ARCTIC SEA ICE –Awaiting The Break-up–

One aspect of watching ice melt is that one becomes aware of misconceptions we all have, and which the media should end but doesn’t.  For example, people tend to think certain parts of North America are arctic, when they are not. All one needs to do is trace lines of latitude from North America around to Europe, and one gets their eyebrows lifted. The southern tip of Greenland is at the latitude of Stockholm, Sweden; and the southern end of Hudson Bay is at the latitude of  Hamburg, Germany.

If course it spoils the thrill of sensationalism if you mention, showing water pour off a glacier in Greenland, that it is as far south as Stockholm. The public then would compare a picture of flowers blooming in a Swedish summer park with the craggy coast of Greenland, and it would seem less surprising that ice melts at the edge of Greenland’s icecap.

In like manner, when writing about how swiftly the ice breaks up in Hudson Bay, it spoils the element of Alarmism if you mention it is as far south as northern Germany. Rather than the melt seeming surprising it would seem surprising that ice remains in July, for people would think how surprising it would be if there was ice on the sea-coast of Germany in July.

The fact of the matter is that it thaws right up to the North Pole in July, and temperatures can be above freezing and still below normal.

DMI4 0712 meanT_2017

Once you become aware that thaw is the norm up there in July, what becomes more interesting are the places that dip below freezing. It is quite common, for temperatures only need be three degrees below normal, and the rain changes to snow.

One thing I miss very much is the cameras we used to have drifting around up there. As recently as 2014 2015 we had seven views, and could witness fresh falls of snow and brief refreezes of the melt-water pools.  These were especially interesting because the satellites tended to miss these events, perhaps because they occurred at the wrong time of day, perhaps because they happened in a very small area, perhaps because refreezes involved a very thin layer of air right at the surface, or perhaps for some other reason. In any case, they stopped funding the cameras. (Let us hope the de-funding was not because certain people didn’t approve that the cameras showed freezing where politicians claimed there was melting.)

The only camera we have this year is a tough one, O-buoy 14,  which refused to be crushed by ice, and survived the winter. It is not out in the Arctic Sea, but down in Parry Channel at a latitude of roughly 74° north.  I like having it located where it sits, still frozen fast in immobile ice, because it allows us to compare the current situation with the year 1819, when William Parry sailed HMS Helca and Griper in the same waters.

William Parry original.1770

Parry sailed further north and west of where O-buoy 14 now sits, and then, as ice reformed in September, they cut a channel for the two boats, to get close to the shore of Melville Island, where they’d be less exposed to the crushing and grinding of moving ice.

William Parry The_Crews_of_H.M.S._Hecla_&_Griper_Cutting_Into_Winter_Harbour,_Sept._26th,_1819

Then they waited for the ice to melt. It was a long, long wait; ten months in all. It is interesting to read how Parry kept his crew from going nuts, especially during the three months of winter darkness. They produced plays and published a newspaper and, as it grew light, conducted expeditions along the coast of Melville Island on foot. Also, when some of the men showed signs of scurvy, Parry planted mustard and cress seeds in his cabin and fed the sprouts to the afflicted men. The first signs of thaw were in March, but the ice remained six feet thick.

In the year 2017 our first signs of thaw were much later, but sudden, and we swiftly developed an impressive melt-water pool on June 29:

Obuoy 14 0629C webcam

Of course, the media would generate sensationalism with such a picture, crowing about how the arctic is melting. Then they would get very quiet when the water drained down through a crack in the ice, as it did by July 8:

Obuoy 14 0708B webcam

The media would get even quieter when the camera then showed signs of fresh snow, as it did on July 12:

Obuoy 14 0712 webcam

And last but not least, there was a cold spell associated with the above view, and the melt-water pools were skimmed with ice, which needed to be melted away to make a little progress on July 13:

Obuoy 14 0713 webcam

What this makes me wonder about is the fortitude of Parry’s crew. They never got moving until August 1. Can you imagine how they felt when it snowed in July? (Or did it snow, back then, when it was supposedly colder?)

Our modern buoy is at roughly 103° west longitude. Parry was able to sail as far west as 113°46’W in the late summer of 1820. Then they noticed ice starting to reform. Apparently no one was eager to spend another winter up there, so they sailed lickity-split east the entire length of Parry Channel, escaping into Baffin Bay and arriving back in England in October.

It will be fun to watch this camera’s view. We are in a race with the year 1820, to see if we can get the ice moving before August 1. (One interesting thing is that, while the Navy satellite suggests the ice in Parry Channel is moving, the GPS attached to O-buoy 14 shows no movement. Once again we see the value of having an on-the-spot witness.)

I actually want the ice to move, so the view shifts around and we can see mountains in the distance.

Stay Tuned!

(Hat tip to Stewart Pid for always keeping me abreast of O-buoy 14 news.)

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Beaufort Buildup Bedlam–

Way back in the year 1247 some goodhearted monks created a place for deeply troubled individuals called “Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem”. Over the years the local folk shortened the name of the place to various versions of the word “Bethleham”, and finally wound up with the word “Bedlam.”

I have decided we need a similar place for people deeply troubled by sea-ice. After all, sea-ice is a sort of Rorschach test. Look at this and pretend it is sea-ice, and tell me what you see.

Rorschach test InkblotTest

If you see “the end of human existence as we know it”, there are various Bedlams I can suggest you be committed to. If course, you do not want to go into an asylum run by a madman, and therefore I suggest you avoid sites run by people who enjoy  dressing up in Nazi uniforms.

Skeptical Science Nazi Herr Cook

It is better to commit yourself to a Bedlam run by a compassionate monk, and the best Bedlam I have found is “The Sea Ice Forum”, run by the good monk Brother Neven.

Mind you, just as the original Bedlam back in 1247 was stilted towards Catholic ideas, you need to expect a modern Bedlam to be stilted towards the modern religion of Global Warmingism. Just as, concerning a subject we don’t scientifically know about, such as life-after-death, a Catholic will speak with great authority, so too will an Alarmist speak with authority about sea-ice before the satellite era, though we truly know next to nothing about it.

The little evidence we have needs to be ignored by certain inhabitants of Bedlam, in order to continue to see “the end of human existence as we know it”. What is kept behind blinders are geological studies of shorelines, certain core studies of the sea-bottom, and, most interesting to me, the places where whalers and explorers found open water. For example, the doomed Franklin expedition found open water one year (1845) and not the following two years.

Franklin Map Franklin's-Lost-Expedition

To me it seems a certain suspension of cynicism must be involved, to believe the situation at the Pole is dramatically different this year (as some Alarmists believe it is).  It is sort of like, when you read “Lord of the Rings”, you suspend your doubt that trees can walk around and talk to you. Such belief may be fine in a fantasy, but it is not so good when it involves spending billions of tax dollars. Yet somehow I can’t seem to penetrate an Alarmist resistance to seeing there may have been times of open water in the Arctic Sea in the past. Even photographic evidence fails to get behind the blinders. I can show them that even in the spring, when sea-ice is thick and only starting to fall from its maximum, submarines apparently found open water at the Pole on March 17, 1959

Sub at Pole 1959 download

And on May 18, 1987.

Sub at Pole 1987 3-subs-north-pole-1987

And yet this year we have jets landing up there on April 16, 2017.

Barneo E5 17952888_1341818589228569_6926960017063686340_n

Of course, when I speak about such things I really do come across as a wet blanket and something of a party-poop. If you are going to participate in Bedlam you are suppose to get hugely exited about every little crack in the ice, as if it a “sign.”  You say, “It’s a sign” and make your eyes very round, and nod. That is the way to gain acceptance.  Also you can gain a lot of status if you monkey around with data and make a graph (unless you are a party-poop and point out the data is upside down, as Michael Mann’s graph was.).

Therefore, when you visit Bedlam, my recommendation is that you keep your lips buttoned. Be a so-called “lurker”.  It is well worth the visit to a good site, partly because ( I confess) there is something fascinating about weirdos,  and no one can see you are gawking, when you silently lurk.

One thing that is fascinating is how they constantly stroke each other for reassurance. It is downright touching. (Pun). However keep your tongue firmly planted in your cheek when they pull out their graphs. The graphs will always draw a line showing how much sea-ice there was in the past, as if they knew. In fact it is what they believe, and they arrive at their belief  via dubious means. I tend to roll my eyes when presented with a graph like this:

Extent Polyak et al 2010 fig2a

The problem I have with such graphs is that, before the satellite era, there is only airplane data, and, before the airplane era, there is only data from the edges. The Nimbus 5 satellite only began collecting pictures in 1972, and the Nimbus 2 pictures only reach to 1966. Long distance aircraft were not developed until World War 2, and had little reason to fly over the Pole at first. A few zeppelin flights explored the arctic, (for example the Norge in 1926 and the Italia crash in 1928), but they had no idea our bedlam would require specific details about the exact area of open water versus solid ice. Before that we have only scattered reports from brave and sometimes doomed men. For example, from the diaries of the failed Arctic Balloon expedition of 1897 we know the sea-ice north of Svalbard was not solid,  “Andrée called it ‘dreadful terrain’, with channels separating the ice floes, high ridges, and partially iced-over ice-ponds”.

Andre 1897 image

Nor did Nansen, traveling over the ice in 1895, neglect to bring along the kayaks that in the end saved his life. Considering we have so little data, and the data we do have does show that the ice had leads of open water, all calculations which assume the Arctic Sea was shore-to-shore ice are highly suspect. If we instead estimate and subtracted the unseen areas of open summer-water from the total extent, (as we now do), the extent of some years would obviously be lower.

(The belief the Pole was sheeted with solid ice before 1979 is a belief that is ironically diametrically opposite to a prior incorrect belief from the early 1800’s, which suggested that the center of the Arctic Sea was open water.)

But zip your lip about all such uncertainty, in Bedlam. If you yap you will only spoil their awe over standing, in real time, this very moment, as wonder-struck witnesses to “the end of human existence as we know it”.

And actually the inhabitants of Bedlam are quite good, when it comes to noticing the smallest patch of open water, now. This keenness of eyesight makes them useful, even if what they conclude may be the wildest of speculations.

For example, high pressure can stall over the Beaufort Sea, in which case it is called the Beaufort High, and if it is properly located it will create polynyas of open water called the West Beaufort  and Bathurst polynyas. If you spot this happening now you are welcome in Bedlam, but if you point out it happened in 1975….not so much.

Beaufort Polynyas poly-3-bathurst-and-w-beaufort-polynyas_1975-vs-2015_polarbearscience

However, if, rather than the Beaufort High, a low pressure called “Ralph” stalls, then rather than a clockwise gyre you get a counter-clockwise eryg, as I described here:

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/arctic-sea-ice-demise-of-the-beaufort-eryg/

And the result will be that, rather than the ice being pushed away to form a polynya by the shore, the ice will reverse and be piled up against the shore. This will create a very different deployment of sea ice, as can be seen by comparing the ice of late March in 2016 (left) with 2017 (right):

It does not make people in Bedlam happy when ice is crunched up against the coast like that, but they have seemingly inexhaustible hope. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there was a chance the eryg was turning back into a gyre, and indeed a Beaufort High has formed and the ice has moved away from the shore. It is nothing like last year, but gives cause for bedlam in Bedlam. (One funny thing is that some begin their observations with, “Ugh Oh!”  Actually they are celebrating the fact they have a sign of imminent doom, but it would be danged improper to go “Whoopie” about “the end of human existence as we know it”.) In any case, they save some wonderful satellite shots of the polynyas starting to form, which is a very real reason to visit the Sea Ice Forum site. The image below was offered by Brother Neven himself:

Bering Strait is to the upper left. Notice that the West Beaufort Polynya forming up there is larger than the Bathurst Polynya, to the lower left, and the Bathurst Polynya is nowhere close to the size of last year’s.

Hopefully below you will see some lovely satellite views of the West Beaufort Polynya forming, submitted to the forum by the blogger “JayW”. Superb submission! This is why it is so worth visiting the Sea Ice Forum. (Bering Strait is at the bottom.)

The question that arises in my mind is, “Is this open water evident from shore?” So I turn to the Barrow webcam, looking north from a place higher than men could stand, back in the old days.

Barrow 20170418 07_27_39_65_ABCam_20170418_152400

And the answer is a simple “No”. The only movement that can be seen out to sea is the movement of shadows as the sun swings around in the arctic sky. (Temperature is -2° [-16°C])

My next question is, “When they say the ice was wall-to-wall in a long-ago-year, such as 1912, are they merely guessing? Are they assuming because it was stuck fast to the shore in Alaska that it extended as a solid sheet clear across to Russia? How do they know what was occurring out of view?”

The humble answer is, “They, and we, don’t know”. Graphs that use proxies are largely guess-work, and are at risk when the grafters are more liable to get grants if their guess-work is in a certain direction. However the graphs are gospel in Bedlam.

Me? Oh, you know me. I’m as gentle as a lamb and never raise a ruckus, and only confide my private views in the confines of this obscure blog, and even then I’m astonishingly spiritual and modest, if you want my opinion. I just sit back and watch, and, if I chuckle, well, sometimes you just can’t help it.

Below are the sequence of recent DMI maps. They basically show the Beaufort High forming and stalling. It is interesting to see that the high fails to really develop the southeast gales last year’s did, and is displaced to the west more, so that the region where the Bathurst Polynya might be expected to form may even get north winds, bringing the ice back in to shore. This would be bad news for those hoping the entrance to the Northwest Passage clears out.

The temperature maps are interesting for they, at first, show cold builds at the Pole even though the sun never sets. The sun is simply still too low to warm the arctic, and the arctic continues to lose more heat than it receives. Later the temperature maps show the Pole warming, but this seems to be because the stalled Beaufort High is bringing a steady flow of Pacific air north through Bering Strait.

If possible I’ll update later. If not,  I’ll make up a good excuse.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph’s Retirement–

Ralph is feeling neglected.  Here he has been pummeling the Pole since last Christmas, but does he get any attention? No. Some dinky little trace gas gets all the headlines. Little wonder Ralph is sulking.

Poor Ralph. I’ll give him a bit of credit here. I’ve never seen sea-ice look like this from space:

Ralph7 2 26

Or like this:

Ralph7 1 28

Usually these sweeping sand-bar-like curves of ice are only seen at the edge of the ice-pack, where it meets the open sea. They create a floating geology reminiscent of barrier islands along a sandy coast, but just in from there the sea-ice usually reverts to angular chips, squares, rectangles and triangles, that look like “chips” from outer space, but that can be larger than Connecticut or many Manhattans. This year it is harder to find such ice, and when you do you notice the ice has been rounded and is less angular :

ralph8-1-37

In essence, the geology of the sea-ice is very different this September, due to Ralph’s pounding. This should clue people into the pretty simple idea that, if the ice looks so different, something different might be happening. It seems odd to me that some of the “Death Spiral” crowd keep bleating the same old stuff, (but I suppose you shouldn’t expect any new ideas from parrots in an echo chamber).

The difference is fairly clear when you compare this years low ice extent  with 2012’s extent on the same date. (2012 to left, 2016 to right.)

 

It can be seen that in 2012 the ice was more centralized, while this year there are long arms of ice that spread out to Barrow, Wrangle Island, The New Siberian Islands and right into the Laptev Sea. This year the ice covers a much larger area, though if you measure the pixels of white, there are many openings and gulf of open water this year that make it look, in a specific manner, as if the area is nearly the same as 2012.

extent-20160905-sea_ice_extent_n_v2

I want to avoid the arguments about how extent indicates how much sunlight is reflected away into space, for now, because my focus is how extraordinarily different the ice-geology is.  In some ways comparing this September’s sea-ice with 2012’s is like comparing apples with oranges.

Although I hadn’t named Ralph yet, the storminess at the Pole began last Christmas, and cracked up the skin of ice at the Pole a lot. Each time the vast leads formed (and some were many miles across) heat was released from the Arctic Ocean from seawater which would have otherwise been protected by an igloo roof of ice. I have heard very little discussion about how this effected the DMI graph of temperatures above 80 degrees north, which showed many spikes last winter. The general assumption seems to be that these spikes were entirely due to warm surges of air from the south. (Just before Christmas in 2015, off the graph below to the left, the red line was below the green line.)

dmi3-0906-meant_2016

To me it seems downright naive to suggest that all of the spikes were 100% caused by atmospheric warming. Not that I didn’t note and follow surges of warmth heading north, but the mildness cooled with amazing speed once they were up there (or likely rose up in the atmosphere), and meanwhile big leads were ripped open in the ice. (The scars were very apparent when the sun returned in late March, and the area close to the Pole was so crisscrossed with pressure-ridges and leads that the Barneo base had to be located far from the Pole, to find ice flat enough for a blue-ice jet-port.) I would like to suggest that, besides the atmospheric warming from the south,  the open water contributed to the warmth at the Pole.

Now consider, if you will, that the warming that made this year “the warmest year evah” occurred largely at the North Pole. And also consider that, if the warming comes from the water below, it’s origin has nothing to do with CO2 bouncing back warming from above. Can you not see the potential for a delicious irony here? “The warmest year evah” might have nothing to do with CO2 and little to do with the residual warmth of an El Nino, and might largely be due to good old Ralph!

(Please do not think that I dignify the above idea by calling it a “hypothesis”. It is my understanding that to even qualify as a hypothesis some data must be offered, which can be tested to see if it can be replicated. And I’m not too good, when it comes to data. Fact of the matter is, when my bank teller sees me coming she rolls up her sleeves even when she’s sleeveless, and she always cocks an eyebrow in a querulous manner when I hand her the deposit slip, for she knows she is about to embark upon adventures in arithmetic.)

Instead I am simply an observer, and a witness, who wonders a lot. When I see Ralph creating a completely new ice-geology, I wonder what is different. Something must be different to create a different geology.

Also to create a different quasi-biennial oscillation. (IE: The winds up in the stratosphere, that shift from west to east and back in a regular manner, roughly every 28 months, and did so 27 straight times since 1953 (when they began measuring it,) and then recently decided to try something new:)

qbo-qbo_wind

When things behave differently I look around for a culprit, and the only culprit obvious to me is not CO2, whose tiny change didn’t start behaving differently recently, but rather is the sun, which is the opposite of tiny, and has changed dramatically from a “Noisy Sun” to a “Quiet Sun.”

Again without a decent hypothesis, I wonder if Ralph, and the loopy, “meridional” circulation that fuels Ralph, might not be due to an imbalance created by the southern oceans still remembering the “Noisy Sun” as the Pole swiftly adjusts to the “Quiet Sun”.

I can wonder all I want; without data it is just speculation. However I do wonder why those with scientific backgrounds seem so oblivious. They ought be jumping on these differences and running with the new data like a football player who has scooped up a fumble. (And someone did fumble, because no one seems to have seen these differences coming.)

Before I get into the duller details of the daily maps, I should note that even where the water is officially “ice-free” (IE; less than 10%, 15% or 30% ice-covered, depending on the source),  there seems to be a fair number of stray chunks of sea-ice drifting about. These are not the huge bergs that break off glaciers, but hunks of sea-ice, and they surprise me by not being the flat pans that barely poke above the water, but rather large, which means something when you consider 9/10th of a berg is under water.

These stray bergs tend to be too small to be seen by satellite, but I’ve seen them often in “ice-free” waters. I’ve seen them grounding off shore with the Barrow webcam, (August 21)

barrow-20160821-05_47_24_126_abcam_20160821_134400

I’ve seen them from the deck of the good ship “Northabout”, (Coastal East Siberian Sea, August 24)

northabout-east-siberian-berg-dsc_1183-2

And most especially I’ve seen them from the only surviving drifting buoy, the durable O-buoy 14.

(It should tell you something about the wrath of Ralph, that so many drifting buoys have been crunched by the ice. The Mass Balance Buoys made a brave attempt at recovering lost data during the calmer part of the summer, but all are out of action now, and O-buoys 8b, 13 and 15 all bit the dust early.)

O-buoy 14 currently reports from the entrance of Parry Sound, so I expect a lot more views of ice, and perhaps even land, if it survives, (it has already staggered back from two knock-outs). But back when it was further west and reporting from “ice-free waters” it sent us this lovely shot of what I am talking about.

Obuoy 14 0831C webcam

That is the sort of beauty that originally attracted me to arctic sea ice, but the sun has been rare this summer, with Ralph on the rampage. To be honest, fair and balanced, I should also add that winds picked up and O-buoy 14 was showing ice-free waters three days later:

Obuoy 14 0903B webcam

Is that land, beyond the distant ice? Couldn’t be sure, as we were knocked off the air for a while by this brute:

Obuoy 14 0904 webcam

However now the view is this:

obuoy-14-0906c-webcam

And if we push east any further into Parry Sound I suspect we’ll soon be frozen fast. The summer thaw is over.

I am wondering if all these big bergs drifting about will speed the refreeze, acting as sort of seed-crystals for surface refreezing, even while resisting basal melt with their sheer size. Also the water must be churned and chilled by all Ralph’s roaring, and by how much water has been exposed to the wind.

When we last were looking, Ralph was fed by a plume of milder air from central Siberia, as he resumed his stance as king-of-the-mountain on the Pole. R19 advanced north from the Atlantic.

As Ralph began to weaken towards the Canadian Archipelago R20 began to move north from the Kara Sea as R19 strengthened east of Svalbard. Ralph could see how things were headed, so he hopped in a lifeboat to make R19 the new flagship and new Ralph.

 

Missed some maps here. The new Ralph has moved over to the Pole, and the -5°C isotherm has appeared north of Greenland.

By the 4th the -5°C isotherm was growing north of Greenland, and Ralph was growing tired of everyone neglecting him. He saw a luxtury liner down in the Northwest Passage and, because the wealthy folk on board were talking about a trace gas and not him, Ralph snowed on its decks. Then he decided, “If I can’t beat them I’ll join them.” The last report we got from Ralph was, “I’ve got a berth on the Fistula Surgery.” (Ralph may have gotten the name of the ship wrong.) (I have no idea where Ralph got the $15,000.00 for the berth.)

 

 

I am fairly certain the crew of the good ship Northabout is not going to be happy to find Ralph sulking down there, when they head north towards the eastern mouth of Parry Sound. The -5°C isotherm is getting extensive, and Ralph seems to be wrapping it up in the Canadian Archipelago. It was 21°F (-6.1°C) up in Eureka this morning, and 23°F (-5°C) in Alert. Summer is past, at the Pole.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Volga, I mean, Lena Boat Men–(updated)

The Northabout has been making better time, as it passes the delta of one of the most fantastic rivers on earth.

The Lena River is one of the ten largest in the world. It goes from nearly being frozen solid in winter to amazing floods in the summer. As I recall off the top of my head, 3% of its flow occurs in January, and 40% in August. In places the water level in the Lena River rises 60 feet during the August Floods. During the floods the salinity of the Laptev Sea decreases, so much fresh water pours into it. Along with all the water comes all sorts of Siberian trees and branches, so that is something besides bergs the crew of the Northabout have to be wary about.

My preconception was that the surge of fresh water brought north by the Lena floods created a slightly milder lens of fresh water near the delta. Maps show the area as ice-free. Therefore I was surprised when on the 17th they mentioned having to take care about bergs in fog. This shows the importance of on-the-scene reporters.

Northabout 19a DSC_1142-600x400

FRIDAY UPDATE

They have made decent time east across the Laptev Sea, but complain a bit about meeting areas of ice in waters the maps show as “ice-free”. This occurs because, once the amount of ice dips below a certain percentage of a “grid-cell”, it stops being counted. I’ve seen maps where ice is not counted as “existing” when it is high as 30%, but the saner maps tend to use 10% as the cut-off point. But, when you are in a small boat, 1% can damage your craft if you pull off a Titanic. Also, the ice does not arrange itself in a dispersed manner in the “grid-cell”, but can be a sort of swirl, and form a line of bergs like a ice-bar or ice-reef, which must be navigated.

These sailors want to haul ass and don’t appreciate anything slowing them down, but the above picture shows something else they may have forgotten about:  “Twilight”.

Until you have experienced a winter up at high latitudes, you cannot imagine how depressing the winter darkness is. Conversely, until you have experienced a summer at high latitudes, you can have no idea how intoxicating the endless sunlight is. Dark ceases to enter your calculations, and you enter a sort of state of delusion, until the dark comes creeping back and twilight returns.

As these sailors hurry east they are going to increasingly be confronted by darkness limiting their visibility. Their solar panels on the deck will be less and less effective, and as each twilight grows more dusky they will be less and less able to see the stray bergs they come across in “ice free” waters. Do they have searchlights, and the generators to power such lights? (Also the stray bergs can create mini-fog-banks in calmer weather, which is yet another thing to slow them down, as such fog renders searchlights useless.)

The Northabout is facing increasing challenges, even as they thought they had left sea-ice in their past, and sailing would be clear and easy.  Best wishes to them, as they approach the entrance to the East Siberian Sea.

(EXAMPLE OF HOW QUICKLY ARCTIC SEA CONDITIONS CAN CHANGE, FROM DRIFTING O-BUOY 14 IN THE BEAUFORT SEA.)

YESTERDAY AFTERNOON:

Obuoy 14 0818 webcam

THIS AFTERNOON:

Obuoy 14 0819B webcam

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Northabout Battles Sea-Ice Through Vilkitsky Strait and Laptev Sea (Updated 5 Times)

When temperatures are over ninety (32.22° C) there is nothing like pictures of sea-ice to cool my crazed brain. Cooling is especially nice if one is politically inclined to scoff at Global Warming as a serious threat, and the sea-ice is proof that Global Warming isn’t happening in the manner proscribed by believers in the “Arctic Death Spiral.” But when sailors are taking the pictures, of the sea-ice I enjoy, there comes a point when the importance of politics fades away, because the photographers are facing death.

Not that one cannot die for political things, and die for their country, or their platoon, or their gang, or their wife, but such sacrifice is beyond the scope of ordinary politics. Ordinary politics, especially in recent times, is far more sleazy and selfish, and, rather than sacrifice, tends to focus on “what is in it for me.” People get busy keeping petty accounts that note how many times they scratched another’s back, and how many back-scratchings they have received and are owed, and if accounts do not seem right, they resort to back-stabbing.

To be honest, it disgusts me. Modern politics has all the spirituality of a leech, and all the love and romance of a cheap business transaction involving the purchase of the daily paper. I increasingly feel that it isn’t only me, and that the public is also disgusted, and cynicism is rife. Cynicism rises up as a king,  belittling hope and optimism, until an unlikely redeemer appears,  and our common enemy, Death, rises up and waggles his fingers with a friendly, “Hello”.

The reason people sail the Arctic Ocean or climb Mount Everest, rather than staying in a cozy and safe armchair,  is because risk is a redeemer.

It is amazing how quickly the threat of extermination will cut to the chase, and get people to get over their differences, and work together.  Unfortunately some politicians are adept at misusing this phenomenon, and create false threats to motivate populations to act. For an extreme example, most genocides are based on portraying a minority as a life-threatening threat to a majority, which the majority  must rally together to kill.

I am increasingly certain Global Warming is just such a false threat. It’s creators seemingly aim to exterminate opposition to their political agenda, which is an agenda I find repugnant, as an American, because the agenda loathes the liberty of the individual.  To cut a long discourse short, the agenda loathes private ownership of anything, seeking to enforce brotherhood with a club.

The Agenda dislikes mothers nourishing their babes, because Family Values are charity, which begins at home, because a man’s home is his castle, and even such a little patriotism as that is a threat to internationalism, which loathes patriotism of any sort.  Therefore internationalists twist a mother’s love into being a sort of hate:  If you love the baby God gave you then you are not being equal and fair to some child starving far away, and this makes you a racist.

In like manner internationalists loathe the love a man displays when he goes to the trouble to open a small business. As soon as a man steps from being a person who works for another to being a man hiring workers, he becomes slime. He is a “boss”, as if that is an evil.

In conclusion, internationalists in their ivory towers can become the enemy of love, in any sort of normal and natural form love has, that street-people can relate to.  Rather internationalists profess the love of Stalin, who is said to have subscribed to the idea that, “The death of one is a tragedy; the death of a million is a statistic.”

In other words, “It is the big things that matter; little people can be damned.”

This is fundamentally different from the American idea that, “All men are created equal.”

Americans believe, if they examine themselves, that a mother nursing her babe is equal to a Stalin, with all his might and all his power. Furthermore, she has the same single vote Stalin has, and the same control of our destiny. Stalin can bluster all he wants, muttering, “The ends justify the means” and, “Might makes right” and, (write in here any other justifications for bullying you desire). Still that poor mother has the power of Stalin, if America lives up to Her dream.

Global Warming is an attempt to create a false threat, because its creators know mothers will sacrifice their own well-being for the well-being of their babies. However it is a threat born of the cynical genius of politics, which has outlived its shelf-life.

Where a snake-oil salesman knows when to depart a town in a hurry, and seek a new town where the population is gullible and naive,  the perpetrators of the Global Warming alarm have no place to run; they have sold their snake-oil too widely; it is a case where they have no place to hide and internationalism has become a bad thing even for internationalists, for even remote Eskimos know all about Global Warming. The sheer, grinding nastiness of their cynicism has created a cynical populace, which increasingly doubts everything politicians and the Media claims.

Death is quite another matter. When it waggles its fingers at you, you are not the slightest bit cynical.

This was most especially obvious during the 1800’s in the age of sail. With members of a crew liable to be washed overboard or die of scurvy, captains had to hire new crew-members from alien cultures.  And, within the pages of writings such as “Moby Dick”, it is obvious that crew-members of very different racial, political, cultural and religious backgrounds would drop all their differences, when the alternative, (to working together as a team), was death.

This is something the Sea teaches much better than the Land does.  Stalin tried to teach with bullying death, but his schools always involved barbed wire, gulags and fences. The Sea spits on the very idea of fences. In fact it is the opposite, for it offers freedom.

But freedom isn’t free. It involves risk. It involves going to Sea.

This is what the good ship “Northabout” has done. Gone to Sea. Sure, they left port all puffed with a bloated political agenda about Global Warming, but the Sea slaps your naive preconceptions away with the first storm, when it lays you as low as a dog, with sea-sickness. After that, they could have turned back, but now they are heading into considerable risk, as they attempt to slip through sea-ice.

Northabout 17a DSC_1028

When such ice appears ahead, do you think inanimate ice cares what political party you belong to? If you believe Professor Peter Wadhams, when he makes his yearly headlines stating the Pole will be ice-free this summer, do you think the sea-ice will part like the Red Sea, to let you through?

Northabout 17b DSC_1026

Apparently not. The sea-ice does not read the New York Times or attend Professor Peter’s lectures. Therefore, because the sea does not agree, you are in a pickle, with your way blocked. You must trust the courage of your captain, and your own ability to be a good crew. And perhaps you do find a weakness in the wall of ice:

Northabout 17c DSC_1030

When your captain finds a gap in the ice, it may be like the gap between the teeth of a shark’s open mouth. After all, each berg only represents the “Tip of an iceberg.” The slightest berg, to the upper right, may only extend six inches above the water, but nearly five feet (56 inches) extend downwards. And that is but the smallest chip. How about that bigger berg off the starboard bow? It sticks up four or five feet, which in theory means it should stick down 36 or 45 feet, but these burgs are not always symmetrical with their mass, and sometimes the below-water part can stick sideways 36 or 45 feet.  It could hole your hull. In other words, this is no Sunday sail the crew of the Northabout  are on, over velvet waters, after church. This is for real. What if the shark’s teeth close?

Northabout 17d DSC_0964-600x400

Oh shit. This is no joke, anymore.

Now I am sure some are tempted to sneer, “Where’s your ice-free Pole now, suckers?” However this is no Professor Peter we are dealing with, getting rich by being politically correct in a fat-cat armchair,  and pretending to be a prophet, and announcing the Pole will be ice-free in 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016.

Instead these are very real people. They are not sitting on obese posteriors in some plush. leather Lazyboy, pontificating upon polar conditions from far away places. They are actually in those far away places. They are actually battling the ice that isn’t suppose to be there. They are actually gathering the actual data. In fact, in a worse case scenario, they could be killed by the actual data.

Therefore, rather than sneering, I suggest we do a bit of praying. Let us drop the stupid politics until they cross the Laptev Sea. Once they are safe, then, if they insist upon resuming their political nonsense, we will meet their nonsense blow for blow.

Were it not for individuals who dare test the waters, we’d be all sitting in our armchairs believing the media’s claptrap about how ice-free the arctic is.

Rather than sneering at “Northabout” and calling them a “Ship of Fools”, we should be thanking the crew for facing waters we don ‘t dare face. At the very least, they are showing the “ice-free” waters have icebergs, and they themselves have guts.

Northabout 17e 16693-1

That fellow in red is a “man overboard”, in water that is salty and at, or below. freezing, and can kill a person in five minutes if they fall in. Just who does he think he is, standing on the water? Jesus? No. He is just a working man trying to get to that open water barely visible in the upper right of the picture.

They made it, and crept along the shores, which were ice-free because the southwest winds blew the ice away from shore. This is called a  “Polynya”, and does not mean the ice by the shore is melted, but rather it is moved away. (Northabout located where the white arrow is:)

Northabout 17g 16729-1

However in these “ice free” waters you can come across not only sea-ice, but bergs taller than your highest mast.Northabout 17f DSC_1049.

I find this berg fascinating. It isn’t sea-ice and it isn’t locally grown. I want to take dirt samples. Is it from Greenland’s glaciers? And how did it wind up across the Arctic Sea in the Laptev Sea, when official maps of currents state “you can’t get there from here”? Also why is the geology of the berg’s ice so odd, with horizontal strata and slanting strata?

But the captain doesn’t care a hoot about that. He just sees that open water to the upper left, and also knows big bergs are dangerous. In theory, if they are 40 feet tall, they stick down 360 feet, but as I said earlier they can stick sideways rather than down. Also, because “bottom melt” can exceed “top melt” in August, such bergs can become top-heavy, with their bottoms melted, and can suddenly capsize and what was the bottom can come surging up as the top plunges down. This can be dangerous to a small boat squeezing by.

The good ship Northabout has faced days of dangers, but now a new danger appears. Winds may shift to the north for a brief time. It may be only twelve hours. But all the ice will come grinding south and threaten to crunch a small boat against the shore. So perhaps the captain dodges backwards, to seek a safe place for twelve hours, after which,  perhaps, the south winds will resume and allow sailing east again.

Northabout 17h 16774-1

I will not criticize these gutsy sailors, and instead I will find a private place to whisper a few politically incorrect prayers that they experience safety.

Professor Peter Wadham is another matter. He stated the arctic would be ice free this summer. I will privately pray he meets an iceberg inland, in England.

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE

They made three attempts to get through the ice yesterday, all in vain. Likely they wanted to get east before a storm hit with north winds. The last thing they want is to be stuck in the ice with the ice moving in gale force winds. It is quite hard enough in a calm.

Northabout 18b 16357-1

All their attempts brought them back to where they started.

Northabout 18a 2

The closest thing they could find to a safe anchorage was a so-called “stamukha”, which is a berg that has been pushed onto shallow water by a storm and is grounded. This particular chunk of ice appears to be genuine sea-ice, and not a large chunk calved from a glacier. It looks like multi-year-ice, either piled up to a pressure ridge where it now remains, or piled up to a pressure ridge somewhere else and driven ashore.

Northabout 18c DSC_1087

From  the safety of my armchair I want to take samples of the dirt on the berg. It might be from a mountain, which would prove the ice was from a glacier. It might be soot from China’s coa;-fired power plants, or from a volcano, concentrated at the bottom of a melt-water pool and then refrozen into the ice. Or it might be alge that grows on the bottom of the ice, and then is frozen into the ice when the ice gets thicker in the winter, or put at the tip of the ice when the ice is flipped like a pancake.

The captain has other concerns, with winds picking up. Will this berg stay grounded in a storm? Will it shelter them from other bergs moving in the storm?

They likely have endured a long, sleepless night, and I’m awaiting this morning report with a degree of anxiety. All I can say is that there is no  sign of movement yet.

*******

ON THE MOVE AGAIN.  They got started at around 7:00 AM EST, which I guess is early afternoon for them, and so far they have made it east about half the distance they probed three times yesterday.

*******

BREAKTHROUGH!  Yesterday they commented that if only could get through the three miles of ice there would be clear sailing all the way to Bristol. I think that may be a bit overly optimistic. But they may find things easier at least to the far side of the Lena River Delta. (The Lena is at peak flood in August, pouring massive amounts of summer-warmed waters into the Laptev Sea.)

Northabout 19 17017-1

*******

DUCK AND COVER

All day I have found myself sneaking to peek at the “Tracking Map” to see how the Northabout is doing. The skipper is amazing. I can’t see how he hasn’t gone aground, he has sailed so close to shore. I figured they had penetrated the blocking ice, and therefore was surprised to see them abruptly turn back.

Seeking a reason, I checked the forecast. Hmm. Looks like they are in for a bit of a blow. The skipper is wise to seek a safe anchorage.

Northabout 20 Screen-Shot-2016-08-13-at-23.47.13-1024x909

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Northabout Awaits Thaw–(With Monday Update)

We have been watching the travels of the Northabout, which is attempting to circumnavigate the Pole this summer, with interest because it will act as our on-the-scene reporter of ice-conditions on the Siberian side of the Pole.

The Northabout is tucked into a cove to the west of Vilkitskogo Strait, which is the western entrance of the Laptev Sea. They are waiting for the sea-ice conditions to improve, and south winds may be helping them out. Skies have cleared, and you  can peer down from outer space by using:  http://www.arctic.io/explorer/4Xa5A//4-N90-E0

I’m going to try to zoom in, copy, and paste the image here.

Drat. For some reason it clipped off the edges. Anyway, the Northabout is off the picture to the right. South winds have cleared a tentative channel right along the coast to thicker sea-ice on the right side of the picture. That thicker ice is broken up, and a gutsy captain might try to pole and poke his way through, with a steel hulled boat made for such conditions. On the other hand, one can sip vodka and wait.

During August the Siberian rivers reach their peak levels of flood, as all last winter’s snow is melted by the long days and is rushing downstream. The floods are unreal. The Lena River (world’s tenth largest) can rise sixty feet from its January levels. All that water pours into the Arctic Sea and creates a “freshwater lens” along the coast, especially in the Laptev Sea. Though the river water is very cold it can melt Sea Ice, and create a brief channel. Interestingly, because it is fresher, it freezes at a higher temperature, and the “freshwater lens” in the Laptev Sea doesn’t need much of an excuse to re-freeze. (Watch how quickly the Laptev Sea freezes in the fall.)

My guess is that they will bide their time and wait for melting. The problem is that they’ll be falling behind schedule.

They are tucked into a bay in an island that is near the center of the satellite shot below. (South to the top.)You can see that the north winds behind the last storm pushed a lot of ice south to the east of their refuge.

Below is a picture posted by “Colorado Wellington” over at  http://realclimatescience.com/2016/08/vodka-and-wine-and-vodka/

(South to the bottom. Location of Northabout marked by the red dot.)

Northabout 9 15139-1

It does look like the last low pressure system pushed the ice southeast, but I’m not concerned about them being blocked in at this point, as winds are shifting to the south as a ridge of high pressure slides over. Then the next low will give them some south winds ahead of it, and may be helpful because it may pull a loop-de-loop in the Kara Sea, keeping them in the south winds and pushing the ice away from shore.  The lows center broadens in the Canadian JEM model, giving them a period of calm if they want to attempt to motor through Vilkitskogo Strait,  72 hours from now.

Hopefully this post will include updates. They are well worth watching.

Tuesday Update

They are still waiting. Some ice blew into their anchorage. “At 4am Constance woke me, bits of floating ice all around.  I thought she was pissed, so got up in my boxers. She was right, with the change of direction of wind, we had lots of bits of loose ice all around the boat, and worryingly, congregating around the anchor chain.”

I wish they’d post some pictures. Also describe how the water temperatures changed as the ice moved in. Maybe they will, later. I sent an inquiry to their blog site.

The blogger “AndyG55” produced this good picture of how the ice blew south, and where they anchored. (South is to the top.) He marked a potential escape route with the yellow arrow, though I think the ice will stay scattered. Winds have since shifted to the west, and it looks like our good satellite view will be obscured by clouds.

Northabout 10 15248-1

Now AndyG55 has posted a picture of the clouds moving in today.

Northabout 11 15259-1

I would not blame the captain for being cautious. One thing the satellites do not show very well is the smaller bergs, and last summer I could watch O-buoy 9 go from being in water that seemed utterly ice-free to a scene of jammed ice in a matter of mere hours.

I’ll continue to update, as this is interesting to me.

*******

Below is a picture of the ice that blew down the harbor and gave them a rude awakening.

Northabout 12 Screen-Shot-2016-08-04-at-12.11.50-1024x571

Thursday Update

Looks like they have to hunker down and wait out a bit of a blow that blew up right on top them. The winds may be clearing the coast of the Laptev Sea but it looks like Vilkitskogo Strait could be jammed up. The storm will fade by Sunday, and then they’ll have to appraise the situation.

Northabout 13 gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_2

Saturday Morning

It was a good thing they were in a safe anchorage, as the storm gave them gale force winds gusting up to 38 knits, and near white-out conditions of fog, rain, and some wet snow. Air temperatures were around +2°.

The storm is now filling and fading to the west.PS1 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1

By Sunday morning their north winds should have slackened, and they will be able to appraise how much ice blew south to block their route.

PS3 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_5

By Monday morning a very small low will develop in the wake of the departing storm, and they may see winds shift to the south as it approaches.

PS5 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_9

It is more of a test than you would imagine to be trapped in a boat with the same people day after day, especially when you can’t even go out onto the deck to see the sky. Until the strait clears there is nothing they can do but be patient and wait.

Here was the ice-situation before the storm (from Ron Clutz’s site). I’ll have to figure out how he gets these maps.

https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/polar-challenge-meets-laptev-wall/

Northabout 14 laptev-gateway

Northabout 15 ru-legend

SUNDAY UPDATE  –STILL WAITING–

We are getting our first glimpses through the clouds as the storm fades, and it looks like their is still ice in the strait, though it may be less concentrated in places. There is a sort of geology to sea-ice, and I can see what I call “ice bars”, for they remind me of the sand bars that form along the sandier parts of the east coast. They shift fairly swiftly, and I doubt one would seek to plow through them in a sailboat the way one can do with an icebreaker.

If they do attempt a run along the coast they will be keeping an anxious eye to the north, for the ice can return. A very good example was seen up in Barrow Alaska last week. The ice was gone, and none could be seen on the horizon, for over two weeks, and then it returned abruptly, and crunched up against the shore. At low tide it could be seen that the bergs were fairly thick; definitely not slush. Briefly there was a second mass of ice visible on the horizon. Hopefully a link to the webcam (atop a bank building) can be seen here:

(I’d hoped to preserve the above video for posterity, but unfortunately it stopped working when it was replaced by a updated 10-day video. You can still see the sea-ice (for a few more days) by going to the website and hitting the ten-day-animation, but when the event recedes more than ten days into the past it will be harder to find a record of it.  The website is here:

http://seaice.alaska.edu/gi/observatories/barrow_webcam

Once the visual record is unavailable you’ll just have to take my word for it that what happened happened.)

If a sailboat was coasting along the shore and a mass of ice like that came south the captain would be in for some difficult maneuvering, and the crew busy pushing the bergs from the boat with poles. In a worst case scenario they might be driven ashore with the ice. So I can see why a captain would wait in a safe anchorage, even if the vodka ran out.

I should note that the satellite didn’t show the ice at Barrow as anything worse than milky-looking water. The ice is more impressive when you meet it face-to-face. (Also note that, although Barrow is well north of the Arctic Circle, the sun dips so low to the north at midnight that it briefly sets. The time of 24-hour sunlight has past, and the chill will start building.)

MONDAY UPDATE

High clouds continue to make it difficult to get a clear picture of the ice conditions in the strait.

They now have been biding their time for a solid week, and are likely suffering a small-craft equivalent of cabin fever. Fortunately conditions grew calm enough to test out the dingy, and they got to walk a bit on solid ground, before a mother polar bear with two cubs gave them an adrenaline rush, and caused a hasty retreat.

Northabout 16 IMG_3454

The bears look rather healthy, and seem to cast doubt on Al Gore’s suggestion that polar bears starve without sea-ice. A good reference, if you want to learn more about this subject, is Susan J. Crockford’s site:

https://polarbearscience.com/

Apparently polar bears do most of their eating in the spring, when new-born seal pups spend their first week helpless, by air-holes in the ice. By the time the ice melts the bears are obese, and quite able to get through the summer only nibbling a bit, subsisting on body fat. Susan points out that what really reduces the bear population is too much ice, for thick ice means there are no air-holes for seals, and the seal population takes a dive, which means the bears go hungry, and few cubs survive. (Al Gore’s weepy movie was wrong, in this respect, among its other errors.)

In any case, our sailors got some excitement, which is just the tonic needed to alleviate boredom, as they wait. They also received a another real-life lesson. Misconceptions, whether they be about sea-ice or about polar bears, tend to be self-correcting, provided you keep your eyes open and seek the Truth.

ANCHORS AWEIGH. Monday afternoon.

They’ve finally headed east toward the strait. Best wishes.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Comparison with 2006–

I was listening to some Bach yesterday to mellow out my temper, but unfortunately was on a PBS station which injected a bit of Climate Change hoopla into my brain before I could change the channel, the result being I was anything but mellow. The editorial was so full of incredibly distorted news that I’m surprised the speaker’s nose didn’t grow so long it poked out through the front of the radio.

Just for an example, every El Nino makes the waters warmer around Australia, which allows waters to get hot enough, in the shallowest reef-waters, to “bleach” some coral. The coral dies, and then comes back after the water cools. I’m not sure what percentage gets bleached, but it isn’t all that high. I’m not sure how long it takes for the reef to recover, but it isn’t that long. Like a forest fire in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, “bleaching” is not pretty, leaves a short-term wasteland, but is a part of the natural cycle of things.

I know all this because there was a “coral reef bleaching scare” around ten years ago, and I paid attention to a degree where I actually visited Australian websites. Some fellows at resorts were irritated that they might lose customers because people would assume the reefs were dead, while other fellows thought tourists would come if the guides played on a theme of “see the reef before it is too late.” However I soon understood the reefs were not anywhere close to dying out; bleaching had occurred before, and the reef always recovered. Some websites frequented by scuba divers were downright contemptuous of the media, and how ill-informed the reporters were, and how some scientists were pandering for funding, to study reefs the scuba divers already knew about. The divers joked the scientists were looking for a paid vacation. In the end the scare blew over and the coral recovered.

The PBS editorial I accidentally listened to was replaying all the exaggerations of the old scare, based around this latest El Nino. For example, in an area of sun-baked shallow water up to 99% of the coral can die. That is a true fact. However it is a gross distortion to use the “up to 99%” figure for the entire barrier reef. Yet the editorial said something along the lines of, “A professor and his students were reduced to weeping because up to 99% of the Great Barrier Reef had died.” That may not be an out and out lie, if you parse the sentence with a lawyer, but it gives a false impression, and therefore PBS seemingly is misusing its funding. It is suppose to educate the public, not bleat propaganda. (The (unnamed) professor is suppose to do the same.) (Weeping isn’t scientific, and weeping is known to, in fact, cloud scientific objectivity. A bunch of bawling students is therefore not a sign of a good teacher.)

The editorial went on to do the same with other facts regarding sea-ice. My favorite involved blithely explaining away the cold hitting Europe as “cold displaced by the heat at the Pole.”

Joe Bastardi at Weatherbell site  posted a Dr. Ryan Maue forecast map of snow in Germany this week.

Germany April snow 2 gfs_tot_snow_eur_29(1)

I was curious as to whether the forecast had verified, so I checked back to the Weatherbell site, and Joseph D’Aleo was (as usual) right on the ball. I learned temperatures over Germany were ten degrees below normal.

Germany April snow 3 ncep_cfsv2_4_t2anom_europe(2)

And Pierre Gosselin reported to Joseph,

“Winter transforms Germany’s Thuringia Forest into a winter wonderland today. Massberg webcam photo 11.07 a.m.

Newsite Thuringia Antenne here writes that winter has returned and will stick around for awhile, reporting of icy roads, accidents and cold. Meteorologist Dominik Jung of http://www.wetter.net forecasts 5 to 10 cm of snow across wide regions of Germany, especially Bavaria and Thuringia.

The Rheinbrecke at Rees had to be closed for over an hour and a half early this morning due to accidents from icy conditions, the RP Online reports here.”

Germany April snow. Winter_massberg_April_26_2016

While it is true Europe is smaller than the Arctic Ocean, (3.931 million square miles versus 5.427 million square miles), when you include the area of Atlantic Ocean covered by the cold hitting Europe you wind up with an area larger than the Arctic Ocean. Nor is the entire Arctic Ocean above normal. Slightly less than half of it is, in fact, below normal.

Germany April snow 4 gfs_t2m_anomf_arctic_1

None of this was mentioned in the editorial, of course.  In the end it basically dissolved into a diatribe against people who vote out Alarmists, such as Australians. What was most nauseating to me was its “science-is-settled” attitude, which accepted guff as gospel.

I have my doubts about recent record-keeping, due to some being polluted by  “adjustments”, but, using those records, we are indeed feeling the effects of a large El Nino, and the air temperatures of the world are at “record highs” as the sea-ice-extent is brushing “record-lows.” I don’t find this particularly alarming, as records are set all the time, when the period when the records have been kept is relatively short.  The last El Nino did indeed set a recent record, for the central Pacific, but didn’t for the waters just off Peru. Off Peru the 1998 and 1982 El Ninos were “the worst ever”.  In any case, I’ve been expecting a lot of hubbub to be made about this El Nino’s mildness, and the word “unprecedented” to be used a lot, and the PBS editorial didn’t disappoint me.

What is always interesting to do is to search the historical records we have from the period before modern records were kept.  They are full of surprises, and in fact it was my study of the conditions the Vikings in Greenland lived under that first alerted me to the fact that the word “unprecedented” didn’t include a huge swath of history.

I started poking around in the past, looking at low sea-ice extent, and I didn’t need to go far to find an example that surprised me. It was the year 2006, which most think of as a year with higher ice-extent, because most focus on September and not late April. I found a good site for making such comparisons, where you can erase all the years you don’t want charted, and avoid facing a hopeless tangle of graphed squiggles. I thought it would be interesting to compare 2006 with 2012, (2012 being the year with the lowest extent on record). Here’s the site, so you can do your own comparing:

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/charctic-interactive-sea-ice-graph/

What is interesting is that 2012 was above normal, while 2006 was at record-setting lows, at the start of May. By September 2006’s extent was barely below 6 million km2, while 2012 was well below 4 million km2. In other words, all the hubbub about how low levels now are might actually mean we are in for a year like 2006, rather than 2012.

At this point one runs into a lot of talk about how much more solid the ice was back in 2006, versus how flimsy it is now. So I did a bit of checking. People have been skiing from 89 degrees north to the Pole for over ten years, so I went and looked at the “final degree” diary for 2006. Temperatures were milder that year than this year, and April  17 had this intriguing headline.

 46 KILOMETERS LEFT, ALL IS WELL BUT LOTS OF  OPEN WATER

Reading a little discovered this:

We have crossed difficult leads of open water today, where we also had to use our two large sleds as bridge to get across. This we can do on two-three meter wide leads. We lash the two sleds together to make a catamaran, and push them out in the water. This raft floats well and becomes a stable platform; we then crawl across to the other side one after another. This system works on small leads, but on wider leads we need to find a crossing point.

We did 15.5 kilometre on our ten hour long day. It’s now 46 kilometres left to the Pole, and it looks like we will make it with good margin. At the end of the day however, we came to an enormous lead, 3-400 metre wide. We made camp nearby this lead, and Thomas and I went out to look for a crossing point for tomorrow. Pressure ridges and large leads have one thing in common; they don’t last forever. When we meet such leads there is just one thing to do and that is to walk along it until we find a crossing point. They can be several kilometres long but sooner or later the lead will close. The good thing about such leads is that they take up a lot of the movement in the ice and we hope conditions are more stable on the other side.

OK, that is 2006, when the ice was “thicker”.

Now let’s evesdrop on 2016

From April 14

A long and hard day. Lots of snow on the ice, and a lot of rubble. Not extreme, but it’s there all the time…

Final Degree 1 in-the-ice

From April 16

Beautiful day, sunny but cold. Also today heavy walking, but nothing so bad that we have to turn back. The drift has changed direction and has almost stopped up.

Final Degree 2 ice-2

Now, if I was like PBS I would never mention that they later came across open leads. I’ve made my point: The ice was thick and piled up this year. However, because I am in love with truth, I’ll mention the leads.

From April 17

Just slightly some wind, and it was in our back. Temperature probably around minus 30-35.

And drift was almost zero. We got into better ice, less bulky and with hard snow. We followed a new lead that went straight north for almost an hour.

From April 18

We skied 18 Km, same as the day before. Lots of snow in the ice, but good conditions. A lot of large pans.

From April 19

Sunny, a bit wind from the back, warmer aprox 25 under.

We met an open lead right away in the morning. Struggled there for a bit, but came over. After that we had to jump several cracks, and did a couple more leads…

We then meet the mother of all leads just before camp time! Luckily it had one point that was possible to cross. We went over and came into camp at 20:15.

There. That is what real reporting looks like. You report truth, not just what supports your theory.

The “Race Against Time” expedition experienced the same arctic landscape. They started further south, experiencing some leads at the start, but then fought through a great deal of pressure ridging, which they described as “boulder fields”. Later they too came across the leads close to the Pole, and displayed their unabashed bias (apparent throughout the trip) by stating, “Strangely warm day around -10C. 8 hours trekking today. Reached a huge expanse of water, which is bizarre so close to the North Pole.”

They should have read up on 2006, for then they would have seen that the temperatures they experienced were colder than 2006 through much of their trip. Rather than “strangely warm” they should have stated 10ºC  was”temperatures like 2006″. Also if they had researched they would have known that the adventurers in 2006 also found leads near the Pole. Maybe they would have even researched to a point they would have known there were leads near the Pole in 1987.  It’s not so “bizarre” after all.

Barneo 6C 3-subs-north-pole-1987

I always admire the people who ski to the Pole. The oldest has been 69 and the youngest has been, I think, 10. However the “Race Against Time” crew got a bit too maudlin for me.  On one hand they had to promote how “delicate and fragile” the arctic was, but on the other hand they had to make it sound like they were up against hardships only supermen could endure, and this made them describe the pressure ridges they had to haul heavy sleds over as being like the Himalayas. Wrong.  Making pressure ridges sound huge is politically incorrect, if you want to promote the idea all the ice is melting.  They forgot the political cause, in their lust for self-aggrandizement.

Fool Ranulph

All I can say is, “Put on a hat, you fool!”

To return to more mundane matters, the last “whirl” faded away from the Pole, pumping a high behind it. This has cut off the export of cold down into the North Atlantic, but not before the trough mentioned at the start of the post was filled to the brim with cold. That trough will slowly drift across Europe to the east, and some milder temperatures will finally return to Europe from west to east as that trough moves to Russia.

It looks to me like Pacific air may try to generate the next “swirl” at the Pole, but the models suggest that low north of Iceland will be the next low at the Pole, splitting the high pressure in Frem Strait in half. Hmm. I guess we’ll see what we see.

O-buoy 13 has been experiencing dull weather, cloudy but with little snow, and steady temperatures at -10ºC.Obuoy 13 0429 webcam

O-buoy 14 has been producing the better pictures, and reminding me of what originally attracted me to these cameras. (Beauty). Temperatures have been going through a diurnal swing between -7ºC and -15ºC. It’s gradually clouding up.

Obuoy 14 0427 webcam

Obuoy 14 0429 webcam

Things remain fairly dull, usually, until the thaw starts, but perhaps the Alarmists will give me more to write about.