Sometimes I simply sit back in awe and wonder over weather features our Creator brews up, especially when they take forms that in some ways are outside of our ordinary expectations, and defy the constructs our small minds come up with to grapple with something as giant as “weather”.
I tend to see things in simplistic terms, and one construct I fall back on is the idea of a “storm track” with nice and neat low pressure areas rolling along this track like trains. However the recent surge that crossed the Atlantic and dove across Europe into Siberia seems in some ways like a javelin of energy. It wasn’t really marked very well by nice, neat circles of isobars marking nice, neat storms rolling along, but rather ripped through all my nice, neat preconceptions like a spear through tissue paper.
I’ve poked about, trying to get the take others have on what was occurring, and noticed Piers Colbyn suggested the sun hit us with extra energy, (perhaps as a TSI spike).
I sort of like the idea of some sort of trigger hurling the javelin, which caused the flooding in Scotland as the spear of moisture passed through:
As this javelin plunged into the cold, dense air parked over the tundra and taiga of Siberia’s vastness, it shoved the cold aside and forward like a snowplow. I’ve already remarked on how the cold got pushed south to give snow to Persia:
The poor nation of Syria was hit by cold which set a record for the entire month of December, not even ten days into the month, with Damascus hitting -9°C.
A lot of cold air was plowed east, pouring out into the north Pacific, which will (perhaps) shift the Aleutian low south and west, and (perhaps) cause the jet stream to pour arctic air south into Canada. But how cold is that air, out over the Arctic Sea?
Now that is where my wondering gets tickled, for apparently the javelin didn’t merely plow the cold south and east, but also plowed it north, up over the Pole.
That isn’t all that unusual, and is one reason the Laptev Sea leads all coastal arctic seas, when it comes to the creation and export of sea-ice. The cold air created by the snow-pack over Siberia does what cold air is inclined to do, namely sink, and creates high pressure as it presses down, but it can only press down so much before it presses outwards, and on the coast of the Laptev Sea this creates south winds that are anything but warm. They are the coldest south winds north of the equator, in fact, and roar north with such ferocity that they rip the sea-ice away from the coast, creating polynyas of open water even when the winds are as low as -70°C. This open water rapidly freezes, and then it too is pushed out to sea. Enormous amounts of ice are created in the Laptev sea, even though the ice there never gets all that thick. And, considering this outflow from Siberia happens even in ordinary circumstances, it will be all the more likely to occur when encouraged by a javelin plowing through Siberia.
As I watched the DMI maps the past week, the cold air pouring north from Siberia was obvious, even if the origins were beyond the edge of these maps. The high pressure I dubbed “Igor2” was pumped up, on the Pacific side. Of interest was the fact that the gale I called “Tip3” was sucked east by (apparently) the surge associated with the “javelin”, while the gale I called “Tip4” behaved like a leaf swirling about in the wake of a race car, loop-de-looping back to Greenland.
The last map shows a decent gale off the coast of Norway, but in fact that is a “zipper” and associated with the occluded mess Tip4 created when he retrograded to Greenland. You get some idea of this mess by looking at the UK Met map. The UK met map shows the “javelin’s” isobars still remain strongly west to east across Britain, Scandinavia and into Siberia, but not much of a “storm track” in the North Atlantic, where everything has bogged down to a stalled, occluded mess. In fact the low to the lower left of the map (which we might as well name “Tip5”) is likely to dawdle towards Spain, before perhaps probing up towards the English Channel. In terms of invading the arctic, the Atlantic is not much of a threat. A slight flow is pushing towards the Pole from the open waters of Barents Sea, but it is nothing like the surges we have seen.
Without invasions, the Pole swiftly chills, and this can be seen by the recent plunge of the DMI temperatures-north-of-80° graph. (The recent slight uptick is due to the air from Barents Sea.)
It makes me nervous when temperatures become “normal” over the Pole, because it represents a reservoir of nasty cold, a truly cruel pool. It wouldn’t be so nervous-making if the flow was zonal, for then you would know the cold would be trapped up there, which is where it belongs, as far as I’m concerned. However the flow has been meridenal, which tends to suggest the cold is just winding up before a pitch, or rearing back before an uppercut, or (add the sports metaphor of your choice).
Some of the cold air has been leaking down the east coast of Greenland, which may chill the Atlantic and cause future troubles, but in the short term is good news for places like the USA and Europe and China. However a lot of wicked cold is simply remaining up at the pole, as a building threat.
I mentioned earlier that the cold air spilling from Siberia into the Pacific might relocate the Aleutian low, and cause the jet stream to aim down into North America. Cold already is oppressing the north of Alaska and Canada, but so far hasn’t started south: Mr. Bastardi, over at the Weatherbell site, seems to suggest this ferocious cold is likely to roar down the Rocky Mountains into the west of North America, which will not effect me right away, which is fine with me. I prefer reading reports from Calgary of bone-chilling blasts. Or from Colorado. Or even from Texas or Phoenix.
I figure we here in New England payed our dues last winter. (Of course, I am not the guy who figures out this thing called “dues”. Some celestial angel does those calculations, which is why I never get the millions I figure I’ve earned by being so charming all my life.)
My hope is that we get a winter for softies, here in New England, and I don’t have to attend to ice on my driveway, and therefore have lots of time to attend to ice in the arctic.
Something very odd has been happening in the DMI ice-extent graphs. Rather than explain it I’ll just let you look at the two graphs. The first is for 15% coverage, and includes “coastal areas”, and the second is for 30% coverage, and has coastal areas “masked out”. (Click graphs to enlarge and clarify)
How two graphs, produced by the same agency, can give such differing impressions, is beyond my capacity to explain. The first will be loved by Alarmists, as it shows less ice, as the second will be adored by Skeptics, as it shows more ice. (My own take, for what it is worth, is that the thicker and denser ice is increasing, even as the ice that doesn’t really matter so much, at the edges, is diminished.)
Tomorrow I hope to find time to catch up with the doings of Faboo (the north Pole Camera) which is hurrying south along the east coast of Greenland. The cameras are still sending pictures, and it has moved so far south that some of the pictures are lighter than others, but apparently the lenses are still very obscured by hoarfrost, so all you see is black for night and purple for day.
However the main emphasis of this post is the cruel pool building over the Pole, and the pondering about who will get that cold air, when an arctic outbreak sends it south. (I hope it hits some poor boy yearning for a White Christmas, and arrives on Christmas Eve,)
UPDATE: “JAVELIN” CROSSES ASIA; CAUSES SUPER-STORM?
I’ve just been noting the passage of what I called either a spear or javelin through Siberia. It has now reached the Pacific and is still milder than the air both to the north and to the south (though it has been cooled a lot crossing the deep snow-cover of Siberia, and “milder” is now 10°F)(-12°C):
So far the javelin seems to be deflected a bit further south than I expected by the (so far) stubborn cold (-55°F; -48°C) lodged over east Siberia. However what is an interesting “coincidence” to me is the massive gale computer models see blowing up in the Bearing Sea tomorrow (Sunday).
I am not qualified to say whether this super gale, at the very bottom of the above map, is actually related to the impulse that gave northern Britain its recent floods. My eye has just been following something east, and a qualified meteorologist might be quite correct to call any connection between the two events an optical illusion. But, as an observer, I figure I should mention it. (For those with home barometers, 933mb is like your barometer reading 27.55 inches. IE Super-dooper typhoon.)
DMI MAPS UPDATED SUNDAY EVENING
The weak remains of Tip4 and secondary and tertiary elements have drifted east to the Kara Sea, bringing some slightly milder air to the Pole, but not the true Atlantic moisture that comes in surges all the way up from the Azores. In a sense this is home-grown Atlantic air, polar in origin.
Across the Pole Igor2’s high pressure continues to mark some very cold air that is pouring north from East Siberia and across towards Canada. Some is exported down the east coast of Greenland, but North America is increasingly in danger of an onslaught from the north.
A Pacific storm is off the map south of Alaska, and the Pacific super-gale hasn’t developed yet.
On December 7 Faboo (the North Pole Camera) was blown south to 78.879°N, 8.174°W, which was another 18.75 mile to the SSW. Temperatures were fairly flat, with a low of -21.4°C at 0600Z and a high of -18.1°C at 1500Z. Breezes fell off from the prior gales, but remained strong, slacking off from 25 mph to 15 mph.
December 8 saw the winds fade away to a calm, as temperatures fell from -18.7°C at midnight to -26.1°C at 1800Z. The buoy’s movement slowed to 6.14 miles, to 78.790°N, 8.186°W. There was a slight wiggle to the SE at 1500Z, midst the SSW motion.
On December 9 calm conditions continue, and likely hoarfrost froze up the anemometer and wind-vane. Movement slowed further to 3.22 miles, to 78.744°N, 8.143°W. Temperatures crashed to -29.2°C at 0900Z and then recovered to -21.0°C at the end of the period at 2100Z.
December 10 saw movement of 6.63 miles to 78.648°N, 8.119°W, wobbling east, west, east and west as it proceeded south. Temperatures rose to a high of -17.7°C at midnight and a low of -23.1°C. at noon. Winds were not reported, likely due to hoarfrost.
December 11 saw the buoy move back west, as it continued south, to 78.577°N, 8.201°W, 5.02 miles further south. Temperatures were at their highest at midnight at -21.7°C and sunk to -27.3°C at 1500Z. No wind reports.
On December 12 Faboo drifted another 5.81 miles SSW to 78.494°N, 8.274°W. No wind reports, and temperatures remaining very cold for Fram Strait at -26.3°C at midnight down to -28.5°C at 1500Z.
Faboo is still well out in Fram Strait, and somewhat amazingly the cameras are still functioning, though the hoarfrost is likely so thick on the lenses that all we see is blackness. The slab of ice it is on is likely still fairly solid, or at least one of the cameras would be sunk. Much of the ice moving down into Fram Strait is solid, and the air has been very cold with few mild incursions. Of we could get some gentle south winds we might get a lens thawed, and get a few decent pictures from Faboo before it gets crunched. (As the ice moves south it tends to compress against the coast of Greenland. In fact all the thin “baby ice” from earlier this autumn has vanished from the NRL thickness map, turned into a much thicker jumble along the coast, south towards Denmark Strait.)
Further east there is still open water all around Svalbard, but we are likely to see Svalbard freeze swiftly, for it is entilerly surrounded by water that is now below 0°C, and only remains liquid due to its salt content. (Click to enlarge, and click again to enlarge further.)Further west Hudson Bay is rapidly freezing over.Bering Strait has also frozen up.The only area with much below-normal ice-extent continues to be Barents Sea, which is likely to see an increase of ice on the Svalbard side over the next week.