LOCAL VIEW –Cold Comfort–

Beach 4 FullSizeRender

The  Atlantic was so hot today that islands in the distance seemed to float over the shimmer of a mirage, like you see shimmering over a hot highway in July. The difference was the Atlantic really wasn’t hot as a highway; it was cool, but the air was frigid.

A gale was blowing straight from the north, and the surf grew manes like charging horses.

Beach 2 FullSizeRender

I dressed in my warmest clothes, with my warmest long underwear, for a beach is beautiful in all weathers, except perhaps for women. Personally I prefer bikinis to burkas.

Beach 1 IMG_5745

Somewhere under that bundling was my wife, and her voice was warm, and that really is the main thing that matters.

It has been too long since the summer of love
When it all seemed obvious and simple.
The Woodstock dream was a beckoning dove
That made young maid’s cheeks beautifully dimple
But now those cheeks are like leather and creased
And the beauty is kept sheltered within.
The maid’s lovely smile has now sadly ceased
For she shows missing teeth with her grin.
Time’s tax has robbed those who do not look deep
And see that time improves wives as it does wine.
The superficial fall fast asleep
As others trim lamps for a Guest divine.
As winter draws near in the gathering storm
Be glad when you walk with a voice that is warm.

It is amazing how quickly the mind shifts gears, if you give it half a chance. I suppose that is why some spend so much to seek ski slopes. Being a bit more stingy, (call it frugal), and less able to withstand the terrible crashes which I, as a bad and reckless skier, once amazed (or horrified) all on the slopes with, I find a beach a better place to be when winds get bitter. But the effect is the same.  Senses are sharpened. And it is far cheaper, with off-season rates.

The streets are strangely deserted. You half expect to see a tumbleweed blowing down the ghost-town avenues, but instead must be satisfied with a windblown newspaper. (Rare enough; who reads those things any more?) Not only have tens of thousands of tourists left, but most of the workers who waitress tables and change sheets have fled as well. All that remains is a remnant of humanity, a little like you are in some sort of “Mad Max” movie about Earth after Armageddon. Vast eateries with huge parking lots are completely closed, and only smaller joints remain. And you had best be careful walking into such places. Some are where fellows go when they are unemployed from September to May, and you don’t want to bring a wife there. More upscale, but strangely even more adolescent, are restaurants where men connive how to rip off the public next June, (and I identify such places because all the cars outside have Florida and New Jersey plates, and the men inside wear shiny suits no one on vacation wears, and don’t drink from mugs.)

To eat well, go to a local grocery store. If you insist upon eating out, ask the people at the grocery store. The cashier will tell you she can’t afford to eat out, so my wife asked her where her parents ate out. Or ask the person running the place where you are staying.

To be honest, this research is far more fun than the recreation summer visitors find at night clubs or upon roller coasters or at miniature golf courses. Meeting people is far more fun than mere distractions.

And, if you are fed up with people and really do need a distraction, walk the beach and talk to the gulls. This is actually what drew people to the beach in the first place, though the purpose is defeated when you are elbow to elbow with ten thousand others on towels.  A beach is hardly a beach in the summer. The sands reverts to how a beach should be when the wind chill dips to zero (-17º Celsius).

The gulls are easier to talk to, because they are largely disgruntled. They were overfed during the summer, stealing people’s french fries and hot dogs, and do not approve of the changed circumstances. The sad fact of the matter is that plenty created an overpopulation, and many will not make it to spring. The healthier birds wheel and screech and fight over the sea-clams and dead crabs exposed by the retreating tide, in the acceptably un-spiritual manner of gulls, but many others crouch in the sand, sulking in the gale. The don’t want to fly in the wild wind, and even seem reluctant to waddle out of your way,  for that involves turning their tails to the wind, and the gale then plucks at their feathers, ruffling them like a hand rubbing a cat’s fur the wrong way.  Only with the most uncomplimentary glances your way will they open their wings and be whipped down the beach against the harsh glitter and glare of the wintry sun.

Beach 3 IMG_5756

Even as the lumbering gull is torn downwind, one notices tiny dots skittering to and fro below it, at the water’s edge. I suppose they are some sort of sandpiper. But what seems most incredible to me is that they are even able to survive in the cold.  Plucked they would amount to little more than a couple of tablespoons of hot blood,  and in the windchill two tablespoons should freeze solid in two minutes. Yet they seem utterly untroubled by the cold.  Compared to the gulls they seem downright cheerful. What sort of crazy metabolism burns in them? And what the heck are they pecking at in the sand that fuels such tiny engines?

Whatever it is, I want some.

Beach 5 FullSizeRender

When gales dent my eyeballs and wires are singing
And ruffled gulls sulk, before bending downwind,
What sort of fires are sandpipers bringing
To beaches abandoned, where summer once grinned?
They skitter away from the water’s onrush,
Then scamper close to its sizzling retreat,
Untroubled by growling surf’s thump and hush
And running on amazingly unfrozen feet.
My fingers, far fatter, are bitten by frost,
Yet God keeps birds wonderfully warm.
Perhaps they’re a symbol, made for the lost
Who can’t see how they will live through a storm.
We shouldn’t be sure cold can chill to the bone
When Paul wrote great things from the sewers of Rome.

Advertisements

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Warming Ice–

One dynamic that will cross your eyes, if you should have the time to spend attempting to contemplate all its intricacies, involves the warming of the sea-ice before it starts to even think about melting. In fact it is still freezing and getting thicker, as it first starts to warm. That alone sits one backs onto their heels. How can the ice be getting warmer if it is getting thicker?

It is rather simple, when you think that ice at the surface can be down to around -60°C when the bitterest cold howls off Siberia in the deepest dark of January. It is obvious that, should that ice “warm” to -59°C, there is not going to be much melting going on. In fact it can warm and warm and warm, all the way up to -1.9°, and the ice will blithely ignore all the warming and go right on getting thicker.

In fact the words, “warm”, “warming”, and “warmer” can be handy tools, if you own a cruel streak and wish to agitate Alarmists.   Just make your eyes round and clasp your hands and say the ice is heating up, and you’ll get to watch them rush around like chickens after corn.

However I am a kindly old man, and don’t torture people more than I have to, and if I am going to cause anyone a headache I prefer to do it to myself, simply by trying to get my mind around the complexities of what boils down (poor word choice) amounts to an ice-cube melting in a glass of water.

The warmth is coming from both the top and the bottom.  Assuming the ice “remembers” the winter’s cold, and has been chilled to -25°C , you have that temperature sandwiched by “warmer” air of -15°C above, and “warmer” seawater of -1.9°C below.

Keeping that sandwich in mind, it then pays to remember the first and second laws of thermodynamics.

A bit of thought makes it clear that the most warming of the ice comes from below, and in fact has been radiating up all winter, even as the ice has been growing thicker, and continues to grow thicker. Not only does this heat come from the water, but latent heat is released from the water as it freezes. (That’s a hard thing to get your mind around. When water is freezing one seldom extends their palms to feel the warmth radiating from the phase change.)

Eventually the ice, at the bottom, will reach its melting point, and we’ll then discuss the opposite phase change, which gobbles up available heat, turning it back to latent heat. But before we reach that point we run into a few other small problems. First, as the salt water freezes it exudes the salt, which involves a further heat exchange. Then you wind up with fresh water ice sitting in salt water. How is this a problem? Well, the melting point of fresh water is 0°C and the water is at -1.9°C. So how can the ice ever melt?

I’m getting a headache.

In any case, as you look at the maps below please keep all the above in mind.

When we last looked a “Swirl” was laughing at textbooks and sitting on the Pole. Apparently this irritated the high pressure towards Canada, who believes in doing things by the book, and it has been making a noble effort to sit on the Pole.

Now we have nearly achieved the state where high pressure sits on the Pole, and all is as it should be, according to the book.

Polar Cell cells_mod

The only problem is that the low north of Norway looks like it is going to be rude and head straight to the Pole. Besides exporting a lot of cold down towards Europe, (Joe Bastardi at the Weatherbell site points out by April 27 snow might be seen down in France and Germany),

Europe April snow ecmwf_tsnow_europe_41(15)

but also this will make life interesting for the tourists up at the Barneo camp. So far the skies remain blue and the huts have been set up.

Barneo 7A 13002551_985838608151955_7676097520744859055_o164

The airstrip hasn’t cracked lately, and the jets are landing on schedule.

Barneo 7B 13047949_985838741485275_258960100589539753_o171

Winds are light, and temperatures, which made it up to -15°C, have dipped back to -23°C, as the base drifts slowly towards Fram Strait, and the various cross country skiers, helicoptered to various points on the Russian side of the Pole, hurry to get to the Pole before the storm comes north.

Barneo 7C 13002590_985838818151934_4180146684063629281_o167

Things could get interesting up there towards the weekend.

ARCTIC SEA ICE —Northwest Passage Luxury Liner All Booked Up—

Luxury Liner 733

“1,700 passengers and crew” and an icebreaker to clear the way.  This is the holiday for me!

“Prices for the journey aboard the 14-deck luxury liner start at nearly $22,000 rising to $120,000 for a deluxe stateroom – and this year’s cruise is sold out, according to the company.”

Oh…well…who the heck wants to go up there, anyway.

In the wake of that ship will be the gray-water waste of 1,700 people, but in the bow people will clasp their hands and go on and on about how folk like me harm the environment, by staying home and working. Or…that’s what my somewhat grumpy imagination is thinking.

Guess who will be working as tour guides?

“Ice pilots, polar bear researchers, and veterans of other Arctic expeditions will be aboard to ensure passengers’ safety and to protect the local wildlife, environment and customs, the company said.”  (They may not call themselves “tour guides”, but I’m green with envy, so I do.) (I suppose that, if you love the arctic, you will do anything to avoid getting a Real Job down south.)

I sure hope nothing goes wrong. The big city of Nome, Alaska has only 18 hospital beds.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/28/us-canada-arctic-cruise-ship-titanic-emergency-training-coast-guard

North Pole Camping at Barneo. Only $28,995.

Barneo jet over tent barneoicecampquarktile

Time is running out, if you want to get rid of me by sending me to the North Pole.

https://portal.quarkexpeditions.com/STW/STWProduct.aspx?Theme=QUARK&ProductCode=LND-BAR-5D2016

After all, what is a piddling $28,995 to a wealthy person like you? And there is always the hope I won’t come back, though the tour guide calls this “embracing the unexpected.”

http://www.polarcruises.com/arctic/ships/land-based-trips/north-pole-barneo-ice-camp-arctic/north-pole-express-barneo-ice-camp

Barneo route map. Map_NorthPoleExpressBarneoIceCamp

If you are a real tightwad, I suppose you can send me the cheap way, for only $18,995.

http://expeditionsonline.com/tour-148/north-pole-express-barneo-ice-camp

But you don’t really want to have people look at you and call you cheap, do you?

You had best hurry. Time is running out. Not only are all the vacancies filling up, but we all know the ice is melting away up there, and soon there will be none left to camp on.9605374252_a1551c2c48_c

http://www.icetrek.com/barneo-ice-camp.html

So please do not delay, and send your money to me swiftly.

For more on the topic of the Barneo camp, with some funny pictures,  you can check out the post I wrote last year on March 21:

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/north-pole-sunrise-tour-now/

And here is a report I wrote about the 2014 season.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/%EF%BB%BFjets-landing-on-north-pole-ice/

And here is the report from last year, when the jets landing gear crumpled to get things off to an interesting start.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/jets-landing-gear-fails-at-pole/

By the way, they wont start actually building the camp up there for another month, I think. They like to wait until sunrise, which is March 22 at the Pole.