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.)

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ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph Rains?–

Ralph hasn’t become the gale some models were foreseeing, but is a persistent feature at the Pole, and a wrench in the works of the summer thaw.   In essence Ralph creates clouds where I expect sun. This slows the creation of melt-water pools, which are a creation that quickly changes the albedo equation, for the brilliant white of the snows (which reflects light in a highly efficient manner) is changed to the battleship gray of slush (which absorbs more sunlight and accelerates the surface melt.) Once the slush turns into an actual pool particles of soot, volcano ash, and arctic algae often create a black bottom to the pool, which hastens the melt further, and on occasion melt down and create a hole to the sea beneath, weakening the ice and contributing to the break up of floes.

This is a time I sorely miss the floating cameras, for they gave you a visual proof of what otherwise is merely modeled guess-work. The only camera we have is lodged in the ice of Parry Channel, and can’t give us a clear idea of the conditions out in the open sea. However it is better than nothing, and does show the crispness of the drifted snow softening in the thaw.

Obuoy 14 0623 webcam

O-buoy 14 is down around 74° north latitude, and away from the center of Ralph near the Pole. I have an insatiable curiosity about higher latitudes. The DMI graph shows the mean, north of 80°, as being below normal but above freezing.

DMI4 0622 meanT_2017

To look at Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps of modeled temperatures (free week trial available at Weatherbell site) isn’t exactly helpful, because the GFS tends to average it all out to a blandness, while the Canadian differentiates to a degree where it seems to make storms more intense. Which is a curious George to trust? (GFS to left; JEM to right)

 The reason this matters is because in the polar summer snow can change to rain, and this makes an enormous difference. Snow (usually a dusting to an inch, as the arctic is a desert), slows the melt by adding more brilliant white to reflect heat, while rain immediately creates slushy, gray spots and speeds the melt. As is often the case in the arctic, a half degree can make a big difference.

One of my favorite examples was the case of “Lake North Pole”, in 2013. The melt-water pool directly in front of the camera, expanded by summer rains in mid July, generated no end of media hype, complete with stories of Santa drowning and so on.

LNP 1 np-july-26-npeo_cam2_20130726072121 However no sooner had the media gotten everyone looking that way, when the water drained away down through a crack in the ice (as is often the case.)

LNP 2 np-july-28-npeo_cam2_20130728131212

The ice was still gray and capable of absorbing more heat than snow, but, rather than summer rains, summer snows followed.

LNP 5 np-july-29-npeo_cam2_20130729071817

And by August 5 all talk of “Lake North Pole” was muted. It had gone from being an Alarmist talking point on July 26 to being a Skeptic’s talking point.

LNP 3 np-aug-5-npeo_cam2_20130805065710

The camera allowed the curious to compare the August 5 view of 2012 (left) with 2013 (right).

To the dispassionate it simply looked like perhaps 2013 was a colder summer than 2012, but, in terms of getting a political message across, I fear cameras had gone from seeming like an excellent idea on July 26 to seeming like a very bad idea on August 5. This may be one reason funding dried up, and we are without their wonderful visual evidence this summer.

In any case, we now are stuck with what a satellite can see from afar. Ralph’s clouds can then present one with a bit of a problem, though there are usually plenty of interesting views further south, if you are in the mood to ruin your schedule with a wonderful form of procrastination. Here’s a nice, current view of Petermann Glacier and Nares Strait.

The problem is we are too far away to get the intimate feel for conditions the cameras gave us. We can’t see if it snowed or rained, last night. And, in cases where radar attempts to see through clouds, we are not even sure if we are looking at open water or a melt-water pool.

I sure do miss those cameras.

The best I can do is look at Ryan Maue’s “precipitation type” maps, keeping in mind they are models. The GFS seems to suggest Ralph will not rain. Ralph will continue to dust the north with snow (blue). The only rain (green) is towards the Alaska coast.

The maps below represent the GFS forecasts for 6, 72, 120 and 168 hours. Recognizing these are forecasts and not reality, Ralph looks like he will peak in 72 hours, down at 977 mb, but persist for a week. Only then are there signs Byoof (the Beaufort High) will come back.

Ralph B3 gfs_ptype_slp_arctic_2

Ralph B4 gfs_ptype_slp_arctic_13

Ralph B5 gfs_ptype_slp_arctic_21

Ralph B6 gfs_ptype_slp_arctic_29

To me it seems Ralph is being a real spoil sport to the melt-season. Right when the sun is at its highest he is murking up the sky and dusting everything with snow. Of course, most of the melt comes from below, but we won’t be setting any records unless Ralph takes a hike.

I should confess I blew a forecast, for I did not expect Ralph to show up much this summer. My assumption was that the lagged effects of the weak La Nina would reduce the difference in temperatures between the tropics and the arctic, and that it was that difference that fueled the anomaly I call “Ralph”.

This is merely my wondering, and likely should not be dignified with the word “hypothesis”, but the persistence of “Ralph” intrigues me and calls for an explanation, and what I wonder is this:

If the “Quiet Sun” does deliver less energy to the earth in various ways, could it be that less energy warms the Equator while cooling the Pole? At the Equator less energy would produce less wind,  indirectly leading to warming, by stirring up less cold water, and therefore intensifying El Ninos while weakening La Ninas. Meanwhile, up at the Pole, less energy has a more direct effect during the summer, making it colder. During the winter there is no sun so no effect, but the import of warm surges makes the winter’s milder. All year long the tropics are generally warmer (so far) and this fuels a more meridional jet, which is what creates the “feeder bands” that fuel Ralph.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Before Ralph reappeared Byoof did manage to push the ice away from the western entrance to the Northwest Passage, (lower right) but the ice is still fast against the shore at Barrow (top right).

Daytime sea-breeze shifted to a light land-breeze during Barrow’s “night”, and warm inland temperatures wafted over them, lifting them to a balmy 41°F.

Barrow 20170623 05_27_09_508_ABCam_20170623_132400

Here’s the Navy thickness map. (Ice-out starting in Hudson Bay):

Thickness 20170623 Attachment-1

And here’s the “extent” graph everyone likes to watch:

DMI4 0622 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

Stay tuned!

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Disappointing Sunshine–

For those-who-hope-for-an-ice-free-Pole, the sun has become a traitor to the cause. They are all but shaking their fingers at it. They have wished for certain events, and all they have wished for has happened. They may even be starting to think they can control the weather, so many of their wishes have come true. But…I probably shouldn’t say that. Only very simple people believe they can control the weather by throwing virgins into a volcano or purchasing curly light bulbs. Surely educated people do not indulge in such preposterous claims. I apologize.

In any case, it sure has been a year to remember, when it comes to afflicting the icecap on the Arctic Sea. To begin with, there was a lovely, warm “super” El-Nino that set records (at least in the central Pacific, if not in the east), and it exploded umpteen Hiroshima’s worth of energy into the atmosphere, (in the form of non-radioactive cumulus in the middle of a pristine ocean). There is no way for this huge energy to dissipate into outer space by normal means, so, after the allotted amount is lost upwards, the remainder of the heat must head north for the Pole (if not south to the other Pole) to be dissipated up (or down) there.

It is important to knock it through my thick skull how huge this northward-bound energy is. You, who are thin-headed, probably already understand this, but a layman like myself tends to have these silly ideas, and thinks a degree of temperature is the same in the tropics as it is up at the Pole.  Not. In the tropics the warm air is loaded with water, and to raise it a degree involves warming all the attached water, while at the Pole the air is bone dry, and warming the air ten degrees can involve less energy.

How to explain it to a layman?  Well, to imagine all the energy pent-up in tropical air, imagine a juicy air-mass of 90° bumping against a cooler air-mass of 80°. Only cooling the air ten degrees can result in stupendous thunderstorms. But then imagine a Siberian air-mass of -70° bumping north into a Polar air-mass of -40°. In this case the air is cooled thirty degrees, but there isn’t even a cloud in the sky as the air-masses clash, because both air-masses are bone dry to begin with. Conclusion? Water matters. Second conclusion? Air- made-two-degrees-warmer by an El Nino is loaded with energy which air-made-seven-degrees-warmer at the Pole utterly lacks.

Third conclusion? Temperatures should be “weighted” in some way, to show the energy they hold. Otherwise you might behave like a silly layman, and just average all the temperatures together, giving the dry air at the Pole the same weight as the juicy air at the tropics. Ha ha ha ha ha! Who could be so stupid!?

In any case, all that juicy air from the tropics headed north to the Pole, and cold air from the Pole headed south, and there were wonderful collisions and confusions last winter, and record warmth north and record cold south, the first recorded snow in Kuwait and thin ice in Norway, which all seems to be an attempt on the part of the atmosphere to achieve a state of boring blandness. The atmosphere wants peace, and is in a constant state of war to get there. It is almost human.

The Pole did not escape this confusion, and a series of storms, (which my peculiar sense of humor made generic and called “Ralph”), tore at the sea-ice. Leads opened, and in cases grew to be many miles wide. When this happened the winter atmosphere, rather than touching an  ice-surface chilled to -31°, was touching open water chilled to +29°.  This is a sixty degree difference, and so of course the water warmed the arctic air further.

So how much warmer was the arctic air?  With exposed water heating it from below and El Nino air-masses surging north from the south?  Thirty degrees above normal? No? Twenty degrees? No? What the heck!!?? Ten degrees!?  No?  What are you saying? With all this assistance it could only manage 5-7 degrees above normal?

And that 5-7 degrees of slightly less-frigid,  slightly less bone-dry air called “Ralph”  was what made the entire planet be above normal in a “warmest evah” manner?

Oh well, never mind that. The important thing is that the ice was bashed and crashed and lots of open water appeared all through the winter, and increased through the summer, reaching near record levels by September. Right? After all, once the deep blue of open water is exposed it will absorb the sun much better than the white of sea-ice will. Right?

Wrong. And this is where the sun is a traitor to the cause. Everyone has worked really, really hard to expose that open water, but all the work is in vain, because the sun gets coy and insists upon bouncing off the water, despite the fact the water is deep blue, and sea-ice is white.

Actually, this late in the summer, the sea-ice isn’t so white any more. All sorts of crud dirties it, ranging from soot from coal-fired plants in China, to volcano dust from Iceland and the far east of Russia, to algae that grows on the bottom of bergs that see the light of day when bergs are flipped like pancakes. In actual fact the bergs are so dirty that they can absorb more sun than the deep blue water, and utterly screw up the calculations of overly-simple “albedo” modeling.  Why?  It is all because of this dumb graph:

water-albedo-800px-water_reflectivity

The above graph shows how much sunlight penetrates water, as the angle at which the sun strikes the water increases. (It has an idea of “normal” as being when the sun is directly overhead. This is only at noon, south of the Tropic of Cancer, on certain days of the year, but never happens north of there. Odd sort of “normal”, if you ask me.)

What you should notice is that, when the sun gets down close to the horizon, the water does an increasingly  bad job of absorbing the sunlight.  Around now, even though the sun is still up 24 hours a day at the Pole, it is down so low on the horizon that all it does is make the open water spangle and glitter, as nearly all the sunshine is repelled from the sea into our poor eyes. It is not warming the open water in the proper manner, to the proper degree.

In fact, despite the fact the sun is still up 24 hours a day, temperatures are rapidly plunging at the Pole.

dmi3-0911-meant_2016

These temperatures are so low salt water will start to refreeze. Not only has the -5°C  isotherm reappeared, but the -10°C isotherm is rearing its head.

dmi3-0911b-temp_latest-big

What this means is that the open water we have worked so long and hard to create is not making the Pole warmer, as some suggested, but is losing heat. It may even be losing heat at an “unprecedented” rate. Why? Because not only does open water have a higher “albedo” than dirty ice, once the sun gets down to 5° of the horizon, (85° from zenith, in the above graph), but also open water loses much, much more heat from the Arctic Ocean than ice-covered water does, and that heat is not returned to the equator in a manner that can warm the earth, but is largely lost to outer space.

In other words, all the wishing people did for open water, (perhaps using uncanny powers of wish-fulfillment,)  may have an opposite effect than the effect they envisioned. The bad people who refused to buy curly light-bulbs may have made the arctic ice-free, but open water may be cooling the planet, rather than leading to “runaway warming”.

You want proof?  If I give you proof you’ll call it circumstantial evidence, but take a gander at the open water O-buoy 14 saw on September 4.

Obuoy 14 0903C webcam

And then take a gander at the scene on September 7.

obuoy-14-0907-webcam

(I apologize for not saving the view from September 9, at 02:31:24, when the sea was surging slush.) Now look at the view from tonight, (early on September 12, camera time).

Ask yourself, “How much heat did the open water absorb?”

obuoy-14-0911-webcam

Forgive me for using my lying eyes, but the open water didn’t seem to absorb diddlesquat of heat. In fact, the entire idea of a “Death Spiral” seems even more idiotic than ever.

I know the above is circumstantial evidence, but at least it is evidence. The “Death Spiral” crowd has “some ‘splainin’ t’do”. They can blather all they want about a “consensus”, but the above makes the “consensus” look like the flat-earthers  who said Columbus was wrong.

The “Death Spiral” crowd has had everything they could have possibly wanted, to make the arctic Ice-free, this year. When the cards were dealt they got ace after ace.  El Nino, PDO, AMO, storms to smash the ice. What more could they ask for? (Likely more sunspots.) Yet, even with nearly all going for them, they couldn’t set a record, in terms of there being less ice than 2012.

They assured us that it was an escalating situation. Less ice would make waters warmer, which would lead to less ice. Even with conditions most favorable, it ain’t happening.

extent-20160911-sea_ice_extent_n_v2

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not down on the “Death Spiral” people because they proposed a hypothesis that isn’t working out. That is actually a sign of science at its best. You have the guts to stick your neck out. You walk out on a limb. And (hopefully in a merciful manner) your peers test your ideas, expose your perfectly human weaknesses, and you see your theory fall flaming to earth. This is how progress occurs. Imperfect idea after imperfect idea, increment after increment.

However I am very down on the “Death Spiral” crowd when they insist they are perfect. They are part of “settled science”. They are of the “consensus”. Worst of, some of them even  start saying anyone (like me) who dares suggest they aren’t more perfect than God should be punished, for I am one of the no-good “deniers.” Me? Punished? For pointing out what I’ve pointed out?

I am very, very down on any Death Spiral person who resorts to that sort of defensive behavior. They have been paid lots of money to propose an incorrect hypothesis, while I have never earned a red cent for attempting to help them improve their science. They make ten times as much money as I do, being politically correct (and scientifically incorrect), yet they have the nerve to say I am a lackey of “Big Oil” or “Big Coal” or “Big Something-or-another”. Balderdash. Let me repeat myself. I have never earned a red cent for attempting to help them improve their science.

I am sorry if I inadvertently attack their livelihood, and threaten to deprive their children of the luxury of a father with a six figure income. But I just have this idea science isn’t about money. It is suppose to be about Truth. Once filthy lucre gets involved, people sniff a stink, and rather than seeing the scientist as wearing a white coat they see a scientist with a red cloak, as a “junk-scientist”, as “post normal”,  and lastly, rather than as “inquiring”, instead as part of a cruel, red-cloaked “Inquisition”.

I am down on this sort of response to criticism because it is not merely arrogant, but it is a thing few dare say:  It is evil.

 

 

 

 

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 –Is This Water Warming?–(Updated September 9)–Entering Parry Channel–

If you are one-who-wants-the-sea-ice-to melt, is somewhat relieving that O-buoy 14 stopped showing a sea of slush where maps said there was open water, and has busted free into an area of open water.Obuoy 14 0824B webcamObuoy 14 0827 webcamObuoy 14 0827B webcam

According to theory, these open waters, being darker than the ice, are absorbing a lot more sunshine.  Hmm. Anyone see a problem with this idea? Hint:  It is cloudy.

The problem is the rascal Ralph, once again roaring away to the north with its pressure again down to 969 mb. The winds are even beginning to pick up a little down here, at O-buoy 14. Maybe they aren’t gale force, like up north, but they are a steady breeze over 10 mph. And are they warm winds?

Obuoy 14 0828 temperature-1week

Hmm. Steadily at freezing or below. Gosh Toto, we’re not in July anymore. But at least it isn’t snowing…

Obuoy 14 0828 webcam

Rats. I’m going to have to think about this. I’ll update after church.

*******

WELL-WELL-WELL?  What have we here?

Obuoy 14 0828B webcam

There’s just enough sunlight to clear the lens, with winds around 15 mph, and temperatures a hair below freezing.

I need to zip over to the Weatherbell site and peruse Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps. (Free week trial available.) Be right back.

*******

I clicked over to the Canadian JEM model because I just like it in the short term. (Back when we had more buoys, and I could double-check, the GFS initial maps seemed a bit too warm). The Canadian model is very interesting to watch, map after map, in six hour installments out to 240 hours from now, because it can make the most wonderful storms. True, they usually don’t happen, but cheap thrills are hard to find these days. And the Jem has been right about Ralph’s reincarnations.

In any case, here is the “initial” map, now a bit outdated, from 00z last night. Ralph is roaring and at his strongest. The winds actually look stronger than the last gale.

Ralph4 1 cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1

The next map shows Ralph 6 hours later. This one of Ryan’s cool maps shows how much water fell in the last six hours. Remember, the arctic is basically a desert. Therefore 0.2-0.3 inches is a lot, (and is likely falling as 2-3 inches of snow.)

Ralph4 2 cmc_precip_mslp_arctic_2

This map is actually messing with my head more than you’d imagine. You see, I am trying out a new manner of seeing things, and, as is usually the case when I try to box Infinity and organize chaos, it does not take kindly to being packaged, and the only boxing going on is of my ears.

I’m trying to see everything in terms of blobs of cold air departing the Pole at low levels. When this air departs it leaves low pressure behind. Fronts, frontal low pressures, and jet streams all form in relation to the blob of cold air heading south. It is an elegant idea, and works in a way. For example a big blob of cold air just dove down in Siberia, and in its wake we have Ralph swirling at the Pole. But the problem with the idea of Ralph being a sort of vacuum left by a departing high is that air should not merely swirl in horizontally, but vertically. This would make uplift and clouds and precipitation unlikely, but the above map shows it is happening. Oh well. Back to the old drawing board.

The source region of the moister and milder air was western Siberia, which was actually fairly mild a couple days ago. It likely had a Pacific element. Now it is pulled right around to the Alaskan side. The Jem model’s temperature map, concurrent with the above map, is below:

Ralph4 3 cmc_t2m_arctic_2

I suppose one could suggest that rain might be mixed in with the snow in Ralph. (The freezing line is where the lightest pink turns to lightest blue, with pink  freezing and blue above-freezing). It is a pity we don’t have more cameras. (I keep hoping they will regain contact with O-buoys 8b, 13 and 15, as they melt free from the piles of ice that knocked them off the air, but no luck so far.)

What is quite interesting is the blast of cold air down in Siberia. The days are still longer than the nights, but the nights are quickly getting longer. The above map is from when the sun is high. Check out the 18z map below, when the night is having its effect in Siberia,(actually right about now, but this maps from a  forecast run 00z last night).

Ralph4 4 cmc_t2m_arctic_4

That little spot of white in the middle of the blue in central Siberia represents below zero temperatures. (Fahrenheit. Below -17°C). That makes me shake my head a bit. After all, it is still August.

School starts around here tomorrow, and I have to get cracking to prepare our Farm-childcare for all the changes. I’ll update if and when possible, but I imagine Ralph has really stirred the sea-ice, and there will be another dip in the “extents”.  But I’m also wondering how much colder the water is.

AT LAST SOME SUNSHINE

Obuoy 14 0828C webcam

 Wind 15 mph and Temperature 32°F. (0°C)  Looking south. Notice pieces of ice haven’t changed their position since the last picture, despite winds. Likely they are cemented together by a refreeze, and not a slop of slush.

As an aside, if the above picture shows waters with less than 15% ice, it appears as “ice free” on some maps.

OH BLAST. SUN NEVER LASTS.

Obuoy 14 0828D webcam

Wind 15 mph temperature a hair below freezing. Hopefully just a passing squall.

NOW WHERE IS THE SUNSHINE? OH, IT HAS SET.

Obuoy 14 0829 webcam

Don’t worry. Nights are still shorter than days, and the sun soon will be back. Wind has slackened to 10 mph and temperature is -1°C.

The subtle colors in the sky sure are beautiful.

ARCTIC SEA SUNRISE

It’s hard to be sure, without the orb of the sun to refer to, but I think the buoy might have swung right around and be looking north.  Wind 11 mph temperature -1°C.

Obuoy 14 0829B webcam

SUN UP-WIND UP-CLOUDED UP-TEMPERATURE DOWN.

Obuoy 14 0829C webcam

LUNCHTIME LOOK

Obuoy 14 0829D webcam

Even as the sun has risen it has chilled slightly to -2°C, with the breeze at 16 mph.

THE HEAT OF THE DAY AND A BIG BUMPER

Temperatures slowly rose back up to a hair below freezing, with winds at 10-15 mph, during the afternoon and evening.

Of concern to me is a berg hidden at the left of the camera, by our left shoulder, that is taller than the camera. I was hoping it would drift away and get lost, but you can see it is still there, just peeking in from the left in the third picture below.

 Obuoy 14 0829EwebcamObuoy 14 0829F webcamObuoy 14 0829G webcam

DRAT—FREEZING FOG

Obscured lens. Now is when we really hope most for sunshine. Temperatures are down to -3°C with winds around 12 mph. I suppose it could even be freezing spray, as temperatures are dipping below the freezing point of salt water, but I’m hoping it is what the fishermen in Maine call “sea smoke”, a particularly thick fog caused by the sea steaming like a soup in the cold.

Obuoy 14 0830 webcam

TUESDAY EVENING: NOW THERE’S SNOW ON THE LENS, BUT SUN TO MELT IT OFF

Obuoy 14 0830C webcam

 Temperature -3°C, wind 5 mph.

WEDNESDAY —FOG, THEN SUDDEN SUN—

Obuoy 14 0831B webcam

 Obuoy 14 0831C webcamTemperatures slowly rose to freezing, as the winds died to 2 mph. (Notice sun shining off distant, calm sea, rather than being absorbed. Second picture is early afternoon, local time, and camera is looking south. My guess is that the ice to the right is sticking up 4 feet. If  9/10 of a berg is under water, it could stick down 36 feet, though likely the mass is more spread out.

SEPTEMBER 1

In June such a sun would lead to thawing, as the sun rolled around and around the horizon, but it is now September and this happens instead:

Obuoy 14 0901 webcam

Winds have picked up to a breeze of 18 mph, as temperatures slipped back down to -1°C. Is the water warming yet?

Winds 20 mph temp up to 0°C —Rocking and rolling

Obuoy 14 0901C webcam

winds peaked at 22 mph; temp back down to -1° —Ice free foreground

Obuoy 14 0901E webcam

September 2 —winds slacken to steady 10-12 mph–temp to -2°c then steady -1°C

Can’t tell of that is ice or fog in distance.

Obuoy 14 0902 webcam

September 3 Open waters–south to 75°N–Sea-ice in distance; temps to -3°C as winds slacken

Obuoy 14 0903 webcam (1)Obuoy 14 0903B webcamObuoy 14 0903C webcam

 September 4 –BIG BERG BASHES CAMERA–  –Final picture–

Obuoy 14 0904 webcam

Winds were briefly calm, then rose back to 10-12 mph. Temperatures dip to -4°C.

September 5 –still getting wind and temperature reports.

No Pictures, but buoy reports temperatures up to -1°C and then back down to -4°C, with winds a steady breeze of 10 mph. That could start to freeze the water, which makes missing the camera all the more of a painful pang.

Considering my posts about sea ice were based around using my lying eyes to double-check what the satellites and models were reporting, having no camera makes me feel a bit pointless.

The question remains: Did it look like these waters were warming, when the maps reported them as ice-free?  (How embarrassing for O-buoy 14: To be knocked out by no ice.)

September 6 —Camera is back!–

obuoy-14-0906-webcam

O-buoy 13 couldn’t bear the embarrassment, and staggered back up. Looking a little bleary, and also as if there is a fair amount of ice about. That is odd, for winds, picking up to 15 mph,  have blown us south to 74.6° N, where the water should be more free of ice.  The coldest temperatures of the fall so far have blown by, down to -4°C, have blown by, and now temperatures are back up to -1°C.

obuoy-14-0906-temperature-1week

 TUESDAY EVENING –STILL PLUGGING ALONG–

obuoy-14-0906c-webcam

We are roughly at 74.5°N, 135°W, and my tired eyes seem to see the NRL map as showing that as being on land.  Bed time for this bozo. (We lost our weather station for a while today, but it is back and shows -1°C and winds getting up there, 15-18 mph.)

thickness-20160906-attachment-1

Curiosity made me look more carefully. It looks like we are being blown into the mouth of Parry Channel. If we get clear weather we might see land!

*******

GETTING BATTERED  –WIND 22 MPH TEMPERATURE -1°C

obuoy-14-0907-webcam

SEPTEMBER 8  –SHARPLY COLDER–

obuoy-14-0908-webcam

Winds dropped to 10 mph, as temperatures fell to -6°C.  It makes me nervous when the thermometer and anemometer keep going silent. The buoy is getting battered, I fear.obuoy-14-0908-temperature-1week

SEPTEMBER 9  –Into Parry Channel–

obuoy-14-0908b-webcam

obuoy-14-0908c-webcam

obuoy-14-0909-webcam

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 –Reinforcing Ralph–

I don’t have the time to name the individual lows and highs that ramble about the Pole this summer, let alone name the pockets of cold and warm that show up on the temperature maps, like I did three summers ago. But I do pamper my mischievous side enough to name the general area of low pressure that has been sprawling over the Pole, “Ralph.”

Ralph keeps looking like he will fill and fade away, and I’ve been expecting high pressure to regain a dominate position, as the high pressure “Igor” did a few summers ago. To my surprise Ralph keeps calling for reinforcements, and boyishly keeps his position as king-of-the-mountain atop the planet. When we last looked on June 28 he had absorbed a blurb of low pressure from east Siberia (R3, which stands for third reinforcement), and was north of the Canadian Archipelago.

Then June 30 saw R4  swing across Bering Strait from East Siberia to the Beaufort Sea, to lend Ralph a hand.

Then June 30 saw R5 move north from central Siberia to help out. There was a bit of a hubbub about this low being an ice-eater, but it wasn’t.

Some might suggest the July 1 map showed Ralph gone, and R4 in the the Canadian Archipelago with R5 north of East Siberia, but I’ve grown fond of Ralph, and I rule. I saw Ralph stand bravely in the middle, on the Pole, and fiercely prevent high pressure from ridging over the Pole. Some models impudently snubbed Ralph and kept suggesting the high pressure would reestablish itself in the long range, but when the long range became the present tense it never happened. This maps show the high pressure coming as close as it ever came to regaining the Pole.

 

Then July 2 showed Ralph draw R5 north, and keep control of the Pole. The high pressures were wimps, and were squeezed south in Canada and Siberia.

(Missing July 2 12Z Map)

On July 3 R6 nudges north over Norway, as Ralph remains victoriously king of the mountain.  Ralph sees no reason reinforcements shouldn’t come from the Atlantic.

On July 4 R6 slides north over Svalbard and Ralph welcomes him up at the Pole.

On July 5 they celebrate as a decent summer storm.

(12 Z July 5 map missing)

Lastly, on July 6 we see Ralph is still rocking. A low is loop-de-looping over Finland, but prevented from coming north by a high pressure ridge being pumped up between it and Ralph. Models have been suggesting this ridge would at long last regain the Pole as Ralph finally faded south into Asia, but more recent runs are starting to suggest that Ralph will not be be so meek, and instead will swing around across Bering Strait and come right back up to the Pole via the Beaufort Sea.

At the risk of being a bore, I’d like to return to something I keep harping upon, which is that in theory Ralph shouldn’t exist.  The three dimensional idea of a Polar Cell existing north of Fellel Cells envisions descending air at the Pole, but Ralph, as a low pressure system, would involve ascending air.

Polar Cell cells_mod

This involves attempting to get your mind around a three dimensional image of what exactly is going on up there.  Does the polar jet develop a branch that spirals in to the center? Is there a Fourth Cell, which should be called some yet-to-be-determined name such as “Extrapolar Cell” or (I modestly suggest) “Caleb Cell”? Or is it chaos? (Even if it was chaos, there would still be a changing chart of inflows and outflows and places air rose and air fell.)

In the end I tend to simply wonder, without answers. Even the above chart sees the Pole as a sort of doughnut, with a hole of descending air at the center.  What seems to occur is the doughnut becomes a cinnamon roll, with a spiral towards the center, and then a low moves up the spiral and becomes a low lodged at the center of the High, (a doughnut within the doughnut), at which point we  would have a short lived “Fourth Cell”, named Ralph.

If Ralph involves rising air then there would be outflow at the top, and inflow towards the bottom, and with that lower inflow at the surface one would surmise that the sea-ice would be crunched towards the Pole. This leads me to an interesting DMI chart of volume, which is attached to their thickness map.

DMI 00706 FullSize_CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20160705

What is interesting is that the volume has moved away from being at the same level as 2012, and now is at the mean for the period 2004-2013. Meanwhile, in terms of extent, we continue at 2012 levels.

DMI3 0706 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

What one would tend to conclude is that, though the extent may be the same as 2012, the ice must be thicker, to have the volume be greater.

It is also interesting to to compare the extent with the area. Remember that the area is always less than the extent, for extent calls an area “ice-covered” even if there is open water. In fact extent can call an area ice-covered when it is 85% open water. Area graphs, on the other hand, attempt to exclude the open water, (to only include the pixels that are white).  For this comparison I use the NANSEN graphs.

EXTENTNansen extent 0706 ssmi_ice_ext

AREANansen area 0706 ssmi_ice_area

Here again we see that, while extent is as low as 2012, area is greater now than in 2012. This would suggest 2012 involved more leads of open water, and the sea-ice is packed more tightly this year. Conclusion? The ice has more volume and is packed more tightly. One would surmise this would cause it to melt more slowly, but, as always, all depends on the water swooshing beneath the ice.

My guess is that the water beneath the ice began colder than last year, because the storms of last winter broke up the ice a lot and exposed a lot of the water to bitter cold winds before it could refreeze. Now I am wondering whether Ralph may be bringing any milder waters north, by sucking inflow at the surface. (It is a pity the SST maps up at the Pole are so unreliable.)

The NRL maps show a quicker melt of Beaufort Sea this year, but the major melt of last year occurred over along the Siberian coast, and the ice is thicker and hanging tough there, this year. 2016 is to the left and 2015 to the right.

 

I would think that the inflow into Ralph would make the Pole warmer than normal, but, perhaps due to Ralph’s clouds, they have been slightly colder than usual.

DMI3 0706 meanT_2016

Our lone camera, O-buoy 14, is down close to the melt of the Beaufort Sea, so I would not be surprised to see the ice break up this month. It did see a bit of sun during a cold snap a day ago, after a long spell of gray clouds.

Obuoy 14 0705 webcamObuoy 14 0705 temperature-1week

Temperatures have since recovered, as have the dreary grays of a cloudy summer. It looks like wet snow and perhaps rain may be falling.

Obuoy 14 0706 webcam

Obuoy 14 0706 temperature-1week

O-buoy 14 has been drifting back to the east, which suggests Ralph has also reversed the movement of the Beaufort Gyre from clockwise to counterclockwise. (What a troublemaker.) Once again we see that the motion of Sea-ice is greatly influenced by the air above, even as the melt of Sea-ice is greatly influenced by the water below. The influence of CO2 is a runt in comparison, and may even be so small it is invisible.