LOCAL VIEW –Black Fly Blues–

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Outside the blue sky’s gorgeous
But I’m not going out of doors today.
Outside the sun is golden
But inside is the place I’m going to stay.
I’ll be a couch potato
Until the biting black flies go away.

I’ve heard God’s love’s in everything,
Even in that pesky little fly.
I found the thought impossible,
So I grabbed one, and I looked him in the eye.
He whined, “Hey man! I love you!”
He’d made a point no woodsman can deny.

They love me head down to my toes;
They even love the inside of my nose.
They also love my armpits
(And not too many folk are fond of those.)
They’re part of Love’s creation
Sort of like the thorns upon a rose.

See that flycatcher winging?
He loves black fly. Black fly he’s glad to see.
Hear that songbird singing?
Black fly fuels his springtime rhapsody.
Feel that itch and stinging?
You are part of Love’s ecology.

Outside the blue sky’s gorgeous.
I can’t be cooped up inside any more.
Outside the sun is gorgeous.
I find I’m walking slowly to the door.
Spring is here and it is clear
Love’s inviting me to come explore.

I wrote that song back in May, 1990. It was one of the last songs I wrote as a bachelor, though I didn’t really have a clue what lay 45 days in my future. I had just chanced into a small town church choir, and found myself mingling with young married couples with small children, and they wanted me to sing at a church picnic in June. It was sort of a graduation party for the Sunday School. For me it was great fun, for I’d been through over a decade as a drifter and a loner, and now all of a sudden I had not only a guitarist and bass to back up my vocals, but the young housewives insisted on being accompanying dancers as I sang, and choreographed a thing where all held fly-swatters and waved them like batons as I sang. I doubt it would have been a hit on Broadway, but we weren’t aiming for that. We hit the bulls eye of what we aimed for, which was joy and a good laugh.

To make joy out of black flies is a major achievement. In fact it is something I think might be good to be remembered for. It would make an intriguing tombstone, “He made joy out of black flies.”

However here it is 27 years later, and I’m dealing with a whole new generation of children and black flies. One way I create a safe-house out of doors is to use the old-fashioned idea of a “smudge.” You basically build a hot fire, and then smother it with wet leaves and twigs.

Black fly blues 3 IMG_4835

Black flies don’t like smoke. They don’t even like the exhaust of a lawn mower or leaf-blower, but back in the day I was prone to using un-powered hand tools, and therefore during the spring I was a chain-smoker. I’d say I only inhaled a puff or two of each cigarette, but they were much cheaper back then, and I’d go through 3 packs a day quite often.

Of course, the politics of smoke have gotten rougher. The EPA was doing its best to outlaw smoke altogether, (though they did get caught fudging some of their data, concerning the harm of “particulates.)”

When I was a small child I didn’t use the word “particulates”, but, believe it or not, one of the small girls at the Childcare furrowed her brow, as I built my smudge, and asked me if I was worried about the “particulates”.

What could I say? I just tugged my beard thoughtfully, and said man started using fire a long, long time ago. Neanderthals used fire. Even Homo Erectus used fire, perhaps as much as 1,500,000 years ago. If it was bad for us, it would have killed us by now. In fact, we probably evolved to handle smoke better than laboratory rats do.  So I told her she shouldn’t worry too much about “particulates.” There was probably more bad stuff in indoor air, than by a campfire.

The girl seemed immensely relieved, and ran off to happily play. But it did make me wonder what some environmentalists think they are teaching our children, when they cause the young such worry, and so many bad dreams. Actually the outside is a lovely place, even when the black flies are out.

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LOCAL VIEW –Tipping Point–

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When life gets too quiet we crave some noise.
Noisy life makes us seek quiet again.
We’re always alternating our joys.
We have visions and get busy and then
We feel over-worked, and seek some new toys,
Some new hamster wheel to take a spin in
But it becomes a rat race; with the boys
We go out, and begin with a big grin
But wind up hung-over; each pleasure destroys
Its foundation somehow; each winking allure
Winds us up jaded. Our poor brain employs
Years of research to find peace that is pure
And will last: Perfect balance; perfect poise…
…but then it’s too quiet, so we crave some noise.

My wife and I have decided we don’t feel fulfilled unless we are busy as bees. We cannot seem to sit and sip a drink without brainstorming and coming up with a whole new crop of ideas. Soon our schedule is filled to the brim, and we are happy, until…

There always seems to be one unplanned thing that pops in, and tips us from joy to complete despair. What saves us is our sense of humor. It has happened so many times that we have a private motto (regarding how full our schedule is.) “99% equals joy; 101% equals despair.”

Some people say, “Into each life a little rain must fall.” Yesterday I decided it could also be “Into each life a little weasel will call.”

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Should some weasel enter your life today, remember you are not alone, and keep your sense of humor.


This is just a brief observation, demonstrating how my lying eyes get me in trouble with the hard-working, code-apt, computer-savvy geeks who have eyes glued to computer terminals that produce wonderful models.

Please understand,  I avoid Math when possible, and I am very grateful to those who do the Math for me, such as my tax accountant. However I do not allow my accountant to mind my business.

How does this involve sea-ice?

Well, there are certain “accountants” who at times seem to want to run my business, and by that I mean they seem to want me to deny my lying eyes. By “accountants” I of course am referring to computer models. In this particular case I am referring to a model I often refer to, and in some ways very much like, called PIOMAS. In my opinion it is in many ways a wonderful model, and represents the hard work of fellows who have worked their butts to the bone and deserve respect. I cannot tell you how much it pains me to suggest they might have gotten something wrong.

In this manner I’m like my Dad. He was a surgeon, and sometimes people came to him asking for a second opinion, and sometimes he had to inform not the patient, but the first-opinion surgeon, that their diagnosis was wrong.

I felt my Dad should have just told the first bozo they were an idiot, for advocating a needless amputation, but instead Dad walked on eggs and only differed from the first quack in a most cringing, ingratiating manner. Maybe Dad was kind and polite, but it was sort of embarrassing to watch. He was sort of apologizing for being correct. The boy in me felt he should just have chopped off the first quack’s head. (That is what a true Tolkien warrior would have done.) (But pretty soon we would not have many doctors left alive, I suppose.)

I have no wish to chop off the head of PIOMAS, but my lying eyes are begging to differ with their diagnosis.

I have just used my lying eyes to watch what the arctic isobars did, and  have surmised what the winds were, and have watched to see how the sea-ice responded, and it has seemed fairly obvious the low pressure I dubbed “Ralph”  caused a counterclockwise flow to effect the Pole.  However the PIOMAS only shows a counterclockwise “anomaly”, and suggests the ordinary clockwise flow (the ordinary Beaufort Gyre and ordinary Transpolar Drift), persisted.

Piomas piomas_ice_motion_anomaly_JanMarch2017

This troubles me, for it is a bit ludicrous to suggest an “anomaly” moves ice, if the ordinary flow is in effect. An anomaly might speed or slow the ordinary flow, but the ordinary flow would remain ordinary. In actual fact we have witnessed, with our lying eyes, the extraordinary features of an extraordinary flow.

For example, the above map shows the “mean ice motion” pushing ice away from the western entrance of the Northwest Passage, when we know that (before April) ice piled into that entrance.  In like manner, there is no suggestion of west winds forcing the Kara Sea sea-ice into Vistula Strait, so a toothpaste extrusion of thick ice crossed the polynya which the same west winds formed in the west of the Laptev Sea.

2 Laptev FullSizeRender

And so on and so forth.

I do not want to belabor this point, and want to keep this brief, however I feel a need to stress that we who use our lying eyes seemed to see the sea-ice act as if the PIOMAS “anomaly” map was in fact the “ice motion” map. It follows, therefore, that the “ice motion” map contains some sort of misdiagnosis.

I need to say this because there are some who worship the PIOMAS “ice motion” map as a sort of god, whose authority cannot be questioned. When I try to tell them what my lying eyes actually witnessed, they scoff. They say my vision cannot be correct, for PIOMAS said it did not occur, and how dare anyone dare question the divinity of such a idol?

To me this is a bit like saying you cannot go a second surgeon for a second opinion, even when the first surgeon suggests an amputation is necessary.  If we must scoff at all, I scoff at that idea. After all, as a child I saw many doomed to lose a leg come to my father for a second opinion, and saw advances in the vascular surgery of that time save the patient’s limb.

My father was able to save others limbs despite the fact he had largely lost the use of his own, because of polio. In like manner, I suffer from a different sort of polio, involving Math. And, just my father saved people of the past from amputation of legs, I might spare you from the amputation of logic, if you just step away from computer models for a bit, and use your lying eyes.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –The Value of a Witness–

NZ Barneo fellow SCCZEN_SUP250417NADPOLE1_620x310

I have been somewhat dismayed by a reduction in funding for on-the-scene reporters up at the Pole, most especially the buoys with cameras attached. As far as I know not a single camera-buoy has been put in place so far. There is no North Pole Camera this year, and no new O-buoys have been installed.

Why bother? Well, they may be expensive, but not compared to a satellite. Also satellites fail to give the on-the-scenes data we get from buoys, and also get from the wonderful madmen who actually ski and sail the arctic.

Let me give you a quick example from mid April.

By April the sun is up and never sets at the Pole, and that 24-hour-a-day sunlight is expanding steadily down towards the Arctic Circle, but the further south you go the more you see diurnal variation of temperatures. When you view the planet from the top the diurnal effect is fascinating; in terms of temperatures it is as if a big spoon is stirring around and around. Below are the 0z and 12z maps of April 19. Notice how much warmer the Beaufort Sea is in the afternoon, (left) as opposed to the wee hours of the morning (right).

Temperatures do not vary as much towards the Pole, because the sun’s height varies less as it travels around the horizon, and at the Pole the sun’s height doesn’t vary at all (beyond the slow rise to the solstice high-point.)  Diurnal variation seems to account for a 5-10° swing in temperatures down near the arctic circle, but less towards the Pole. Anything greater demands an different explanation, such as a switch from sunny to cloudy conditions, from calm to windy conditions, from convection to inversion, or a change in airmasses. Or, (and I hate to include this), a modeling error in the satellite data.

I bring this up because the satellite maps note the area near the Pole is between -20°C and -25°C on April 10, yet the reporter on the scene reported -35°C. His name is Matt Sutcliffe, and his adventure is recounted here:


Now, before the gentleman is accused of exaggerating the severity of the cold, I should state similar cold was reported at the Barneo Base Facebook page on April 10

Barneo News:
Coordinates: 89º11’N, 033º10’E
Weather: clear of cloud, wind SE 3 m/s, pressure 763 mm of mercury, temperature -32ºС.


I reiterate, no temperatures that low appear on the DMI temperature maps for either April 10 or April 11. -25°C seems more like it.

“Oh!” you perhaps exclaim, “What’s a piffling ten degrees between friends?”

I can think of a number of a reasons it matters.

1.) It mattered to Matt Sutcliffe, because not even high-tech mittens over high-tech gloves prevented frostbite of his fingers at -35°C. There is nothing glamorous about frostbite, (and at worst it can result in amputation), so we should attempt to make certain we report temperatures accurately.

2.) It matters to me, because I want to report the Truth on this site.

3.) Ten degrees is of great importance to people who fret about the planet being .01°C warmer than the year before,  especially as most of the “warming” is in arctic regions, and is derived from sparse data. If data like this DMI data was used, and a -10°C error was commonplace,  the world temperature could be adjusted downwards, and it might turn out the planet was .02°C cooler, and we could all stop fretting and relax and have a beer.

4.) This particular blast of -35°C cold was quite a pattern flip from an earlier pattern that had relatively mild Atlantic air pouring north over this same area, back in the dark of winter before the sun rose. Often it is the extremes that bring such changes to our attention, and a difference of ten degrees can take something that jumps out at us, and reduce it to something we fail to notice. (If studying the climate has any value at all, it likely is because we might notice a change we should be alert to.)

In conclusion, I’d simply like to say this is not an isolated incident. It pays to have an eye-witness reporter on the scene. In the past quite often the satellite reported no sub-freezing temperatures, but a buoy-camera would show melt-water pools skimming over with ice.

If we must de-fund, there are bureaucrats twiddling thumbs in offices that should go, before we lose the arctic sea-ice cameras.  Unless, of course, there is something we do not really want to see.

(Hat tip to Brett Keane for alerting me to the article from New Zealand).


ARCTIC SEA ICE –The Laptev Enigma–

One thing I find engrossing about watching sea-ice is to see I am wrong. Sea-ice is always pulling off stunts that surprise me, and, because my income does not depend on being “right”, seeing the sea-ice do things I did not expect increases my sense of wonder.

Originally I watched the ice for the same reason I watched clouds out the window during Math classes. Science had nothing to do with it. Perhaps it was a study of Truth, but it was Truth as a poet defines Truth, and didn’t involve Math at all. It was only when pugnacious people appeared out of the blue to disagree with what I was observing, with my innocent, dreamy eyes, that I got sucked into the Climate Wars. Even then I avoided Math whenever possible. I found it was often possible to point out the simple fact sea-ice hadn’t melted because drifting buoys had cameras, and I could see it hadn’t melted. I didn’t need calipers.

Even without calipers the arctic is wondrous, full of surprises that can get you into trouble, because what you see disagrees with textbooks. Just for an example, the older textbooks described the Arctic Sea as “sterile”, once you got away from shore. It was assumed to be the same as other oceans, where life thrives near land, where seaweed can anchor on rocks and create a habitat, but life doesn’t thrive away from land, where the waters are in a sense bottomless. Using this assumption, it was assumed that when (and if) Global Warming melted ice away from shores, seals and polar bears would be forced out to sterile waters and starve. However then came the surprise; the Arctic Sea is not like the others. It was noted that the underside of sea-ice was slimed with growth, and ice-breakers far from shore saw arctic cod jumping before their plowing prows. In other words, sea-ice creates a habitat where other seas only can create micro-habitats from drifting objects (such as fouled boat-bottoms.)

Another surprise, to me at least, was how mobile the ice was. In fact this was known more than a century ago,

Wreckage from the Jeannette was found by Inuit on the southwest coast of Greenland in 1884, three years and 2900 nautical miles from where it sank. This information suggested to a young Norwegian scientist and explorer, Fridtjof Nansen, that just as the debris of the Jeannette had been transported across the Arctic Ocean by the ice, so too could a vessel if it was properly constructed to withstand the pressure of the ice. Funded by Norwegians, a specially constructed vessel, the Fram, was constructed with a rounded bottom to lift the ship under ice pressure. Nansen departed Bergen, Norway with the Fram in 1893, headed eastward along the Northeast Passage, and turned into the ice pack north of the Lena River in eastern Russia.

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Nansen’s adventures make a splendid sidetrack, if you ever have a need to escape reality for a while. But in this post I’m just using Nansen to bring you to the Lena River and the Laptev Sea.

The Lena River is one of the World’s ten largest, and is wonderful because its rate-of-flow varies enormously. During the winter the bitter Siberian cold freezes the water to the bottom along shallower stretches, so upstream waters must lift the ice to squeeze beneath. So little melting occurs upstream the flow shrinks to a relative trickle. Only around 3% of its yearly flow occurs in January, but then at long last spring comes, and a vast area of Siberian snow starts to soften and then melt, and the river rises, and rises, and rises, over sixty feet in places. Around 40% of the yearly flow comes roaring downstream in August, and all that fresh water goes pouring out into the Laptev Sea, creating a so-called “lens” of fresher water atop more saline waters, and creating all sorts of mathematical problems I avoid like the plauge, (except to read what others have figured out, after they have done the Math for me.)

Even as this flood is reaching its height the days are growing shorter and the first frosts are occurring, and the lens atop the Laptev is swift to freeze, (as it is less salty). Then the land cools far more swiftly than the sea, especially once there is snow-cover. The relatively warmer water causes the air-in-place to rise and make space for the Siberian air, and a persistent land-breeze develops, at times becoming a gale, as cold, sinking air rushes out over the sea. Rather than thickening the ice, the ice is pushed away from shore and a polynya of open water forms. It too freezes, and it too is pushed towards the Pole. In fact the Laptev Sea is the greatest producer and exporter of sea-ice of all the marginal seas. Much of the ice in the Transpolar Drift, that piles up against the north coast of Greenland, and then is flushed south through Fram Strait, had its origins in the Laptev.  Or so say the textbooks.

This past summer the sea-ice chose to go its own way. This was largely due to a persistent area of low pressure I dubbed “Ralph” which wandered and meandered, faded and reformed, in the general vicinity of the Pole. The Transpolar Drift and Beaufort Gyre were slowed and at times reversed by the low pressure’s counterclockwise flow. The deeper currents were effected less, but the sea-ice at the surface was more responsive to the winds.

Any storm at the Pole which is lower than 970 mb is a top-ten storm, in our short history of weather maps at high latitudes, and last summer “Ralph” twice achieved such levels. The first occurred on August 16.


And the second on August 28

These two major storms did a lot to reduce the sea-ice extent, but also likely stirred the sea a lot. One thing that slows the melt of ice is that colder water can sit on top of warmer water, when that colder water is less salty (because it is from melted bergs or the Lena River.) A Gale disturbs this stratification, in one way speeding melting by bringing up the slightly warmer water from below, but in another way cooling the water as a whole, (because melting ice uses up a lot of heat.)

In any case the Laptev Sea likely had much less of a “lens” of fresh water as the September chill began, which likely meant it was slower to freeze (because it was saltier) which in turn likely meant it remained open and exposed to cold air longer, and lost more heat to the growing arctic night. When the ice did grow last autumn it likely grew over colder water, and when it melts this summer the water beneath likely will be colder and less able to assist in the melting. Or so I theorize. (This seemed to happen after a big summer storm melted much ice in 2012. When a similar summer storm occurred in 2013 nowhere near as much ice melted, likely because no stratified, warmer water was left beneath.)

As the winter proceeded “Ralph” continued to persist, in various forms, and his counter clockwise flow meant the winds along the coast of Russia continued to often be from the west. Rather than sea-ice being pushed across the Pole in the Transpolar Drift it was pushed east. At first there was no noticeable polynya at all in the Laptev Sea, and then the ice moved from the west side to the east, creating a polynya on the shores of its western boundary, which is formed by the islands of Severnaya Zemlya.


However it was at this boundary something I’d never seen before occurred. The same west winds were doing the same thing to the sea-ice in the Kara Sea, removing it from its western shores and crushing it up against its eastern shores, however there was a gap in its eastern shores called Vilkitsky Strait, and sea-ice began to squeeze through that strait and out into the Laptev Sea like toothpaste coming out of a tube. By mid January the stripe of thicker ice in the Laptev Sea was obvious.

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The phenomenon continued through February

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The west winds slacked off a little for a bit in March, but then resumed. This view pans back a bit. Notice the ice is thin in the west of the Kara Sea as well, and even to a degree in the East Siberian Sea. “Ralph’s” circulation may not have been constant, but it was persistent enough to create west winds right around the periphery of the Arctic Sea. Notice the ice being swept off the north coast of Greenland into Fram Strait, and, to the lower left, the ice piling up against the shores north and south of the western entrance to the Northwest Passage.

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In April Ralph faded to a degree, and we can see the Laptev ice shifting up towards the Pole more.

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While the situation is not back to the textbook illustration of a Transpolar Drift, it is more normal than it has been. My guess is that the conditions creating “Ralph” have faded, and those conditions likely had to do with the warmth released by the 2015 El Nino.  An imbalance was created that needed to be balanced, and a meridional flow brought north the mild air that fed Ralph. Now that the lagged effects of that El Nino are in a sense used up, and we are experiencing the lagged effects of a very weak La Nina, Ralph should be less obvious….unless….

Unless part of the imbalance involves the colder-than-normal summer temperatures we have been seeing at the Pole for ten years. These summer temperatures get much less press than the warmer-than-normal warmer winter temperatures, but they seem significant to me. Because they have coincided with the sun going “quiet” I assume there is some sort of connection.

This summer will be a sort of test. The lagged extra warmth of the 2015 El Nino to some degree masked the coolness last summer, but if the theory has validity it should be obviously colder this summer, and if that occurs Ralph may gain a second wind. This time it will not be fueled so much by above-normal temperatures to the south as by below-normal temperatures at the Pole.

The most recent ice-thickness map of the Pole in some ways reminds me of 2013, as the ice does not look especially thick. If you remember Alarmists began that summer very confident the ice would be swift to go, as much was first-year “baby ice”, and also it had been fractured a lot by winter storms. This year’s ice is not as fractured, but a lot is baby ice, and relatively thin.

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There is a slight formation of polynyas north and south of the western entrance to the Northwest Passage, where the ice was piled up earlier, but it is nothing like last year. Elsewhere the ice seems generally thinner than last year. (Last year to left; this year to right.)

The Laptev Sea is to the top, and a feature I dubbed “The Laptev Notch” a couple of summers ago has reformed, shown by the thinner ice of navy blue. The question is, are the waters under that ice significantly colder? It will be an area to watch, for if it melts swiftly the waters are not colder, but if the sea-ice prove stubborn and lingers we may be getting a hint about conditions under the ice. For the moment, however, that part of the arctic coast is surprisingly cold, considering the entire Siberian coast was above-normal not long ago. (The map below flips Greenland to the upper right. The Laptev Sea is to the lower left, and the gray area of the map indicates below zero temperatures. (-17°C) The New Siberian Islands are at the center of that cold, below -10°F (-23°C) which is very cold for May. )

DMI4 0505 gfs_t2m_arctic_1

Less obvious is the fact Svalbard, close to freezing, is actually below-normal. The way the sea-ice has crunched down against their north coast is surprising, as a warm current usually makes a slot of open water appear along their west coast, and a bit of their north coast. It is another area to watch.

Oh what the heck. I might as well hit the Weatherbell site and get Dr. Ryan Maue’s arctic anomaly map (week free trial available.)

Arctic Anomaly 20170506 gfs_t2m_anomf_arctic_1 If you are a political Alarmist, you had better focus on the icecap of Greenland, where temperatures are thirty degrees above normal (but still below freezing), for the Arctic Sea looks very different from how it looked in the dead of winter, when Ralph was sucking north surges of Atlantic moisture and the entire Pole was 20-30 degrees above normal. Now, besides the Laptev Sea and Svalbard, the Canadian Archipelago are well below normal, and the only slightly warmer areas is a patch near the Pole and the north coast of Alaska and Bering Strait. The times they are a-changing.

One thing I think is important to keep in mind is that we should expect the unexpected, for we are entering territory we have not explored. There is no shame in it. In the old days they just were honest and left part of the map blank. National Geographic could do this, when my father was a boy in 1925.

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We are approaching two events we have never witnessed, with all our new-fangled gadgets, buoys and satellites. The first is the switch from a warm AMO to a cold AMO. And this switch may be knocked out of its ordinary 60 year cycle by an even grander change, “The Quiet Sun”. The sparsity of sunspots has dropped to levels unseen since the Dalton Minimum began at the very end of the 18th century.

These are actually times that should be full of excitement and discovery. It wasn’t until around 2008 that we realized Ultraviolet intensity rose as TSI dropped during a solar minimum.

When we see new things that astonish us we shouldn’t slump and pout that we were “wrong”, but rather we should revel in the wonder of it all.

Expect the unexpected, and stay tuned.

(If I get time I may later venture a prediction about this summer’s sea-ice melt, just to walk out on a limb. The short version is that I am expecting Alarmists to be disappointed, as they were in 2013.)

LOCAL VIEW –Cryptic Cashing–

In God We Trust image

On my money it states, “In God We Trust”,
But some people want to remove it.
They say that old steel has corroded to rust.
They say that the Lord hasn’t proved it.

So, once, old Satan told Jesus to jump
From Jerusalem’s highest, holiest spire
To prove He could land without bruise or bump.
Only then would old Satan admire.

But Jesus said trust which required such proof
Was a trust which was not truly trusting.
The prayers of our youth are a gaffe and a goof
While purest of gold knows no such rusting.

It’s losers who win Satan’s lottery.
Winners let money’s wise motto just be.

(Inspired by David’s Psalm 91, which Satan misquoted, when trying to trick Jesus into jumping.)

(Also inspired by considering what a complete ruin my life would be, if God had been indulgent, and had given me all the absurd things I prayed for when young and foolish.)




ARCTIC SEA ICE –Below normal temperatures at Pole–

On May 2 temperatures at the Pole (north of 80° north latitude) have dipped below normal for the first time since last fall. This is ahead of my prediction, was for it to happen on May 13.

DMI4 0502 meanT_2017

My own theory is that the cooler temperatures are a response to the “Quiet Sun.” Therefore they are noticeable when the sun is up in the arctic sky. When the sun is below the horizon it can have no direct effect on temperatures. But it does have an indirect effect by creating a more meridional jet stream, which brings more mild air to the Pole.

I theorize that the “Quiet Sun’s” effect at the equator is counter-intuitive, for the equator is warmed by less energy. This occurs because the lack of energy manifests as less wind. When the easterlies slow there is less upwelling of cold water on the west coasts of continents at the equator, because less surface water is pushed to the west, away from those coasts. In the Pacific this is conducive to El Nino situations, but not conducive to La Ninas. Consequently the El Ninos will be amplified as the La Ninas are suppressed. La Ninas will not cease altogether, but they will have less bang for their buck.  In general, the tropics will get warmer even as the Pole chills, which is what creates the imbalance that makes the jet stream meridional.

Last year the lagged effects of the 2015 El Nino nearly hid the effect of the chilled Pole. Only at the height of summer were temperatures below normal at the Pole.

DMI4 meanT_2016

The year before, (and also in 2007-2014) when there were no lagged effects of a very strong El Nino, temperatures dipped below normal as soon as the sun started to have an appreciable effect north of the Arctic Circle.

DMI4 meanT_2015

In conclusion, though my logic may seem too simplistic to some, I confess to what it is, (especially when it works).

I should also note the past La Nina failed to be as strong as we initially thought it might be, and it looks like we may be headed back to an El Nino situation, (even if it is not especially strong.) SST temperatures in the tropics are above normal. Further north they are not above normal, which could contribute to the cooler-than-normal air temperatures.

SST 20170501 anomnight.5.1.2017

I should also note that the Pole is not yet gaining heat, despite 24-hour-a-day sunshine. All the sunshine does reduce the amount of heat draining away to outer space, but it is not until June that the sun gets high enough to actually reverse the energy equation. The reason it gets milder at the Pole this time of year is because there is a constant importing of milder air from the south, and such air is cooled, but not as swiftly as it is cooled when there is no sun in the sky in the deep dark of December.

For the record, I’ll catch up on the surface maps. (You’ll have to forgive me for missing many; it is not the most thrilling time of year up there, especially as the lagged effects of the weak La Nina seems to have reduced the clash of temperatures between the tropics and the Poles, and there are not the blasting gales there were last year.)

When we last were watching a more typical Beaufort high had formed, displacing the more anomalous “Ralph” at the Pole. There likely was a lot of crunching and crashing of sea-ice as the atypical counter-clockwise flow reverted to the clockwise flow of the Beaufort Gyre. The most obvious manifestation was the appearance of a polynya on the east (Alaskan) side of Bering Strait. However the high was positioned more off shore and to the west of last year’s, which often brought north winds to the delta of the Mackenzie River, and kept much of a polynya from forming at the west entrance to the Northwest passage.

Even though the Beaufort High dominated the map, Ralph “signature” could be seen as a hook of milder air up to the Pole.

(Missing maps) I assume the Beaufort High is likely to persist at this time of year because the vast area of white snow formed by the Arctic Sea is conducive to cooling an air mass and causing it to sink. But it pulled enough milder air up through Bering Strait to be the author of its own demise, and allow Ralph a last hurrah of sorts. Winds at the Barneo blue-ice jetport seemed far lighter than last year. Also temperatures were reported that were often ten degrees colder than these maps show.

(Missing maps)

(Missing maps) Here we see Ralph revived.

(Missing maps)

(Missing maps) As the Beaufort High reforms I’ll be watching to see what sort of polynya forms at the west entrance to the Northwest Passage. Also it is to be noted that some of the world’s biggest rivers flow into the arctic, and though their flows are frozen to a trickle in the dead of winter, starting around now their flow starts to swell with the spring melt occurring upstream, to the south. The pulses of fresh water into the Arctic Sea creates “lenses” on top of the saltier water, which initially are swift to freeze, but get warmer as time passes. Especially interesting is the Mackenzie Delta in Canada and the Lena Delta in the Laptev Sea.

Is Ralph attempting to sneak back into the picture?

Of course no report would be complete without the ubiquitous “extent” graph, which at this point shows sea-ice outside of the Arctic Sea vanishing. In the Arctic there has actually been an increase in Barents Sea, with ice pushed south around Svalbard, even as the polynya has reduced the extent in Bering Strait.

DMI4 0502 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_enThe edge of the sea-ice in Barents Sea tends to mess with your mind at times, and is one reason the “extent graph” needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It seems obvious that the edge will retreat north in warmer weather, but the ice-edge has behaved in a counter-intuitive manner in the past, coming south in the summer  (four summers ago?) It also can retreat north during the coldest darkest days of January, as it did last January when Ralph sucked north a strong surge of moist air. As I recall many looked at the ice-edge at that time and, like a rube counting his chips at a poker table, assumed there would be more open water in May. Not so. (January to left; May to right).

Besides the Polynya on the Alaskan coast of Bering Strait, there’s an interesting one in the northwest of Hudson Bay, with the ice piled very thickly just south of it. Newfoundland is also in the news, with a great many large bergs reported, (though I always wonder: If a big berg breaks into twenty pieces, are the numbers inflated?)

Thickness 20170501 Attachment-1


It will be a while before it really warms up. O-buoy 14 shows the diurnal swing at 74° north latitude, with the solar power shutting down during the dark times. You can see evidence of BHI (Buoy Heat Islands) that will eventually have the buoy in its own private pool, but temperatures are still getting down below -20°C (which never makes the DMI maps.)

Obuoy 14 0502 temperature-1week

What impresses me most is how quickly the sun gets higher…

Obuoy 14 0502 webcam

….and how quickly the nights get shorter.

Obuoy 14 0502B webcam

Barrow, Alaska, at latitude 71.3°, has been by the Beaufort High, and I’ve been watching to see of any southeast winds might rip the ice from the shore, but I’ve been surprised by how often the winds disobey the isobars. Perhaps the flow is out from the center of the high, for often their winds have been inshore, from the north. Currently they have north winds at 10 mph, light snow, and a temperature of 14°F. (-10°C).

Barrow 20170502 22_52_20_90_ABCam_20170503_064900

To its north, on April 30, Buoy 2017A was at 73.66° N, 153.21° W, reporting -16.5° C, and the ice was getting thicker.

2017A 20170502 2017A_thick

Up by the North Pole 2017B is drifting slowly towards Fram Strait, and reporting -17.7°C, and, if not thicker, its ice is not melting.

2017B 20170502 2017B_thick

In other words, though the “extent graph” shows the amount of ice decreasing, the real melt hasn’t started yet.

Stay tuned.