SCREAMERS (Or, “How to lose friends And Irritate People”)

I was first drawn into the Global Warming debate by accident, more than a decade and a half ago. As a latecomer to the internet, around 2002, I began blundering about the web, greatly enjoying the new sensation of chatting to total strangers in far away places, when I accidentally rubbed someone’s fur the wrong way, and they exploded.

As I recall the kerfuffle had something to do with Greenland and Vikings. I was telling a good tale about how the Atlantic was warmer when the Vikings were traveling to and fro between Norway and Greenland in open boats, and was describing how they were able to raise crops in Greenland on what is now permafrost. I thought such history was accepted fact. Abruptly I found myself under attack, and was a bit surprised by the zeal and ferocity of the attack.

Not that I am unacquainted with people becoming irate about inconsequential things. I once attended a baseball game at Fenway Park where a Yankees fan perhaps became a little too rude, and a Neanderthal arose from the row in front of him, turned around, and gave him a gorilla punch on the chest that made a sound like a bass drum.

However the response I received on the internet was more like the response you might get when you politely open a door for a suffragette, and she castigates you for being a chauvinist pig. I had no idea Greenland’s Vikings were such an inflammatory topic. After all, it was ancient history to me.

To be honest, I was secretly pleased by the response. As an unsuccessful writer I had spent years sending submissions off, and had received nothing but rejection slips. There is perhaps nothing quite as faceless and inhumane as a rejection slip. Getting castigated about Vikings was better than that.

Also I was not unacquainted with kerfuffles, because young artists are always confusing originality with being weird, and are always trying to be weirder than the next artist by thinking up something that has never been done before, irrespective of whether it is in good taste or not. (For example, putting a crucifix in a jar of urine.) After some wild times as a teenager I became jaded, and found such “originality” pointless and empty, perhaps because I noticed some things that are ancient are also always fresh and new. (For example, springtime). Therefore I became a very weird thing to be, for an artist of those days. I became more nonconformist than the nonconformists: Shortly before my twentieth birthday I became a conservative. (I also “got religion”.)

Not that I gave up on art completely; I still avoided paying rent and getting a Real Job, whenever possible, and foolishly spent money on coffee, beer and tobacco when I should have purchased food, and I liked talk much more than I liked action.

My talk led to further kerfuffles, because I was conservative concerning sex and drugs. Some found it outrageous that I should say monogamous marriage was a good thing. Many of my friends were bisexual or homosexual, and I explained to them I was a no-no-sexual. I remember one person called me the “token square” of the group. I learned how to debate; how to hold my ground in an argument. Back in those days debates could be civil, even fun, and discussions were “liberal” in the true meaning of the word. (One liberal belief of those times was that it was OK to be wrong, for you could always learn from your mistakes.)

I don’t blame people for having a sort of amnesia concerning the AIDS epidemic of the early 1980’s. It was not a happy time to be any sort of artist. However one victim of that time was, I believe, the idea you could learn from your mistakes. Where the Bible preaches a person should be forgiven seven times seventy times, AIDS didn’t forgive people even once. Entire neighborhoods became brief ghost towns, and then were re-populated as if AIDS had never happened, as if the nation hadn’t lost thousands of its most imaginative minds, and also lost a sort of crude honesty. People had to get on with their lives, and leave grief behind, but this willful amnesia, concerning trauma, does involve the word we all know and hate, called “denial.”

This change to the American psyche manifested in all sorts of ways, but I imagined I saw it manifesting as a sort of “gatekeeper” mentality among publishers. There were certain subjects they steered away from discussing, and these included the observations of a no-no-sexual concerning where the hippie concept of, “if it feels good, do it”, had landed us. To me it seemed a disservice to the people who had sacrificed their lives to AIDS not to say things that they, in their crude honesty, had stated at their end, concerning the so-called “freedom” of being addicted to sex and drugs. However perhaps such blunt truth was too opposed to the liberal narrative, which publishers made be their droning mantra. In any case, it was at that time I first felt that liberals were not being truly liberal any more. (Regan was the new president, and it was he who introduced the statement, “I didn’t leave the Democrat party; the Democrat party left me.”)

Also, since I am talking about blunt honesty, I should be honest and say there was another reason my submissions weren’t accepted. They sucked. Perhaps it is part of the process, when dealing with painful subjects, but the harder I worked at writing the worse my writing became. I knew it was bad, and, while I never completely gave up on writing, I gave up on hoping I’d ever be published.

One big problem I had was: A writer is suppose to write about something they know about, and there was something pathetic about a no-no-sexual writing about monogamous marriage. If I went into details about the love life of a no-no-sexual I’m afraid countless computer screens would be sprayed by coffee. Atlas cringed. Cupid rolled his eyes, and then left to seek psychiatric help.

Not that I was a virgin, but I was a bit like a young student fresh from college who presumes to lecture a grandmother of fifty about child-care. I lacked “real-life experience.” What I needed to do to remedy this shortcoming was muster the Vulcan objectivity of Star Trek’s Spock, find a single mother with three small children, and convince her to marry a 37-year-old failed-writer who had never held a job longer than seven months in his entire life. So I did it. If you don’t believe me, ask my wife. (Well, maybe I didn’t muster Vulcan objectivity, but I got the other parts right.) And now it is twenty-eight years later, and my writing does seem to have improved, somewhat. (Young authors, take heed.)

I first noticed this improvement back in 2002, when people actually started reading my writing. Before then it seemed all I needed to do was raise my index finger, say, “I have written something”, and there would be a jam in the doorway as all tried to flee the room. From my perspective, getting castigated by a total stranger on the web was a distinct improvement.

This brings me back to the original point I made 1198 words ago, which was that I became aware of the Global Warming debate around 2002 when I first entered the “World Wide Web,” and, due to a chance meeting, got screamed-at in print.

I immediately identified the person as the opposite of a true liberal; I.E: A “screamer.”

I was getting tired of being screamed-at. It seemed to be happening on an increasingly regular basis. Not only did I commit the faux pas of holding doors open for suffragettes, but I called people from Italy “Italians” and people from China “Chinamen”, and I failed to call Indians “Native Americans” and failed to call Eskimos “Inuit”. In terms of the grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of America’s former slaves, I was always one step behind the eight ball of political correctness; I got screamed-at for calling them “Negro”, “Colored”, “Blacks”, “Afro-American”, and “African-American”. Amazingly, I almost never screamed back. This was due to a addictive herb that eventually destroyed my lungs. When someone screamed-at me I could always light up and inhale deeply. Of course, it was right at this time everyone began screaming-at people who smoked.

However getting screamed-at for saying the Vikings grew barley in Greenland was a new one, for me. It intrigued me. I lit up, inhaled deeply, and then replied to the screamer on the web in my best, most ingratiating, prosaic version of a-dog-with-its-tail-between-its-legs. Placated, the screamer calmed down and politely informed me everything I thought I knew about Vikings was incorrect, because his Bible said so. Only he didn’t use the word “Bible.” He used the words “IPCC Report”.

In retrospect I think the people behind that report had a very low opinion of the ability of ordinary laymen to gather data on their own. They failed to understand that, while ordinary people do not keep the records that academics do, they often have minds like sponges concerning trivia. Sports reporters are aware of this, because they often meet fans who know more about particular teams and ball-players than they do, and who have this knowledge right at their fingertips. (I once told a Math teacher I couldn’t memorize, andthe clever teacher then asked me what Carl Yastrzemski’s batting average was in 1963, and without a pause I answered “.321″.) However other members of the media considered the general public to be ignoramuses and “sheeple.” Many could not comprehend the sheer bulk of knowledge ordinary people collect as a hobby. Perhaps they didn’t interview enough, for, if you have the time, you can learn a great deal of history from a grandmother, if you just ask her about the clutter of objects strewn about her parlor and on her coffee table. And also, long before the AMO was “officially” discovered by meteorologists, you could learn of it if you bothered to listen to garrulous old fishermen on the coast of Maine.

What the writers of the IPCC report didn’t know about an ignoramus like myself was that I’d been fascinated by Vikings since I was six years old, when my father took me to a strange structure by the banks of the Charles River near Boston called “Norembega Tower”.

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The structure was erected by a crackpot named Eben Horsford, who likely did more to confuse the history of Vikings than to clarify it, but Norembega Tower did (along with my father) open my eyes to the mysterious history of New England before the Mayflower.

Between 1959 and 2002 I’d had 43 years to poke about, as a hobby, because I was curious. I should add I was 21 years old before I left the vicinity of Norembega Tower, and that involved boyhood and adolescence, (wherein one pokes and snoops in improper ways and in improper places). I could go on for pages about the odd lore I learned about that area, the pictographs; the peculiar copper objects plowed up in fields and used as scrap metal; the lore early Puritans learned from the final survivors of the Massachusetts tribe. It was so fascinating and engrossing that I continued to seize upon every article I could find, every obscure book I could pour through. (One thing about failed-writers like myself is that, when we are broke and weather gets cold, a warm place to hang out is a town’s public library, and, if you have to hang out there rather than with babes in a nightclub, you might as well read books about Vikings.)

To cut a 500-page-story short, by 2002 I had collected a lot of trivia pertaining to Vikings. I kept no notes, any more than a sports fan keeps notes. It was a hobby, interesting to me but, I assumed, not to many others. It was like a grandmother’s clutter, quite interesting stuff, if you have the time to visit and ask questions and listen to the answers, but about as useful as your uncle’s collection of butterflies, when it came to paying my bills.

I knew so much trivia about Vikings that it was instantly obvious to me that the IPCC report was attempting to “erase the Medieval Warm Period”, because it was at variance to everything I had ever learned about Greenland‘s Vikings.

Initially I supposed some stupendous discovery lay behind the change to the history books. After all, the Piltdown Skull was only exposed as a hoax the year I was born, and older textbooks I poured through as a child still regarded it as authentic. The theory of Continental Drift exploded onto the scene during the 1960’s, so I knew fresh discoveries could rewrite geology books. However there were no fresh discoveries in the IPCC report, concerning Vikings. There was only the willful ignoring of knowledge that already existed.

I think being tested sometimes clarifies things. For example, one time when I was young I was stating pacifism was a good thing, and my older brother responded that pacifists were weenies, so I took a swing at his jaw. I flunked that test. In like manner, if you want to test how patient, tolerant and kind Christians are, light up a cigarette in church. In 2002 I discovered a good way to see how liberal so-called liberals actually were was to criticize the IPCC report. One was able to quickly ascertain whether a person was a screamer or not. As far as I was concerned, many liberals flunked liberalism.

As much as I liked the attention I got, I found the web a lonely place at first. In 2002 there were no sites like “Climate Audit,” “Watts Up With That,” or “Real Climate Science,“ and the sites I did find tended to be increasingly “disappearing” the Medieval Warm Period. I found it unnerving. Perhaps it was not as bad as actual people being “disappeared”, as happened in Argentina in the late 1970‘s and early 1980‘s, but it was creepy all the same, especially when I seemed to be the only one noticing.

It is when you are alone that the self-doubt sets in. It’s unpleasant, but probably a good thing, because if you don’t wonder if you are deluded, every now and again, then you probably are. Fortunately I’d been toughened up by rejection slips and, even tougher, the rejections of beautiful women, and had survived miserable moments which didn’t seem momentary at the time. Now I was unexpectedly a married man with a small business. What did I care if fools wanted to disappear the Medieval Warm Period? Yet I did care. Not only was a 500-year-long tale and mystery being forgotten, but the hard work of many scientists was being relegated to what Trotsky called “The dustbin of history.”

In order to survive the sense of being marginalized I reached into my bag of tricks, for ego-bolstering gadgets I’d used as an unsuccessful writer and a no-no-sexual. For example, it helps to tell yourself you aren’t the first to be laughed-at: There were people who stated that the Piltdown skull was made of two skulls joined together at the time of its discovery, who were scorned, and informed they were “merely jealous.” In like manner Alfred Wegener was not the first to be ignored for suggesting continents drifted. The applause of the politically correct is not the true measure of true correctness. Paul Simon traced a truth when he sang:

“Such are promises: All lies and jest,
But a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”

Therefore I was prepared to hold my beliefs firmly, without being agreed with, but then came the delight of discovering I wasn’t the only one noticing the Medieval Warm Period being disappeared. Besides screamers, I met thinkers on the web. They directed me to John L. Daly’s website, “Still Waiting For Greenhouse”, and my delight increased.

In some ways I was slow to catch on to what was occurring. Dawn broke slowly on Marblehead. I initially had the naïve belief that scientists were not corruptible, as if the whiteness of a lab-coat signified sainthood. Mistakes might be made, but certainly not on purpose. Words beginning with the “F” sound, such as “fake”, “fudged”, “phony,” and “fraud”, were not to be used. But then, with a slowly growing sense of incredulity, cracks in the facade of the so-called “consensus” began to appear. Sites like Climate Audit popped up overnight, as miraculous as mushrooms, and, due to the tedious and painstaking work of men like McIntyre and Mckitrick, good, old-fashioned, liberal dialog occurred.

Personally, much of their math was above my head, but I do have a good nose for the reek of politics, and the stink of corruption was increasingly palpable. Event followed event, from the marginalization and de-funding of honest scientists like William Gray to the bloated, incorrect pontifications of Al Gore to the corruption of Wikipedia by William Connolley through the hockey stick debacle of Michael Mann and on to Climategate, until a person would have to be a complete moron not to smell a rat, it seemed to me, yet still the screamers behaved like see-no-evil monkeys. Increasingly they were like monkeys that screamed at you, but back before Climategate there were still a few who would try to explain their delusions in a articulate, civil and humane manner. (God bless them.)

Their explanations always seemed to involve petty details about whether minimum-maximum thermometers were reset at noon or at sunset, or some such quibble, and this quibble was then put into a computer and blended at the puree-setting, and in the end a sludge was extruded that suggested it was warmer now than in the Dust Bowl. I confess I simply didn’t have the patience and stamina of people like McIntyre and Mckitrick, who could follow them step by step through the quibble and “keep their eye on the pea.”

But why bother? I’d known old men who actually lived in Kansas and Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl, and who had fought to avoid becoming dispossessed Okies, and who won the battle, and kept their farms, at a time 2.5 million fled the parched landscape as refugees. The tales they told left absolutely no doubt. No modern heat-wave comes close to what they experienced. Where we whimper about the electrical bills our air conditioners run up, when a heat wave has a few days above a hundred, they experienced day after day with temperatures well above 110 degrees, with no rain, and with dust everywhere, even inside the icebox, and with static electricity so bad that men stopped shaking hands and cars dragged grounding-chains so the vehicle’s spark plugs would work correctly. Anyone who thinks it is hotter now than in the 1930’s is not merely a moron. They are dead wrong.

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I mean, does it really matter all that much whether you are reading thermometers at noon or sunset, when the maximum, registered automatically, rarely is above 110° now, but was above 110° day after day, summer after summer, in the mid 1930’s? Do you have any idea what those people endured, without air conditioners? Are you trying to say they exaggerated, and were liars when they noted down the temperatures at their weather stations? Do you think it makes you look tougher than they were, to say it is hotter now? You’re an idiot.

It should now be obvious to you that I had (and have) a tendency to scream at the screamers. It has been my downfall ever since I attempted to slug my brother for saying pacifists were weenies. In fact the first time I ever had a comment “disappeared” from a website was not at an Alarmist website, (because I almost never commented there). Rather it was at Climate Audit, where I told Steve McIntyre he was too nice, because the people he was dealing with were….and then I used a lot of words beginning with the “F” sound.

Being disappeared from Climate Audit made me stop and think. The experience was as crushing as a rejection slip. But it came from someone I respected far more than the publishers who rejected my writing. After due consideration, I decided it probably was unwise to scream at the screamers.

I also decided that, to avoid screaming, I should avoid getting in over my head. I should avoid anything resembling Math class. I should avoid anything involving computer code. I should avoid anything that quibbled about when thermometers were read. Rather I should stick with what the thermometers read. I should stick with the bare knuckled stuff, the stuff that people who work outside actually experience.

For, when you think of it, the Vikings of Greenland had no computers. They had no maximum-minimum thermometers, so they didn’t have to worry about whether to read them at noon or at sunset. But they did have to survive, and in doing so they did stuff we can’t. They plowed fields where we can’t. They raised 2000 cattle and 100,000 goats and sheep where we can’t. They supplied hay in winter for these herds where we can’t. They supplied water for these vast herds, in the dead of winter where everything now freezes, where we can’t. And when they died, they were buried in graves where we would need a jackhammer to penetrate the permafrost. Most amazing of all, they were able to do all these things we can’t do, even though it was colder then than it is now.

Bwah-ha-ha! Do you see how diabolical I’m being? I’m avoiding all arguments with Michael Mann, ducking all his dweebie computer codes and math, for I’m agreeing that his malarkey-conclusions are correct. I’m facetiously saying indeed it was colder back then. But this makes the Vikings look even more amazing then they already looked, back before the Medieval Warm Period got erased. Where Herbert Lamb explained how the Medieval Warm Period made the Viking’s amazing achievements possible, Michael Mann’s revisionist history makes Vikings look superhuman.

In essence Michal Mann has proven that, if you leave Vikings alone, they can do superhuman stuff. This makes him a libertarian. The progressives will begin to regard him with deep suspicion, and start to consider sending him to a gulag to be reeducated.

(Bwah-ha-ha! Perhaps this is not called “science“. Perhaps it’s called “revenge“.)

Leaving Michael Mann to stew in his own juices freed me to compile some bare knuckled stuff of my own. I had to compile, because it had become obvious to me, when dealing with screamers in various chat rooms, that I was unarmed. There was a weapon used called “the link.” It wasn’t enough to simply say, “Look, buddy, I’ve spent 43 years studying Vikings, and what you are saying is horns-waggle.” They would demand a link, preferably to a peer-reviewed study. And then they would hit me with a link, usually to an IPCC study, which wasn’t very fair, for my pathetic computer would freeze up when I tried to download the massive things. Often I had to resort to trickery, typing something like, “Which point are you referring to? Please clip and paste.” In this way I didn’t have to read the whole damn IPCC report, but just got significant punch-lines. Somewhat accidentally, this turned out to be an important phase in dealing with screamers: Move the discussion from the general to the specific.

No one seemed very interested in what I had learned in 43 years of browsing. I knew trivia that might have lifted their eyebrows to their hairlines, but they were more interested in telling me I was wrong. Therefore I developed the strategy of asking questions, (even though I privately thought I knew it all, and they were the ignoramuses). This strategy turned out to be smart, for I not only learned I don’t know it all, and learned new trivia, but also it turned out that asking questions was a great way to move the subject from the general to the specific.

Once the subject became specific, another wonderful phenomenon might occur. A lurker in the chat room would get tired of watching me ask questions, and seeing me be lectured by a screamer, and they’d become exasperated. They would interrupt, in a sense shoving me aside and challenging the screamer with specific rebuttals, including the all-important “links”. This allowed me sit back and be lazy, and to check out both Alarmist links and Skeptic links at my own leisure.

The best discussions involved Alarmists who were only screamers part of the time, and had a streak of old-fashioned liberalism. Part of the time they allowed you get a word in edgewise. Battles of links occurred, not on a general level but a specific level, and, because things were discussed on a specific level, point by point various things asserted in the IPCC report’s conclusions were rebutted.

This could not happen in chat rooms that were too rigorously moderated. Strict moderators were too prone to “disappear” opposing views, leaving a situation that resembled parrots in an echo chamber. However, without moderation, things could deteriorate swiftly to a barroom brawl, unless the people in the barroom supplied some moderation of their own. Occasionally one could chance upon such a barroom. Occasionally one bumbled into a chat room where people were less concerned with “winning”, and were just plain curious.

For a short period of time in 2005 and 2006, one such place I found was the Accuweather Global Warming chat room. Initially it did resemble a barroom, for initially the moderator Brett Anderson was like a permissive parent, and allowed the children to run wild. However, in one of those rare moments when humanity behaves sanely, the people in the barroom moderated themselves, slightly, at least some of the time, and there was old-fashioned liberal debate, with people actually displaying curiosity about another’s views, and actually learning, (and all sorts of links flying to and fro).

The best exchanges were between an Alarmist who called himself “Brookline Tom” and a Skeptic who called himself “Patrick Henry”. They could be very rude to each other, but were rude with wit that made me laugh, and also they had the decency to supply links to each other to make their points. Consequently a great deal of learning occurred. Sadly the moderation at the site became far more strict in 2007, both were eventually banned, and then the learning ceased.

It might be fun at some point to dig up the old transcripts of that site, during its rowdier period, so people could see what it looks like to have a positive debate despite uproars, where learning occurs and one sees a movement forward. One thing I have noticed about some so-called “progressives” is that they don’t like such progress. Some believe debate involves out-screaming ones opponant. They don’t want to learn, and say things such as “the science is settled”, which are a stumbling block to learning anything new.

“The science is settled” accepts the presupposition that there is nothing left to learn. I don’t like the idea because it is, above all, very boring. It also suggests we were born with voices due to some sort of evolutionary mistake. While some husbands might grant that evolution made a mistake to give their wives voices, for the most part we recognize that we have voices for a positive reason. At the very least we are suppose to alert each other to unseen dangers, so adjustments can be made. Even the most despotic captain will have a sailor at the bow of the boat to alert him to hidden reefs and floating debris; a government without such feedback is like a ship without a tiller to change course with, heading steadfastly for a reef. Feedback is necessary to change course, and the necessary feedback often manifests as debate.

There are situations where the turning of the tide creates swirls in the entrance of harbors that look all the world like surf breaking on a shallow bar, though the water is in fact deep. There are also situations where a dredged channel at the entrance of a harbor is filled-in by storm, and a new sandbar abruptly appears where charts state the channel is safe. In truth the only changeless thing is change itself, and the captain who relies too much on any sort of autopilot, (and “the science is settled” is an autopilot), is liable to see his ship become an Exxon Valdez.

Anyway, if “the science was settled” there would have been no need for revisions of the IPCC reports. The very fact there were revisions either indicated a culprit was changing his alibi, or it proved the science wasn’t settled after all. Differences between the body of the report and the “Summary for Policymakers” were also unsettling. Furthermore, even if one accepted the idea of “95% confidence,” that also allowed for 5% doubt. Lastly, a lot of the “science” was the nitpicking monkeying-around that drives me to the verge of being a screamer, and who wants that?

I was far more comfortable in the bare knuckled world of the outdoors, and it became fairly obvious to me, early on, that screamers in the Global Warming debates were not all that familiar with the outdoors. This seemed odd to me, considering “climate” is not an indoors thing. So I asked lots of polite questions. I discovered that a few screamers had been on “field studies” as interns, and, when prodded, tended to wax romantically and even to miss the experience. However for most screamers such study was an experience of their youth, all but forgotten in their myopic concentration on flickering computer screens. And for others, screens was all they has ever known. They spoke of tree rings, but had never chainsawed a tree in their life. Their view of the sea was a satellite view. They didn’t know the sea a fisherman knows.

I recognized this put me at an advantage, for I had spent time at sea, in boats big and small, and had cut lumber and scanned tree rings, and worked on farms. Furthermore, I has met and talked with men who had spent far more time at sea than I had, cut and milled far more lumber than I had, and farmed far longer and more successfully than I ever dreamed of farming, and such people impart a wealth of knowledge, though not called professors. Lastly, one rule I had hammered into my head as a young writer was that you should not write about things you don’t know about, for, if you do, you risk looking like a fool.

Just as an example, I had some book-learning about buffalo, but no actual experience of how powerful they are until I saw a herd approach a road at Yellowstone Park. Traffic stopped and tourists busily clicked pictures, blissfully unaware they had created a bumper-to-bumper roadblock for the buffalo. A big bull then shifted a few cars and the herd crossed the road. This impressed me with how strong buffalo are, for I’d never seen cows shift cars like that, but then, the same summer, a tough cowboy down on the Arizona-New Mexico border informed me, (not really asking), that I was going to help him pick up a couple of buffalo and move them to a pasture beside his tourist-trap, as they would persuade tourists to stop. We had to transport them fifteen miles. To cut a long story short, the horse-trailer began with a square shape and when we off-loaded the buffalo it was a rounded horse-trailer. I received no college credits, but I think I know more about the strength of buffalo than people who have studied environmentalism in college, and who sometimes presume to lecture me.

The worst of such people honestly could not tell a buffalo from a musk ox, but are far too big for their britches. They are as foolish as a young no-no-sexual thinking he has a clue about monogamous marriage, and, because I have been that foolish, rather than telling buffalo-experts they do not know their ass from their elbow, I ask a question. In this example the question might be, “Have you ever moved two buffalo fifteen miles in a horse trailer?” How they respond will tell you a lot. If they show interest then there is hope, for they may be a true student. If they get huffy, and lift their nose, and sneer, then there is little hope they are anything but a dyed-in-the-wool screamer.

Despite the fact my temper occasionally ruins things, for the most part I have been a good student, for I have discovered others have done things I simply haven’t found the time to do. I may have moved a buffalo, but have never yet moved a yak, and therefore ,if I met someone who casually mentioned they’d moved a yak, I’d be all ears, and ask all sorts of follow-up questions.

I think I became a good interviewer because in my youth hitchhiking was a great form of public transportation, and this involved being picked up by total strangers, and it was only polite to ask polite questions. However I soon moved beyond mere politeness. Because I hitchhiked long distances, for example from Boston to Montreal or Florida, I had some long conversations, and heard some tales which were amazing. A man might have returned from Vietnam years earlier and, during a long drive into the night, chose to unload a tale he hadn’t even told his wife. I got the feeling most people live lives which are humdrum 95% of the time, but all have a 5% that is so mind-blowing that they deserve to be listened to. To call people “sheeple” is to miss something beautiful. It is like missing the most spectacular sunset in ten years, because you are engrossed with your cellphone, or contemplating your navel.

Though times have changed and hitchhiking is no longer the option it once was, I find I now have the same experience by studying history. 95% of history may be banal and boring, but 5% is astounding. I think this may have been what attracted me to Vikings in the first place. Their strange idea of heaven let them dare do stuff I‘d never dare. The more I looked the more I was amazed. Who were the “Rus” of Russia? Vikings. Who guarded the final Roman emperors of the Byzantine Empire? Vikings. Who were the Normans who conquered Saxon England? Vikings. Why is Northern Ireland different from Ireland? Vikings. What made the common law of Yorkshire different from southern England’s, (Daneslaw), and contributed to the independence of the dukes up there, and thus was part of what sparked the Magna Carta? Vikings. Who colonized Greenland successfully, for twice as long as the United States has existed? Vikings.

The Vikings are not the only ones who step outside the dull norm, and dare to be great. History has all sorts of examples of adventurers, both winners and losers. And it just so happens that some of these adventurers visited Greenland, and the arctic. Now that I’m too old to go to sea, (or to hitchhike for that matter), I hitchhike in a different way. There are so many great tales; so many great journeys to join.

Somewhat accidentally, if you go on these adventures with bygone men, you learn about sea-ice conditions. This enables you to recognize certain “reconstructions” of past sea-ice situations are just plain silly, for there is no way the adventurers could have sailed where they sailed without open water. (For a sailing ship could be halted by as little as an inch of sea-ice.)

For example, I never set out to learn the sea-ice conditions in Hudson Bay in the years 1610 through 1614. I just did some armchair-hitchhiking, and traveled up that way with Henry Hudson aboard the Discovery. I shared their joy as they came through Hudson Strait and headed south in Hudson Bay, thinking they were in the Pacific. I understood their dismay when they found no warmer lands, and became trapped when ice formed in the fall, and endured the long winter ashore in James Bay. The next spring, when Henry wanted to explore onward, the crew mutinied and set him, his son, and seven loyal members of the crew adrift in a shallot. For a day Henry and his crew desperately rowed after the Discovery, but finally they faded into the distance, and Henry was never seen again.

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Two years later Thomas Button sailed the Discovery and another ship back there, searching for Henry but finding no sign of him, and continuing on to explore the west coast of Hudson Bay and perhaps up the Nelson River to Lake Winnipeg. They spent a winter frozen in at the mouth of the Nelson River, and then continued north up the west coast, searching for a route to the Pacific. The sea-ice was bad enough to cost them their second ship, the Resolution, and in September they headed back to England.

Now imagine, if you will, I am in a chat room on line and meet a young whippersnapper who is convinced we are now experiencing “unprecedented” melting at the Pole, and he directs me to a link that shows far more sea-ice in the past, and this link suggests Hudson Bay was inaccessible because Hudson Strait was frozen up during the Little Ice Age. Can you blame me for asking a little question? Namely, “How did Henry Hudson and Thomas Button get in there, if the strait was frozen?” Sometimes even a simple question like this can start the screaming, and get me called “a denier”.

It’s a pity, because screamers miss so many cool stories. For example, Luke Foxe battled sea-ice to enter the Bay through Hudson Strait in 1631, and explored down the west coast of the Bay, and what does he discover? Another Englishman, named Thomas James. (There is an interesting sidetrack here, about the rivalry and competition between the merchants of London and the merchants of Bristol, but I must try to keep on track.)

All these tales drifted about in my head during the last century, and people had a tenancy to roll their eyes when I shared what I knew. They dismissed me as a sailor spinning yarns, especially if they deemed themselves more educated than me. It is sad but true that education makes some people stupid. (In 1974 I witnessed an old lobster-man try to tell a oceanography student about the AMO, twenty years before it was officially discovered, and I’ll never forget how smug and condescending the young man was.) But one of the wonders of the internet is that you can search and find links. (Of course, one can always assume the link might be to a fraud, and sometimes they are.) But for what its worth, here’s a link to the meeting of Luke Foxe and Thomas James in Hudson Bay in August, 1631:

A lot of the adventuring I read about was prompted by the greed of merchants, and their hope to get rich quick. The French had monopoly on the fur trade, but two Frenchmen had heard there were rich lands, in terms of fur, up towards Hudson Bay. The French governor didn’t want power shifting away from the Saint Lawrence River, and forbid them from exploring, and when they headed north anyway, and returned with heaps of furs, the governor confiscated the furs. Bad move. The two men headed straight to Boston to stir up the greed of merchants there. That is how we know Hudson Strait was choked with sea-ice in 1663. The voyage up from Boston couldn’t get into Hudson Bay. The Boston merchants had invested in a “bad risk”. Then the two Frenchmen headed off to London, the Nonsuch sailed in 1668, and that is how we know Hudson Strait was open in 1668, for 1668 marked the establishment of the first post of the Hudson Bay Company, (and also of a hundred years of war with France in Canada, because the French didn’t want the English butting in to their fur monopoly).

In any case, my point is that sea-ice was never the focus of my armchair-hitchhiking. I simply couldn’t afford a yacht, because I never had a million-seller, and therefore had to go on vicarious adventures, sitting in public libraries to stay warm, or, when slightly better off, sitting in taverns with fishermen.

The college-educated tended to sniff and discredit many tales as “mere lore”, and to refuse to speculate without actual artifacts. But things did happen without leaving much of a trace. Even when they left a trace the trace might get bulldozed. For example, not far from Norumbega Tower there was a sandy field that had never been plowed, because it was deemed too sterile to be more than pasture. Yet the Massachusetts tribe had figured out how to use it to grow corn. They scraped the topsoil together into mounds, gathered herring from the Charles River, and stuck a herring in each mound. The lumps were still faintly visible in that pasture when my father was a boy. Now it is a parking lot. The proof is gone. That evidence has entered the world of lore, and stuffy archaeologists refuse to accept lore.

(I discovered there is actually a way to get stuffy archaeologists to speculate. Buy them a beer, and then another, and then another. Then you may see their eyes get dreamy, and learn some interesting lore, but the next morning you’ll find them cross, hung-over, and again dismissive.)

The further back you get in time towards the Vikings of Greenland the more you enter the landscape of lore. One reason for this is that merchants back then were secretive. You stood to have your goods confiscated if the government found out you didn’t have the proper permits. The Greenland Vikings were great traders, but towards the end faced taxes imposed by the King of Norway, the Hanseatic League, and the Pope. One could hardly blame them if they vanished from the official records and lived as smugglers.

Also one trade item of that time was human beings. Ships could swoop into coastal towns and snatch up people who didn’t run fast enough. This didn’t merely occur in Africa; there were over a million white slaves, in Muslim lands and even among rich Christians. In fact some theorize that may have been the end of the final Greenland Vikings. Pirates swooped in and they were swept off to the Mediterrean, which might have been a blessing in disguise. Most of their livestock had been killed by cold, and as slaves they might have even been better fed. Certainly they would have been warmer.

Also just as certainly such an act of piracy and enslavement would be talked about in waterfront taverns. There is all sorts of speculation about the coincidence of having two Italians, Christopher Columbus and John Cabot, both become interested in lands across the Atlantic, and in sailing west, at the same time. (John Cabot is also recorded as transporting at least one slave from Egypt and selling the slave in Crete.) They were both experienced traders and travelers, and both visited Bristol, where there was lore that men crossed the Atlantic in the 1470’s, (but no evidence).

The only evidence of cross-Atlantic-voyages that we have involves men who sought royal sponsors, and thus are men who still exist to this day, in yellowed parchments. It is likely there were other sailors who preferred to remain unknown, but, (unless you know how crazy sailors can be,) such likelihood is dismissed as “unfounded”. Adding to all the mystery is that John Cabot’s third and final voyage was funded by England but aimed into western lands the Pope had officially given to Spain, and there is no record of any return. In fact the textbooks of my youth stated Cabot had “died at sea”. Lore speculated otherwise, fueled by a map of that time which shows the east coast of North America despite the fact we have no official record of any explorer sailing that coast. The lore suggests the return of Cabot’s third voyage was top-secret, and that other top-secret voyages also occurred, with other captains. Why should things be so hush-hush? Well, Spain had it’s spies. And we do have a yellowed letter from a (perhaps traitorous) Englishman to Christopher Columbus, describing what John Cabot was up to before he left on his third voyage.

During my youth the only way to look at rare books and yellowed documents was to travel to far away places and get permission to see them. Most history came through a sort of filter, as the person who actually could afford to travel and look at ancient papers had to decide what trivia was important and what could be discarded. Different viewers would seize upon different items as important, and this led to all sorts of interesting variations stemming from what was in some cases the exact same documents. In other cases the inclusion of a single scrap of new, yellowed information resulted on a whole new take on what had occurred in the mists of the past.

Now such documents are scanned and made available on the web, and a person can, without leaving their chair, accomplish research in an hour that would have formerly taken thousands of miles of travel and years of effort. It is wonderful, even if it seems to stimulate as much wild speculation as it puts to rest.

One thing I greatly enjoy is to see some fragment of lore, which I was told was ridiculous to even consider, emerge and become, if not fact, at least plausible. For example, due to a yellowed letter of King Henry VII being discovered and published in 2007, an explorer named William Weston now “might“ have explored up to the mouth of Hudson Bay in 1499. He didn’t even exist, as an explorer, fifteen years ago. Not that his journey is an established fact, but it does suggest I wasn’t a complete dope to listen to lore and entertain hypotheses. And it is always reassuring to learn you not a complete dope.

Which is what the screamers do: Call people complete dopes. They completely close down a conversation, refusing to even entertain a new idea. I am at a loss to explain why anyone would want to be so narrow. But this narrowness seems to be important to understand, because, (to me at least), it seems screaming is becoming more and more commonplace.

I can only conclude there is a great dread of being “wrong”. A differing view is seen as a terrible threat, as if mankind’s Universal Mind is a one-party-system and all dissidents must be sent to a gulag to be reeducated. You had better be “right”, because the alternative is dreadful.

Oddest is that the very people who hold this narrow view pay lip-service to the idea of “respecting diversity”. Under examination, however, this “respect” entails never stating your personal view, because it might offend a differing view. It is a preposterous commandment. How can one be honoring difference, if one isn’t allowed to differ?

The escape from this downward spiral of fear is to stop being afraid of being wrong. Instead demonstrate it is good fun to be wrong. How? By showing that every time you see you were wrong you are opening your eyes to something new, something enlightening. It is actually pleasant to have a light bulb go off in your head.

This should also be the case when correcting another. You are not clobbering them over the head by calling them a complete dope. Reeducation shouldn’t involve the pain and penalties of a gulag. Rather it is enlightenment. (This was the idea behind the old liberalism, that now seems so forgotten).

Therefore, when faced with some rabid Alarmist who is utterly freaking out about the sight of melt-water pools on arctic sea-ice, I don’t tell them they are are a complete dope, for, even if they are 99.99% a dope, that is not a complete dope.  There’s a little bit of God in everyone, even if it is only .01%, and you don’t want to tread on God.

Another word for “a dope” is “ignorant”, and we are all ignorant about some things. The best way to deal with ignorance is to arrest it with enlightenment. Ask questions, even if you are fairly sure of what they’ll answer. Ask them, “What’s so alarming about a melt-water pool?” Find out what the starting point is, and move on from there, keeping the emphasis on wonderment. For example, if they are stressing that melt-water pools are a new phenomenon, ask, “I wonder what caused the melt-water pool on the DC-3 runway on Fletcher’s Ice Island in 1959?” And don’t be snide about it. Ask as if you really want to hear, and wait patiently for what they come up with. It could be interesting.

Of course, some will never want to admit they never heard of Fletcher’s Ice Island, which is fun to watch, but there will be a few who will inquire, “What was Fletcher’s Ice Island?” Then you must seize the chance to tell a good tale of arctic adventure.

Make your eyes very round, and describe how crazy the pilots were, landing aircraft with no landing lights and terrible visibility and deplorable navigation aids. Tell of the first airplane to land at the Pole in March 1952, and how this national heritage artifact crashed on Fletcher’s Ice Island in November the same year.

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Don’t forget to tell how the men on Fletcher’s Ice Island could only be supplied by airdrops in the summer, when the ice grew too slushy for landings, or about the time the generator failed and they all faced freezing to death as they frantically rebuilt it. You might mention the one murder, and also the complete chaos that descended another time, when two women were sent to the Island for a while and a multitude of men fell in love with them all at once. A lot happened between 1952 and 1978. And lastly, while your at it, you might casually drop a link to a scientific paper written in 1952 indicating plenty of summer melting occurred back then. Fletcher’s Ice Island had lakes and flowing streams (and gravel and a set of caribou antlers.)

The point of all this is to show that learning something new doesn’t need to involve a gulag. It can be filled with wonder and amazement. The arctic involves amazing tales of survival. I could tell fifty, but, as I am at risk of becoming far too long-winded, allow me to conclude with unseemly haste.

Members of the 1871 Polaris expedition saw their captain murdered, and then were abandoned on an ice flow, and drifted from Nares Strait 1800 miles to off the coast of Labrador, where they were rescued by a sealing ship. Not only does this teach about the tenacity of the human spirit, but teaches about the drift of sea-ice in Baffin Bay.

In like manner, the attempt of Nansen during 1893-96 to reach the Pole is an epic. (Blue line: Drift of the ship Fram locked in sea-ice. Green Line: Nansen and Johanson’s journey by sledge and kayak.)

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There are lessons in failure as well. Three men died attempting to reach the Pole by balloon in 1897, yet we have film and records of their effort, discovered with their corpses on an Arctic island in 1930.

Screamers 4 Eagle-crashed

Of course, despite all the wonders one can see as a hitchhiker through history, some sour pusses prefer screaming, to being enlightened. With these, there is a final thing you can try as a last resort. Gently take their hand, pat it, and quietly say, “You are very sensitive, aren’t you?” You’d be surprised at the responses you might get. Some become bashful, and say, “aw shucks”, while other can abruptly burst into tears.

And also, of course, some still insist upon screaming. You can’t win them all.

However, as I look around this increasingly demented world, it seems wise to be completely out of the ordinary, as the Vikings were when they first appeared. Back then, what was “ordinary” and was deemed “politically correct” was for monks to collect loot as “donations” and to stash it in monasteries that held fabulous wealth. No peasants seemed to even think of objecting, or of stating such a society was not what Jesus proposed. Then along came the Vikings, and stated heaven was a rowdy, non-stop battle called Valhalla, and they looted the loot in monasteries. The Viking idea of heaven was utterly incorrect, according to the monks, but the Vikings didn’t care.

Currently it seems to be the idea of some, and even to be their “heaven”, to scream at any who differ, and then to seek to send them to a gulag for reeducation. Like a Viking, I don’t care what their idea of heaven is. I will march into their monasteries of screeching, and devastate them with the ways of wonder.


ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ice-boating Polewards–(Updated)

In my last post I touched upon the state of enchantment brought on by the sea. Bankers likely deem it a form of mental illness, but I hold that Bankers are the true sickos.  They cling to cold gold and call it “securities”, but there’s no way to keep death from knocking someday on your door, and then bankers will see just how secure they actually are. The bankers who make lots of other people insecure in their attempts to be “safe” themselves will then face a day of reckoning, like a sailor facing a storm at sea, and the form of enchantment they then experience will between them and God. But, for now, they can’t even imagine such a  world, unshackled by deeds and mortgages, exists. But sailors can, and it draws them out to sea, where there are no fences; out over swells into situations that many would shake their heads at, seeing only discomfort.

One such adventurer is named Sebastien Roubiret, who has taken it into his head that it would be fun to sail over the North Pole, from Barrow, Alaska to Svalbard in the North Atlantic.

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At some point Sebastien must have noticed that an iceboat that skims over frozen lakes is similar in shape to a water-skimming catamaran, for he has worked very hard creating a craft that does both.

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He traversed the Northwest Passage in 2007, in a trimaran  with no engine, which may have been the first time the Passage was made by sail alone. Then he attempted to cross the pole in 2011, an attempt aborted by various structural weakness, which he likely learned from.Then perhaps encouraged by the low-ice year of 2012, he and a friend named  Vincent attempted to cross the Pole in 2013, and swiftly learned sea-ice isn’t flat.


There often are pressure ridges parallel to the coast of Alaska, formed by the ice crushing against that coast. Sometimes (like this year) they remain right against the coast, but other years they can be blown many miles north, while retaining their structure. In either case they present formidable obstacles, and were described by one man skiing to the Pole as “crazy ice.” Once past these mini-mountain-ranges the ice tends to be flatter, but Sebastian had to battle to get north, often making more progress due to the eastward-drifting Beaufort Gyre than northwards, due to their own efforts.

Iceboat 4 photo 26 juillet 2013

Whatever you may say about the sanity of such adventurers, they do serve as on-the-scene reporters, and innocently describe things which flummox both Alarmist and Skeptics alike. No satellite could see the 50°F (+10C°) temperatures they experienced in the middle of thick and very dirty ice, one day.

Iceboat 5 photo 20 juillet 2013

The dirtiness of the ice, so far from shore, sparked interesting debate, largely between those who thought it was pollution from Chinese power plants and those who felt it was volcanic ash. However a new idea arose that it was algae that grows on the bottom of the ice, incorporated into ice when it freezes and thickens in the fall, and concentrated when ice melts and becomes multi-year ice., and sometimes brought to the top of the ice when ice is flipped like a pancake by storms. It did seem to so darken the ice that more sunshine was absorbed and local temperatures were higher, but there was some consternation among Alarmists in 2013 because, despite all this surface heat, the ice was refusing to melt in the manner they expected. Likely the big storm in 2012 used up and disturbed all the slightly warmer water in the pyctocline, and the water under the ice was colder, but whatever the cause was, the sea-ice refused to melt in 2013 as many Alarmists had confidently forecast.

As August passed the boat struggled north, making better time on flatter ice, as much as 35 miles in one day, but temperatures drop rapidly in August, and hoarfrost grew on the boom and rigging.

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They continued to battle north. As I watched the big gale of 2013 brew up, and saw it fail to melt ice in the manner of the 2012 gale, and typed comments from my cozy computer, they were out in that gale. They struggled on as temperatures dropped below zero (-17°C) in early September, passing 82°N latitude,

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But finally they had to give up and accept an ignominious rescue from the Russian icebreaker Admiral Makarov.

Iceboat 7 photo 8 septembre 2013

The log of their 2013 attempt (in french) can be found here:

If you think that adventure would be enough for any man, you don’t know sailors. Sebastien got to work crowd-sourcing, and finding sponsors (such as the makers of the solar panels on the side of the boat, and the people advertising on the sails), and worked on a new and improved craft, and this time he found two crewmates willing to go on an adventure.

Like last time, the ice is worse than the year before, with sea-ice right up against the shore in Alaska. (2017 left, 2018 right)



Again they’ve had to battle through pressure ridges to find flatter ice.

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Again they’ve experienced summer warmth that will be good publicity for those who wish to promote the idea of Global Warming.

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Above is a great publicity shot for Alarmists. Not that Sebastien has bought into all that. He’s been dealing with the arctic at least since 2007, and likely knows there is more sea-ice this year than there was in 2007.

I just pray those fellows don’t get too cavalier about the dangers they are midst. Just a few years back we lost two experienced scientists who were careless, skiing across ice in their long underwear on a hot day. The water under the ice is salt water, chilled below the freezing point of human blood, and a man can die in five minutes in such water. These three have described breaking through rotten ice up to their thighs. But perhaps I’m a worry wart and a party pooping old pill.

They certainly seem happy.  They are finally making some progress north over flatter ice.

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The most recent log posting seemed especially joyous.

It was not until the afternoon, after 8 miles on the ice, to begin to see darker clouds, which means that there is water below! We aim directly at the dark gray and we find … water!
it’s done in two stages: we sail on the water for a short time before returning to the ice.Then, we find the water with the fog. At this point, we are far from imagining that we will sail until late in the evening. And that’s what we do. There is almost no more ice and we are looking for fresh water to drink (water from the melt lakes on the ice). Who would have believed it ?
Tonight, we sleep above the 71 ° North and it became difficult to find a correct plate to install the camp. 
The day is not over because Seb must get to work to repair the saffron, nothing serious but it must be done!
We can not wait to be tomorrow.
The icing on the cake: we had the company of belouga and seals all day, it’s beautiful, we never get tired in the Arctic.

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Who do you suppose is richer: These young men or a banker?

(We’ll see if they’re singing the same tune a month from now, when temperatures start to plunge. But, for today, I envy them. Not that I don’t also pray for them.)

You can follow their log, in French, here:

(Hat tip: Stewart Pid)

Tuesday Night Update

They are well north of 72° latitude now, picking their way through scattered bergs, which is likely a great relief after dragging their boat over ice. (I get the feeling their craft doesn’t often coast over ice like an iceboat on a lake.)

The fact they are now boating north exposes some misconceptions we get from maps we use. Maps often show solid color for an area a boat can get through, for example, “50% ice”. That is also an area that is 50% open water. By carefully steering (and also by having a drone that can fly ahead to scout out the best routes) one can get around the bergs, and need not spend 50% of their time dragging the boat over bergs.

The “thickness” maps have several problems. First they tend to average out the thickness, so that an area that is 50% covered with 6 foot bergs will look entirely covered by ice three feet thick. An area 25% covered by 6 foot bergs will look entirely covered by ice 18 inches thick. Second, there is the constant confusion between melt-water pools and open water. I have observed melt-water pools, especially when they have black stuff on their bottoms, (soot, volcanic ash, algae, or all three), melt down until the bottom fell out and they were round windows to the deeps. Imagine how difficult it must be to determine when a pool is atop ice, and when it is open water, from miles away, up where satellites fly.

For this reason it is far better to have a “reporter on the scene.” If we can’t have our O-buoys and North Pole Camera, then we will have to settle with what we can glean from icebreakers and adventurers.

I’d also like to respond to some who seem to think the three men aboard the boat are silly tree-huggers. Wrong. Perhaps they are young and foolish, but they are aware they are at risk. They may be enjoying themselves, but it isn’t a game. Most tree-huggers don’t have encounters with 1500 pound bears, as Sebastien had in 2013.

Iceboat 13 photo 3 aout 2013

This particular bear was apparently untroubled when peppered with bird-shot, but did amble away when they shot a flare at its feet. But that is history. The point I wish to make is that Sebastien has been here before, and is well aware the halcyon days of summer are short lived. He is under no illusions about what lies ahead in September, when temperatures plunge. Currently temperatures are slightly below normal, but above freezing. But look ahead and see how they plunge in September.

DMI5 0724 meanT_2018

The DMI maps show us that already the below-freezing isotherm is becoming a little more common. Also the anomalous low pressure I’ve dubbed “Ralph” keeps attempting to knock more typical high pressure from the area. The last “Ralph” is fading into the Canadian Archipelago, but a new one is deepening and taking the same route, from East Siberia to Canada, ahead of them. While it has been assisting them with following winds, they are about to be faced with head winds.

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barneo Base Set-up Running Late–

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Alexander Orlov, wearing the bright blue shirt in the above picture of the “blessing of the 2017 Barneo expedition”, was the brains, brawn and heart of the amazing yearly event on the arctic ice, and with his wife Irena  (in white kerchief) had shouldered the burden of improving an encampment which he found to be very unsafe, (and his wife found to be very uncomfortable) when they first visited in 2002. In the above picture he shows little sign that he knew he had only five weeks to live. He completed the 2017 expedition, and completed his life.

The loss of such a crucial person undoubtedly makes it harder the following year. Usually the Barneo camp is established by the final week in March. In recent years the latest establishment of the base was March 31.

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This year is off to a late start.  Irena has had to work alone, without her husband, and there have apparently been some problems, which she doesn’t go into.

“At first we planned on starting the aerial reconnaissance in the middle of March, but there was just no way to do that, for the difficulties we met were almost inextricable. But “almost” doesn’t mean “totally”, so we still had a chance. And we didn’t lose it. Hard times are gone, and we’re basically over the hump. This night the low platform with two tractors and landing equipment is departing to Tver, together with the landing team. Tomorrow they will leave to Murmansk to prepare the first airdrop of fuel storage tanks at the Jalousie-1 point. Take a look at the tractor’s loading:”

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This is only the start of a colossal effort which will create a jetport on arctic sea-ice for a very short period of time. It boggles the mind. Mi-8 helicopters fly north to the the most northerly fuel dump on Srendy Island to refuel, and then basically fly north from there until they run out of gas. Then they land and await more gas to be airdropped to them. This first base is called “Zhalyuzi 1”. Once the helicopters have more gas, they fly on to establish a second base, called “Zhalyuzi 2”, and it is only then, after another airdrop, that they  seek to find the perfect ice-floe, “oval-shaped, detached from the surrounding sea-ice, and…at least 2 km long so that it can accommodate a 1,200 m runway and the (Barneo) camp”. (Irena’s words).

This is not the end of the effort, because in the past such oval-shaped bergs have split, and one year four separate runways had to be bulldozed, before the tourists arrived.

In the past I have been too scornful of tourists who pay what I make in a year for a three day adventure. I think I’m just jealous.

It should be stated that all this effort is not merely done for tourists. In a war-time situation Russia might need to build an airbase in a big hurry on arctic sea-ice, and the construction of Barneo is good practice. However the experience has apparently suggested to some in the Russian military that such a base might be too short-lived to be useful, except in certain contingencies in April. Therefore they are apparently toying with the idea of bigger and bigger ice-breakers, nuclear powered, approaching the size of an aircraft carrier. Once a floating-island-icebreaker, that jets can land on, is built, Barneo will become obsolete.

For safety’s sake Barneo is usually closed down, as a tourist trap, the third week in April. After that the runway might become slushy and unsuitable for jets. However I have seen evidence that the runway is not unsuitable for smaller aircraft with skis, and scientists hang out at the site well into the summer. Though all the comfortable accommodations for tourists have been disassembled and removed, a few huts remain, and there are plenty of pictures of the site where melt-water pools are evident, that were apparently taken in June, or even July, and also pictures indicating the final removal of personal is done by ice-breaker and not aircraft.

Back in 2016 a jet came down very hard on the ice. They always land hard and brake hard, in such a short landing strip. On this occasion the hard-landing didn’t even dent the sea-ice, but the the jets’s landing gear crumpled. Suddenly the Russians had a jet to remove from the pristine arctic, or they would face the wrath of Greenpeace, and also Norway. This taught me a lot about the petty politics Irina has to deal with. My observations are made here:

I think the above post may give one an inkling of the “difficulties” Irena has had to deal with this year, and why she is off to such a late start. Her late husband Alexander Orlov is likely rolling in his grave about how later the start is. However she seems cool as a cucumber and confident her staff will work with same ferocity they displayed other years, when cracks in the runways seemed to make the situation impossible.

An excellent interview of Irena by the blogger “coldartist” from March 31 appears here:

As an aside, during the interview, Irena mentions that, judging from satellite imagery, the sea-ice in the area is “pretty solid, varying from 1.82 m to 1.60 m…:”

My ears perk forward at that, for that seems a tidbit of “Real News”, as opposed to the “Fake News” one is plastered by at other sites. I pay attention to small details, and recognize sea-ice 5-6 feet thick is thicker than sea-ice 4 feet thick, which jets have landed upon in the past.  Back when the Barneo base involved the scientists who gifted us with the “North Pole Camera”, I recall the scientist who froze his fingers putting that camera in place commenting on how the ice was “only” four feet thick.

Now that fellow is no longer invited north. The funding for the “North Pole Camera” has dried up. It is not because the fellow ever stated Global Warming was in any way a fraud. Even if he didn’t drink the Kool -Aid, he gave every indication of serving it and being a loyal Alarmist. However his cameras failed to “further the narrative”.  In fact his cameras seemed to be an anathema, and a “Denier”, for the cameras failed to show the sea-ice melting away.

In like manner, the funding for the O-buoy cameras has dried up. Why? Perhaps they too failed to “further the narrative”. Surely I sound paranoid, but it just seems odd to me that a few years ago we had many cameras scanning the sea-ice, and now we have none.

Now, if we are to continue to use our own eyes, and see what the sea-ice actually looks like, and to compare it with various “interpretations” derived from satellites, it depends on a woman named Irena. Also it depends on rich tourists, who want to spend at least $25,000 for a three day vacation, seeing for themselves what the sea-ice looks like, and that it hasn’t melted away, and that jets can actually land on it in April.

To me it seems a tragic state of affairs that we must depend on rich tourists to post on Facebook, to see the Truth, whereas those we once trusted to tell the Truth, (including even the Pope himself), seem more inclined towards the balderdash called “being politically correct”. To some it is more important to appear correct than to be correct.

If you are depressed, I don’t blame you. It is a very depressing state of affairs we live midst. But, if you hunger for the Truth about sea-ice, continue to use your eyes. Unless the blinders become complete, there will be evidence available. And, even if the politically correct make the blinders complete, and the Barneo base no longer reports actual conditions, continue to stand by the Truth. For then Truth will stand by you.

In other words, stay tuned.










LOCAL VIEW –Moody Monday–

Moody 1 FullSizeRender

Sometimes the weekend is too short. I’m not ready for the sheer inanity of my fellow man when Monday rolls around.

I’ve been in an on-line discussion with someone about sea-ice. It has been frustrating because he or she will not talk about the things my eyes can see and that I can point to, but instead resorts to invisible things sensed by satellites, such as “mass-balance.” Finally I gave up trying to show what eyes can see, and basically stated, “Be that way, if you want.” I thought that would be the end of it, but this morning I got this lovely note:

“Caleb, you should be aware by know that the Heartland institute support whatever fake science industry pays them to support. This includes lobbying and generating doubt against regulations on CO2 emissions, ozone-destroying chemicals, second-hand-smoke, endangered species etc. They are part of the paid anti-science forces in the US. You are truly living in a conservative bubble if you are not aware of this. And Fred Singer’s past? For-hire fake scientist…shameful stuff.
I know this won’t be published, I just hope you read this and reflect a bit what kind of forces you are dealing with and endorse.”

Great. I haven’t even had my first coffee.

Anyway, I am reflecting on what kind of forces I am dealing with (if not endorsing.) It made me pout a bit. After all, I am only pointing out what my eyes can see, and discover I am a bad-guy, part of “anti-science forces”. Me!  And I’m such a nice old fossil.

Then, when driving the little children to kindergarten, I discover this lovely object has been parked at the entrance of the high school.

Moody 2 IMG_4929

I think the point of this is to stress the gravity of reckless driving to the high school seniors, who tend to go wild at the time of graduation. However, as is often the case with alarmists focusing on worst-case-scenarios, it immediately backfired. Someone was gawking at the appalling wreck, and promptly went off the road, not fifty yards away.

Moody 3 FullSizeRender

Sometimes human efforts look particularly lame and ineffectual, and I want to stop the world and get off. Funny how often this happens on Mondays.

Take my cheeks in Your palms and raise my eyes
To Your hills, for my vision’s gone heavy.
(Too much talk of itches with hearts so dry
They make thirst.)
                          Faith that has never been steady
Knows most about the worst, yet it yammers
On insistent, (Professor of Dullsville),
As my tired heart slowly hammers
A cage for itself.
                                   Even the seagulls will
Rise from their dumps and let beauty soar
But I need Your help; It would be so easy
For You.
                  You open Springtime’s golden store
Of lemon green, make trees lacy and breezy,
And dab dark pines in honey. One glance kills
All woe, so raise my eyes to Your hills.

Moody 4 FullSizeRender

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Insomnia Cure–

I was laying in bed last night contemplating customers, carrots and other things I’m suppose to consider, during the spring on a Farm-childcare, when sea-ice came drifting through my consciousness. It’s usually a sign sleep is creeping up, and worldly worries are melting away. Last night it led to some delightful, dazing dreaminess I doubt I can fully replicate, but which show the complexity of even a thing as simple as water.

Yesterday I was briefly discussing how a tendril of the Gulf Stream, coming north, for a time rides at the top of the ocean, but then takes a dive under the colder waters. For a time it is less dense than surrounding waters, but then it becomes more dense.

This occurs because there are two variables involved. First, there is temperature, and second, there is salinity. The Gulf Stream is more salty than surrounding waters, because it was subjected to a lot of evaporation down in the hot tropics before it came north. Salty water wants to sink. However the Gulf Stream is much warmer than surrounding waters. Warmer waters want to rise.

An analogy is needed. Imagine the water coming north is a bunch of hot air balloons. As long as the air in the balloons is hot, the balloons remain high, but gradually they cool, until they reach a momentous occasion where they take a dive.

It is a simple enough thing to model this on your multi-million dollar computer. First you need to loot the wallets of drained tax-payers, and then you convince the government to print up some extra money. Easy as pie, when you are falling asleep and in a dream world, but I find it easier to command the non-virtual reality in dreamland, and to model the two variables outside computers in the fresh air.

Instantly Fram Strait is experiencing complete calm. What’s more it has been doing so for weeks. The Gulf Stream, coming north, does so in a glassy stillness, and the point where it dives beneath colder water can be seen by the way sea-gull feathers drifting north in the current come to a halt.  The waters to the north are still, even stagnant.

IE:  In dreamland we have simplified things to a degree where slowly moving water is sliding beneath still water. If course we can’t have water coming in without water going out, but let’s have that happen someplace else, so it won’t mess up our dreamland model. Also, of course, you can’t have a fluid in motion moving past a still fluid without this annoying thing called “turbulence” making little whirls along the boundary, like little storms along a front. Fortunately our dreamland model has a “mute” key that dampens that stuff away. In the end we have a nice simple scenario.

Now, as we slip deeper into dreamland and our brains gain super-powers, let’s have a little fun by adding another variable or two.  Let’s reduce the amount of warming due to sunlight, as winter comes and the sun sinks  low.  Or let’s chill the air. This cools the Gulf Stream tendril coming north more quickly, so it reaches the magical point where salinity trumps heat five miles further south.

Oh oh. Problem. If the water sinks earlier, the completely static water which it is sinking under has to move, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it have to move south to fill in the space above the sinking water?

Or suppose we change the salinity of the Gulf Stream heading north. How?  How about a tropical storm dumping a foot of warm rain. Now the tendril wants to come further north before sinking. Would not it plow into the static surface water, and make it move?

But how about both chilling the water and reducing the salinity? How are we going to manage that?

What’s that you say? Why don’t we redirect all the sea-ice heading south along the east coast of Greenland, in that cold current, and push it across Fram Strait into the warm current heading north?  That will both cool the northbound tendril of the Gulf Stream, and make it less salty, you say?

Funny you should say that, for that is exactly the scenario we were looking at yesterday, as vast amounts of ice were melted just west of Svalbard. Svalfloe 3 svalbard 15

Ordinarily it is at this point I get a headache, but when I am falling asleep the implications have a nice way of knocking me over the brink into unconsciousness. Sort of like an uppercut to the jaw. As I pass out, I am usually pondering one of three things.

First, if you cool the water heading north, and lower its salinity,  how will this effect the melt from beneath to the north? In Theory, if you dumped enough ice into the northbound water, you could so cool and so dilute the current that it wouldn’t be all that different from the water to the north, and could skip the bother of sinking beneath it. What effect would that have on surface currents, and submarine currents?

Second, how many more buoys will the taxpayers allow before they come with burning torches? We don’t need a mere string of buoys across Fram Strait. We need north-south strings. We need surface reports and reports at depth, so we can have a 3-D picture of the daily fluctuations of temperature, salinity, and the speed the water is moving, like the weather-maps we get for the air above.

Lastly, what does it mean if ice does not travel in the cold, southbound current to the southerly tip of Greenland? Through much of the winter the ice levels were low, because ice was held back at the Pole, and much of the ice off the east coast of Greenland was “home grown”. Now even more ice is being deprived of it’s right to take the normal route because it has headed across to the wrong lane of the two-lane highway in Fram Strait. Will less ice off the south tip of Greenland make that water warmer?  (Currently there is a fringe of warmer-than-normal water right along the Greenland coast, but then waters are colder-than-normal clear across to Spain.)

Usually thinking about all this is quite enough to cure insomnia. If necessary, you can add another variable: Wind.  A strong wind can move surface water. What effect does a cold north wind have on a current coming from the south? Do you have a current heading south at the surface even as it heads north deeper down? Oh oh. Time to hit that “mute” key again, as I see turbulence rearing its head.

In the end I think very few things travel in the nice neat lines shown by textbooks. I am old enough to remember the way the Gulf Stream was portrayed in textbooks before we could see the surface with heat-sensitive satellites. It was nothing like this:

Gulf Stream images

I have a vivid memory, from back in those pre-satellite days, of attending a class held to make the general public more aware of beach erosion and why we should alter our attitudes about where we built marinas and beach houses. It was taught by a knowledgeable young scientist, and in the audience was a garrulous old fisherman. For some reason the subject got off the topic of beaches and moved out into the Gulf Stream, and at that point the fisherman began to talk about “warm whirlpools” and “cold whirlpools” and how he’d use them to hunt the best places to fish, and the young scientist rolled his eyes, as if the old man was talking nonsense, and finally the young man cut the fisherman off, making it obvious he felt the man was inventing tall tales. Later I always wondered what the scientist thought, when he saw the first satellite images come in, showing exactly what the old fisherman had described.

Perhaps it is for this reason that I, meaning no disrespect to scientists, am less than certain the map below is fully accurate.

Svalfloe 4 svalbard current

The thing I am watching for are the changes fishermen described the last time the AMO shifted from “warm” to “cold”. They were dramatic.

In any case, I highly recommend thinking about this stuff next time you have trouble sleeping.

In more mundane matters,  The DMI maps continue to show the high pressure over towards Bering Strait, and the low nudging toward the Pole, but weakening.

I’m worried they may have had troubles with the airstrip at Barneo, as there have been no reports since the 18th. You can see the ice is “active” across the Pole in the NRL “Speed and Drift” map from yesterday.

Speed and Drift 20160422 arcticicespddrfnowcast

This map also shows ice is likely moving away from the northwest coast of Hudson Bay.

In terms of the Northwest Passage, the western approach looks like it is opening up nicely, with ice moving away from the coast of Alaska. However the ice in Baffin Bay seems to be being crammed north into the eastern approaches.

Lastly, it looks like ice continues to be exported to the “wrong side” of Fram Strait.

The thickness map shows an odd little mountain range of thicker ice crossing right over the pole. (Not really a mountain range, but worth noting: 9 feet thick rather than six feet thick.)

Thickness 20160422 arcticictnnowcast


Lastly the “Race Against Time” expedition has been reporting struggling over a lot of pressure ridges as they approach the Pole from the Russian side. Mark Wood mentioned the ice was much flatter when he skied the route two years ago. At last report they had crossed 89 degrees north. Unfortunately they only report by satellite phone, without pictures.





Things are a bit dull, at the moment, up at Barneo. (Not for the people up there, but for onlookers like myself). Huge jets are air-dropping cargo, which holds the housing for scientists, soldiers, and tourists (who will pay over $30,000.00 for a certificate that states they stood at the North Pole). This cargo must be retrieved from 1500 pound polar bears (who think it is for them),  unpacked, and then erected, and, because the start of operations is behind schedule, all bodies up there are likely are as busy as bees, and have little time to blog or post on Facebook.Barneo 2B 12938328_977836602285489_5091821605559718540_n910Barneo 2C 11140098_977836658952150_7239834978044090855_n943

You can see the base is located farther from the Pole than usual, towards Russia.

The choice may seem odd, for the ice actually looks thinner in that direction. The 90 degree longitude line is straight sideways in the map above, but straight up in the map below.)

Thickness 20160404 arcticictnnowcast

The reason for avoiding the thicker ice at the Pole was because it had been shoved north over the winter, and was crisscrossed by pressure ridges (seen below). Not only is it hard to build an airstrip when you have to level pressure ridges, but the pressure ridges also represent a fault in the ice, in a sense like a polar version of the San Andres Fault in earthquake-prone California. In the case of multi-year-ice, some faults are active and some are inactive, but it is taking a chance to build  an airstrip across one.  I imagine considerable thought went into the choice they made.

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You can see (above) that at this point in the season the ice doesn’t look like it is any sort of  “Death Spiral”. The temperatures stay below freezing deep into the month of May, and the melt-water pools usually don’t start to form until late June. It is in the month of July that the melt-water pools get common and the Media gets its sensationalist pictures, that support the “Death Spiral” stories. This can be seen from the view below, (which I think is taken from a far lower altitude), and was likely taken in late July or early August.Barneo 2E image307244_cf7a94da3dd81e6a854b7d12adf0e02b

This slushy, summer ice is not necessarily “rotten”, and often can still support considerable weight.

Barneo 2F image307244_3ad7ff4f49b720ee7020160619421018

In terms of the arctic environment, the Russians tend to be too messy for most environmentalists, especially Alarmists. While Russians are realists, Alarmist tend to be surrealists.

Barneo 2F CfG1rGPXIAAv8DD

Therefore many have been highly critical of the Russian clean-up the the Barneo site. Largely the Russians do a good job, but have been known to burn things rather than to carry everything in plastic bags back to the mainland. Pictures like this one can cause the tops of some environmentalists heads to explode.

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To environmentalists, the very word “exploit” has an unsavory sound, but Russia fully intends to exploit its arctic resources, and when Greenpeace tried to get in the way of Russia’s exploration and exploitation, Greenpeace’s members were arrested and spent time in Russian jails. Therefore the two sides are at war, (albeit a war of words, for the most part).

Consequentially there has been a great deal of focus on the whereabouts of a certain jet, that showed how strong the ice was last year, by coming down so hard on the ice the landing gear crumpled, without cracking the ice.

Barneo 2A 10310

At first the word was that the jet would be repaired on the site, and flown off. However the damage was serious.

Barneo 2H 8955

At this  point the plan changed, and it was decided to remove the jet in bits and pieces, by icebreaker.  Environmentalists worried whether oils would be spilled, and wanted to know every detail of the project, but Russians (and even the Ukrainians, who actually owned the aircraft), felt their business was their business, and went ahead without giving the media the satisfaction of press releases. Basically the evironmentalists conservationists like myself who were interested had to scrutinize websites and search for pictures, and come to their own conclusions.

The best job I have seen done was by the blogger “Patrick” at the “Arctic Sea Ice Forum” here:,1505.0/nowap.html   The links he supplied are a mother-lode of pictures, and supplied me with many for this post. I was not willing to arrive at the conclusions he arrived at, regarding the missing jet. As usual, I avoid concluding much of anything, but hope readers think for themselves.

The Borneo base itself is a hive of activity for the month of April, but shuts down around Mayday. Then the base changes its name, and becomes a quieter base, inhabited by scientists as the ice slowly drifts towards its eventual doom in Fram Stait and the North Atlantic. They stay well into the melt season.

Barneo 2I IMG_4246

These fellows stay long after jets can land on the slushy landing strip (though an airplane with skis might attempt it in an emergency). They are supplied by helicopter, and in the end are evacuated by a huge Russian icebreaker, which is big enough to have its own cargo helicopter. Barneo 2J image307244_0463887d529d2be034724ad1ee54cabd

It was during the process of removing the parts of the base last summer that pictures were taken that seem to show parts of an airplane being removed as well.

Barneo 2K image307244_3f57c09f1f9453d0c44d128c1768faa9Barneo 2L image307244_d6192f4639dd8d5e8074879387edbe76

Of course the most valuable, and heaviest, parts are the engines. The picture below seems to show the ghostly imprint of the fuselage, with the engines still sitting.

Barneo 2M IMG_4248

And the following picture seems to show an engine in the background of objects awaiting removal.

Barneo 2N sp-camp-28.07-b

The blogger “Patrick” concluded the engines were removed and dragged off, because he does not see engines on the wings of the jet in this bird’s eye view, but only “scorch marks” made by a welder removing them. (I can’t tell, and leave the decision to experts, but I do notice there are no melt-water pools, and conclude this picture was taken early in the season, no later than the middle of June). (The jet is at the bottom of the picture, and the various houses for scientists are out of view, further down.)

Barneo 2O 0531-west-side


“Patrick” then concludes only a few fins and flaps of the jet were removed, and the rest of the jet fell through a crack and sank to the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. He sees a lead in the bird’s-eye-view below. The jet’s parking place is to the top of the picture. No jet remains, at this point. (My assumption is that the icebreaker’s path is invisible because it berthed off the margin of this picture, to the lower left.)

Barneo 2P sp-camp-31.07-c

To my eyes the only active “crack” runs along the bottom of the picture. Other cracks look to be inactive, and perhaps turned into the lazy melt-water streams, (that roam across the summer ice until they find a route down through the ice). It also looks to me like the Russians did a fairly good job cleaning up, though they did make the ice a bit dirty, and perhaps could have bagged all that dirty slush and moved it south, to make Greenpeace happy. But I think that isn’t high on their list of priorities. (There seems to be something they left behind at the center, which I suppose is a weather station.)

Lastly, “Patrick” discovered an interesting Russian “chat room” which hold the suspicious comment  “It was decided that the aircraft will not be repaired, it will remain on the ice, and later fell through the ice.” The problem with making too much of this comment, and later comments on the comment, is that the initial comment was made on April 28, even before the final tourist left Barneo.  However the forum is well worth visiting, because there are later videos, in Russian, from TV newscasts about the decommissioning and evacuation of the base, with some good footage.  The forum is here:

Anyway, this mystery-of-a-missing-jet annoys outsiders, who are suspicious of the Russians. A Norwegian Newspaper, the “Svalbardpostan” is especially interested in a pristine arctic, and has been following the issue of the missing jet from the start.

Their most recent post was this past March 11th, and seems to suggest that if the fuselage did sink to the bottom, the Russians should still crank it back up and remove it. (Not going to happen.)

Speaking for myself, to me it seems the Russians might have actually removed the jet. What I’d really like to know is how in the world they removed those jet engines. They were big suckers, and how to budge them must have been something the Russians thought long and hard about.

Barneo 2Q image307244_74b1ce7f97f8b128f6a43f11d5797852


Barneo Base-camp reports, on April 5:

This morning at the Barneo ice floe broke. From the band left 650 meters. So many titanic work days for nothing. Helicopter pilot flew to look for a new ldinu.Nachinaem over.
Space for the new runway Barneo ice airfield was found. Right next to the camp.
Stay tuned.


ARCTIC SEA ICE —The Shadows Lengthen—Updated 5 times—

I saw a child on a playground troubled
By his shadow. He cried and he backed off
But the shadow, unrelenting, doubled
The child’s alarm, for it never slacked off
And hounded the child’s feet, until the child backed
To the ladder of a slide. The shadow
Couldn’t follow up the ladder, and blacked
The ground below, as the child felt joy grow,
And jeered down, and looked up, and forgot the dark.

In the same way, I’m an old man troubled
By lengthening shadows, and seek a spark
Like the child’s ladder, though odds seemed doubled.

Faith is a ladder towards lights that strengthen
As winter comes closer and shadows all lengthen.

You’ll have to forgive me for waxing poetic to start this post, but I got off into an interesting tangent of thought during the sermon at church last Sunday. This often happens to me. Just as I forgot to pay attention to my teachers at school, and my mind went sailing out windows to clouds blooming in the sky, in church some idea in a sermon sends my eyes to the windows, which are stained glass lit by morning sunshine.

(I think that, if they really expected people to heed the entire sermon, the windows would be painted black. The fact they are stained glass encourages independent thought.)

Among other things, the sermon suggested a “saint” isn’t some person with a long white beard and a halo of shimmering gold, but is just an ordinary person who happens to believe that Truth is a good thing. I sort of like this idea, because it suggests that even a cantankerous anachronism like me could be a “saint”. However I didn’t like the next part of the sermon, which suggested being honest invited persecution. I have enough troubles without “inviting” any.

However, as my mind went drifting off from the sermon into the colors of the stained glass, I had to admit that simply stating the truth about arctic sea-ice has earned me a lot of grief. People I greatly respect, members of my own family and church, have used that silly word “denier” on me, when I simply state a mundane fact about banal stuff called “sea-ice”.  It seems more like a knee-jerk reaction on their part, than a deed involving one iota of actual thought.

As I gazed off into the colors of the stained glass it occurred to me that perhaps civilization has made some progress over the last two or three thousand years. Back in the day, the authorities, and especially the Romans, physically tortured people who spoke Truth. Now the authorities only psychologically torture people who speak the Truth.

Hey, it may not be pretty, but it is progress.

If you study Roman times, the brutality of Roman authority stands out. When the Romans marched in, there was no talk about political correctness, it was a case of, “My way or the highway.” They thought nothing of slaughtering all the elders of a town, or all the professors of an university, or all the leaders of a government. In fact they made their slaughter a spectator sport, feeding people to lions at the Colosseum. Physical cruelty was everyday, and Jesus Christ on the cross was no exception.

Nowadays the cruelty is psychological. A modern Christ would be crucified on some sort of  psychological cross. Or so I found my mind thinking, as my thinking wandered through the lights of stained glass lit by Sunday morning sunshine. However the next question is, “What would a psychological cross look like?”

The answer that leaped into my my head was, “To begin with, rather than throwing you to the lions, they throw you to the morons.” That made me chuckle aloud, at which point I figured I had better stop daydreaming, and pay attention to the sermon.

Later, however, the thought came back to me, and I found myself wondering what makes a person a moron. I’m not talking about the fellow with an IQ of 60, who maybe drools a little. I’m talking about an otherwise intelligent person, with an IQ well over 100, who feels they somehow deserve the right to be indignant about a subject they have never studied and know nothing about.

As a boy I was a moron, concerning the subject of New York, because I was a Red Sox fan after Ted Williams retired in 1960 and before Carl Yastremski led the Impossible Dream Team in 1967. Every year New York won the pennant and every year the Red Sox came in next-to-last, (which was ninth place back then), and I developed a foaming hatred towards New York. If anyone said anything good about New York I became quite indignant. I was actually surprised I wasn’t immediately mugged when I first visited the city, and astonished that I actually met kind and helpful people.  The scales fell from my eyes, and I stopped being such a moron.  I also dropped the right to be indignant, which was no great loss, for when I thought about it, being indignant doesn’t feel all that good.

However it seems to me some people really like the feeling. They must, for why else would they spend so much time being indignant about this and indignant about that?  And most especially, why would they bother to feel indignant about things they know nothing about? I mean, as a boy I might feel indignant of anyone who said anything nice about New York, though I had never visited the city and my knowledge of New York (beyond the Yankees) was nil, but I was just a boy and didn’t know any better. As you grow up you are suppose to know better.

Some don’t know any better. They simply like to feel offended, I suppose, and I do my best to steer clear of them, the same way I steer clear of my rooster when his neck feathers stick out and he looks at me in an indignant manner.

Fortunately, at this site, we don’t deal with big issues, such as the definition of marriage, or the point at which aborting life becomes murder. All we are concerned with is whether we are moving towards the next Little Ice Age, or the next Medieval Warm Period. Furthermore we have retreated far from the maddening crowd, to a landscape devoid of mankind, or even signs of mankind, except for a stray contrail in the sky, and perhaps a buoy, every five hundred miles.

However I am sad to inform newcomers that, even when you retreat to a point this far from civilization, you may still find yourself a “saint”  for simply stating what you see, and may even suffer a sort of psychological crucifixion for being accurate.  All you need to do is state a Truth; for example: “The so-called ‘Death Spiral’ did not manifest during the summer of 2015”, and people may become extremely indignant.

They remind me of my rooster, who always is extremely indignant when I come into the stables to get buckets of grain for my pigs and goats. It doesn’t seem to matter that the rooster has a record of 0-524, in his battles with me. He is a bird-brain, which is like a moron. He comes up to strike at me with his spurs, and I have to lower the lid of the grain barrel as a round shield, and there is a loud “plink” as he strikes the metal, and then he gets shoved backwards by the shield, and loses the battle. (In case you are wondering, if a rooster ever successfully strikes you with his spurs it feels like a solid tap on your shin, and you bleed a little trickle, but the next day you are hobbled, as he has penetrated right to the bone and given you a bone bruise. Needless to say, I don’t allow this particular rooster to ever succeed.)

I don’t know why this particular rooster gets so indignant when I enter the stable, especially when you consider the fact I’m the guy who gives him grain and water. However I forgive him because, after all, he has a brain about the size of an aspirin.

It is very painful to me to see my fellow mankind behave as if they have brains the size of aspirins, and to watch them become absurdly indignant about subjects they know next to nothing about. Even worse is the fact many get such a strange joy out of being indignant that they don’t want to learn more about the subject they know next to nothing about. When you attempt to patiently explain things, they sort of go, “La-la-la I’m not listening.” And that is the modern, psychological crucifixion of people who simply speak the Truth. They get thrown to the morons.

I’m sorry to spend so much time explaining this phenomenon, on a site which for the most part is dedicated to simply watching ice melt, and then watching water freeze. However, if we are going to study the state of affairs, concerning sea-ice, it is important to know you will meet maddening, indignant roosters, for they are included in the state of affairs, concerning sea-ice, and they are also one of the shadows lengthening across our social landscape.

In other matters, the shadows are lengthening, as are the nights, across the Pole. The times of daylight are shorter, and also farther and farther from the Pole, as the Pole itself has already started its six-month-long night (though some always insist on calling it “twilight”). (Some even insist on calculating the microscopic amount of heat that comes from twilight, after the sun has set.)

It remains worth watching, even as the views become fewer and farther between, because you can occationally see some interesting events. One thing I have discussed is how leads can open up and expose open water even when temperatures are well below the melting point of salt water. We saw this happen at O-buoy 8-b. I mentioned that such open leads can also slam shut, and rather than an open lead you see a pressure-ridge. We saw this happen at O-buoy 8-b over the weekend, giving us a picture of how an area of open water or thin ice can become extra-thick ice (as we remember 9/10th of a pressure ridge is under water, as is the case with all bergs.) In a sense we have been privileged to see what usually is hidden by winter darkness, and have a sequence of pictures that would teach well on a textbook.Obuoy 8 0923B webcamObuoy 8 0924 webcamObuoy 8 0924C webcamObuoy 8 0925B webcamObuoy 8 0927 webcam

Of course, having such splendid leads and pressure ridges so close to the camera is a bit like living right next to the San Andreas fault. The camera is at risk.

Today’s picture from O-buoy 8-b indicates some milder air is moving in, but is lifted by the cold air at the surface. Wet, sticky snow is falling, though temperatures remain low, down at -10°C.Obuoy 8 0928C temperature-1weekObuoy 8 0928 webcam

The invasion of mild air is much more dramatic over at O-buoy 9 at the north entrance of Fram Strait. Obuoy 9 0928 temperature-1weekHere we are seeing winds of 25-30 mph bringing a flood of Atlantic moisture and mildness north. Also the sea-ice is being pushed back north in Fram Strait, which is unusual this late in the season. Fram Strait is the major exporter of sea-ice from the Arctic Sea, and such export is a major part of low levels of sea-ice.

Now, if you are an Alarmist, and have a major emotional investment in seeing there be less arctic sea-ice, it is hard to know whether the current southerly gales in Fram Strait are good news or bad news. The ice being pushed back to the north is bad news, as it keeps the Arctic Sea loaded with last year’s ice. However the mild temperatures must be good news…or are they? Mildness and moisture makes more snow fall, on the ice, which would be “good” if conditions were calm, for the snow would insulate the ice and keep the ice from freezing. However, as conditions are not likely to be calm, the snow is likely to be blown from the ice into wind-created leads, forming slush which increases the amounts of ice, which is “bad”.

I find it wiser to avoid the value-judgement of calling what happens “good” or “bad”.  Whatever will be will be. Furthermore, it is the Truth, and Truth is a good teacher.

They say history repeats itself, but I can never recall seeing such a wrong-way gale in Fram Strait after the solstice. This is a new one, for me, and I think it is wise to sit back and learn.

Someone said that Harry Truman once stated, “The only thing new under the sun is the history you haven’t read.”  However we don’t have all that much history to read, concerning the arctic. We are newcomers. And when you have no  history book to read, you need to sit back and watch the present tense make history.

Also I doubt Harry Truman ever said that, because he had to handle the atomic bomb, and there was no history book about that topic. When I researched the above quote, it seemed some reporter was putting those words in Harry’s mouth, when Harry might have been talking about Mark Twain, who had a more cynical view about how we are revisionists, concerning history, and may have said something along the lines of, ” The only new thing mew under the sun is the history you haven’t invented.”

While I do believe history repeats itself, and that meteorologists who search the past for analogs can do wonders, I also believe no two snowflakes or fingerprints are alike, and there is something eternally fresh and new in every sunrise and in every weather map. Therefore I watch the current surge in Fram Strait with great interest, fully expecting to see something I’ve never seen before. The view from O-buoy 9, at the moment, is rather dull, gray, and even slushy.Obuoy 9 0928 webcam

Further north, at Faboo (my name for the North Pole Camera), the surge of mild air has arrived, and melted the hoarfrost off the lens after days of blindness. They haven’t figured out the problems they’ve been having transmitting the official data, so I have had to rely on unofficial data from a co-located Mass Balance Buoy (which lacks a time stamp). The surge was rather dramatic, as we saw temperatures shift from -16.98°C to -0.76°C. We also saw Faboo get as far south as 84.69° latitude, and then be jolted back north to 84.84° latitude. Somewhere the ice must be buckling, but no buckling is apparent in our views (which I am very glad to again have.)NP3 1 0928 2015cam1_3 NP3 1 0928B 2015cam1_2 NP3 1 0928C 2015cam1_1

I notice “Lake Faboo” is buried under the new snow, but as is usually the case in the arctic, the snows are not all that deep. In the few places where records are kept, I notice now is the most snowy time of year, but the snow amounts are only an inch or two. At other times the monthly amount is barely a half inch, or even less. The arctic is a desert, in terms of precipitation. When you talk of a half inch of snow per month it is like talking about five hundredth of an inch of rain in an entire month.

You will hear a lot of talk, from various people, about how snow insulates the ice and the water under the ice. It is important to remember we are not talking about snow that you wade hip-deep through, but rather ankle-deep stuff. When the winds howl, often the ice is blown clear of snow.

In order for winds to howl what is called a “meridional flow” is needed. What is called a “zonal flow” is more neat and tidy, and more according to textbooks. Textbooks like to talk about the “Polar Cell”, and place a high pressure at the Pole, with well-behaved lows rotating around it, with the air rising in the lows and sinking in the high pressure centered on the Pole.

Polar Cell atmospherecirculation

This is elegant and tidy, but a meridional flow makes a total mess of it. Floods of warm air surge right up to the Pole, and fuel low pressure right where the textbook states we should have high pressure, and air rises right where the textbook states it should be descending. We are likely to see a splendid example of this, the next week.

When a zonal flow places high pressure over the Pole, conditions tend to be quiet, as calm often occurs under a center of high pressure. However a meridional flow creates storms, and winds smash and crash the sea-ice. Rather than ice and snow sheltering the water, ice splits and leads, sometimes ten or twenty miles across, open up, and the sea is exposed to bitter winds. Not only is the water chilled more, but more ice forms on that open water than would be formed if the water was protected by a yard or two of ice. Air temperatures may be higher, as the open water loses heat to the air, but that heat can only be lost to outer space in 24-hour nighttime. All in all, IMHO, a meridional flow is far more conducive to building the volume of sea-ice.

So let us sit back and watch as the atmosphere does its dance.

In the maps below we see the feature ESib1 has been flung from Bering Strait across northern Alaska to the east side of Hudson Bay, as its Fujiwhara-dance partner FG4 got left behind and whirls north of East Siberia.  I should be paying more attention to that, but only have so many brain cells.

What grabs my attention is the ridge of high pressure sliding east across the Atlantic and the low forming off northeast Greenland, which I’ll call “FG5”.  Between them is the remarkable “wrong way” flow in Fram Strait, and the warm flood toward the Pole. As that warm air hits the cold air it is bound to fuel a frammerjammer, and the flow in Fram Strait could swing right around for a while. “FG5” looks like it might be an interesting storm, and briefly be king of the mountain, riding high atop the entire planet Earth.

DMI2 0927B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0927B temp_latest.bigDMI2 0928 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0928 temp_latest.bigDMI2 0928B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0928B temp_latest.big


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Obuoy 9 0929 webcam


The buoiy is roughly  at 78.5° N, 141° W, which is south and west of O-buoy 9 in the Arctic Basin. (I’ll call it a Beaufort Buoy because that so obviously irks nitpickers.) Temperatures are around -5°C and winds fairly strong around 25-23 mph. Obuoy 13 0929B webcam


The gale exploding south of Svalbard isn’t suppose to be there. Of course, I haven’t been paying proper attention to maps, (as I have to attend to six-year-olds), but the last I knew the development was suppose to occur around that weak low north of Greenland. I did notice it got abruptly colder at O-buoy 9, suggesting that weak low had a cold front, and apparently the gale blew up along that front. It is more like a true North Atlantic gale than a frammerjammer, but I’ll call it “FG5son.”

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Considering there was little sign of that gale this morning, the above example is a fine example of what happens when you mix warm and juicy south winds from the Atlantic with bitter cold from the arctic. The isobats suggest the winds are really howling off the coast of Norway, but haven’t picked up in Fram Strait.  However this map is actually from noon, and by afternoon the north-moving ice was lurching back to the south, which is more normal for this time of year.

Across the Pole ESib1 is a decent low, adding to the fact that uplift is occurring over much of the arctic, which sure makes a mess of the textbook defination of “The Polar Cell”, as an area of decending air. Yet all this uplift must go somewhere, and the powers-that-be can’t send the air further north as a Ferrel Cell does, as there is no such thing as further north at the North Pole.  It is a test to our ordinary thinking, which tends to be zonal, and see weather systems parading around the globe from west to east. At the Pole, I sometimes think, the weather simply goes up and down like a yoyo. When all the uplift has no place to go it just comes crashing back down, turning low pressure into high pressure. And before you laugh at this idea, check out the computer models, and notice that where FG5son is a sub-960 mb low tomorrow the maps show it swiftly  fading, and being replaced by a 1040 mb high pressure system. It will be interesting to watch, as will be what happens to the temperatures.  Currently it is much milder than it has been. DMI2 0929B meanT_2015


O-buoy 9 saw the mild temperatures abruptly crash, as the winds slacked off, veered 180°, and increased to the 25-33 mph range of a true gale, which makes for a nasty wind-chill and a swift halt to any thawing that might have been going on.Obuoy 9 0929 temperature-1weekThe buoy stopped the wrong-way movement north and lurched south.Obuoy 9 0929 latitude-1weekThere is little to see, as the nights are getting long up there, but so far the ice hasn’t broken up despite the strong and shifting winds. (Remember that a month ago O-buoy 9 often drifted in seas relatively free of ice, and much of the ice we look at is new “baby ice” between thicker bergs. It doesn’t take all that much to smash up such baby ice.)Obuoy 9 0929C webcam


On September 25 Faboo drifted 4.35 miles south east in very light winds to 84.728°N, 8.772°W and saw temperatures fall steadily, crashing to the low of -17.4°C at 1800Z, before rebounding to the period’s high of -10.8°C at 2100Z.

On September 26 Faboo sped up as winds picked to around 10 mph, covering 6.93 miles southeast to 84.683°N, 7.798°W. Temperatures rose to the high of -7.2°C at 1500Z, before falling back to -13.3°C at 2100Z,

On September 27 Faboo reached its most southerly point at 0300Z, at 84.678°N, and its most easterly point at noon, at 7.510°W, before deversing back to the north and west and finishing the day at 84.752°N, 7.542°W, which was 5.03 miles the “wrong way”.  Temperatures fell to a low of -18.2°C at 0600Z before recovering to -9.4°C at the end of the period. The breezes grew stronger, up to 15-20 mph range.

On September 28 Faboo again returned to moving east, but continued north to finish at 84.876°N, 6.452°W, which was another 15.76 miles the “wrong way”. Temperatures rose from -9.3°C at midnight to a balmy +1.0°C at 0900Z. After dipping to -1.8°C at 1500Z, a second thaw was experienced at the end of the period, with temperatures at +0.5°C. Winds peaked early, with a steady blow of 27 mph, before slacking off to 15 mph.

Unofficial reports showed we continued north for a while today, but then headed south, as temperatures fell. Unfortunately freezing rain was involved. It is my experience that this stuff is hard to melt from the camera’s lens.NP3 1 0929 2015cam1_2



Obuoy 13 0929D webcam


Obuoy 15 0929 webcam Obuoy 15 0929B webcam Obuoy 15 0929C webcam Obuoy 15 0929D webcam


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I’ll try to play catch-up later. It is hard to run a decent blog when pulling double shifts.


It is also hard to focus on sea-ice when a hurricane is milling about to your south.


On September 29 Faboo  continued northeast as far as 84.904°N at 0600Z before a 180° wind shrift hit, dropping temperatures from +0.5°C to -7.0°C at the next report at 0900Z. Winds picked up from 11 to 17 mph as temperatures fell to -13.2°C as Faboo moved 3.49 miles southeast to finish the period at 84.826°N, 6.363°W.

Yesterday temperatures slowly rose from -13.2°C to -10.2°C as winds climbed to a steady gale-force blasting of 36 mph, grinding the ice 17.6 miles SSE to 84.574°N, 5.923°W.

It is difficult to get your mind around tons upon tons upon tons of ice, covering hundreds of square miles, all moving north twenty miles and then all being snapped back south twenty miles, especially as the shift from north-movement to south-movement does not effect all areas equally at the same time, but rather is a radical change along a front. Somewhere the ice has to buckle and build pressure ridges, while somewhere else it must crack open and expose leads of open water. The frustrating thing is the camera’s lens if frozen over, and we are unlikely to see much more than this:NP3 1 1001 2015cam1_2


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Quite a mild stream of air has been pulled east over the Siberian Side, as the cold is reduced to a pool north of Canada and Greenland. I expect the cold to expand as the gale weakens and fills.


Temperatures are at -10°C and winds at 4-7 mph. If the recent gale didn’t smash this ice up, nothing will, until it gets further south.

Obuoy 9 1002 webcam


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SATURDAY’S DMI MAPS (To be repeated to start the next post)

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I apologize for being unable to properly withdraw from life and enjoy the pleasures of escape to the arctic. Sometimes life won’t let you escape.

Time and tide and arctic sea-ice wait for no man, and a lots been going on I haven’t had time to talk about. A veritable flood of milder air came north with low pressure and made the Pole an area of uplift, which drew more air north at the surface.  A lot of this “air” was water vapor, which went from taking up a lot of space as vapor to taking up very little space as a drop of water or an ice crystal.  Therefore there does not need to be as much outflow aloft as one might expect, with all the inflow.

The vapor also released a lot of heat as it went through the phase changes of gas to liquid and liquid to solid. (There is a phase change the other way when precipitation evaporates of sublimates when falling, but for the most part the recent storm has been releasing more heat than it has been sucking up.)

They say what goes up must come down, but this is not true of the Pole. Water vapor goes up there and does not return, and heat goes up there and is lost to outer space. Once the sun sets the Pole is like a chimney for the planet, and what we have just  seen is stuff heading up the chimney.

That being said, when a mild surge heads north for the Pole I often look for an south-bound arctic outbreak somewhere else,  and indeed  there were two decend surges of cold into eastern and western Siberia, as well as a snowy spell in Alaska that drew notice.

Even as milder air floods the Pole, snow-cover is building on the tundra in Siberia, Alaska and Canada.  This will assist the creation of cold air through radiational cooling, and result in the Arctic ocean being frozen by south winds from the tundra.

Snowcover Oct 3 ims2015276_alaska

However one interesting feature is that swath of snow northwest of Hudson Bay, as much of it is well south of the actual coast of the Arctic Sea. This tendency also shows up in a Dr. Ryan Maue map posted on Joseph D’Aleo’s excellent blog, of the the deepening snow in Western Siberia. Much of the snow is well south of the actual coast.Snowcover Oct 3 ecmwf_snowdepth_russia_41(1)

This of course makes one wonder about the maps which show the arctic coasts as well above normal, in terms of water temperature:  

(I point out elsewhere that these maps can show water as red even when it is full of floating ice, as was the case in Hudson Bay last summer, which does make one suspect they are estimating on the warm side.)

In conclusion, we have a situation where we have a cold circle of ice atop the globe, surrounded by a larger circle of milder coastal waters, surrounded by an even larger circle of cold tundra. Until the coastal water freezes, the situation is wonderfully unstable.

The current temperature graph for areas north of 80° shows the current surge of mild air past its peak, and about to begin what I suspect will be a steep plunge.DMI2 1003B meanT_2015

The ice “extent” graph shows the mild surge did slow the refreeze, but couldn’t halt it.DMI2 1003B icecover_current_new

Most of our surviving buoys did show the milder air reaching across the Pole to Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, and the pacific side of the Central Arctic Basin, as the Atlantic and Siberian side haven’t experience the early season cold as much, and continue fairly mild. Yet the temperatures only briefly could thaw, in only a few places, and rather than thawing there was falling snow and freezing rain. Most of the slow-down in the refreeze was due to bottom-melt having a chance to occur without much upper-freezing,  and also gale force winds smashing up the new baby-ice.

It is unfortunate that O-buoy 10 got crushed (or perhaps retrieved by an icebreaker) as we have no eye down in the Beaufort Sea “Slot”. The NRL concentration map suggests the southern “reef” of the “lagoon” got dispersed by the gales, though we cannot tell if the water still has ice and slush in it once everything gets wet, as it doesn’t show up well to satellite sensors.  If the reef reappears during the refreeze we will know it wasn’t fully dispersed.Concentration  20151003 arcticicennowcast

I’ll download some pictures from cameras, and catch up on Faboo’s doings, in the morning.