LOCAL VIEW –The Color Of Bleak–

There is something very beautiful about this time of year, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. All the gorgeous autumn leaves have been stripped from the trees, and the pristine beauty of a snow-covered landscape is still in the future. The world has gone gray.

The world has gone gray, and sunlight is dim
At noon, and songbirds have fled like traitors.
The ponds haven’t froze; chance-for-skating is slim;
And doubt smiles with teeth like alligator’s.
Now is the time it seems darkness has won.
Witch trials seem possible; madness is seen
In night’s leaping shadow; diminishing sun;
And the crazed holy day, Halloween.
It’s too far from Christmas to hope for light
Returning to redeem us from the dark.
Shadows grow longer and all that’s in sight
Is a cynical newscaster’s remark
Which offers no hope, and yet I see a spark
That can fuel a bright blaze in a landscape gone stark.

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What the children were looking at was a couple of belated Great Blue Heron’s, pausing on their way south. As we drew nearer they flew to the far side of the far side of the Flood Control Reservoir, and as they did the children exclaimed over the width of the big bird’s wings, at times over six feet.

Stark 2 majestic-great-blue-heron-in-flight

Now, at this point, you likely are thinking this is a typical post, with me bragging about how my Childcare is better than most and I am simply marvelous. In actual fact it is a confession which should convince some parents they ought raise their own children and never, never hire a stranger like me.

In the above picture of the children looking out over the water there are six children, (with one nearly hidden behind the child wearing red). This should be an easy number for a veteran Child Care Professional like myself to account for, but a half mile farther along on this hike I lost one, and didn’t even know it.

It happened like this:

Two of the boys involved were laggards, and made the others wait for them to catch up, over and over. Further along on this hike we were moving along an old stone wall in the woods, and I looked backwards and saw the two boys were again lagging, and told them to hurry up. Meanwhile, to keep the other four interested, I was pointing out the difference between the tiny footprints of deer mice and larger footprints of flying squirrels in a dust of slushy snow along the top of the stone wall. When one of the boys caught up I assumed the other was with him, as the two had been inseparable. We continued a bit further along the wall when I heard an adult voice calling from far away, shouting “I’ve got your kid!”

It turned out the second boy had decided to go back. He could care less about the footprints of deer mice. He was heading back to the farm for a snack. He reached the main trail (we were bush-whacking off the main trail) and came face to face with an adult he didn’t know.

I doubt many parents would approve of this situation.

Fortunately the adult was an old friend, who happened to be out hiking the starkness of November, and knew enough to bellow into the trees to find me. But I confess I was blushing when I retrieved the child I had misplaced.

In my ten years of watching other people’s children there have been many occasions when children have run off, but usually I locate them within thirty seconds. There was only one time when two small brothers decided to “go home” during the first few days they were enrolled.  I had stepped into the underbrush and behind a tree to relieve myself, and when I stepped back out they were gone. Bellowing proved futile.  I nearly had a coronary before my wife informed me she could see them  heading back to the farm. (A benefit of cell phones.)

This is no excuse. If I promise to watch children I should watch them. But I confess I am imperfect. It may not be a sin of commission, but it is a sin of omission. In this example, I neglected to be sure the laggard actually caught up with the rest of us, and instead assumed he had, when in fact he was headed the opposite way. A five-year-old met a total stranger. This is not a good situation.

Now, if I wanted to play the blame-game, I could turn the tables, and blame the parents for not caring for their own children, and instead handing them off to a neglectful old fool like myself.

I could blame colleges for burdening young parents with huge debts to pay off, so that they both must work fingers to the bone and have no time for their children.

I could blame the government for caring more for banks that collect interest on college loans, than for the poor, exploited students.

I could go on. In some ways the world we live in is as stark as November.

Instead I think I’ll skip the blame-game, and instead be thankful. I’m thankful the adult the wayward child met was an old friend of mine, who could just bellow, “I’ve got one of your kids,” and make everything right.

Perhaps that is what defines an “old friend.” They are not particularly interested in the blame-game, and are more interested in making things right.

This in turn suggests we should be more interested in making old friends, than in blaming (which is no way to make a friend.)

The truth of the matter is we are all imperfect. Only God Almighty is perfect. Therefore we will all, at some point, screw up. I confess I did screw up, concerning watching over one small boy’s safety.

As Thanksgiving approaches I have decided to make an effort to tell old friends how thankful I am they exist, and to make this old world be more a world of appreciation and thankfulness, than a world of the blame-game.


ARCTIC SEA ICE –The Bering Baffler–(with Afterward)

One area of the Arctic Sea that has had far less sea-ice in recent years than I’ve seen earlier in my lifetime is in the waters north of the Bering Straits. I think it is an area Alarmists cling to hopefully, thinking it may support their strange belief that if the ice at the Pole all melts then civilization as we know it will crumble, and they won’t have to get a Real Job.

The problem with this fond delusion is that there are some hints in the yellowing pages of the logs of old whaling ships which suggest there were other times, before my lifetime, when those same waters saw less ice. Even the Eskimo, who were the original whalers of the north, could not have been whalers if the waters were not open.

That being said, in my lifetime the waters north of Alaska did formerly have more ice, as can be seen by the records of the bases that were set up on ice in areas that now are open water, late in the summer. True, in prior posts I’ve shown pictures of the ice breaking up beneath the huts of the scientists in 1975, but there is no getting around the fact they at least had ice to have break up. More recently the same areas have seen more open waters.

I’m afraid I annoy Alarmists by suggesting that the primary reason for the fluctuation in the levels of sea-ice north of Alaska is not CO2, but rather a cycle which the Pacific Ocean experiences called the PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation). When this cycle is in its “warm” phase warmer water enters Bering Strait and is able to melt sea-ice to the north, and when it is in its “cold” phase the same water is chilled enough to allow sea-ice to form earlier, grow thicker, and be more lasting.

Some say the variations in temperature are too small to have so great an influence, but I must remind them of two things. First, a mere half degree can be the difference between sea-ice melting or freezing. Second, the variations in CO2 are far more tiny.

The PDO was thought to move through a cycle we could count on, over a period of roughly 60 years, but it has proven a bit untrustworthy of late. It moved into its “cold” phase right on schedule, but then unexpectedly shifted back to “warm”. At first I thought this resembled a brief “spike” to warm which occurred during the PDO’s last cycle, but that idea has proven to be incorrect, for the PDO has stubbornly remained warm. I can’t really call it a mere “spike”.  Though it has been dragged back down towards the “cold” area where (according to my theory) it “should” be, it still remains slightly “warm”, and even had the audacity to pop up a bit in September. (The final cross in the graph below.)

Baffle 1 pdo_short

Although the PDO is still “warm”, it is slightly “cooler” than it was last autumn. Therefore one would expect a slight increase in sea-ice north of Bering Strait and Alaska. So let us check, using the “new version” of  NRL maps. (2016 to left; 2017 to right.)

In fact, rather than a slight increase of sea-ice there is a slight decrease of sea-ice north of Bering Strait. This may seem to discount the PDO as a factor, and to Alarmists this will leave CO2 as the only remaining reason for less ice. Wrong. Other factors need to be considered.

One is a jet stream pattern that may be setting up that I greatly enjoyed when young and hot-blooded, back in the bitter winter (in eastern USA) of 1976-77. The same loopy jet that convinced some, back then, that the Climate was cooling, by freezing the socks off the big-wigs in Washington D.C., brought balmy conditions to Alaska back then. My blood is not so hot any more, and I don’t like seeing such a sameness may reoccur. But if it did reoccur mildness would reoccur up towards Alaska, which likely would decrease sea-ice.

A second factor might be the same factor that is knocking the PDO from its (formerly) predictable cycle, and keeping it warm longer than expected. What might that be?

My guess is that it is the “Quiet Sun.” After a recent burst of activity, the sun has again gone spotless:

Baffle 2 latest

A “quiet” (spotless) sun sends less energy to earth, but this decrease in energy is likely to take forms other than that measured by thermometers. I hypothesize it may also be measured by anemometers, and be seen in a slight decrease on Trade Winds. This would encourage El Ninos and discourage La Ninas, causing the Pacific to be generally warmer. In a lagged manner (as shown so well by Bob Tisdale) this extra warmth makes its way north to effect the PDO. In other words, though it seems counter intuitive, a colder sun would make for a warmer Pacific, for a while.

But only for a while. It is a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Eventually cooler can’t continue to make things warmer. It simply makes no sense, in the long run. Sooner or later, through processes I certainly don’t understand, cooling will result in cooling.

We may not be there yet, but I have a sense that, if one factor delays the inevitable, the inevitable gains a sort if strength through being delayed. A flood may be delayed by dams upstream, but, if the flood gathers strength behind such dams, and such dams crumble, the flood may have unexpected power when unleashed.

The fact the Pacific switched from a developing El Nino to a sudden La Nina last summer. in a manner unforeseen by models, seems to suggest the models are facing a power they never expected. But there the La Nina power sits, obvious in the anomaly maps:

Baffle 3 anomnight.11.13.2017

It sure looks like the Trade Winds recovered, to produce a spear of blue heading west from Peru. Also cold water upwelled and headed west off South Africa, and even to a lesser degree west of Australia. But the North Pacific only shows a slight hint of the “cold” PDO reappearing, with a little chill on the west coast of Canada. Of greater significance is the new “warm blob” south of Alaska. It may form the warm core of a “cold” PDO.

How does this effect sea-ice? Very little, so far. It takes time for such changes to work their way north. In fact, if you look at the above map you see Bering Strait is above normal, and appears to be experiencing symptoms of a “warm” PDO.

This makes me nervous. It resembles the winter of 1976-77. Anomaly maps shows heat in Alaska, and bitter cold spearing southeast towards eastern USA.

Baffle 4 Screen_Shot_2017_11_12_at_8_23_41_AM

When the jet-stream chooses to go loopy in this manner, Alarmists look silly, for the cold slices south to where they live. Record cold temperatures were set in intellectual locals such as New York City and Boston. A bit inland, in fly-over places like Lebanon, Pennsylvania, cold temperature records were broken by an amazing six degrees. And me? I was taking some time off on the coast of Maine, and my wife strolled the sand in what was more like a burka than a bikini.

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The -17 Celsius wind ripped at the water, utterly altering the “sea surface temperaure” charts consulted by geeks who consult computers before consulting the sea. While intellectuals awaited “updates” the bird-brained gulls and sandpipers were wiser.

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If this loopy jet stream “locks in”, as it did in 1976-77, there may be more sea-ice in Chesapeake Bay than in Alaska. The coastline of Washington D.C. itself may be frozen by Christmas, but do you think the politicians there would look out the window?

Likely not. Many would simply bleat some dogmatic propaganda about an “Arctic Death Spiral”,  never bothering to study the subject. Let’s be honest. The typical politician knows less about arctic-sea-ice than I, a mere simpleton, possess in my little finger. Yet they strut and bray.

They are embarrassing. Even if one ignored all the subtlety of how the Creator made creation, you would think they could see their dogma looked dopey. For example, the idea of a “Death Spiral” involves an acceleration in the decrease of sea-ice, yet we have seen an increase from last year:

DMI5 1113 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

Politicians never ask themselves, “How can there be more ice, if there is less north of Being Strait and Alaska?”

I might suggest an answer, but they never ask.


OK. I can’t resist answering. Lets look to see where the ice is forming.

Thickness 20171113 Attachment-1

One place the ice has been swift to reform this year is along the north coast of Russia. In a chicken-or-the-egg manner this may be influencing weather patterns, or it may be a result of weather patterns. What I’ve seen is that low pressure hasn’t traveled from east to west along the north coast of Russia, as it has other years, and one reason for this may be that there is no open water to fuel such storms with evaporation. Instead Atlantic gales tend to stall and fade north of Norway, and far to the west Pacific gales have seemed to be attracted north by the open water north of Bering Strait; the so-called Aleutian Low has left its ordinary home and crossed East Siberia and then crossed the Chukchi Sea to the Beaufort Sea and then faded into Alaska. Between the two areas of general low pressure high pressure has existed where I noted the low pressure “Ralph” set up shop last winter. Currently the low has faded on the Pacific side, but a new visitor is forecast to come north. Most obvious is the high pressure bridging the Pole.

So far the closest thing to a “Ralph” reestablishing low pressure at the Pole has been the feeder-band of milder temperatures aiming north of Greenland, but so far, where such plumes of mildness had an uncanny ability to generate low pressure last year, this year they have failed. Also neither Atlantic nor Pacific gales have faded northwards towards the Pole. Things are changing.

Patterns tend to be in a state of flux during the autumn, and it’s likely wisest to sit back and watch. The pattern that first drew my attention to “Ralph” didn’t become very apparent until Christmas 2015, and I suppose the same thing could happen again this year. However that was following a powerful El Nino and this year we are following a feeble and failed El Nino, with a more vigorous La Nina forming (so far.) Things seem very different to me. Though the Pole continues above normal, it is far colder than last year. (2016 to left; 2017 to right).


In late November the waters north of Bering Strait usually flash freeze in a big hurry (on years when waters are open). It will be an area to watch; also watch to see if Pacific storms stop coming north of Bering Strait, once the open water is gone. (Also watch how swiftly the open water of Hudson Bay flash freezes.) My hunch is that the winter will start out with a loopy jet making Alaska warm and the east coast of USA frigid,  but the pattern will switch to a more zonal pattern and the second half of the winter will see cold staying at the Pole. (In a tongue-in-cheek way I have stated the exact date for the switch will be February 13.) If the cold stays at the Pole the sea-ice will likely be thicker and less broken up by storms, when the sun peeks above the horizon next spring.

It will be fascinating to watch, but as always I think CO2 has only a microscopic influence on what is going on. The real shakers and movers are the weather patterns and the oceanic cycles, which are likely nudged by cycles of the sun. The trigger that will likely bring high sea-ice amounts back to the Pole will be when both the PDO and AMO swing to “cold” phases at the same time, but such a match seems still well in the future (though when it happens it may be abrupt.) The AMO is going through what may be the last hurrah of its “warm” cycle, which likely will make the North Atlantic interesting this winter:

Baffle 5 amo_short

In fact having the AMO leap up like that may completely trash my forecast for a zonal pattern during the second half of winter. At the very least I may change my date for the switch occurring to February 14, if the AMO doesn’t calm down.

Stay tuned.

Monday Music

You cannot keep the sunrise from coming
So do not hog the blankets in bed
Nor call back the dreams that were numbing
The clarion calls in your head.
Drenching sleep has its reason for being
But weekends always come to an end.
Be free after rest does its freeing.
Be friendly after meeting a friend.

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LOCAL VIEW –Cold Comfort–

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

LOCAL VIEW –First Snow–

I recall reading a poem where the poet wistfully stated that someday perhaps we could again contemplate falling snow in the manner of Japanese poets of yore, and not be distracted by all our modern concerns about road conditions and whether we remembered to put on snow tires,  and what we will do if school is cancelled. For there is something to be said for the beauty of falling snow, especially the first flakes, falling when the final leaves are still on the trees.

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Sadly, I find I can’t sit back and contemplate much.  While the kale in the garden is improved by frost, the celery can’t withstand much freezing, and I have a good crop.

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But how am I to find time for the celery, when my wife isn’t too happy about my great harvest of hot peppers, gathered last week after our first freeze and still scattered about her kitchen?

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And how am I to find time for peppers with a business to run? Every day I write a list, but emergencies emerge, especially when you run a Childcare. Early childhood is actually one long emergency, as children are emerging into a world full of dangers and disasters. So that which is on my list doesn’t get done until it itself becomes an emergency. For example, I should check out the wood stoves when weather is warm, but I never get around to it until we start our first fire and the house fills with smoke. Then I have to frantically replace a stove pipe (40 years old and crumbling with corrosion) and sweep a chimney. Who has time to string up peppers?First Snow 4 FullSizeRender

The good side is that little children at our Childcare get to see a man work. Most Childcares give children the impression men evaporate at sunrise and materialize at sunset. At my place they get to feel the stiff wire bristles of a chimney brush, and see black flakes of creosote, and learn smoke can condense like steam can, and see me huff about with a long ladder over my shoulder, and understand men do work.

The bad part is that at my advanced age I’m not suppose to be huffing and puffing about. I’m suppose to wear a white suit and give orders like a fellow who owns a plantation.

How am I suppose to wear a white suit if I’m cleaning chimneys? Soot would spoil the fabric. As would dirt from the garden, and sap and sawdust from lugging firewood would be just as bad.  About the only good thing about snow is that I could wear a white suit in it and not get it dirty, but white linen is not made for cold climates and shoveling snow.

I actually feel a bit like a rat in a wheel, and have to steal time to write, but when my wife sees me sneaking off to my word processor she sometimes gives me the feeling that a man’s main aim in life is to avoid chores, whereupon I tell her a woman’s main aim in life is to create them.

Then our eyes meet, and we know it is time for a break. With a three day weekend coming up, we need a day at the beach. So let’s check the forecast.

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For those of you who like less precise temperatures, 16º Fahrenheit equals -9º Celsius. Winds will be from the north, gusting to thirty mph.

We will have the beach all to ourselves! Yippie!

Last spring I watched the final flakes falling
With the petals of an apple tree’s blooms
And wondered if I’d see the appalling,
Appealing white again. For our dooms
Are hidden from us. We can never guess
If tomorrow will come. In my mad case
It seems that the answer’s definitely, “yes.”
God’s willing I run a lap of the race
And feel snow in my face. On I will roam
With my beachcomber’s pension,with wild skies
and thudding surf a most beautiful poem
Even if I never ink the words that my eyes
See written by cirrus and hear in surf’s sighs.
The Timeless is peeking through time’s thin disguise. 


I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself lately, as my hobby of watching arctic sea-ice melt and reform has taken some serious hits. My entire reason for posting on this topic for half a decade sprung from the fact that the ice and sky of the Arctic Sea are beautiful, and I found it a lovely place to flee to, when I wanted to escape reality. Now it seems the funding for cameras, drifting about on buoys planted on the sea-ice, has dried up. No more pictures. No more beauty.

It was a purely accidental coincidence that what began as a retreat from reality put me dead center in a maelstrom of political nonsense. Apparently the sea-ice was suppose to be in rapid decline, due to a so-called “Death Spiral” caused by Global Warming, and the cameras were purported to be eyewitness views of this profound tragedy, that would effect the entire human race. To which I merely noted, “Umm…….it doesn’t seem to be melting…” The response was overwhelming. The Alarmists ripped me to itty, bitty shreds, but I found some amazingly good friends (who some called “Deniers” but I called “Skeptics”).

One interesting thing I discovered, just watching sea-ice, was that at times the various charts, maps and graphs produced by satellite data didn’t match what my eyes could actually see, through the camera’s lens. Skipping all the details, this led me to learning more about satellites, and the ways they interpret their data. I learned how to evaluate the satellite-produced maps with a wary eye, and to compare the maps produced by different nations. From there I moved on to an earlier love: The history of Arctic explorers, and studied various maps of what sea-ice was like in the past, again seeing various interpretations drawn from the same scant data. It has been a wonderful way to waste time and avoid doing my chores, but now it seems to be coming to an end. Not only the cameras, but even the satellites may go unfunded.

Ugly: President Trump Accused of Obstructing Climate Research

Now, I know that the government has been spending money like a drunken sailor, and is deeply in debt, and perhaps all the concern about the arctic was a waste of money. Also maybe I should myself waste less time and do my chores more. But allow me a bit of self-pity over the ruin of my hobby.

I’ll try to be a good sport about the ruination of my hobby. After all, it appears the Skeptics have pretty much won the battle, as the “Death Spiral” has simply failed to manifest in the expected manner. Not even a “Super-El-Nino” could make much headway. Alarmists look ludicrous. With the battle won, perhaps it is time to beat swords into plowshares, (though,  when the pen is more mighty than the sword, perhaps I am beating my pen into something that does chores, such as the rag you wash dishes with.)

However it seems an inconvenient time for cameras and satellites to go dark. There are interesting things happening, (interesting to me at least). Even if Global Warming is largely overrated as a threat, and Alarmist attempts to make it be a threat are largely money-grubbing balderdash, weather still happens, and weather effects everyone every day. Ordinary swings in ordinary cycles are worth paying attention to, as they effect the people who work outside, such as the men who grow potatoes and go to sea for fish, and therefore also effect the guy who only walks outside to go buy some fish-and-chips.

Two ordinary cycles are the movement of a “warm” AMO to a “cold” AMO, and the movement of a “noisy” sun to  “quiet” sun. In the former case the last time it occurred was around 1960, and the latter case it last happened around 1800.  In both cases people of the past had far less sophisticated means of collecting data. In both cases we are now, in a sense, seeing the changes for the first time, in terms of seeing with satellites and a multitude of scientific buoys. We are pioneers standing at the verge of a wilderness.

These longer cycles may be effecting how shorter cycles manifest. For example, the ENSO cycle has been misbehaving, (if you insist it should behave in a certain way). The last El Nino was “too big and too long” and the last La Nina was “too little and too short”. Rather than leaping to the ordinary conclusion, (because that is where the money is) and shouting Global Warming is to blame, it might be better to simply be quiet and use our powers of observation. If we are pioneers then we are seeing new things, and should expect the unexpected.

One man who always impresses me with his powers of observation is Bob Tisdale. To me it seemed he had the scientific training I lack, (and perhaps the patience I lack), and when I first noticed him, back before the “Watts Up With That” site even existed, he always seemed to be be quietly asking questions, reading scientific papers, and casually (and perhaps at times accidentally) embarrassing Alarmists by knowing more than they did about ENSO cycles. Eventually he was able to shoot holes in some of the more sensational Alarmist claims, and put his knowledge down in a 559 page work called “Who Turned On The Heat”. A free copy is available here:


Of course, the usual suspects heaped scorn on Bob and accused him of being funded by “Big Oil” and so on and so forth, which is a lousy way to treat a man who (though he does have a tip jar at his website) basically worked for free. Last January he went to the beach and didn’t bother come back, and his website became quiet:


At first I worried about his health, but recently he has reemerged, after nearly a year of R+R.  Partly I think it was because some of the outrageous claims made by Alarmists during the hurricane season simply demand curt ridicule, but also I think it may be because the ENSO’s recent behavior is fascinating. I noticed he commented on the fact the ENSO has cooled the surface temperatures with the developing La Nina, but is lagging, when it comes to cooling air higher up in the troposphere.

While global surface temperature cools, the lower troposphere has record warmest October

Now this is just the sort of event where we could use the keenly observant mind that Tisdale has, but hell if we deserve it, for we, as a society, have allowed this gentleman to be disdained, as we have allowed other men, who are preening imbeciles and sometimes have last names rhyming with “skam”,  to be flattered and rewarded.  Perhaps Tisdale might go back to work if we all now groveled a bit, or perhaps fifty grand in his tip jar might encourage him. But my point is that for going on twenty years now the better minds have been discouraged, while the bottom of the barrel have been encouraged. Basically we should expect little more than to reap what we have sown.

(In case you think this is just my way of hinting I might deserve fifty grand in my own tip jar, please note this site doesn’t have a tip jar. I am incorruptible), (not because I am particularly virtuous, but rather I’m too damn lazy to figure out how to set up a tip jar.) (Anyway, I don’t feel all that disdained, because I’ve always been the sort of writer who creates jams of people in doorways, as crowds are so eager to avoid hearing my “poems”. Therefore getting cursed for being a Skeptic is a step in the right direction, for some attention is better than none at all.)

My own focus has been on sea-ice, which is a long way from the tropical waters where the ENSO acts out its dance. The ENSO does effect sea-ice, but after a considerable lag that processes through convolutions I don’t think anyone understands. I know I don’t. But when I look south I wish there was a mind like Tisdales I could ask questions of.

Those who look back at my old posts know I’ve been wondering if there is any noticeable correlation between sunspot cycles and the ENSO cycles.

In my simplistic way I see the ENSO as a small boy sloshing water east and west in a mighty big bathtub, called the Pacific, with the size of the sloshes determined by a multitude of factors that make up the “boy”. The most obvious factor is the east to west winds. If those winds are related to the amount of energy coming from the sun, then any change in the sun’s activity would be reflected in the sloshes. If the sunspot cycles were nice and regular the oscillation might make for nice, predicable sloshes. But the “Quiet Sun” might be a bit like the small boy hearing the approaching footsteps of a mother: The sloshes go through a dramatic change.

The thing that makes for complete confusion is that ENSO does not work in isolation, but effects the weather patterns around it, which in turn effect the ENSO, until it is hard to see which came first, the chicken or the egg.  Therefore the oscillations are likely not nice and neat, like a two-stroke-engine, but rather are likely hideously complicated, like a fifteen-and-a-half stroke engine. It would be hard enough to figure out the engineering if the sunspot cycles remained regular, but this “Quiet Sun” adds another variable. It is a wrench in the works of a works that already holds wrenches.

In any case, knowing how astute Bob Tisdale’s powers of observation are, I wish he (or someone like him) would set his mind upon determining if the sun’s variations are reflected in any way we can see, in the ENSO. (I’m sure the effect is there, but it may be lost in the muddle.)

At the equator, if the Quiet Sun’s less generous supply of energy translated into weaker westerlies,  then the lack of energy would be measured by anemometers and not thermometers. Weaker westerlies would make an ordinary sequence of an El Nino giving way to a La Nina have the El Nina be stronger and longer and the La Nina be weaker and shorter, which is exactly what we have seen.  This would create milder temperatures, which is not what one would expect from a “colder” sun.

At the Pole, however, the Quiet sun is measured by thermometers. Or that is the case when the sun is up 24 hours a day. The Summers have indeed been colder at the Pole since the sun has gone quiet.

This creates a clash between warmer tropics and a colder Pole, during the summer, and has led to a unique situation, as soon as the sun starts to sink at the Pole and relinquishes its grip. We have seen more late summer Polar gales, and invasions of mild air from the south all winter long, creating an anomalous area of polar low pressure I’ve called “Ralph.”

I was thinking that, now that I have no cameras to watch sea-ice with any more, I’d focus on Ralph, but wouldn’t you just know it? As soon as I am ready to focus on Ralph he gets shy. It’s hard to see him any more.

In some ways perhaps the unique situation has ended. We no longer have a Super-El-Nino conjunct with a cold-summer-Pole. Things are simply returning to normal.  So maybe I ought retire from the present tense, and just study my old maps.

However there is something very intriguing about the current situation that makes me feel it isn’t really “back to normal.”  The Quiet Sun is approaching its minimum, and that would mean the equator would continue to see reduced Westerlies, if that indeed is an effect of the Quiet Sun. However I have a sense the tropics have some sort of limit to how much heat they can supply. At some point the well goes dry. At some point the calf can butt the cow’s udder all it wants, but there is no more milk available. Last summer an El Nino attempted to generate, but collapsed into a La Nina.

This confusion down in the tropics sends a mixed message, in a lagged way, towards the Pole. In the past year we’ve had a La Nina that failed and an El Nino that failed and now a La Nina again, (which also may be short lived). This confusion is different, very different, from the very clear message of a Super-El Nino.  Though the lagged message is still of a warm sort, generally, the warmth lacks the power it formally had. The spikes on this autumn’s DMI temperature graph are nothing like last year’s. (2016 left; 2017 right)

I am expecting at least one big spike in temperatures, as a reflection of last summer’s failed El Nino, before Christmas. But I am on record as saying precisely on February 13 we will see temperatures dip down to the green line and perhaps below, as La Nina lagged effects occur. (We will see how good my guessing is by March.)

I could be very wrong. As I have stated before, we are Pioneers on the verge of a wilderness, and should expect the unexpected.

Currently the pattern is a bit boring. The North Atlantic gales are staying south, rather than veering north to fuel “Ralph”, and therefore high pressure has been more able to rule, especially over to the Pacific side. Currently the huge Atlantic low towards the top of Norway is filling and fading east along the Siberian Coast, as a new gale pummels southern Greenland. Over the Pole cold air is allowed to build without intrusions of milder air.

Because I am hypersensitive to “Ralph”, I can see him lurking in a feeble way atop Greenland. But I wouldn’t see that if I wasn’t looking for it. In fact I think Ralph may be becoming a thing of the past. Something new is in the wings.

I am watching the cold build at the Pole carefully, expecting it to invite a northward surge of mild air, as occurred at the end of December, 2015. If it stands its ground it is actually good news for people further south, for it may mean the cold will stay north this winter. This may please Alarmists who will make much ado about less snow to the south, but I doubt they’ll be happy to the the cold make sea-ice thicker.

In terms of sea-ice “extent” the “Death Spiral” fanatics are glum, for we are well above last year. If downward was “death”, we are headed for “life”. Why are they glum?

DMI5 1106 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

Because “extent” was failing to accentuate downward “death”, last year some switched to “volume”, claiming the volume graphs (which are the most model-tainted and unreliable) proved we are doomed. Now they too are glum, as volume has increased. Why are they glum we’re not doomed? (Volume is graph to right, below.)

DMI5 1106 FullSize_CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20171105

The thickness graph (to left above) shows the sea-ice has been swift to form along the Siberian coast. This prevents evaporation of open water, and without that evaporation Atlantic lows will not be as willing to scoot along the Siberian coast to the Pacific, and will be more prone to hesitate and stall north of Finland.

One thing I haven’t seen before is so much ice jammed south between the islands of the Canadian Archipelago. Usually that sea-ice forms a wall along the north coast of the Archipelago. This year a particularly mobile surge of sea-ice came south past the east coast of Melville Island, across Parry Channel, and south to wipe out O-buoy 14 and perhaps make the Northwest Passage impassable for small boats next summer.

I suppose a year of thick ice in the Northwest Channel might at long last get it through certain thick skulls that the “Death Spiral” is not a reality. For me, it was proven years ago. Further proof is redundant.

To prove what I have already proven, because certain Alarmists can’t see, makes me a practitioner of redundancy. I have better things to do than to be an echo.

For this reason there may be more “local view” posts and fewer “sea-ice” posts, in the future, though I don’t think I’ll just vanish, as Bob Tisdale did.

One thing I’m hoping to find time for is use a whole slew of  maps to show the rise and fall of “Ralph”, even though that is in the past.

I will post about any surprises I see, in the arctic, (devoid of comments about Alarmist politics).

Stay tuned.