ARCTIC SEA ICE –Polar Storm–Updated

Polar Storm Aug 4 6a0133f03a1e37970b01676918c63b970b-800wi

The general area of low pressure over the Pole I’ve dubbed “Ralph” is again reinvigorated, and we can expect the usual amount of Hoopla from the usual suspects.  The stormy summer is indeed a very interesting phenomenon, but they will attempt to squeeze it into their preconceptions, and milk what is actually a cabbage.

One bit of hoopla  I’ve heard involves beach erosion of arctic shores. The idea is that there was no beach erosion before, because of there was more ice, and now terrible things will happen to coastlines because the shores are unprotected. The thing of it is, we have a geologic record of coastal erosion along arctic shores where there has been isostatic rebound (places where the land rose after the weight of glaciers were removed).  The blogger Max™ sent us a beautiful picture of just such a geological formation.

Rising shoreline Rebounding_beach,_among_other_things_(9404384095)

Because we have such formations along the shores of the Arctic Sea, especially north of Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago, we have a record of whether the seas were ice covered or open back for thousands of years. It turns out ice-covered seas grind and smash a shoreline in a very different way than the lapping, washing and thumping of surf does. This lets us see that the Arctic sea has been open in the past. (Also bits of driftwood from inland Siberia, washed down Asian rivers,  are found in the far side of the Arctic Sea on the coast of Canada and Greenland.) Studies of such shorelines may not get much funding or press, (because they do not support the political narrative), but they have been undertaken by honorable scientists who went out into a mosquito-infested landscape to do the hard field work, and their work shows us that the Arctic Ocean has been open in the recent past, especially during the Holocene Optimum 9000-5000 years ago.

I’ll leave it to others to discuss the topic of whether or not there has been an effort to “erase the Medieval Warm Period,” but even if one burned all the books, it is difficult to erase the geology seen in the above picture.

The hubbub  fretting about coastal erosion in the arctic is founded on a false concept that the arctic was calm, frozen from shore to shore, and only  recently thawed. In fact sailors have been testing their limits up there for centuries. The Arctic Ocean is an ocean, not a frozen lake, and its shores are under constant onslaught, just like every shore of every ocean and every sea always has been, always is, and always will be.

There is an interesting summer-read, describing the adventures of Dutch explorers seeking a way to avoid the King of Spain, by finding a way to China around the northern side of Asia.  They were doing this in the late 1500’s!  If you’d like a trip on the way-back machine, read “The Three Voyages of William Barents to the Arctic Regions 1594, 1595 and 1596” which itself dates from the late 1800’s.

People who ignore history are willing accomplices to the crime of their own ignorance.

This summer has been one with low pressure often riding up to the Pole, and strong bands of wind along the edges of the storms. Alarmists have been anticipating that the ice will melt swiftly, due to the churning of the storms, as happened in 2012. I’m not so sure, as the water may be colder. So I simply zip my lip, and watch. It seems interesting to me that ice has returned to the waters off northernmost Alaska. (North to right, South to left.)

The Barrow, Alaska webcam even shows ice returning to the shoreline, that was ice-free for several weeks.

Barrow Webcam 0805 05_22_23_24_ABCam_20160805_132000

This ice may not “count” in ice-extent graphs, as it is less that 15% ice and more than 85% open water, but does tend to throw a wrench in the concept of an “ice-free Pole.”

Below are the recent DMI maps of the storms up at the Pole. In the first map “Ralph” is over towards Bering Strait, as R10 (reinforcement number ten) moves across the Kara Sea coast, on July 28.

On July 29 R-10 is gathering additional strength in its “warm sector” from Siberia, and the temperatures on the Pacific side of the Pole are colder. (The 12Z maps always are colder on the Pacific side than the 00Z maps, because it is midnight in the Bering Strait at 12Z.)

On July 30 and 31 Ralph weakens, but R10 heads north to assist.

Missed 12Z Map.

By August 1 Ralph is strengthened by R10, and R11 is moving into the Kara Sea. Computer models had suggested Ralph would become a Gale, but it didn’t get as big as expected. (I just noticed the temperature map failed to update at 12z.)


On August 2 Ralph is weakening rather than strengthening, R11 is recieving help from the southwest, and R12 is a very interesting feature moving north from central Siberia.

I missed the 00z map on July 3, as R12 moved north to combine with R11. Ralph was weakening but giving O-buoy 14 a cold snap and snow. .

On August 4, because I am the boss, I just say Ralph bails and flees across the Pole to his arriving troops, and the combination of R11 and R12 becomes the newest incarnation of Ralph.  I conveniently missed the 12z map, which shows Ralph waving as he crosses the Pole.

And that brings us to today, when we see Ralph Rules!

There will be a great deal of hubhub about this storm, but I am going to wait until the clouds clear and we can see what we see.

The cold in the above maps was largely towards the Pacific and south of 80 degees latitude, and not shown by the DMI north-if-80-degrees-latitude graph, which in fact showed the warmest thaw we’ve seen in several summers.

DMI3 0805 meanT_2016

This is not all that impressive, when compared to the really mild summer of 1995:

DMI3 1995 meanT_1995

The surface thaw ceases to be much of a factor from now on, and in fact the top of the ice can look like it is freezing up, however bottom-melt continues into September. The Alarmists feel Ralph will speed up this bottom melt, however I feel the 2012 melt was assisted by the fact the water had been calm, protected, and was stratified, with a lot of less-cold water not far below the surface. I have my doubts the situation can be the same this summer, as the water has been constantly agitated by storms, right back to last winter. We shall see.

I’ll conclude with before and after pictures from O-buoy 14, showing the surface thaw can be interrupted even when the DMI temperature-graph shows an upward spike. The top picture is from July 30 and the bottom is from August 3. However I am still expecting the floe to break up, especially as the cold north winds are pushing the floe which O-buoy 14 is perched upon southwards, into open waters.Obuoy 14 0730C webcam

Obuoy 14 0803 webcam

You can see some of the open water appearing in the distance of the second picture. Hold onto your hats. The next month is bound to be interesting.


Subsidence towards Alaska is creating especially clear skies. It is a good time to look at those waters, even if it is a bad time in the vicinity of the weakening storm. Here is the satellite view of the ice around O-buoy 14.

And here is the Saturday morning view from the ground.

Obuoy 14 0806 webcam

The sun brought a slight thaw, but temperatures at this buoy are back down to freezing.

This buoy has blown south to 76.5° N and 138° W. Nearly due north, at 83.56° N, 138.28° W the sea-ice is more densely packed, and Mass Balance Buoy 2015 os reportomg near-freezing temperature of +0.06°. The berg it is attached to shows melt from above and below, but is still fairly thick:

2015F 20160805 2015F_thick

The Canadian JEM model show the storm filling and fading to the west, with north winds to its west replaced by a small low, which will be of interest to the sailors aboard the Northabout, who are hunkered down in a protected anchorage and waiting for a chance to sail east through Vilkitskogo Strait, at the western entrance of the Laptev Sea. They may be able to report if the storm shifted any ice south into their path, even before we get a satellite view.

(Maps courtesy of Dr. Ryan Maue at the Weatherbell site.)

00z Saturday  PS1 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_112z SaturdayPS2 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_3  00z SundayPS3 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_5 12z SundayPS4 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_7  00z MondayPS5 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_9