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.

Barneo 2D 1934634_1004573596286405_5270321295161880015_n

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.

Barneo 2G image307244_3570365d266b388089103eafec8d8301

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.



These amazing pictures are from the Dapixara Blog at:

Cape Cod iceberg2 Cape Cod 2 iceberg

I lived on the coast of Maine during the very cold winters in the late 1970’s, and never saw the sea-ice this thick, though it was thick enough back then to allow me to walk from Freeport to Eagle Island out on Casco bay.  These pictures are from further south, on the “inside” beaches of Welfleet, out on the forearm of Cap Cod. Though the beach pictured is on the “cold” side of Cape Cod, it is not as cold as Maine.

What we are seeing is (hopefully) a once in a lifetime event. I find it amazing.

Even over on the “warm” side of Cape Cod, down on the Island of Nantucket, it was cold enough to form “slurpee surf” of slush, back in February.

Slurpee Waves B-zUYWaUEAEJnt9

Shortly after the above pictures were taken, the surf froze solid.

For this to be happening out on Nantucket, which after all is not all that far from the Gulf Stream, is amazing to me.

However there was something even more amazing. It was the attempts of Global Warming activists to blame the freeze on some freakish side-effect of a “warming world.”

One of my favorite attempts was by Dr, Michael Mann (of “hockey stick graph” fame). Shortly before the seas froze up as pictured above, he blamed the blizzards Boston was experiencing on extra moisture put into the air by warmer-than-normal waters off Cape Cod.

The timing of these fellows is simply amazing. They are the only people I know who manage to shoot themselves in the foot at the same time it is in their mouth.

If that water is warmer-than-normal, I’d sure hate to see it turn colder.

Mann Tweet screenhunter_7071-feb-11-22-19


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

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

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

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

I’ll pick up from where I last left off reporting after Christmas, with the post:

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

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

DMI2 1229B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1229B temp_latest.big

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

DMI2 1231 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1231 temp_latest.big

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DMI2 0107 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0107 temp_latest.big

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

DMI2 0110 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0110 temp_latest.big

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DMI2 0120B meanT_2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DMI2 0201B meanT_2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DMI2 0222B mslp_latest.big

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

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

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

DMI2 0224B temp_latest.big

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

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

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

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

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

A meandering cross-polar-flow persists.

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

The invasion of Atlantic air spikes the arctic temperatures.

DMI2 0308B meanT_2015

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

DMI2 0309 icecover_current_new

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

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

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

Great Lakes Feb 26 glsea_cur

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

East Coast Sea Ice b-umfxaciaa2qmm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Army Map Active_track

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

Another buoy, “Obuoy 9”, past roughly the same area by the Pole two years later, but took a radically different course, and is now north of the Greenland coast. ( See map at  )

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

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

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

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

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

AMO January amo(2)

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

DMI2 0224 sunspots latest

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

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


As more than half the ice melts away this summer one can measure whether the melt is above-normal or below-normal by visiting a Cryosphere Today page that graphs the melt of all the various Seas, and whether the melt is above or below normal. For example, Hudson Bay can be viewed here:

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

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

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

Happy ice-watching!


I have neglected to report on the sea-ice since November 11, as the subject draws little attention when the sea ice is growing by leaps and bounds. It is hard for the media to inspire panic about a “Death Spiral” when the sea-ice is doing what it does every year, which is to triple in its extent.  Also I have been fighting an arctic invasion in my own back yard. Lastly, my favorite DMI site was down for a while.

Now I have been nudged back into action, partly because I have a bit of free time and simply enjoy the arctic, but also due to being aggravated by an article I read on “The Weather Network”  that contained the usual misinformation. One paragraph stated:

“For example, after the record melt of Arctic sea ice in the northern summer of 2012, the melts in 2013 and 2014 were more in-line with the years prior to 2012 (and very close to what was seen in 2009). Although some have claimed this to be a ‘recovery’ of the Arctic, the 2012 melt was due to a combination of the warming trend in the climate and a specific worst-case sequence of weather events during that summer. Since that sequence of weather events didn’t repeat in the years after, the ice extents didn’t reach as low. However, the ice that grew back after 2012 was far thinner than was there before that melt, so the overall volume of ice – the total amount, rather than just how much ocean it covers – is still at a record low for the Arctic.”

This is just plain incorrect. The ice that grew back after 2012 was quite average, but was pushed towards Canada and piled up against the north coast of the Canadian Archipelago in a manner that made ice thicker for hundreds of miles out to sea, in a manner we have not seen for years. Furthermore, while “volume” is notoriously hard to calculate, indications are it is increasing, largely due to the increase of multi-year ice north of Canada.

This is something you know if you simply watch the ice. I’ve been doing so for years, and therefore misinformation leaps out at me.  Appeals to authority cannot cancel what my lying eyes have seen, and I am unimpressed by any sentence that uses the words “studies show” or “scientists say” without referring to actual data, or at least to papers that hold the data.

In any case, the article can be found at:

I get the feeling the more evidence proves that the idea of a “Death Spiral” is incorrect, the more we will hear these excuses. However the good thing is that is gets me so steamed I am motivated to continue to study the ice.  When you can’t rely on the media you must rely on your own eyes.

Since November 11 the rest of the Kara Sea has refrozen, the rest of the East Siberian Sea has refrozen, and Hudson Bay is freezing up a little ahead of schedule. The flow of ice down the west side of Baffin Bay is behind schedule, while the flow of ice down the east coast of Greenland, which was very much behind schedule, has nearly caught up to normal. The most noticeable deficit of sea-ice is in the Chukchi Sea north of Bering Strait, while the most noticeable increase from last year is in the northern waters of the Barent Sea, which are back to normal.

Watching these fluctuations in the growth of the ice give one hints about weather patterns and the state of the AMO and PDO, and have little to do with any Death Spiral.  The only way to call the current levels “unprecidented” is to studiously ignore history. The Danes kept careful records all the way back to the 1890’s, but these are repressed by people who seem determined to advance an agenda. I myself would like to see sea-ice retreat to the levels the Vikings saw when they grew barley in Greenland, because that would be a kinder climate here in New Hampshire, however people with an agenda likely would use the warmth as an excuse to increase my taxes.

You can open the maps below to new tabs to enlarge them, and then click back and forth between the tabs to watch how the ice grew between November 10 and November 29.

Extent 20141110 arcticicennowcastDMI2 1129 arcticicennowcast

Back on November 11 cold air was building over the Pole, as the Atlantic was blocked and pouring most of its milder air east into Europe.  The main entrance region for milder air was through Bering Strait. Cold Siberian air was draining north into the Laptev Sea.

DMI2 1111 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1111`temp_latest.big

Five days later the Pacific air has curled along the Canadian coast to the Pole, generating rising air and low pressure, which creates a return flow back to Canada. The air is in essence sloshing back and forth, but a cross-polar flow like last winter’s, from the Laptev Sea to the Canadian Archipelago is developing on the Pacific side, as a weak cross-polar-flow heads the other way north of the Atlantic. (Last year I called this “The Two Way Highway”.)

DMI2 1115 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1115 temp_latest.big

DMI2 1116B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1116B temp_latest.big

By November 18 the cross-polar-flow from Siberia to Canada is quite clear, and, like last year, not only air is moved but also the sea-ice is moved, to join the mass of multi-year ice already piled up north of Canada. Meanwhile, on the other side of the “highway’, a west wind blows across the north of Europe, keeping the Siberian cold at bay.

DMI2 1118 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1118 temp_latest.big

By November 25 the cross-polar flow has largely broken down.  A storm rolling along the Eurasian arctic coast has brought some Atlantic air up to the Pole, but the Pole is much colder, as it is sloshing between patterns, and isn’t exporting much cold.The cold air it is exporting is back down to be recycled in Siberia. This will generate storminess as the cold air clashes with the Atlantic air.

DMI2 1125 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1125 temp_latest.big

Currently the storminess has taken over the entire Atlantic side of the Pole, and a great rush of milder air is being drawn up to the Pole, even as the same general flow draws the coldest air of the season north from Siberia across the Laptev Sea. This clash will be interesting to watch.

DMI2 1128 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1128 temp_latest.big

The current invasion of warm air will of course make the graph of temperatures north of 80 degrees latitude spike upwards.

DMI2 1129B meanT_2014

These spikes in temperature might seem like they would indicate less sea-ice forming, however, as the maps show, they are often indicative of storms at the Pole, and storms often smash up the ice and expose waters to temperatures which, as the graph makes clear, are well below the freezing point of salt water. Perhaps a small amount of ice is melted if the water is stratified and if warmer water is stirred up from below, but such melting is more probable in summer storms. In winter storms the ice cracks to “leads” of open water which swiftly freeze over, or else these leads slam shut, creating “pressure ridges” of piled up ice.  After last winter, which was quite stormy, the new ice was not very flat, and contained more mini-mountain-ranges of piled up ice, which suggests storms increase the total volume of ice over a given area. It likely also chills the water more, as the water is exposed to the sub-zero air more often.

To get an idea of how much the ice is shifted about it pays to keep an eye on how the ice is moving, and I find this animation helpful:

Arctic Sea Ice Speed & Drift – 30 Day Animation

Because the Arctic Sea is constantly losing heat, if not through the open water of leads then through the ice itself (especially when the ice is new and only a foot or two thick,) now is the time we see the tables turned, and the Pole becomes a source of warming for the Tundra, and the Tundra becomes a source of cold for the Arctic Sea. The exact opposite is true during the summer, and it can be a bit hard to get your mind around which is effecting which, as the seasons change. It is especially hard because whichever is colder will tend to generate sinking air and high pressure, and whichever is warmer will tend to generate rising air and low pressure. It is great fun trying to keep track of it all, as long as you don’t mind seeing your assumptions are incorrect on a regular basis.

The only certain thing is that it is darn cold up there, and the sea is freezing over.  Where there isn’t ice, ice will appear, and where there is ice, the ice will get thicker. You can keep an eye on the thickness here:

Arctic Sea Ice Thickness – 30 Day Animation

The best collection of arctic information I know of has been compiled by Anthony Watts on his Sea Ice Page, which can be seen here:


The very cold air over the Pole and Siberia has moderated.  When there is a rebound of temperatures, one has to do some detective work, and see where the cold air has gone.

DMI2 1110B meanT_2014

Below are the DMI arctic maps for November 7th, 9th, and 11th. (Barometric pressure to the left, temperature to the right.) If you focus on the temperature maps you can see the deep blue fade away north of Greenland, as an invasion of milder air comes north through the Bering Strait.  Whenever there is an invasion of air there is usually an arctic outbreak somewhere else. Seldom do the opposing forces politely mix.

In this case the invading Pacific air split the cold air into two parts, the Eurasian part and the Canadian Part. The Canadian part is stronger, as is shown by the high pressure building there. The Eurasian outbreak is not as obvious, for a lot of the outbreak poured down the east coast of Greenland and out into Fram Strait, giving Svalbard very cold temperatures and chilling the North Atlantic. As soon as such air gets over open water it rapidly  warms at the surface, and appears to “disappear” from temperature maps, though in fact it had a lot to do with the series of storms rolling along the arctic coast of Eurasia.

DMI2 1107B mslp_latest.big DMI2 1107B temp_latest.big

DMI2 1109 mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1109 temp_latest.big


DMI2 1110B mslp_latest.bigDMI2 1110B temp_latest.big

The storms that have been rolling along the north coast of Eurasia have been interesting, for beneath them they carried a huge shot of milder temperatures on west winds.  This surge A.) led to some thawing of the Siberian snow-pack along its outer edge, B.) bumped some very cold air into the Pacific where it met a typhoon and became a huge gale, and C.) has a backwash of cold east winds to its north. The current temperature map of Asia still shows the milder air attacking the east Siberian cold from the southwest, as the backwash starts to  build a new pool of cold air in central Siberia. (Map created by Dr Ryan Maue at the Weatherbell site.) (Click to enlarge and clarify)

DMI2 1110B gfs_t2m_asia_33


Europe needs to keep an eye on the backwash. As the Siberian cold builds the west-to-east surges settle south, and the east-to-west back wash can extend to Scandinavia and even Britain, giving them their most frigid winter temperatures.

The cold air pouring out over the Pacific is messing with my head big time. I have been relying on my memory of 1976-1977’s brutal winter, rather than digging up old maps, and that is obviously a mistake, as things are not happening as I remember them happening.  Rather than cold air crossing over to North America just north of the Bering Strait, mild air is pouring north in the Bering Strait, but the arctic outbreak is coming south in North America just the same.  It is obviously time to shut up, and just observe.

There was a lot of incorrect blather  in the media about the huge gale that brewed up, incorperating all the juice of a typhoon into one of those amazing North Pacific monster storms. They are so big they make a super-typhoon look small, and though they may not have a core of 100+ mph winds, they can have winds of hurricane force over an area far larger than a hurricane does. (More Maue maps from Weatherbell.) The first map shows the gale near its peak, and the second shows it starting to fill and weaken now. (Click to enlarge and clarify; open-to-new-tabs to compare.)

DMI 1109 gfs_mslp_uv10m_npac_1

DMI2 1110B gfs_mslp_uv10m_npac_1

It is fairly obvious the winds from such monster storms are not going to allow air to cross the Bering Strait west-to-east.  Instead Siberian air charges east beneath such storms, to chill the north Pacific but to be much moderated before reaching North America.

(The winds were so strong as they poured off the Asian mainland that they actually warmed the coastal waters, despite being frigid, for they pushed the surface water out to sea and caused up-welling along the coast. This led to odd sea-surface temperature anomaly maps. While the frigid air chilled the western North Pacific, making parts to the west shift from above-normal to  below-normal, and be tinted blue on maps, right along the coast there was a strip of bright crimson, due to the up-welling. Bright crimson represented three degrees above normal, but normal is very cold in those waters. Usually the sea water is below the freezing point of fresh water and about to freeze. So don’t be fooled by the bright crimson and think that water is hot. However do be aware that the refreeze of those waters, [called “The Sea of Okbotsk,”] may be briefly delayed, despite very cold winds pouring over those waters.)

These giant Pacific gales suck up huge amounts of heat into the upper atmosphere, and all that rising air must descend somewhere, and therefore these storms tend to “pump the ridge” of high pressure in front of them. It is the other side of that ridge that is now delivering the very cold air south through Canada to the USA. However I have to put on my thinking cap, because the origins of that cold air are not from where I supposed.

In like manner huge gales blow up in the North Atlantic, and pump ridges in front of them. This currently seems to be happening over towards Europe. The first map shows the big but diffused gale stalling south of Iceland, and the second map shows the storm still stalled but high pressure building over Scandinavia, with cold air coming south on its eastern flank.

UK Met 1110A 20012543 UK Met 1110B 20016441

Last year the North Atlantic gales were bringing vast surges of mild air up their eastern sides, and flooding Europe with merciful southwest winds. Although the winter pattern hasn’t locked in, it is starting to look like this winter will be very different.

What does all this mean in terms of sea-ice? (I actually don’t care all  that much, as I have to attend to staying warm here in New Hampshire, and things freezing here matters more than things freezing thousands of miles to the north.) Currently it means there is a delay in the increase.

DMI2 1110B icecover_current_new

Extent 20141110 arcticicennowcast



I haven’t been able to study arctic maps to the degree I did last year. I only am able to allot so many hours a day to daydreaming and goofing off, (which is what studying weather maps boils down to, when you don’t get paid for it,) and this year I have other things to daydream about, and to goof off doing.

I figure it isn’t so urgent to study the arctic any more, as the idea that the arctic is in a “death spiral” has been slinking away in shame to the shadows, where it will lurk and await the next thaw, (or perhaps the next warm PDO.)  In fact it now is starting to seem incredible that  the “death spiral” idea was ever taken seriously, and that people became so indignant when I (and many others) dared challenge it.

Those clinging to the idea of the “death spiral” now need to cling to the hope the current “warm” spike in the PDO is more than a spike, and is in fact a freak occurrence of the PDO switching back to a long-lasting “warm” phase a decade earlier than usual. They also must hope the AMO stays in its “warm” phase as well.

This Alarmist dream likely will not come true, but even if it comes true it will not make the arctic be ice-free, as they predicted, but it might result in ice-extents low enough for them to point fingers at, and wave arms about.  Otherwise such people appear to be malingering, (which is, “to avoid work by feigning illness.”) The illness, in their case, is the “fever” the planet supposedly has, and the work they are avoiding involves facing the facts they fail to look at.

Having spent nearly a decade attempting to see the facts, (despite the smoke-screen some Alarmists have created to hide evidence from honest eyes,) I’ve fallen into the habit of observing the planet from the top. Even as it becomes less politically important to do so, I think I’ll continue to do it, for the top-down view possesses a fascination quite free from politics, and owns a beauty all its own.  I won’t do it to the degree I once did, but will continue to be an observer. While I may not demonstrate the rigor of a true scientist, I will continue to be a witness.

Over the past two weeks the extent of sea-ice has increased very swiftly. It always does, as the sun sets for six months at the Pole, but this year has seen the increase be especially fast. We are all set to surpass last year’s levels, because last year the ice extent actually decreased, briefly, at this time:

DMI2 1102 icecover_current_new (click to enlarge)

Much of this increase is due to the fact a large area of open water north of the Laptev Sea, (which I called, “The Laptev Notch”), and the Laptev Sea itself, froze over.  Compare these two maps, the top being from two weeks ago, and the bottom being the current situation:Extent 20141022 arcticicennowcastDMI2 1102 arcticicennowcast

It is important not to get too swept up in the hoopla about this increase, for such hoopla is only a response to the hoopla about decreases in ice being a “death spiral.”  The open water of the Laptev Notch was an anomaly largely created by winds, but did allow a glimmer of hope to brighten the gloom of those hoping the Pole would become ice-free and the end of the world was nigh.  The “Laptev Notch” could not last, and it was to be expected that it would swiftly refreeze, that the world wouldn’t end, and that those avoiding getting a real job because the end was nigh would have to get real jobs.

The above maps also show the open waters off the north coasts of Alaska and Canada have rapidly refrozen, adding to the swiftness of the increase in the ice-extent graph. However at this point we are running out of waters easy to freeze. There may even be a “pause” in the refreeze, much like last year’s, as we run out of easy-to-freeze open water.

It should be noted we still have more open water than last year towards Bering Strait, especially in the East Siberian Sea. Without a lick of scientific data, I would suggest this coincidentally matches the “warm” spike of the PDO, and is suggestive of an influx of warmer Pacific waters.

Also it should be noted there is more ice than last year east of Svalbard in the northern reaches of Barents Sea. Without a shred of scientific data, I would suggest this coincidentally matches a down-spike of the AMO last spring and summer into its “cold” phase.  In fact there was more ice along the north coast of Svalbard during the warmest days of summer than there was in the dead of last winter. Now the AMO has settled back into its “warm” phase.  When you compare the two maps above, what do you observe?  You observe there is a little less ice along the north coast of Svalbard, despite the fact ice is growing everywhere else, up in the arctic.  Coincidence? Or proof the AMO governs the amount of sea-ice?  That is not for me to say. I am just a witness.

Sometimes my curiosity gets going, and I yearn for more stuff to witness, and more time to witness stuff with. When I’m rich I’m going to hire a “go-for” to hunt up graphs and charts and old weather maps for me.  Even so, I doubt I’ll qualify as a true scientist. However I’ll be a better witness.

As the Arctic Sea refreezes the refreeze is influenced by the weather, and the weather is influenced by the refreeze. It is a chicken-or-the-egg thing.  Weather patterns influence the snow cover and the ice extent, but the snow cover and ice extent can influence the weather patterns.  For example, a certain pattern will dump snow over Siberia, but, once Siberia is snow-covered, it allows radiational cooling to generate cold high pressure, which must influence the pattern. In the same manner open water in the Arctic Sea allows more warm, moist updrafts, reletive to ice-covered water and  snow-covered land, and such updrafts are far more likely to feed and encourage low pressure systems. Storms have a way of following the edge of the ice, but a week later, when that same area is totally ice-covered, a similar storm will weaken.  So who is controlling whom?  You decide. I am just a witness.

Two weeks ago, on October 22, high pressure had been sitting up near the Pole for a week, and the air beneath cooled until it was the coldest of the season, and then a gale charged up from Iceland to budge the high south towards Siberia. As this cold air passed over the Laptev Sea it had a lot to do with the swift refreeze of the open waters.

DMI2 1022B mslp_latest.big

As the cold air settled over Siberia on October 26th the flow behind that high pressure, (between its high pressure and the Icelandic low), brought a flood of milder Atlantic air rushing north over Scandinavia, with a tongue of that mildness extending past the Pole on the Eurasian side, however this flood of warmth was about be swiftly pinched off by new high pressure advancing north from Canada.

DMI2 1026 mslp_latest.big

By October 27th the advance of the Canadian high pressure was starting to divert the flow of Atlantic air back towards Greenland, even as the advancing Icelandic low was shunted away from the Pole towards Scandinavia. This shoved the Siberian cold east. Meanwhile an Aleutian low was squeezing that cold from the other side, before it too was shunted eastward into Alaska by the Canadian high. During the brief period when the Siberian cold was getting squeezed from both sides it poured vast amounts of very cold air into the Pacific, behind the Aleutian low.

(This verifies a pet rule of mine:  If mild air floods up towards the Pole, cold air will be surging away from the Pole somewhere else.)

DMI2 1027 mslp_latest.big

As the Siberian cold poured out over the Pacific it cooled the water, which has been at “above normal” levels, to levels “below normal,” especially along the Pacific coast of Asia.  I think we shall see this continue this winter, and have a hunch it will end the “warm” spike of the PDO and return it to its more typical “cold” pattern by spring. However it also, (and this strays miles off topic,) apparently exposed some problem with how “above normal” and “below normal” are determined.  The problem manifested in very different sea-temperature-anomaly maps being produced by the same data, and is discussed here:


DMI2 1028B mslp_latest.big

Briefly the Canadian high pressure at the Pole was creating a zonal flow, with low pressures rotating politely around it, but by Halloween it was falling apart, as a new situation developed. The high pressure was settling south over Scandinavia, which was getting north winds, even as south winds approached ahead of the next Icelandic low.  On the Pacific side another Aleutian low approached Bering Strait even as the last one weakened moving east across Alaska to northern Canada.

DMI 1031B mslp_latest.big

By November 1 the winds were swinging around to the south in Norway, but this time the flood of milder, Atlantic air is not penetrating to the Pole, but rather is swung back towaeds Greenland. The only significant south winds invading the Pole are from the revitalized low in the Canadian Archipelago, and they are not all that balmy. For the most part the Pole is quiet and calm and losing heat, which creates cold at the surface. So is Siberia.

DMI2 1101 mslp_latest.big

This brings us to today.  I’m at a loss to explain why the low pressure is extending north of Eurasia the way it is. It is time to simply watch, and be a witness, and be glad my livelihood isn’t dependent on predicting what happens next.

DMI2 1102 mslp_latest.big

However, as a witness, I’ll note the air over the Pole is the coldest we’ve seen all autumn:

DMI2 1102 meanT_2014 (click to enlarge)

DMI2 1102 temp_latest.big

Furthermore Siberia, which was milder after discharging so much cold air over the Pacific, has recharged itself and is again loaded with cold:

DMI2 1101 cmc_t2m_asia_1

When this much cold air builds up, it seldom sits up there. It is heavy, dense stuff, much heavier and denser than air to the south, so it is likely to sink under the air to the south and cause uplift and storms and arctic outbreaks.  The question then becomes, “Where?”

My guess is a lot of the Siberian air will again spill into the Pacific, but a little further north than last time, as we progress towards a winter pattern that will see Siberian air spilling across the Bering Strait into Alaska and then south.

I also guess a surge of relatively mild westerly wind will cross Europe, hinting at a winter storm track that will see the westerly winds sink south as the cold builds to the north,  until easterly winds north of that storm track start transplanting air from Siberia across the north of Europe, so that Scandinavia, which saw southwest winds from the Atlantic for much of last winter,  will see the east winds of Tolkien’s Mordor freezing their socks off.

Lastly, the cold over the Pole, separate from Siberia, will leak south into Canada behind the low in the Archipelago. I guess this is a temporary event, and part of a transitory autumnal pattern.

I confess this guess-work has great gaps and holes. For example, while I’ve figured out where air will exit the arctic, I know it must be replaced by air entering, but haven’t a clue where that would be. Either side of Greenland?

In the end, guess-work is but guessing, and I’ll likely stand corrected. Actually I look forward to correction, for I would rather stand corrected than fall. And, even without the comments of fellow bloggers to correct me, simply being a witness supplies me with more corrections than a school-teacher with a lot of red pencils, in the form of that great correcter called “Reality.”



(Please note that this post is dated October 25, 2014. I have had a number of hits on this old post today, October 19, 2015, nearly a year later, and fear people may be taking last year’s information as being up-to-date and current. That being said, it is indeed interesting to compare the two years.)Siberian snow Nov 2 ecmwf_snowdepth_russia_41__4_(1)

(CLICK MAP TO CLARIFY AND ENLARGE) The above map jumped out at me as I prowled the web for news. I found it among the heaps of information Joseph D’Aleo provides at his blog at Weatherbell, and is one of the thousands of maps Dr. Ryan Maue provides at that site. It shows the snow-cover in Siberia building to cover most of Russia by November 2. (Please note this article was written in 2014, though it in some ways also applies to this autumn’s situation [2015]). This year the early snow seems centered more towards western Russia. Check the top of my website for the latest post on Europe.)

This is a lot of snow for this early in the winter, and does not bode well for all northern lands.  Snow-cover allows Siberia to lose heat through radiational cooling, and the area “produces” cold, pressing down as high pressure which then then moves outwards in all directions. The earlier the snow-pack forms, the earlier pools of extreme cold can be created. Already temperatures in east Siberia are touching that magic number of minus forty, where both Fahrenheit and Celsius agree. (The Maue-made temperature-map below is in Fahrenheit.)

Siberia 2 cmc_t2m_asia_1 (click to enlarge)

Freezing temperatures (below 32 Fahrenheit) are shown where sky blue turns to pink, and extend from Finland to Manchuria. Where Fahrenheit temperatures change from above zero to below zero (-18 Celsius) are shown by the deep blue areas within the pink turning to gray. When the gray blackens and then turns back to sky blue again, in the very center of the cold, we are seeing temperatures of minus forty.

These areas will enlarge as winter comes on, for Siberia experiences the coldest temperatures seen in the northern hemisphere, and can get down to minus seventy. The Arctic Ocean cannot get so cold, due to the warmer water under the ice, and only gets down to minus fifty on rare occasions due to Siberian air pouring north (and more rarely Canadian cold pouring north.)

This early in the dark days there is still open water along the Siberian coasts, and the temperature contrast is huge. The unfrozen water heats the air to plus thirty as the air over the land is minus thirty, and this sixty degree difference results in a Land-Breeze, with cold air sinking and rushing out over the sea, as the air over the sea rises. This swiftly freezes the sea, but also pushes the new ice north towards the Arctic basin, especially in the Laptev Sea.

The cold air also pushes east over the Pacific,  cooling its waters, and south into China and west into Europe, cooling lakes that, until they freeze over, remember the summer’s warmth and act like small radiators.  Once they freeze over, and once the Siberian coastline freezes over, the cold becomes more able to expand.  To have this process well underway in October is not a good sign.

You can see the warming effect of the sea on the Pacific coast, and north of Scandinavia, and to a lesser degree over the Laptev Sea.  This effect will diminish as the ice builds.  Ice seldom forms north of Scandinavia, due to tendrils of the Gulf stream, but the freeze-up of the Pacific coast is amazing, and extends out for miles. The arctic coast freezes up early, but the winds off Siberia can be so strong that ice is pushed away from land, and slightly warmer water up-wells as surface water is pushed north, and polynyas if open water can form even when temperatures are fifty below, especially in the Laptev Sea.

What I watch for is a cross-polar-flow, which brings the Siberian air to Canada and Alaska.  Though this air is warmed to some degree as it crosses the relatively mild ice on the Arctic Sea,  the warming can be a thin layer at the surface, with the bulk of air entering North America as a frowning Siberian high. This then gets even colder over the American tundra, especially as the northern Canadian Great Lakes, (Greater Slave, Lesser Slave, Bear, and Winnipeg) freeze over in October, and even more when Hudson Bay freezes over later in October into November.  The earlier the lakes and bays freeze the earlier nasty cold can build, and come howling south, and clash with moist air coming up from the Gulf of Mexico, and breed our blizzards.

What you want to see, if you want a mild winter, is a shallow Siberian snow pack that forms late.  You don’t want to see over a foot of snow covering large areas of Siberia when it is still October.

When I was young I’d be clicking my heels and anticipating snowstorms cancelling school, but those days are long gone.


Over on his excellent blog at Weatherbell, Joe Bastardi today noted that we are now up  among the top three on terms of world-wide snow-cover, at this date, early in the season. Not only is most of Russia covered, but a lot of Canada and Alaska as well.

Then he did something I lack the time to do, which was to check the history.  It is important to see what the “precedent” is, before you use the word “unprecedented.” It is also helpful to know what to expect. What Joe found surprised me, for he found some winters that started out like gang-busters, in terms of world-wide snowfall, and then backed off and became unimpressive winters. He also found winters that began with little snowfall that were late starters, and became severe later.

This throws a monkey wrench into  the works of my idea that snowfall is a feedback, and that a lot of snow creates an Asian high pressure of sinking, cold air that creates more ice and snow, and therefore more cold, in a sort of vicious cycle.

Unfortunately I don’t have the maps of the winters that disprove my theory, and therefore can’t study what the heck went on. When I’m rich I’ll hire some eager, young go-for to look all that stuff up for me.

However Joe also mentioned that one of the top three years, in terms of snowfall on October world-wide on October 29, was 1976.  There’s that year again. The winter of 1976-1977 was the worst, in terms of cold, and in terms of sea-ice along the east coast of the USA, that I can remember. So…we definitely shouldn’t lower our guard.

UPDATE #2  —NOVEMBER 2, 2014—

Here is a map of the actual November 1 snow-cover, to compare with the forecasted map I posted above.

Snowcover 20141101 ims2014305

Siberia exported its first batch of very cold air largely to the east, out over the northern Pacific ocean. Those waters, which were largely at above-normal temperatures during the summer, have been cooled and now are below-normal towards the Pacific coast of Asia.

A new batch of very cold air is pooling over Siberia:

DMI2 1101 cmc_t2m_asia_1 Watch to see where this batch of cold air goes. If it heads east again it will be starting to resemble the flow in 1976-1977, which often came across the Bering Strait and down into Canada and eventually the USA. Ar the moment the water in the Bering Strait and East Siberian Sea is open, (likely due to a “warm” spike in the predominately “cold” phase of the PDO),  and the Siberian air is being warmed by that water on its way to North America. Once those waters freeze, look out!