI Volume 200513 Screenshot_2020-05-14 FullSize_CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20200513 png (PNG Image, 1337 × 1113 pixels)

Stay tuned.

 

 

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Shift in the Drift–

Last post I talked about my yearning to see the Russian records of how the sea-ice drifted, in the cases of their 41 Arctic Ocean Bases, going all the way back to  1937, (as well as the 14 Barneo floating tourist-traps for the ober-wealthy, since 2002.).  Unfortunately such information is in some ways “top secret”, (in terms of industrial espionage, if not military). Because of this hidden record-keeping some shifts in the flow of sea-ice are described as “unprecedented” when in fact they have been seen before. The Russians themselves described two general flows of the sea-ice, translated as “circular” and “wash out”, yet the more political side of NOAA made a big deal of a change in the flow during the very-low-sea-ice year of 2012:

If that shift-in-the-drift was a sure sign of Global Warming, as certain Alarmists suggested when the above video was published in 2012, then surely the shift-in-the-drift away from that pattern to what we see now must refute Global Warming. Except it doesn’t. Alarmists either have very short attention spans, or have such overpowering confirmation-bias they’re blinded, or perhaps both.

The current drift is shown by the movement of the Polarstern and MOSAiC expedition, and is quite like the movement of Nansen’s ship “Fram” 130 years  earlier. (Blue line is the Fram after it was lodged in sea-ice).

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ef/Nansen_Fram_Map.png/350px-Nansen_Fram_Map.png

This similarity is a little embarrassing for Alarmists, (especially when NOAA was stating currents had dramatically changed, only eight years ago). Fortunately for Alarmists, the Polarstern is moving much faster than the Fram did, and likely will cross a similar distance in perhaps only a third of the time it took the Fram. This can be used to suggest that the sea-ice is more “rotten” and that there is less of it, which may well be the case. (Although it may also be that the Polarstern is in the middle of the Transpolar Drift, while the Fram was closer to the Eurasian coast and may have been slowed by a counter-current which runs close to the coast.)

I tend to look about for other reasons the sea-ice may have been thicker in Nansen’s time. One thing that many have noticed is that the sun was “quieter” back then, if you look over the previous five decades. Nansen sailed the Fram at the end of sunspot cycle 13.

The very high sunspot totals (and low number of “spotless” days) of cycles 18 through 23 represent a time our Sun was quite energetic and pouring extra heat on the planet. Though we are now returning to quiet conditions, the arctic is currently still cooling from the warmer times which are called “The Modern Maximum”.  In Nansen’s day, however, the arctic was warming. In fact the high totals of “spotless days” before Nansen sailed are likely not as impressive as they look in the above graph, when you compare the above upward blip with the greater Dalton Minimum which preceded it, and the Dalton was preceded by the Maunder Minimum which is even more impressive. As measured by Carbon 14 in tree rings,  the energy of the “Modern Maximum” is especially impressive. (The graph below ends with the year 1950.)

I can’t help but wonder if Nansen and the Fram were sailing in an Arctic Ocean which “remembered” far colder times, whereas the MOSAiC scientists and the Polarstern are sailing in an Arctic Ocean which “remembers” warmer times, though those warmer times are now over.

Therefore I have a confirmation bias all my own. I am keeping a sharp look-out for changes which shift away from the lower ice-extents of the present to the higher extents of the past. For there can be little doubt the sun has gone quiet.

(Above from Joseph D’Leo’s blog on the Weatherbell Site.)

As my confirmation-bias looks for increases in sea-ice I often see the exact opposite of what I expect, because my thinking is too simplistic. Some of the ways the planet responds to a “quieter” sun are not what you would expect, and are counter-intuitive. Here are two I’ve mentioned in past posts:

First, you’d think less energy from the sun would make air colder and therefore drier, but instead the air gets warmer and moister, because the surface of the sea is warmer and more moisture evaporates. How can this be? I think this occurs because less energy from the sun also makes the winds less, and without strong Trade Winds the very cold waters can’t up-well along west-facing coasts as surface waters are blown off-shore. Therefore the first response to a “quiet” sun would be warmer seas (and El Ninos) and moister, milder air.  And Indeed the El Ninos have been strong and the La Ninos a bit feeble recently, and to this day the planet looks above normal at the equator.

https://www.ospo.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2020/anomnight.4.20.2020.gif

However such warmth draws upon the bank account of the past, robbing from Peter to pay Paul, and there are indications that, in the Pacific, it is superficial, and is currently being eroded away from below:

Only when the cold water reaches the surface and a La Nina occurs is my bias confirmed.

Second, one would think a “quiet” sun would immediately create more sea-ice in the Arctic Sea, but in terms of an important component it creates less.

The captains of icebreakers in the arctic keep a sharp lookout for “biggy bergs”, which are different from sea-ice of the same size and thickness. When an icebreaker nudges against typical sea-ice seven feet thick the sea-ice is a conglomerate, made of a multitude of thinner slabs, and the bow of the icebreaker finds it easy to break apart the many smaller slabs. However when a seven feet thick section of ice has broken from a glacier, it is rock solid, and the icebreaker gets quite a jar, meeting a “biggie berg”, even if the icebreaker doesn’t sink like the Titanic.

What is interesting about “biggy bergs” is that they are more common when the arctic is warming, and are few and far between when the arctic is cooling. And every Alarmist knows why: Warming causes glaciers to calve more. When times get colder the glaciers stop calving, and extend out to sea more, in some cases becoming shelves of ice.

During the “Modern Maximum” some of the big shelves created by the “Maunder Minimum” broke off, creating handy platforms for the spy-vs-spy bases of Americans (for example “Fletcher’s Ice Island”) and Russians  (for example the basement of their base “NP 22”, which was occupied more than eight years.) However, besides these large “ice islands”, which are few and far between, there are a great many “biggy bergs” deposited into the arctic ocean from glaciers that face north, and whose calving ice is not swept south in Baffin Bay or south along the east coast of Greenland, and instead bobs about in the Arctic Ocean along with more ordinary, conglomerated sea-ice, which is formed yearly by winter cold.

To me it seems “biggy bergs” must have an influence on both “volume” and “extent” of sea-ice, and it seems counter intuitive to me that the colder it gets the less they are seen (because north-facing glaciers cease calving them as it gets colder).

There is a third counter-intuitive thing happening I haven’t yet been able to put my finger on. All I know is that once again my confirmation bias has been sat backwards onto its butt. It has to do with how fast the Polarstern has been progressing across the Pole, and what this means in terms of Svalbard. With so much sea-ice rushing towards Fram Strait, by April 1 sea-ice surrounded Svalbard to levels I’ve never before seen.

https://realclimatescience.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20200401.png

The build up of sea-ice around Svalbard is a little embarrassing for Alarmists, for a few years ago the situation was reversed, and south winds had pushed the sea-ice north of Svalbard even on its eastern side, which is relatively rare, and which Alarmists took to be a sign of Global Warming (and the doom of cute baby polar bears).  Now the sea-ice has returned with a vengeance, as have the highly adaptable bears (though hopefully the bears feel no vengeance).

Alarmists likely want to look away from Svalbard, but actually should take heart, for the “second lowest sea-ice extent evah”, in 2007, was achieved largely because a great deal of sea-ice was flushed south through Fram Stait. (Sea-ice south of Fram Strait is doomed to melt in southern waters).

(The site “Polar Bear Science” has a good post on the recent high sea-ice Svalbard situation here:)

Highest Svalbard sea ice since 1988 with Bear Island in the south surrounded

The problem with comparing the situation now with 2007 is that…well…it isn’t the same. That is what is troubling me, and I can’t quite put my finger upon.

Some things are similar: For example 2007 was also close to the minimum of a sunspot cycle, however 2007 was coming off a high maximum while we are now coming off one of the lowest maximums in the past 200 years. Also 2007 was at the heart of the “warm” AMO, while there are indicators suggesting we are now at the very end of the “warm” AMO.  Lastly, while Alarmists like to show decreasing sea-ice by starting their charts in the high sea-ice year of 1979, even their charts show things bottomed out around 2006-2007, and there has even been a slight rise, if you begin the “trend line” at that time rather than at 1979. For example, here is graph for extents in the month of March.

March 2020 average graph 1979-2020 NSIDC

You can’t help but notice the extent is now higher than 2006.

However what was most puzzling to me on April 1 was the sea-ice to the west of Svalbard. That should make any sea-ice geek quirk an eyebrow, for that area is nearly always free of sea-ice. That is where the Fram popped out into open water after crossing the Pole, 1893-1896, and that is where Willem Barentsz “discovered” Svalbard (Vikings likely were there earlier) in 1596. The water is usually open there because a northernmost tendril of the Gulf Stream, the West Spitsbergen Current, bounces off the coast of Norway and heads a little west of due north, entering the Arctic Sea on the east side of Fram Strait.  This current usually has a very impressive ability to melt sea-ice.  I have witnessed strong west winds push large masses of sea-ice across Fram Strait, and seen (in satellite photos) the entire mass of ice shrink and vanish in a few days. But this year hasn’t seen that. What the heck?

My guess is that the WSC (that is what we true geeks call the West Spitsbergen Current) has been cooled this year by the powerful storms we (last winter) saw not stall by Iceland (as is more ordinary) but remain huge into Barents Sea and even the Kara Sea. When such “Icelandic Lows” stay by Iceland, surges of mild air are brought north, sometimes all the way from the balmy Azores, on the storm’s east side. But, when the storms are displaced east, as they were this year, the same waters get north winds on the gale’s west side. This year we saw the waters that hold the WSC blasted by north winds gusting to hurricane force, with waves up to forty feet tall. Not only would this churn and chill the WSC, but it would physically transport the water at the very surface of the current in the wrong direction.

This moves us into an interesting topic, if you are a true geek, involving a sort of water budget.  It must be balanced. The water entering the Pole must be balanced by by water leaving the Pole. The WSC entering the Pole is more than matched by, on the far side of Fram Strait, the very cold EGC (East Greenland Current). More water leaves the Pole by sea than enters by sea, for evaporation is low due to sea-ice and cold temperatures, and much extra water enters via some of the world’s biggest rivers, as well as glaciers.

What is most fascinating is the fact various currents often (but not always) keep their identity as they travel around under the sea-ice. Water from the south tends to be saltier, but is made less salty as it melts sea-ice, yet can still be identified as a separate current.  Some currents dive beneath other currents, because the buoyancy of a current is determined by its salinity and its temperature, which are always changing. When waters are quiet, undisturbed by storms under ice, they can stratify into various layers, with each layer part of an identifiable current. Therefore the WSC, after passing through Fram Strait, forks into the Yerkmak and Svalbard branches, which can be traced all the way around the Pole until they exit as the RAC (Return Atlantic Current) which heads south in the middle of Fram Strait between the Colder and less salty  EGC heading south to the west and the milder and saltier WSC heading north to the east.

To make things either more interesting or more annoying, (depending on your temperament), is that, when you return the following year, things may have changed. For example, the WSC may have three other branches (perhaps more) besides the Yermak and Svalbard branches, but they are not seen every year.

In my humble opinion the study of such currents, and the way they change, is very important. Why? Because they set up certain areas of sea-surface-temperatures (such as the “warm blob” in the Pacific) which have been seen to have a major influence on the route taken by atmospheric jet-streams, which can determine things such as which-crops-are-wisest-to-plant-where.

One such change is the shift in the AMO from “warm” to “cold”, which we know little about because the last time it occurred satellites had barely been invented. It involves some major shifts-in-the-drifts which we will in many ways be seeing for the first time (by satellite, at least). The scant records we have from the past indicate the changes are major. For example, the prime fishing grounds for herring can shift hundreds of miles.

The above newspaper article from 1922 describes how swift and dramatic the change from a “cold” to “warm” AMO was around Svalbard, however it took more than a decade for the warming to start reaching the Russian coast and making the Northeast Passage more passable. (It was fortunate the sea-ice was still low when Hilter invaded Russia, for the British learned it was suicide to attempt to send Russia supplies via the arctic routes during the broad daylight of summer, and despite Stalin’s objections the British only dared do it in the darkness of arctic winter. Had sea-ice been more formidable then supplying Russia might have failed and Hitler might have succeeded.) But, to return to my point,  I assume the change back from “warm” to “cold” might also be swift and dramatic, and might also be first seen around Svalbard.

One major element of the shift-in-the-drift involves a simple fact: Cold water sinks. When the EGC brings cold water south along the east coast of Greenland it stays at the surface because the shallow continental shelf keeps it from sinking, and also to some degree by the fact less saline water is more bouyant than more-saline water, even if it is colder. However down around the latitude of Iceland the bottom falls, and so does much of the EGC.  In a manner that makes niagra falls look like a trickle, humongous amounts of cold water plunge to the ocean’s abyss, and seemingly such cold loses all ability to influence the surface.  But does it?

Allow me to subject you to a simple thought-experiment. Imagine a large box of water is plunged downwards. What will this do to waters at the surface, and what will this do to the waters beneath?

At the surface it is obvious that waters must rush in to replace the water that sinks. But what determines whether it will be warm water rushing up from the south, or cold water rushing down from the north?  History hints both have happened, and that what determines the flows of waters is as varied as what determines the flows of air on a surface weather map. But, on occasions when the flow of waters is increased from the north, the EGC transports south cold water that refuses to sink, called sea-ice. This sea-ice at the surface can change the temperature of sea-surface water hundreds of miles further to the south, changing air temperatures and the weather of lands downwind, and also causing more waters to chill and sink.

Beneath the sinking cold waters is the abyss, which we know little about. However we do know water can’t compress, and when water presses down from above the water beneath must move to make room. Some of this movement is explained by deep sea currents. However such currents are very slow, nor do they vary much. When a charge of bitter cold arctic air causes much more cold water to sink, the deep sea currents don’t speed up, (as far as I know, at this time.)  Therefore things are not adding up. When water presses down from above room must be made for it, but where is the room made?

Two ideas have occurred to me. One idea is that room is made by bulging the thermocline upwards, but this bulge would become a sort of wave moving away through the thermocline like the ripple from a splash, an undersea phenomenon which as far as I know is undocumented, but which, if it did exist, would have some effect when the wave hit a distant coast. A second idea is that, just as when you push a brake pedal an immediate effect is seen in rear brakes far from the actual pedal, when cold waters sink south of Fram Strait, an immediate up-welling effect might be seen in some place far away, because water can’t be compressed. I am well aware this second idea is outlandish, but is it as outlandish as this: (?)

Patient, hard-working scientists have mapped the slow currents of the abyss, and to some degree have mapped the undersea rivers which connect where waters sink and where up-welling brings deep waters back up. Yet none of these rivers ends at the biggest up-welling, off the coast of Peru, which is part and parcel of the switch from El Nino to La Nina.

Thermohaline circulation - Energy Education

Only recently have maps started to include a branch of the thermohaline circulation past the coast of Peru, but this shows a warm surface current and not the cold up-welling so vital to the creation of La Nina’s (and to the fisheries of Peru.)

https://i0.wp.com/blogs.evergreen.edu/seachange/files/2013/05/AlyssaConveyor2.jpg

 

The generally accepted idea is that the up-welling off the coast of Peru is caused by strong offshore Trade Winds blowing from South America westward into the Pacific. These winds blow the warm surface water towards Australia, which causes cold, nutrient-filled waters to be drawn up from the depths to replace the displaced surface water.  The problem with the idea is that the up-welling has a degree of independence from the wind. At times the up-welling can even occur before the increase in the Trade Winds, in which case the colder water appears to be causing the increase as much as the increase causing the colder waters. This has two effects. First, it makes El Ninos and La Ninas notoriously hard to forecast, and second, it allows madmen like myself to suggest that pushing water down in Fram Strait can cause water to up-well off the coast of Peru.

In any case the shift-in-the-drift off the coast of Peru has major repercussions, in terms of the world’s weather, just as the shift-in-the-drift in the North Atlantic associated with the switch of the AMO from “warm” to “cold” has major repercussions, in terms of the world’s weather. Such major repercussions are interconnected in ways we do not yet understand. Inquiring minds want to know. Scientists state “further study is needed”, holding out a cupped palm for money.

In my opinion the late Bill Gray’s desire for funding to better understand thermohaline circulation was intuitive genius, while Al Gore’s petty prevention of such funding was the initial travesty which has seen Global Warming politics befoul science. Money which could have been wisely used to further our understanding has been redirected to political hacks. Things important to study have been neglected to study the incidental. Not that I have anything against the study of polar bears, but bears can’t determine which crops to plant in Kansas, while the shift-in-the-drift can.

In order to redirect funding in unproductive ways, politicians always seem to need to invent a crisis, whether it be acid rain, or ozone holes, or global warming, or a corona virus pandemic. The problem is that when you are too unproductive you wind up broke.

End Rant.

In any case it will be interesting to watch the sea-ice in the North Atlantic as the winter gales die down and the quieter summer weather arrives. For five years now the two long-term measuring points of the Norwegan Current, which feeds into Barents Sea, have been noting a decline in water temperatures:

Sea-ice extent is within two standard deviations from normal, and high for recent years, though still low.

DMI 200424 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

Both the Kara and Laptev Seas have seen a lot of sea-ice exported north into the Central Arctic this winter, and thin baby-ice now skims them, so I expect a fair amount of Alarmist hoop-la to occur when they become ice-free this summer. This may be reflected in a plunge in the extent graph, as they melt. However the hoopla may then die down as the extent graph flattens, as other parts of the Arctic Ocean see sea-ice more stubborn. If the PDO remains in its “cold” phase it will be especially interesting to see if sea-ice remains stubborn north of Bering Strait.

The “volume” graph is currently very low for this time of year, likely due to the thin ice in the Laptev and Kara Seas, and also due to an incapacity inherent in measuring the volume of pressure ridges, which are numerous in the Central Arctic due to all the sea-ice transported north from the Kara and Laptev Seas. I expect the “volume” graphs to become more normal later in the summer, when pressure ridges tend to crumble and spread out, and be included more easily in the totals.

The MOSAiC expedition is now experiencing 24 hour daylight, and I am enjoying the pictures I crave, which have been sorely missed since the camera-buoys stopped being funded. The scientists are enjoying the one part of the world without corona virus, and witnessing first hand how very dynamic the sea-ice is. A large lead snapped the cables powering one of their remote station, forcing them to operate at a reduced capacity with generators for around three weeks until they were able to lay a new cable.

MOSAiC lead Screenshot_2020-04-23 MOSAiC(1)

Other leads have opened and crushed shut again, forming pressure ridges.

MOSAiC Pressure ridge 4-20 Screenshot_2020-04-23 MOSAiC(2)

MOSAiC Pressure Ridge 4-16 Screenshot_2020-04-23 MOSAiC

Some of the things they are studying are fascinating, such as the biology under the ice. Other studies seem based on the Global Warming narrative, and make me want to roll my eyes. (I will bite my tongue, regarding measuring the nearly non-existant amounts of nitrous oxide exuded by the Arctic Ocean.) (Of course, data is data, and when I was young I would have counted the number of leaves on a tree, if it let me avoid getting a Real Job.)

What really interests me is the shift-in-the-drift, but things do get more tranquil in the summer, and the currents slow down. (The WSC north through Fram Strait nearly halts at times.) While the Polarstern had been making steady progress towards Fram Strait, it recently experienced a bit of “wrong way” drift.

MOSAIC wrong way Screenshot_2020-04-23 MOSAiC(3)

 

This expedition is experiencing some interesting resupply problems they are not talking about, due to the rest of the world going crazy due to the Corona Virus. If they dawdle too much, getting down to Fram Strait, their story could get interesting.

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Cold Dawn–

Some people seem to have forgotten that sea-ice is dreadfully important, according to Alarmists. The fate of the world is determined by icebergs in the arctic, but instead everyone is in a tizzy about some piffling virus down south that will be here today and gone tomorrow. But fear not, for your courageous correspondent will not allow such distractions to swerve his piercing concentration from what truly matters: Sea-ice.

Or…well…as an ex-smoker with compromised lungs, perhaps I do wonder, just a bit, if the virus might be the end of my world, but, if so, the rest of the world will do just fine without me, and like the old song goes, “there’ll be one child born to carry on.”

In the meantime I refuse to dwell on morbid stuff, and prefer the antidote, which is Truth. I’ve decided the poet John Keats was more right than he could have known, at age twenty-four, when he wrote, “Beauty is truth; truth beauty”.

When I originally entered the discussion, concerning sea-ice, it was due to the fact the wonders of the web allowed me to visit the arctic in July, via the North Pole Camera, and besides making my hot days feel cooler, I was was ravished by the sheer beauty of the vistas revealed. However, clashing with this loveliness was what has come to be called “Fake News.” Back then it was called “The Consensus”,  and “they” were outraged whenever I pointed out what the North Pole Camera made quite obvious: The sea-ice was not in a “death spiral”.

Fifteen years have past, and the quivering indignation of the politically-correct has gotten old and stale (to me at least). It is quite obvious that they care, and care deeply, but it is also obvious they do not care about the Truth. Therefore, if the Real does not matter, they must live in an odd state of unreality, swooning over shadows when not running after rainbows. As a poet, I always thought I was the hopeless romantic, but the politically-correct make me look like a rank amateur,  when it comes to waltzing about in the wonder-world of an opium eater.

In fact, though I never thought I’d see the day I’d say this, poets and true scientists are brothers, for both are in love with the Truth. And they both have come to recognize they are disliked by the politically-correct.

Considering a virus from China, with an IQ of .00001, might snuff out my brilliance in a matter of 36 hours, if I happened to inhale it, I am not inclined towards being patient any longer with the politically-correct. Fifteen years is long enough. If those bozos don’t get it by now, then I fear their cases are hopeless. In some way, shape or form they are addicts, who would sell their grandmother’s false teeth for their next fix, even if their next fix is not heroin, but rather some politically-correct desire such as power, or money, or fame, or sex, or not having to work a Real Job. They have stepped beyond being merely ignorant, and have become actively opposed to Truth.

I think it is hard on the American psyche to deem any man so opposed to Truth that they are in effect an anti-Christ. Americans respect differing views, and the two-party-system is a way of making differing views work together and to, through compromise, make  something better than either side is able to achieve alone. It is like two eyes, on either side of a nose, creating a depth perception neither eye owns. However for such a system to work Truth must rule. Both sides must be honest about what their views are, bring forward honest facts, and treat the loyal opposition with dignity.

“Fake News” involves none of that. Truth is disregarded. Rather than the opposition being treated as loyal, and with dignity, they are wished dead. Rather than principles of love the ruler is, (and there is no way to say this kindly), anti-love, and anti-Truth, and therefore by definition the anti-Christ.

I think the American public has been slow to wake up to the monstrous dishonesty of what they have been dealing with. They have been dealing all along with a cyclops, who cares not at all for any view but his own, and who is only interested in pretending to support “diversity” as a way of gaining power, planning on then crushing diverse views because they are seen as opposing views. But Americans, with kindness and generosity, would never call the person they are debating anything so rude as the anti-Christ. They can’t imagine a neighbor could be opposed to the very foundations of American liberty-of-views.  At times they’d deem even a rabid dog a “differing perspective”. Only recently has it started to occur to many, “These people don’t care about my views; they want me gone.” Often this wake-up-call hits home as they realize, when watching Fake News, “These people don’t care a hoot about Truth.”

At the risk of sounding like one of those people who says, “I told you so”, I must remind you that more than a decade and a half ago I told you so. We who like the subject of sea-ice have been dealing with the happy horseshit of politically-correct Alarmists since our hair was still brown. We have been abused, and abused, and abused, on and on and on, and all for what? For telling the Truth.

Therefore, while others are just waking up to the horrid and disgusting falsity involved in “Fake News”, to lovers-of-the-Truth-about-sea-ice, such falsity is old hat. To some degree sea-ice lovers are jaded. If I die in thirty-six hours, strangled by own phlegm, it will be in the knowledge I fought the good fight, and that we would not be in the mess we are in had anyone heeded what I warned about, fifteen years ago. You other folk, who stood idly by as things went from bad to worse, will have to carry on without me.

Big deal. My death will not stop the spring from coming. Truth is almighty. The daffodils will bloom and honking geese will come north without needing my directions as a traffic cop. Truth is infinitely bigger than I am, and also infinitely bigger than the politically-correct, and will overpower and outlast both of us.

The preacher Andy Stanley tells a good tale, imagining what Saint Peter thought as he took his last look around Rome as he was led off to be martyred. He must have wondered if he had made the slightest difference, by standing by Truth. What he couldn’t see was that the Coliseum would someday be in ruins, but a massive cathedral would arise and be called “Saint Peters”, even as “Caesar” became a name given to dogs.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic I’ll say that I sometimes see the skepticism of True Scientists as a sort of modern day martyrdom. It is not as bloody and physically cruel as martyrdom was in the time of Rome, but it may in some ways be more painful, for it tends to be a psychological martyrdom. And at times I’m sure such thinkers look around as Saint Peter once did, and wonder if they have made the slightest difference. I say they have, for if they stand by Truth they stand by That which wins in the end.

However I’m becoming morbid, and I said I wasn’t going to do that.

Therefore, because I may not be dead in thirty-six hours, I’ll just do what I did when I started these sea-ice posts, all those years ago. I’ll just sit back and observe the sea-ice.  It is a beautiful part of the world, and observing such beauty is to observe a certain Truth, whether you are a scientist or a poet. The fact the politically-correct get irate when you speak what you see only demonstrates that they are psychologically troubled individuals.

Before I move on from the absurdity of politics to what is actually happening at the Pole, allow me to share an example of a time simply observing-reality got me in trouble.

Years ago there used to be cameras floating about the Pole, sending us pictures of what was actually occurring on the surface. There were also satellites miles overhead estimating conditions at the surface. At some point the satellites were stating temperatures at the surface were well above freezing, but I noticed the cameras showed the melt-water pools on the sea-ice were skimming over with ice, and snow flurries were drifting snow over that skim of ice, and therefore I suggested the satellites might need to be re-calibrated.  Lord Oh Lord! Did the politically-correct ever scold me! How dare I!? I must be a “science denier”, to question the satellites!

Now, years later, a bunch of genuine scientists are drifting on a “MOSAiC” ship up by the Pole, and one thing they have “discovered” is that there is an astonishing difference between temperatures at the surface, and temperatures measured by weather balloons only a few meters above the surface. Temperatures at the surface are much colder.

Well, Du-u-uh! I could see that years ago, which was why I suggested satellites should be re-calibrated. But where I earned scorn, the MOSAiC scientists may win a Nobel Prize. Now I ask you: Is that fair?

It does not always pay to be ahead of your time. Ask Alfred Wegener, who suggested continents drifted, fifty years before it became politically and geologically correct to say so. Wegener (and others like him) is (and are) proof the politically-correct are actually backwards, and are therefore silly when they describe themselves as “progressive”. The Truth is: The most progressive thing already exists, and awaits us giving up on our saddles on high horses of status and popularity, and instead dismounting and walking on the grounded firmness of facts, of Truth.

That being said, I will depart from my preachy, high-horse lectern, and instead will practice what I preach by walking the beauty of what actually is going on up there at the Pole.

This time of year is when the daylight breaks on the northernmost sea-ice, and the sun then refuses to set for six solid months. You might think, under such non-stop sunlight, the sea-ice would immediately start to get thinner. People get this impression looking at the “extent” graph beginning its yearly decent in  March:

DMI extent 200331 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

In actual fact the initial decrease in the “extent” occurs far from the Pole, in places off the edge of arctic maps like the Sea of Okhotsk or the Saint Lawrence Seaway.  At the Pole the ice keeps right on getting thicker, sometimes even after air temperatures at the upper surface touch freezing.

How is this possible? It occurs because the ice does not thicken at the top (unless you count the meager snowfall) but rather at the bottom. All that is needed to thicken the bottom is for the water against the ice to give up its heat to ice slightly colder than the freezing point of salt water, (which varies depending on the salinity of the water, but tend to be around -1.7º Celsius, or 29º Fahrenheit). And during the coldest part of winter, the ice at the top may be forty below, the ice three feet down twenty below, and the ice next to the water at -1.7º Celsius.  In May, just because the surface has warmed does not make the ice three feet down immediately warmer; it still is at twenty below, and therefore the ice beneath it still behaves as if it is winter, and keeps getting thicker.

The process of melting the sea-ice therefore involves warming the core of the ice, which is three feet down. Not only the must the water beneath the ice lose its heat upwards, but the air above the ice must lose its heat downwards. It takes time to erase a sort of memory-of-winter that lives in the ice, and for a long time the sun can shine brilliantly without seeming to have any effect. Even when the snow starts to wilt and the first melt-water appear as slushy darkness on the surface (usually in late May or early June) it can remain well below freezing three feet down.

Another interesting and highly complex dynamic involves the fact that salt has no power to melt ice below temperatures of -21ºC (-6ºF), but increasing power as the temperature increases. At +1ºF a pound of salt will melt 4 pounds of ice; at +20ºF it will melt 6 pounds of ice, and at +30ºF the same pound will melt 46 pounds of ice. This creates fascinating and complex dynamics, first as the ice gets colder and then later as the ice gets warmer. (Don’t ask me to explain it all because I can’t.) In the end the salt tends to be exuded from some of the ice, becoming brine, as temperatures cool. Lots of this brine bores down through the sea-ice, but some at the surface gets stranded and finally exists as a fine powder, as the water sublimates away in the dry atmosphere. Below temperatures of -6ºF salt blows around with drifting snow without having any effect, and when temperatures are a little above -6º the salt melts just enough to make the drifting snow into a crisp, hard surface (which has some name I can’t remember at the moment). In any case there is more salt than one would expect at the surface, (and also in the atmosphere right up to the stratosphere, contributing to ozone holes because the salt holds traces of iodine and bromine.) This salt caused great consternation among early arctic explorers, for they thought their supply of drinking water could come from the sea-ice, but at times the ice was too salty to drink. (They learned to look for “old ice”, which was largely salt free.) But we don’t need to drink the water, so what interests us this time of year is the change between ice at 20ºF and 30ºF, when the salt goes from melting six times its weight in ice to 46 times its weight. And if that isn’t complex enough for you, entertain your mind with the fact that using salt to melt ice makes temperatures colder (think of an old fashioned ice-cream-maker.)

If you look back through my old posts, and especially the comments, you will see the topic of salt discussed as far back as 2012 by people far smarter than I am. You would think Alarmists would be interested, as it seems obvious salt melts ice, and Alarmists are big on the topic of ice melting. A few were indeed interested, but they tended to become Skeptics as they learned the devil is in the details. Other Alarmists didn’t want to hear about the details, for they were only interested in the narrative, “The sea-ice is in a Death Spiral”, and if you brought up details it meant you were a “science denier”, for “the science was settled”. (This is not scientific thought, but it did teach me about how “Fake News” is created.)

Considering we’ve been discussing things like salt, and the time it takes to warm the ice three feet down, for eight years, it is just a little annoying that some of the scientists aboard the MOSAiC expedition are walking about with their index fingers poking up in an Eureka manner, saying stuff we wondered about eight years ago. However the point should be made that, while we were sitting on our duffs squinting at images from a camera on a buoy, they have actually gone up there in the dead of winter, and are gathering actual data. In effect they are the buoy, and they are the camera, and they are gathering all sorts of data I never even considered. I am happy for them, and their excitement.

I thought it would be fun to go through a month worth of maps, (keeping in mind that a bit below the Pole, towards Svalbard, is the MOSAiC crew).

When I last posted maps a very zonal flow had kept cold concentrated at the Pole, as milder air from the south wrapped around the edges of the cold, from west to east.  After a single feeder-band brought the Pole its warmest (but still well below freezing) temperatures of the winter, temperatures had crashed to the coldest of the winter.  Meanwhile what I called a “spear” of milder temperatures had moved west to east along the Eurasian coast.

What was interesting about the following week was how that “spear” of milder air along the Eurasian coast chilled. In the temperature maps you can see the green isotherm areas fade and turn blue. This demonstrates that even though the sunlight has returned and is pressing towards the Pole, in early March, the days are still too short and the sun is too low to prevent heat from being lost to outer space.

After a week the high pressure at the Pole, a sort of center of the Polar Cell, is being squeezed out and eroded, and we seem to be getting back to a pattern seen earlier in the winter, where low pressure dominates from the North Atlantic to along the Eurasian coast, while high pressure dominates from Bering Strait to the Canadian Archipelago. If the center of the Polar Cell exists at all, it has swung from Bering Strait nearly to Hudson Bay. The low pressure around the periphery has reverted to the Atlantic side, but the lows are shadows of the massive storms we saw earlier in the winter.

Around March 9 we again see the oddity of this winter. Other winters lows seemed to weaken as they left the North Atlantic and were starved for warmth and moisture, but this winter we have seen storms of surprising strength in Barents and Kara Seas. Above we see a weak low probing towards the Pole from the Kara Sea, and following lows entering Kara Sea, bringing up a feeder-band of milder air. The two are about to combine and cause a ruckus. Watch how the isobars tighten over the location of the MOSAiC expedition, intensified by a high pressure being pumped up over the Canadian Archipelago. An Aleutian low gets sucked north over east Siberia to weakly enter the mix.

If you look at how tight the isobars are in the above map, you can understand things might have been less than comfortable for the scientists working in the MOSAiC expedition. Notice how, though the storm (now a borderline “Ralph” (anomalous area of low pressure at the Pole)) has drawn a feeder band north, that milder air isn’t reaching the MOSAiC crew. They have been experiencing extreme cold for a long time, yet the ice around their ship starts cracking up.

MOSAiC first crack Screenshot 2020-03-13 at 18.19.22

For some of the scientists the opening of this lead was a fortuitous event, for they wished to study something I’d never consider: The amount of greenhouse gasses that escape from the ocean into the atmosphere via open water at the Pole. They could measure the amount of CO2 and methane without needing to trudge and tempt hungry polar bears, seeking open water. They didn’t have to even leave their ship. And surely such data is interesting, in it’s way. (Not to me, much, but likely to others.)

However the fact the sea-ice began breaking up around the ship, despite temperatures being below normal, also awoke other scientists to something bumpkins like myself understood years ago: Open water at the Pole can occur even in the coldest conditions, if the winds are right. This was known by Navy captains aboard submarines under the ice way back in the 1950’s. But it is nice to see what was Truth then is still Truth now, and that young whippersnappers are still able to raise an index finger, say Eureka, and see the Truth.

However, as delightful as science is, some aboard the ship must attend to more banal subjects, such as survival, and the stressing and crack-up of the sea-ice did not make life easy for such people. Nor did a thing called, “The Corona Virus”, occurring to the south.

The crack-up of the sea-ice complicated matters, for the next delivery of supplies was planned to be by air, with aircraft landing on a nice blue-ice airstrip on a nice plate of sea-ice, but the stormy weather cracked the ice. So of course those in charge of logistics made plans to fix the airstrip by extending one side of the broken floe’s rump-of-an-airstrip, and they were busily at work when they heard maybe the idea of delivering by air was a bad idea, because some involved in the flights “tested positive”, and it might be a bad idea to introduce the Corona Virus to the Polarstern and MOSAiC expedition. Instead it might be wise to drift down to Fram Strait with the supplies they had, and be helped down  there by an icebreaker, if need be. And after that a silence descended, concerning logistics, I suppose because the slightest hint the expedition was being tested or in trouble might result in sensationalist headlines. Such attention would be quite the bother, when you want to gather data about methane escaping through cracks in the Arctic Sea.

I suspect there is very cool story involved, for when you compare the above picture with the picture below, you just know the ice has been through a commotion.

MOSAiC later cracks imageedit_3_7297760318

The scientists aboard the ship have seen first hand how, even at very low temperatures, open water can appear. They have also witnessed how swiftly such water freezes over, and how the sides of such leads then can clap together and form pressure ridges. Air temperature matters little, concerning sea-ice, for what is here today can be gone tomorrow. Open water can appear and then disappear in the blink of an eye. (View from MOSAiC radar.)

MOSAiC open and shut Radar_Animation_Polarstern_seaiceportal(20200315_20200323)-crop-clahe

Of course bumpkins like myself knew about all this years ago, using data gathered by our lying eyes from much, much cheaper cameras on much, much cheaper buoys, but I will confess it is good to get some affirmation from people who have actually gone up there and put their lives on the line, and don’t just sit on fossilized duffs gazing at computer screens like I do (when my wife lets me).

I confess I worry just a bit about those men and women up there, but I am glad I don’t have to set up equipment connected by cables in minus fifty windchill, only to see cables snapped by some dumb lead. Instead I merely concern myself with whether the sea-ice is moving that cast of characters towards escape in Fram Strait, lickity-split. And so far, so good.

(See drift of buoys associated with MOSAiC at end of post.)

Speaking as a poet and not a scientist, one thing I noticed when I was young and foolhardy,  and went to sea and found myself in over my head, is that I escaped with my life. At times I could take no credit for my escapes, and had the sense kindly guardian angels watched over me. (Either that, or a man born to be hung cannot drown.) I get the same sense watching the isobars in the maps below. Perhaps it is merely the arctic cooling the North Atlantic as the AMO shifts from a “warm” phase to a “cold” phase, but it is handy if you are in an ice-bound boat up there, and want to be blown down to Fram Strait. I’ve watched the drift of ice up there a lot over the years, and often noticed “wrong way” flows where the sea-ice is bottled up and prevented from moving to Fram Strait, but this year the Trans Polar Drift seems especially accelerated, which may turn out to be good news for the fellows aboard the Polarstern.

I’m not going to comment on the maps much, except to note you can see the storms prefer the Eurasian side, and also see air from the south swirled and cooled as it heads towards the Pole, but the Pole start its yearly warm-up.

 

 

The Pole continues to lose more heat than it gains until mid May, roughly a month before the solstice. In the winter it can only gain heat from south winds and the water under the ice, but now the addition of sunshine, riding ever higher in the sky, tips the energy-balance toward a point where, for roughly sixty days, the North Pole actually gives the planet more heat than it loses. (If it were a flat, dry desert it would become baking hot, but fortunately our Creator designed a nifty refrigeration system up there.)

DMI meanT_2020 200401

Don’t get April-fooled, and stay tuned.

UPDATE: Below see drift of buoys associated with MOSAiC expedition down towards Fram Strait.

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Icebreaker Trapped Resupplying MOASiC–

In my last post I mentioned that the Russian icebreaker  Kapitan Dranitsyn had to battle thick sea-ice to resupply the Polarstern at the MOSAiC site. Contact was successful, and cranes began to  unload and load supplies that were hauled by tractor between the two ships.

PS1 polarstern-1-e1583402517868

A fresh crew of scientists relieved the crew that has been working there.

PS2 polarstern-unloading-2-credit-michael-gutsche

With temperatures down around -30ºC, the open water in the wake of the Kapitan Dranitsyn froze over swiftly. Men could walk on the new ice within 24 hours.

PS3 polarstern-and-icebreaker.1f7f58

By the time the transfer of men and supplies was complete the ship was frozen so fast it could not extract itself. The news is now that the Russians are sending a second icebreaker, the Admiral Makarov, to help the first icebreaker free itself. (Note the twilight in the above picture. The are located close enough to the Pole to see a very swift transition from noontime night to midnight day. Currently it is dark at midnight, but the twilight is bright enough at noon to read by. In around a week the sun will peek over the horizon, and a few weeks more will see the daylight become constant. But the chilly sun remains so low that no thawing occurs until the end of April.)

Despite the ice trapping the icebreaker, it is important to remember we are talking about sea-ice, a mass of ice in constant motion with enough “leads” (cracks) to allow seals to breathe and be seen hunting arctic cod, by the MOSAiC underwater cameras. Sea-ice is by no means stable. The Polarstern radar recently saw a lead open roughly a mile from the ship.

And the infrared view of the Pole shows plenty of cracks in the sea-ice,

.PS4 go.nasa.gov2TJSpHR-shears-

In other words, sea-ice is not the same thing as the gigantic icebergs that make life interesting for fishermen in Newfoundland, icebergs that are so vast that they can run aground in water 300 feet deep.

Newfoundland Icebergs view-of-twillingate-harbour

Newfoundland Iceberg u41bdg57z4k41

These giant, awesome bergs calve off glaciers, (largely Greenland’s), and, while they have been seen in the Arctic Ocean, they usually head south down either side of Greenland, and are rare up north. For the most part the sea-ice affecting the icebreakers is thin in comparison, roughly six feet thick.

The problem is that, besides cracking apart, which is helpful to icebreakers, the ice claps back together again. In such cases the baby-ice which swiftly forms in the open water, (as we saw in the wake of the Kapitan Dranitsyn), has little hope of resisting the compression it undergoes; even if it is two feet thick it is clamped in the jaws of ice at least three times as thick, which has the power of wind pressing across miles and miles of fetch. Consequently the new ice in leads crumples up like eggshells between elephants, and what was open water on Monday may become a pressure ridge of crumbled slabs of ice by Friday. And, because this process goes on all winter long, the surface of the Arctic Sea is far from smooth. There are smooth areas, basically big slabs, but finding a smooth area large enough for the yearly Barneo blue-ice airstrip often involves a considerable search.

Considering the sea-ice is constantly tortured and contorted, the “thickness” maps portray an average, for in fact the ice can vary between open water and a towering pressure ridge in a hundred yards. (This was made visual back in the days we had cameras on buoys bobbing about the Pole.) Because both pressure ridges and leads are often too narrow to be seen by satellite, and also because how numerous they are varies a lot between stormy years and calm years, a certain amount of guess-work (also called “modelling”) goes into the creation of “thickness” maps…..which in turn leads to disagreements. For example the NRL map can show ice six feet thick

Thickness 200303 arcticictnnowcast

Whereas the DMI map shows sea-ice twelve feet thick:

Thickness 200305 CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20200305

These disagreements suggest the captains of icebreakers face uncertainty, as they face the sea-ice.  Not only are the captain’s initial maps to some degree “modeled”, but the circumstances they are sailing into are in constant flux. Though their radar may show an open lead ahead, a shift in the winds may turn that lead into a pressure ridge in a mere hour.

One then is led to wonder why these icebreakers are not ever crushed like a nut in a nutcracker. The compression involved when wind-shear creates two masses of sea-ice converging is hard to imagine. We are talking about fifty miles of ice colliding headlong with fifty miles of ice; even sea-ice nine feet thick can buckle, creating the arctic’s biggest pressure ridges, thirty feet high and (because nine tenths of an iceberg is under water) with “keels” extending downwards 270 feet. A 1880’s ship like the Jeanette, with a greatly reinforced hull, might survive 21 months clamped in sea-ice, but it stood little chance when the sea-ice concentrated its squeeze. (Descriptions of the moaning noise the Jeanette made as it went down are amazing.) Therefore men learned to structure hulls in a manner that caused squeezing from the side to lift the ships upward, rather than crushing inward. Icebreakers utilize such uplift, as the entire ship rides up and over the ice, which is then crushed down and broken by the sheer weight of the ship.

The Russian icebreakers are huge. The Kapitan Dranitsyn has seven stories of windows above the main deck. Let’s look at the picture again:

PS3 polarstern-and-icebreaker.1f7f58

Besides riding up over the ice moving forward, such ships are designed to ride over ice when moving astern. When the ice is especially thick they can back up and plow forward repetitively, crunching the ice downwards and making their way to where radar indicates a lead may provide an easier path.

The fact Kapitan Dranitsyn requires help indicates, to me at least, that the sea-ice is especially thick in the Central Arctic this year.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE –A Wrap-around–

Mean temperatures north of 80º latitude at the Pole have shifted  from the warmest of the winter to the coldest of the winter.

DMI meanT_2020 200302

This plunge in temperatures from zero to -23º F (-18º to -30º Celsius) occurred due to a reversion to a zonal pattern we’ve seen a lot of, this winter. The spike occurred due to the only real invasion of slightly moister and milder air the Pole has seen this winter, due to a North Atlantic gale roaring up to Barents Sea, and then its remnants drifting up to the Pole. We even saw a brief incarnation of “Ralph” (Anomalous area of low pressure) at the Pole, with the typical “feeder band” of milder air curving up to its core.

As usual, my computer vaporized the next week’s worth of maps, so you are going have to to take my word for what followed.  The “Ralph” in the above map filled in and its  feeder band chilled in the arctic night. The following North Atlantic gale, just south of Iceland in the above map, is named “Rap” because it eventually wrapped around the Pole. Rap made it up to Barents Sea as the last in a series of extra large storms, but then could make no headway to the north, and instead rode along the north coast of Siberia. Rather than a feeder-band curving to the north, a sort of spear of milder air drove west to east along the Siberian coast, providing a pathway for lesser lows, and a week later the maps looked like this, with Rap weaker and northeast of the Laptev Sea, leading the “spear” of milder air along the Siberian coast:

These “spears”, that somehow are able to cross the enormity of Eurasia and reach the Pacific, always fascinate me. The mild air is of course modified colder by the time it gets to the Pacific, but its identity survives and it is nothing like the brutally cold air which Siberia home-grows when left alone.  I’ve seen such spears further south, crossing the Steppes, and have noticed there is often a counter-flow further south, a sort of backwash which brings east winds and cold air to places which don’t usually see it, such as Saudi Arabia. And Saudi Arabia did shiver as this spear of sub-freezing but relatively mild air swept west to east along the arctic coasts of Eurasia.  (Also Kazakhstan, south of Russia, saw record snows).

Though Rap weakened, the isobars remain fairly tight ahead of it. This brought south winds ahead of Rap, and, as we have seen all winter, sea-ice was pulled away from the Siberian coast and crushed north into the Central Arctic. The Polynyas that form at the coast in such cases swiftly skim over with “baby-ice”, so the “extent” graph showed no dramatic drops, and remained at a level higher than recent years.

DMI 200303 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

While this “extent” is the highest in five years and likely depresses Alarmists a lot, it is important to remember the sea-ice is quite thin along the Siberian coast, and actually looks dark, almost like open water, in visible satellite shots. For example, here is the coast of the Kara Sea:

Kara Sea 200302 Screenshot_2020-03-03 arctic io - Daily Satellite Images + Observations, 4-N90-E0

Though such thin ice counts on the “extent” graph, it likely will melt swiftly in May, and the Northeast Passage will likely open early, at least to the mouth of the Lena River in the Laptev Sea. In fact all the lilac areas on the NRL thickness map are likely to be sea-ice that is tenuous and fleeting, as the sun rises.

Thickness 200303 arcticictnnowcast

What will be interesting to watch is the Central Arctic, where all the sea-ice has been pushed north to. (I’m not sure I trust the above NRL  map, as it shows ice 6 feet thick where the DMI map (which hasn’t updated since February 17) shows ice 12 feet thick.) The sea-ice there is thickening even as I write, as it has gotten so cold there.

Another indication the sea-ice might be pretty thick is that the Russian beast-icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn took around two weeks longer than expected to resupply the MOSAiC expedition’s ship, Polarstern. (The polar night is giving way to twilight up there, and I’m hopeful we’ll soon get some good sea-ice pictures).

Polat Sunrise Screenshot 2020-03-01 at 17.35.42.png_thumb

A crack appeared in the blue-ice airstrip serving the MOSAiC site, but I’ve noticed they are speaking of leads a meter or two across, and not the wide leads we’ve seen with infrared satellites other years, which on occasion have been many miles across.

Of especial interest is all the observing the MOSAiC scientists have been doing under the ice.

I can recall that, not many years ago, the Arctic Sea was called a “desert” away from the shores, because it was assumed it was relatively sterile away from coasts, like other oceans are. (It was assumed that if the sea-ice melted away from the fertile shorelines that seals and polar bears would starve.) Recently it was discovered that enough plankton and algae lives on the underside of the sea-ice to feed a whole ecosystem, including arctic cod, far from land. However then some assumed this ecosystem must go into a sort of hibernation during the winter, when lack of sunlight hypothetically would decrease the food supply. However the MOSAiC observations indicate the arctic cod are active in the darkness, and there are even seals hunting those cod in the dead of winter, which indicates there must be enough cracking of the ice to supply the seals with air-holes. This goes to show you how eyes-on-the-ground are still important, and not everything can be seen by imaginative minds sitting at computers.

They are also doing some interesting work to study the “turbulence” under the ice. Using the word “turbulence” may be a bit of an overstatement, but it does show minds open to the idea mixing occurs as ice with “keels” is blown against the flow of sub-ice currents. I expect interesting data will emerge from this escapade.

To return to the building cold at the Pole, a scan of the next week’s maps show Rap weakening but retaining its identity as it continues east north of Bering Strait and wanders north of Alaska and then Canada, before finally fading into the Canadian Archipelago. While the “spear” does curve around with Rap, it loses much of its heat in the process. Cold builds at the Pole itself as no “feeder-bands” probe north (unless you count a very cold feeder-band Rap swung clear around the Pole, that curved north of the Canadian Archipelago).

It is also interesting that the North Atlantic has been quieter, (though a fairly decent gale crashed into England, south of the area these maps show.) But of especial interest is the way Rap dislodged the high pressure which has been sitting over Bering Strait much of this winter, clawing that high-pressure over to Alaska and then Canada. That high has been a de facto center-of-the-Polar-Cell much of the winter, in a sense displacing the zonal flow to the Pacific side, like a beret worn by the Earth at a jaunty angle. Displacing it into Alaska represents a noteworthy wobble, a “disturbance in the Force”, and made me more alert, however so far what has seemed to happen is that a new center-of-the-Polar-Cell has formed over the Pole itself, as if the Earth sobered up and straightened its beret.

When the former Bering Strait high-pressure was budged into Alaska the winds in Bering Strait became southerly, but there wasn’t much warming brought north before a new high-pressure pushed in from Siberia, turning the winds in the Strait north again. So much cold air has poured south, and east off Siberia, that the “Warm Blob” south of Alaska is greatly shrunken, and the Pacific is  shifting to a “cold” PDO.

https://www.ospo.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2020/anomnight.3.2.2020.gif

On his blog at Weatherbell Joseph D’Aleo produced a map which shows the change in anomalies since November 1. It is somewhat startling how significantly the Pacific has cooled.

SST Anomaly change Nov-Feb 2019-2020 Screen_Shot_2020_02_29_at_9_51_27_AM

I did not expect the PDO to dive so dramatically:

If the PDO remains “cold” one thing to watch for (which has happened in the past) is a failure of the sea-ice north of Bering Strait to melt away in August, which can make a considerable difference to the “extent” graph at the September minimum. Even as the sea-ice vanishes swiftly on the Eurasian coast, especially west of the Lena River, we may see the sea-ice persisting east of the Lena and north of Alaska. The minimum would be higher than recent years.

Will I bet good money on it? Well, maybe a nickle.

Stay tuned.