Some people seem to have forgotten that sea-ice is dreadfully important, according to Alarmists. The fate of the world is determined by icebergs in the arctic, but instead everyone is in a tizzy about some piffling virus down south that will be here today and gone tomorrow. But fear not, for your courageous correspondent will not allow such distractions to swerve his piercing concentration from what truly matters: Sea-ice.

Or…well…as an ex-smoker with compromised lungs, perhaps I do wonder, just a bit, if the virus might be the end of my world, but, if so, the rest of the world will do just fine without me, and like the old song goes, “there’ll be one child born to carry on.”

In the meantime I refuse to dwell on morbid stuff, and prefer the antidote, which is Truth. I’ve decided the poet John Keats was more right than he could have known, at age twenty-four, when he wrote, “Beauty is truth; truth beauty”.

When I originally entered the discussion, concerning sea-ice, it was due to the fact the wonders of the web allowed me to visit the arctic in July, via the North Pole Camera, and besides making my hot days feel cooler, I was was ravished by the sheer beauty of the vistas revealed. However, clashing with this loveliness was what has come to be called “Fake News.” Back then it was called “The Consensus”,  and “they” were outraged whenever I pointed out what the North Pole Camera made quite obvious: The sea-ice was not in a “death spiral”.

Fifteen years have past, and the quivering indignation of the politically-correct has gotten old and stale (to me at least). It is quite obvious that they care, and care deeply, but it is also obvious they do not care about the Truth. Therefore, if the Real does not matter, they must live in an odd state of unreality, swooning over shadows when not running after rainbows. As a poet, I always thought I was the hopeless romantic, but the politically-correct make me look like a rank amateur,  when it comes to waltzing about in the wonder-world of an opium eater.

In fact, though I never thought I’d see the day I’d say this, poets and true scientists are brothers, for both are in love with the Truth. And they both have come to recognize they are disliked by the politically-correct.

Considering a virus from China, with an IQ of .00001, might snuff out my brilliance in a matter of 36 hours, if I happened to inhale it, I am not inclined towards being patient any longer with the politically-correct. Fifteen years is long enough. If those bozos don’t get it by now, then I fear their cases are hopeless. In some way, shape or form they are addicts, who would sell their grandmother’s false teeth for their next fix, even if their next fix is not heroin, but rather some politically-correct desire such as power, or money, or fame, or sex, or not having to work a Real Job. They have stepped beyond being merely ignorant, and have become actively opposed to Truth.

I think it is hard on the American psyche to deem any man so opposed to Truth that they are in effect an anti-Christ. Americans respect differing views, and the two-party-system is a way of making differing views work together and to, through compromise, make  something better than either side is able to achieve alone. It is like two eyes, on either side of a nose, creating a depth perception neither eye owns. However for such a system to work Truth must rule. Both sides must be honest about what their views are, bring forward honest facts, and treat the loyal opposition with dignity.

“Fake News” involves none of that. Truth is disregarded. Rather than the opposition being treated as loyal, and with dignity, they are wished dead. Rather than principles of love the ruler is, (and there is no way to say this kindly), anti-love, and anti-Truth, and therefore by definition the anti-Christ.

I think the American public has been slow to wake up to the monstrous dishonesty of what they have been dealing with. They have been dealing all along with a cyclops, who cares not at all for any view but his own, and who is only interested in pretending to support “diversity” as a way of gaining power, planning on then crushing diverse views because they are seen as opposing views. But Americans, with kindness and generosity, would never call the person they are debating anything so rude as the anti-Christ. They can’t imagine a neighbor could be opposed to the very foundations of American liberty-of-views.  At times they’d deem even a rabid dog a “differing perspective”. Only recently has it started to occur to many, “These people don’t care about my views; they want me gone.” Often this wake-up-call hits home as they realize, when watching Fake News, “These people don’t care a hoot about Truth.”

At the risk of sounding like one of those people who says, “I told you so”, I must remind you that more than a decade and a half ago I told you so. We who like the subject of sea-ice have been dealing with the happy horseshit of politically-correct Alarmists since our hair was still brown. We have been abused, and abused, and abused, on and on and on, and all for what? For telling the Truth.

Therefore, while others are just waking up to the horrid and disgusting falsity involved in “Fake News”, to lovers-of-the-Truth-about-sea-ice, such falsity is old hat. To some degree sea-ice lovers are jaded. If I die in thirty-six hours, strangled by own phlegm, it will be in the knowledge I fought the good fight, and that we would not be in the mess we are in had anyone heeded what I warned about, fifteen years ago. You other folk, who stood idly by as things went from bad to worse, will have to carry on without me.

Big deal. My death will not stop the spring from coming. Truth is almighty. The daffodils will bloom and honking geese will come north without needing my directions as a traffic cop. Truth is infinitely bigger than I am, and also infinitely bigger than the politically-correct, and will overpower and outlast both of us.

The preacher Andy Stanley tells a good tale, imagining what Saint Peter thought as he took his last look around Rome as he was led off to be martyred. He must have wondered if he had made the slightest difference, by standing by Truth. What he couldn’t see was that the Coliseum would someday be in ruins, but a massive cathedral would arise and be called “Saint Peters”, even as “Caesar” became a name given to dogs.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic I’ll say that I sometimes see the skepticism of True Scientists as a sort of modern day martyrdom. It is not as bloody and physically cruel as martyrdom was in the time of Rome, but it may in some ways be more painful, for it tends to be a psychological martyrdom. And at times I’m sure such thinkers look around as Saint Peter once did, and wonder if they have made the slightest difference. I say they have, for if they stand by Truth they stand by That which wins in the end.

However I’m becoming morbid, and I said I wasn’t going to do that.

Therefore, because I may not be dead in thirty-six hours, I’ll just do what I did when I started these sea-ice posts, all those years ago. I’ll just sit back and observe the sea-ice.  It is a beautiful part of the world, and observing such beauty is to observe a certain Truth, whether you are a scientist or a poet. The fact the politically-correct get irate when you speak what you see only demonstrates that they are psychologically troubled individuals.

Before I move on from the absurdity of politics to what is actually happening at the Pole, allow me to share an example of a time simply observing-reality got me in trouble.

Years ago there used to be cameras floating about the Pole, sending us pictures of what was actually occurring on the surface. There were also satellites miles overhead estimating conditions at the surface. At some point the satellites were stating temperatures at the surface were well above freezing, but I noticed the cameras showed the melt-water pools on the sea-ice were skimming over with ice, and snow flurries were drifting snow over that skim of ice, and therefore I suggested the satellites might need to be re-calibrated.  Lord Oh Lord! Did the politically-correct ever scold me! How dare I!? I must be a “science denier”, to question the satellites!

Now, years later, a bunch of genuine scientists are drifting on a “MOSAiC” ship up by the Pole, and one thing they have “discovered” is that there is an astonishing difference between temperatures at the surface, and temperatures measured by weather balloons only a few meters above the surface. Temperatures at the surface are much colder.

Well, Du-u-uh! I could see that years ago, which was why I suggested satellites should be re-calibrated. But where I earned scorn, the MOSAiC scientists may win a Nobel Prize. Now I ask you: Is that fair?

It does not always pay to be ahead of your time. Ask Alfred Wegener, who suggested continents drifted, fifty years before it became politically and geologically correct to say so. Wegener (and others like him) is (and are) proof the politically-correct are actually backwards, and are therefore silly when they describe themselves as “progressive”. The Truth is: The most progressive thing already exists, and awaits us giving up on our saddles on high horses of status and popularity, and instead dismounting and walking on the grounded firmness of facts, of Truth.

That being said, I will depart from my preachy, high-horse lectern, and instead will practice what I preach by walking the beauty of what actually is going on up there at the Pole.

This time of year is when the daylight breaks on the northernmost sea-ice, and the sun then refuses to set for six solid months. You might think, under such non-stop sunlight, the sea-ice would immediately start to get thinner. People get this impression looking at the “extent” graph beginning its yearly decent in  March:

DMI extent 200331 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

In actual fact the initial decrease in the “extent” occurs far from the Pole, in places off the edge of arctic maps like the Sea of Okhotsk or the Saint Lawrence Seaway.  At the Pole the ice keeps right on getting thicker, sometimes even after air temperatures at the upper surface touch freezing.

How is this possible? It occurs because the ice does not thicken at the top (unless you count the meager snowfall) but rather at the bottom. All that is needed to thicken the bottom is for the water against the ice to give up its heat to ice slightly colder than the freezing point of salt water, (which varies depending on the salinity of the water, but tend to be around -1.7º Celsius, or 29º Fahrenheit). And during the coldest part of winter, the ice at the top may be forty below, the ice three feet down twenty below, and the ice next to the water at -1.7º Celsius.  In May, just because the surface has warmed does not make the ice three feet down immediately warmer; it still is at twenty below, and therefore the ice beneath it still behaves as if it is winter, and keeps getting thicker.

The process of melting the sea-ice therefore involves warming the core of the ice, which is three feet down. Not only the must the water beneath the ice lose its heat upwards, but the air above the ice must lose its heat downwards. It takes time to erase a sort of memory-of-winter that lives in the ice, and for a long time the sun can shine brilliantly without seeming to have any effect. Even when the snow starts to wilt and the first melt-water appear as slushy darkness on the surface (usually in late May or early June) it can remain well below freezing three feet down.

Another interesting and highly complex dynamic involves the fact that salt has no power to melt ice below temperatures of -21ºC (-6ºF), but increasing power as the temperature increases. At +1ºF a pound of salt will melt 4 pounds of ice; at +20ºF it will melt 6 pounds of ice, and at +30ºF the same pound will melt 46 pounds of ice. This creates fascinating and complex dynamics, first as the ice gets colder and then later as the ice gets warmer. (Don’t ask me to explain it all because I can’t.) In the end the salt tends to be exuded from some of the ice, becoming brine, as temperatures cool. Lots of this brine bores down through the sea-ice, but some at the surface gets stranded and finally exists as a fine powder, as the water sublimates away in the dry atmosphere. Below temperatures of -6ºF salt blows around with drifting snow without having any effect, and when temperatures are a little above -6º the salt melts just enough to make the drifting snow into a crisp, hard surface (which has some name I can’t remember at the moment). In any case there is more salt than one would expect at the surface, (and also in the atmosphere right up to the stratosphere, contributing to ozone holes because the salt holds traces of iodine and bromine.) This salt caused great consternation among early arctic explorers, for they thought their supply of drinking water could come from the sea-ice, but at times the ice was too salty to drink. (They learned to look for “old ice”, which was largely salt free.) But we don’t need to drink the water, so what interests us this time of year is the change between ice at 20ºF and 30ºF, when the salt goes from melting six times its weight in ice to 46 times its weight. And if that isn’t complex enough for you, entertain your mind with the fact that using salt to melt ice makes temperatures colder (think of an old fashioned ice-cream-maker.)

If you look back through my old posts, and especially the comments, you will see the topic of salt discussed as far back as 2012 by people far smarter than I am. You would think Alarmists would be interested, as it seems obvious salt melts ice, and Alarmists are big on the topic of ice melting. A few were indeed interested, but they tended to become Skeptics as they learned the devil is in the details. Other Alarmists didn’t want to hear about the details, for they were only interested in the narrative, “The sea-ice is in a Death Spiral”, and if you brought up details it meant you were a “science denier”, for “the science was settled”. (This is not scientific thought, but it did teach me about how “Fake News” is created.)

Considering we’ve been discussing things like salt, and the time it takes to warm the ice three feet down, for eight years, it is just a little annoying that some of the scientists aboard the MOSAiC expedition are walking about with their index fingers poking up in an Eureka manner, saying stuff we wondered about eight years ago. However the point should be made that, while we were sitting on our duffs squinting at images from a camera on a buoy, they have actually gone up there in the dead of winter, and are gathering actual data. In effect they are the buoy, and they are the camera, and they are gathering all sorts of data I never even considered. I am happy for them, and their excitement.

I thought it would be fun to go through a month worth of maps, (keeping in mind that a bit below the Pole, towards Svalbard, is the MOSAiC crew).

When I last posted maps a very zonal flow had kept cold concentrated at the Pole, as milder air from the south wrapped around the edges of the cold, from west to east.  After a single feeder-band brought the Pole its warmest (but still well below freezing) temperatures of the winter, temperatures had crashed to the coldest of the winter.  Meanwhile what I called a “spear” of milder temperatures had moved west to east along the Eurasian coast.

What was interesting about the following week was how that “spear” of milder air along the Eurasian coast chilled. In the temperature maps you can see the green isotherm areas fade and turn blue. This demonstrates that even though the sunlight has returned and is pressing towards the Pole, in early March, the days are still too short and the sun is too low to prevent heat from being lost to outer space.

After a week the high pressure at the Pole, a sort of center of the Polar Cell, is being squeezed out and eroded, and we seem to be getting back to a pattern seen earlier in the winter, where low pressure dominates from the North Atlantic to along the Eurasian coast, while high pressure dominates from Bering Strait to the Canadian Archipelago. If the center of the Polar Cell exists at all, it has swung from Bering Strait nearly to Hudson Bay. The low pressure around the periphery has reverted to the Atlantic side, but the lows are shadows of the massive storms we saw earlier in the winter.

Around March 9 we again see the oddity of this winter. Other winters lows seemed to weaken as they left the North Atlantic and were starved for warmth and moisture, but this winter we have seen storms of surprising strength in Barents and Kara Seas. Above we see a weak low probing towards the Pole from the Kara Sea, and following lows entering Kara Sea, bringing up a feeder-band of milder air. The two are about to combine and cause a ruckus. Watch how the isobars tighten over the location of the MOSAiC expedition, intensified by a high pressure being pumped up over the Canadian Archipelago. An Aleutian low gets sucked north over east Siberia to weakly enter the mix.

If you look at how tight the isobars are in the above map, you can understand things might have been less than comfortable for the scientists working in the MOSAiC expedition. Notice how, though the storm (now a borderline “Ralph” (anomalous area of low pressure at the Pole)) has drawn a feeder band north, that milder air isn’t reaching the MOSAiC crew. They have been experiencing extreme cold for a long time, yet the ice around their ship starts cracking up.

MOSAiC first crack Screenshot 2020-03-13 at 18.19.22

For some of the scientists the opening of this lead was a fortuitous event, for they wished to study something I’d never consider: The amount of greenhouse gasses that escape from the ocean into the atmosphere via open water at the Pole. They could measure the amount of CO2 and methane without needing to trudge and tempt hungry polar bears, seeking open water. They didn’t have to even leave their ship. And surely such data is interesting, in it’s way. (Not to me, much, but likely to others.)

However the fact the sea-ice began breaking up around the ship, despite temperatures being below normal, also awoke other scientists to something bumpkins like myself understood years ago: Open water at the Pole can occur even in the coldest conditions, if the winds are right. This was known by Navy captains aboard submarines under the ice way back in the 1950’s. But it is nice to see what was Truth then is still Truth now, and that young whippersnappers are still able to raise an index finger, say Eureka, and see the Truth.

However, as delightful as science is, some aboard the ship must attend to more banal subjects, such as survival, and the stressing and crack-up of the sea-ice did not make life easy for such people. Nor did a thing called, “The Corona Virus”, occurring to the south.

The crack-up of the sea-ice complicated matters, for the next delivery of supplies was planned to be by air, with aircraft landing on a nice blue-ice airstrip on a nice plate of sea-ice, but the stormy weather cracked the ice. So of course those in charge of logistics made plans to fix the airstrip by extending one side of the broken floe’s rump-of-an-airstrip, and they were busily at work when they heard maybe the idea of delivering by air was a bad idea, because some involved in the flights “tested positive”, and it might be a bad idea to introduce the Corona Virus to the Polarstern and MOSAiC expedition. Instead it might be wise to drift down to Fram Strait with the supplies they had, and be helped down  there by an icebreaker, if need be. And after that a silence descended, concerning logistics, I suppose because the slightest hint the expedition was being tested or in trouble might result in sensationalist headlines. Such attention would be quite the bother, when you want to gather data about methane escaping through cracks in the Arctic Sea.

I suspect there is very cool story involved, for when you compare the above picture with the picture below, you just know the ice has been through a commotion.

MOSAiC later cracks imageedit_3_7297760318

The scientists aboard the ship have seen first hand how, even at very low temperatures, open water can appear. They have also witnessed how swiftly such water freezes over, and how the sides of such leads then can clap together and form pressure ridges. Air temperature matters little, concerning sea-ice, for what is here today can be gone tomorrow. Open water can appear and then disappear in the blink of an eye. (View from MOSAiC radar.)

MOSAiC open and shut Radar_Animation_Polarstern_seaiceportal(20200315_20200323)-crop-clahe

Of course bumpkins like myself knew about all this years ago, using data gathered by our lying eyes from much, much cheaper cameras on much, much cheaper buoys, but I will confess it is good to get some affirmation from people who have actually gone up there and put their lives on the line, and don’t just sit on fossilized duffs gazing at computer screens like I do (when my wife lets me).

I confess I worry just a bit about those men and women up there, but I am glad I don’t have to set up equipment connected by cables in minus fifty windchill, only to see cables snapped by some dumb lead. Instead I merely concern myself with whether the sea-ice is moving that cast of characters towards escape in Fram Strait, lickity-split. And so far, so good.

(See drift of buoys associated with MOSAiC at end of post.)

Speaking as a poet and not a scientist, one thing I noticed when I was young and foolhardy,  and went to sea and found myself in over my head, is that I escaped with my life. At times I could take no credit for my escapes, and had the sense kindly guardian angels watched over me. (Either that, or a man born to be hung cannot drown.) I get the same sense watching the isobars in the maps below. Perhaps it is merely the arctic cooling the North Atlantic as the AMO shifts from a “warm” phase to a “cold” phase, but it is handy if you are in an ice-bound boat up there, and want to be blown down to Fram Strait. I’ve watched the drift of ice up there a lot over the years, and often noticed “wrong way” flows where the sea-ice is bottled up and prevented from moving to Fram Strait, but this year the Trans Polar Drift seems especially accelerated, which may turn out to be good news for the fellows aboard the Polarstern.

I’m not going to comment on the maps much, except to note you can see the storms prefer the Eurasian side, and also see air from the south swirled and cooled as it heads towards the Pole, but the Pole start its yearly warm-up.



The Pole continues to lose more heat than it gains until mid May, roughly a month before the solstice. In the winter it can only gain heat from south winds and the water under the ice, but now the addition of sunshine, riding ever higher in the sky, tips the energy-balance toward a point where, for roughly sixty days, the North Pole actually gives the planet more heat than it loses. (If it were a flat, dry desert it would become baking hot, but fortunately our Creator designed a nifty refrigeration system up there.)

DMI meanT_2020 200401

Don’t get April-fooled, and stay tuned.

UPDATE: Below see drift of buoys associated with MOSAiC expedition down towards Fram Strait.


ARCTIC SEA ICE –Icebreaker Rescued–

The Kapitan Dranitsyn left the MOSAiC ice floe with the team of leg 2 on 4 March and met Admiral Makarov at 84°48′ North and 42°35′ East on Saturday, 14 March. (Photo Credit Steffen Graupner)

This episode is interesting because it demonstrates the sea-ice is thicker than exspected up towards the Pole. The Kapitan Dranitsyn, in successfully resupplying the MOSAiC expedition, was forced to plow through thick sea-ice at times, seeking the thinner refrozen leads, and consumed far more fuel than expected. It did not have enough fuel to plow its way back to Russia. (One does not want the gas gauge too close to empty, up on the Arctic Sea, for the fuel must be used for heating as well as powering the engines. At some point one must chose between powering forward and avoiding freezing to death.)

When it became apparent Kapitan Dranitsyn did not have enough fuel to make it back the Admiral Makarov was sent north to refuel it. After the ships met refueling took three days. I am curious how they handle diesel at temperatures when it tends to jell, (and it becomes obvious why the Russians turned to nuclear powered icebreakers.)

Rather than poking fun at the Russian’s struggles with the especially thick ice and especially cold temperatures, I tend to marvel that they can travel through the Arctic Sea in the dead of winter. The United States has no such ships nor such experience. I’m not sure of the state of the “Space Race”, but Russia is winning the Ice Race.

The MOSAiC site was hit by strong winds from another big storm in Barents Sea, and a lead formed that intersected the ship.

This crack should be handy, for they have been trying to study the gases released from the water in such leads, which involved dangerous hikes far from the ship. Now they hardly have to leave the Polarstern at all. However I wonder what stresses this puts on the ship’s hull.

Likely some Alarmists will suggest such a crack proves the sea-ice is thinner, but such leads open and then clap shut (forming pressure ridges) all over the Arctic Sea every winter, and by spring it is hard to find flat areas of sea-ice large enough for blue-ice airstrips.

The storm that stressed the sea-ice by the Polarstern did bring some slightly warmer air north, but temperatures remain cold up there. The coldest temperatures have swung around to the Atlantic side, and though a bit above the 1958-2002 mean overall, they remain colder than they’ve been in recent years as a zonal flow keeps the cold locked in the north.

The “extent” remains the highest in five years.

Stay Tuned.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –2020 Maximum Extent–

It looks to me as if we are past the peak, in terms of sea-ice “extent”. It is the highest it has been in recent years.DMI 200308 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

I should hasten to add that there are various reasons that this “maximum” can foster an illusion, But I’ll not be hasty. After all, if this extent was the lowest in recent years, Alarmists would be making a big deal and exaggerating the importance. Instead, this year we hear crickets. Let’s listen to them for a bit.

Cheep-cheep, cheep-cheep, cheep-cheep.  All right, that’s enough. I’ll now attempt to look like I’m giving the Alarmists some ammunition, by pointing out that “extent” alone does not tell us how solid and thick the ice is. In fact 2007 had a rather high maximum extent, despite the fact there were already indications that the September minimum was going to be low and might set a record (which it did, until 2012 broke it.)

2007 saw a great flushing of sea-ice down through Fram Strait, which temporarily increased the “extent” in the Greenland Sea as it all headed south. “Extent” actually rose though that sea-ice was doomed to head south and melt. There was also initially no sign how much less ice was left behind, in terms of “extent”, because all the wide leads were skimmed with thin baby-ice, which counted as much as thick ice on the “extent” graph. However that baby-ice melted swiftly when the summer sun reached its high-point in the arctic, (when temperatures have always averaged above freezing for roughly sixty days, as far as DMI records go.) (1958) In 2007 the result was the “extent” went from the relatively high 2006 totals to the 2007 record low.

In conclusion, a high extent at the maximum in March doesn’t necessarily mean a high extent at the minimum in September. One needs to look more deeply.

Unfortunately, some Alarmists fail to look all that deeply, and can’t really remember the 2007 event and what changes the Arctic has seen since then. For example, consider this statement from a BBC article posted last fall, when the MOSAiC Expedition was first being set up:

“But what is becoming clear is that the sea ice is getting more dynamic because of climate change. Up until the 1980s and 1990s, the Arctic sea ice was thick and slow-moving. As the ice has thinned, its motion has become faster, more turbulent and more varied. This motion pulls the ice into a vicious cycle of melting.

“The problem is that the ice is moving faster,” says Haapala. “The floes themselves are not staying in the Arctic for such a long time.” As a result, the ice doesn’t have time to grow thick, so it moves even faster, spending even less time at high latitudes – and so it begins the runaway cycle. Add to that the extra cracking of thinner ice, which opens up more stretches of relatively warm water, and the pace of change steps up further.”

Personally I’ve been watching the sea-ice since 2005, and have not seen the sea-ice move like it did in 2007 since 2007.  (The low extent of 2012 involved different dynamics brought about by a major summer gale.) To be precise, since 2007 the ice has moved slower. It is disingenuous to state otherwise. Sea-ice may be moving faster than it did in 1979, but 1979 was the end of a “cold” cycle of the AMO, and the sea-ice was especially thick. Now we are at the end of a “warm” cycle of the AMO, and the ice is thinner and to some degree more mobile, but as the cycle moves back to a “cold” cycle the ice will come back just as the tide comes back. To speak of a “runaway cycle” is like saying the tide is going out and will continue to go out forever.

Another version of the “runaway cycle” is the so-called “Death Spiral”, which has failed to manifest. I’ve been pointing out how it has failed to manifest until I’m blue in the face. This has been going on for years. This is from 2008:

Fail 1 Screen-Shot-2017-03-01-at-3.44.38-AM-down

And this is from 2009:

Fail 2 CXKkfn8UEAAjWPl-1_shadow

And here we are eleven years later and the “Death Spiral” looks like this:


Because the extent was failing to show less sea-ice, in 2017 the idea was floated that the sea-ice was thinner, and the focus became the “volume” maps, (which involve modelling and are problematic,) but now even the PIOMAS “volume” graph is failing to show thinner ice.

PIOMAS 200308 piomas-trnd4

It looks to me like after sea-ice amounts sunk due to the “warm” PDO and “warm” AMO, those amounts arrived at a sort of equilibrium. Could it not be like the “pause” we see when the tide has stopped going out, but hasn’t started coming in again?

I like to lurk about Alarmist sites, keeping my big mouth closed by my eyes and ears open wide, so I can comprehend what they are telling themselves to sustain their beliefs despite all evidence to the contrary. Recently I came across a splendid excuse, (which I can greatly appreciate, because fifty years ago a hush would fall upon my Algebra class when it came time for me to explain to the teacher why I had no homework to hand in).

I read that the “volume” graph is rising because Global Warming is causing glaciers to calve more ice into the oceans. No data nor evidence was offered, but it sure sounded good.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Icebreaker Trapped Resupplying MOASiC–

In my last post I mentioned that the Russian icebreaker  Kapitan Dranitsyn had to battle thick sea-ice to resupply the Polarstern at the MOSAiC site. Contact was successful, and cranes began to  unload and load supplies that were hauled by tractor between the two ships.

PS1 polarstern-1-e1583402517868

A fresh crew of scientists relieved the crew that has been working there.

PS2 polarstern-unloading-2-credit-michael-gutsche

With temperatures down around -30ºC, the open water in the wake of the Kapitan Dranitsyn froze over swiftly. Men could walk on the new ice within 24 hours.

PS3 polarstern-and-icebreaker.1f7f58

By the time the transfer of men and supplies was complete the ship was frozen so fast it could not extract itself. The news is now that the Russians are sending a second icebreaker, the Admiral Makarov, to help the first icebreaker free itself. (Note the twilight in the above picture. The are located close enough to the Pole to see a very swift transition from noontime night to midnight day. Currently it is dark at midnight, but the twilight is bright enough at noon to read by. In around a week the sun will peek over the horizon, and a few weeks more will see the daylight become constant. But the chilly sun remains so low that no thawing occurs until the end of April.)

Despite the ice trapping the icebreaker, it is important to remember we are talking about sea-ice, a mass of ice in constant motion with enough “leads” (cracks) to allow seals to breathe and be seen hunting arctic cod, by the MOSAiC underwater cameras. Sea-ice is by no means stable. The Polarstern radar recently saw a lead open roughly a mile from the ship.

And the infrared view of the Pole shows plenty of cracks in the sea-ice,

.PS4 go.nasa.gov2TJSpHR-shears-

In other words, sea-ice is not the same thing as the gigantic icebergs that make life interesting for fishermen in Newfoundland, icebergs that are so vast that they can run aground in water 300 feet deep.

Newfoundland Icebergs view-of-twillingate-harbour

Newfoundland Iceberg u41bdg57z4k41

These giant, awesome bergs calve off glaciers, (largely Greenland’s), and, while they have been seen in the Arctic Ocean, they usually head south down either side of Greenland, and are rare up north. For the most part the sea-ice affecting the icebreakers is thin in comparison, roughly six feet thick.

The problem is that, besides cracking apart, which is helpful to icebreakers, the ice claps back together again. In such cases the baby-ice which swiftly forms in the open water, (as we saw in the wake of the Kapitan Dranitsyn), has little hope of resisting the compression it undergoes; even if it is two feet thick it is clamped in the jaws of ice at least three times as thick, which has the power of wind pressing across miles and miles of fetch. Consequently the new ice in leads crumples up like eggshells between elephants, and what was open water on Monday may become a pressure ridge of crumbled slabs of ice by Friday. And, because this process goes on all winter long, the surface of the Arctic Sea is far from smooth. There are smooth areas, basically big slabs, but finding a smooth area large enough for the yearly Barneo blue-ice airstrip often involves a considerable search.

Considering the sea-ice is constantly tortured and contorted, the “thickness” maps portray an average, for in fact the ice can vary between open water and a towering pressure ridge in a hundred yards. (This was made visual back in the days we had cameras on buoys bobbing about the Pole.) Because both pressure ridges and leads are often too narrow to be seen by satellite, and also because how numerous they are varies a lot between stormy years and calm years, a certain amount of guess-work (also called “modelling”) goes into the creation of “thickness” maps…..which in turn leads to disagreements. For example the NRL map can show ice six feet thick

Thickness 200303 arcticictnnowcast

Whereas the DMI map shows sea-ice twelve feet thick:

Thickness 200305 CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20200305

These disagreements suggest the captains of icebreakers face uncertainty, as they face the sea-ice.  Not only are the captain’s initial maps to some degree “modeled”, but the circumstances they are sailing into are in constant flux. Though their radar may show an open lead ahead, a shift in the winds may turn that lead into a pressure ridge in a mere hour.

One then is led to wonder why these icebreakers are not ever crushed like a nut in a nutcracker. The compression involved when wind-shear creates two masses of sea-ice converging is hard to imagine. We are talking about fifty miles of ice colliding headlong with fifty miles of ice; even sea-ice nine feet thick can buckle, creating the arctic’s biggest pressure ridges, thirty feet high and (because nine tenths of an iceberg is under water) with “keels” extending downwards 270 feet. A 1880’s ship like the Jeanette, with a greatly reinforced hull, might survive 21 months clamped in sea-ice, but it stood little chance when the sea-ice concentrated its squeeze. (Descriptions of the moaning noise the Jeanette made as it went down are amazing.) Therefore men learned to structure hulls in a manner that caused squeezing from the side to lift the ships upward, rather than crushing inward. Icebreakers utilize such uplift, as the entire ship rides up and over the ice, which is then crushed down and broken by the sheer weight of the ship.

The Russian icebreakers are huge. The Kapitan Dranitsyn has seven stories of windows above the main deck. Let’s look at the picture again:

PS3 polarstern-and-icebreaker.1f7f58

Besides riding up over the ice moving forward, such ships are designed to ride over ice when moving astern. When the ice is especially thick they can back up and plow forward repetitively, crunching the ice downwards and making their way to where radar indicates a lead may provide an easier path.

The fact Kapitan Dranitsyn requires help indicates, to me at least, that the sea-ice is especially thick in the Central Arctic this year.

Stay tuned.






ARCTIC SEA ICE –A Wrap-around–

Mean temperatures north of 80º latitude at the Pole have shifted  from the warmest of the winter to the coldest of the winter.

DMI meanT_2020 200302

This plunge in temperatures from zero to -23º F (-18º to -30º Celsius) occurred due to a reversion to a zonal pattern we’ve seen a lot of, this winter. The spike occurred due to the only real invasion of slightly moister and milder air the Pole has seen this winter, due to a North Atlantic gale roaring up to Barents Sea, and then its remnants drifting up to the Pole. We even saw a brief incarnation of “Ralph” (Anomalous area of low pressure) at the Pole, with the typical “feeder band” of milder air curving up to its core.

As usual, my computer vaporized the next week’s worth of maps, so you are going have to to take my word for what followed.  The “Ralph” in the above map filled in and its  feeder band chilled in the arctic night. The following North Atlantic gale, just south of Iceland in the above map, is named “Rap” because it eventually wrapped around the Pole. Rap made it up to Barents Sea as the last in a series of extra large storms, but then could make no headway to the north, and instead rode along the north coast of Siberia. Rather than a feeder-band curving to the north, a sort of spear of milder air drove west to east along the Siberian coast, providing a pathway for lesser lows, and a week later the maps looked like this, with Rap weaker and northeast of the Laptev Sea, leading the “spear” of milder air along the Siberian coast:

These “spears”, that somehow are able to cross the enormity of Eurasia and reach the Pacific, always fascinate me. The mild air is of course modified colder by the time it gets to the Pacific, but its identity survives and it is nothing like the brutally cold air which Siberia home-grows when left alone.  I’ve seen such spears further south, crossing the Steppes, and have noticed there is often a counter-flow further south, a sort of backwash which brings east winds and cold air to places which don’t usually see it, such as Saudi Arabia. And Saudi Arabia did shiver as this spear of sub-freezing but relatively mild air swept west to east along the arctic coasts of Eurasia.  (Also Kazakhstan, south of Russia, saw record snows).

Though Rap weakened, the isobars remain fairly tight ahead of it. This brought south winds ahead of Rap, and, as we have seen all winter, sea-ice was pulled away from the Siberian coast and crushed north into the Central Arctic. The Polynyas that form at the coast in such cases swiftly skim over with “baby-ice”, so the “extent” graph showed no dramatic drops, and remained at a level higher than recent years.

DMI 200303 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

While this “extent” is the highest in five years and likely depresses Alarmists a lot, it is important to remember the sea-ice is quite thin along the Siberian coast, and actually looks dark, almost like open water, in visible satellite shots. For example, here is the coast of the Kara Sea:

Kara Sea 200302 Screenshot_2020-03-03 arctic io - Daily Satellite Images + Observations, 4-N90-E0

Though such thin ice counts on the “extent” graph, it likely will melt swiftly in May, and the Northeast Passage will likely open early, at least to the mouth of the Lena River in the Laptev Sea. In fact all the lilac areas on the NRL thickness map are likely to be sea-ice that is tenuous and fleeting, as the sun rises.

Thickness 200303 arcticictnnowcast

What will be interesting to watch is the Central Arctic, where all the sea-ice has been pushed north to. (I’m not sure I trust the above NRL  map, as it shows ice 6 feet thick where the DMI map (which hasn’t updated since February 17) shows ice 12 feet thick.) The sea-ice there is thickening even as I write, as it has gotten so cold there.

Another indication the sea-ice might be pretty thick is that the Russian beast-icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn took around two weeks longer than expected to resupply the MOSAiC expedition’s ship, Polarstern. (The polar night is giving way to twilight up there, and I’m hopeful we’ll soon get some good sea-ice pictures).

Polat Sunrise Screenshot 2020-03-01 at 17.35.42.png_thumb

A crack appeared in the blue-ice airstrip serving the MOSAiC site, but I’ve noticed they are speaking of leads a meter or two across, and not the wide leads we’ve seen with infrared satellites other years, which on occasion have been many miles across.

Of especial interest is all the observing the MOSAiC scientists have been doing under the ice.

I can recall that, not many years ago, the Arctic Sea was called a “desert” away from the shores, because it was assumed it was relatively sterile away from coasts, like other oceans are. (It was assumed that if the sea-ice melted away from the fertile shorelines that seals and polar bears would starve.) Recently it was discovered that enough plankton and algae lives on the underside of the sea-ice to feed a whole ecosystem, including arctic cod, far from land. However then some assumed this ecosystem must go into a sort of hibernation during the winter, when lack of sunlight hypothetically would decrease the food supply. However the MOSAiC observations indicate the arctic cod are active in the darkness, and there are even seals hunting those cod in the dead of winter, which indicates there must be enough cracking of the ice to supply the seals with air-holes. This goes to show you how eyes-on-the-ground are still important, and not everything can be seen by imaginative minds sitting at computers.

They are also doing some interesting work to study the “turbulence” under the ice. Using the word “turbulence” may be a bit of an overstatement, but it does show minds open to the idea mixing occurs as ice with “keels” is blown against the flow of sub-ice currents. I expect interesting data will emerge from this escapade.

To return to the building cold at the Pole, a scan of the next week’s maps show Rap weakening but retaining its identity as it continues east north of Bering Strait and wanders north of Alaska and then Canada, before finally fading into the Canadian Archipelago. While the “spear” does curve around with Rap, it loses much of its heat in the process. Cold builds at the Pole itself as no “feeder-bands” probe north (unless you count a very cold feeder-band Rap swung clear around the Pole, that curved north of the Canadian Archipelago).

It is also interesting that the North Atlantic has been quieter, (though a fairly decent gale crashed into England, south of the area these maps show.) But of especial interest is the way Rap dislodged the high pressure which has been sitting over Bering Strait much of this winter, clawing that high-pressure over to Alaska and then Canada. That high has been a de facto center-of-the-Polar-Cell much of the winter, in a sense displacing the zonal flow to the Pacific side, like a beret worn by the Earth at a jaunty angle. Displacing it into Alaska represents a noteworthy wobble, a “disturbance in the Force”, and made me more alert, however so far what has seemed to happen is that a new center-of-the-Polar-Cell has formed over the Pole itself, as if the Earth sobered up and straightened its beret.

When the former Bering Strait high-pressure was budged into Alaska the winds in Bering Strait became southerly, but there wasn’t much warming brought north before a new high-pressure pushed in from Siberia, turning the winds in the Strait north again. So much cold air has poured south, and east off Siberia, that the “Warm Blob” south of Alaska is greatly shrunken, and the Pacific is  shifting to a “cold” PDO.

On his blog at Weatherbell Joseph D’Aleo produced a map which shows the change in anomalies since November 1. It is somewhat startling how significantly the Pacific has cooled.

SST Anomaly change Nov-Feb 2019-2020 Screen_Shot_2020_02_29_at_9_51_27_AM

I did not expect the PDO to dive so dramatically:

If the PDO remains “cold” one thing to watch for (which has happened in the past) is a failure of the sea-ice north of Bering Strait to melt away in August, which can make a considerable difference to the “extent” graph at the September minimum. Even as the sea-ice vanishes swiftly on the Eurasian coast, especially west of the Lena River, we may see the sea-ice persisting east of the Lena and north of Alaska. The minimum would be higher than recent years.

Will I bet good money on it? Well, maybe a nickle.

Stay tuned.


Arctic Sea-Ice —Icelandic Superstorms–

It has been a good winter for storms way out in the North Atlantic, where old fellows like me prefer they stay. The most recent bomb occurred just south of Iceland, and achieved the third lowest pressure of any Northern Hemisphere non-hurricane in recorded history. True, our ability to record pressures away from the shore only goes back to around 1979 (Boats with barometers have better things to do than to aim for the center of such monsters.)

The low pressure of this storm bottomed out at around 27.14 inches of mercury, (919mb), which is lower than most typhoons and hurricanes. In fact it is a pressure lower than any recorded North Pacific non-tropical storm.

iceland supersdtorm 2 Screenshot_2020-02-16 Ryan Maue on Twitter Final analyzed pressure of powerful North Atlantic #StormDennis was 919 mb from [...]

I find it amazing that North Atlantic super-storms outdo North Pacific super-storms, considering Pacific typhoons tend to outdo Atlantic Hurricanes, but in either case such storms are gigantic.

iceland superstorm EQ6-m7bWoAA-xYC

I’m surprised the storm drew so little media attention, considering….well, I won’t go there. But for people like me the lengthy fetch from the northwest into the Atlantic seemed bound to interfere with the Gulf Stream’s delivery of warm water northeast towards Europe. Besides cooling the surface water it will bodily shift large amounts of surface water southwest.

Nor is this storm an isolated event. It was preceded a few days earlier by another giant, which was matched by a similar giant in the North Pacific, making a spectacular satellite picture.

Icelandic monster with Aluetian monster 1_v1

The Pacific storm bottomed out at  28.12 inches (953 mb) while the Atlantic storm reached 27.56 inches (940 mb). The above picture is from February 13. The next day the Atlantic storm moved up to Iceland and they were blasted by St. Valentine’s Day winds over 100 mph. I imagine much snuggling was involved in Iceland, as the winds shrieked outside.

Such storms tend to gobble available energy in a single gulp, and some fade with remarkable speed, handing their energy off to offspring along their energetic cold fronts, or (more rarely) kicking energy ahead along their warm fronts. Others fade more gradually, slowly filling in as they wobble off east, or more rarely west, and occasionally due north to the Pole to become a “Ralph”. (Anomalous Area of Low Pressure.) In the above examples both Icelandic gales involved, one way or another,  powerful low pressure in Barents Sea, which has seen a stormy winter.  Some vestiges of the first bomb’s Barents Sea prelude made it up towards the Pole, in very weak form barely serving the title “Ralph”, but the deep low pressure on the Atlantic Side has pumped high pressure on the Pacific side, which tends to keep the Aleutian Gales down over the Aleutians, where they belong, even as the Icelandic Gales are in Barents Sea, where they don’t belong.

To watch animation of the above events, in terms of winds and in terms of huge wave heights, scan down through a good article (which has further links), found here:

Day after tomorrow? No, but we are facing two impressive extra-tropical cyclones right now – one over the North Pacific and another over the North Atlantic

In terms of sea-ice, the Atlantic storms have brought strong south winds to Barents Sea towards the boundary with the Kara Sea formed by Novaya Zemlya, pushing the edge of the sea-ice far to the north. (January 30 to right; February 16 to right)

Were it not for increases in Baffin Bay and Bering Sea, this retreat would cause quite a down-tick in the extent graph; as it is the graph has flattened.

DMI 200218 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

The fact the “extent” has retreated north in Barents sea should not be misconstrued as meaning sea-ice has melted. Some indeed may have, through being churned by thirty to fifty foot waves slightly above the melting point of sea ice, (roughly 29ºF, or -1.7ºC), but some may have formed in the sub-freezing gales as well. For the most part the edge has moved north because the ice itself has moved, and has piled up against thicker ice to the north. This perhaps explains why the “volume” graph shows no similar flattening:

Volume 200217 Screenshot_2020-02-18 DMI Modelled ice thickness

The “volume” graph is modeled, and contains some interesting devises which I think might be called “educated-guess-work”. It will be interesting to watch as the sun returns and throws some light on the subject. Even though we are near the peak of sea-ice “extent”, which tends to start downward in March, “volume” goes on merrily increasing well into April and sometimes into May. Where “extent” is greatly influenced by the edge of the sea-ice, far to the south, “volume” pertains more to the bulk in the Central Arctic, and has more to do with hinting at what the minimum will be like, next September.

Up to this point the superstorms in the North Atlantic, combined with high pressure towards Bering Strait, have (to varying degrees) kept winds blowing from Siberia to Canada. For the most part this has drained the massive area of homegrown cold from Central Siberia, though northern Scandinavia and westernmost Siberia have seen moderated north Atlantic air sucked east along the bottoms of the superstorms. On a whole, this has resulted in temperatures a few degrees colder than recent years over the Central Arctic. On a whole this should make ice thicker, though the offshore winds along the coast of Eurasia has constantly pushed sea-ice offshore, creating polynyas on the coasts of the Kara and Laptev seas. Indeed the Northeast Passage may see ice melt early this year, while across the Pole the Northwest Passage has seen sea-ice piled up by north winds, and thickened by extremely low temperatures, and the Northwest Passage may require icebreakers to be passable this coming summer.

Another consequence of the Atlantic superstorms, and also of the positioning of the high pressure towards Bering Strait, has a been a considerable cooling of both the northern Pacific and the northern Atlantic. On his site Joseph D’Aleo produced a map which shows where seawater anomalies (not actual temperatures, but whether those temperatures are above or below normal) have warmed (red) or cooled (blue). Remember, these are anomalies; a change from very-much-above-normal to slightly-above-normal will appear blue even though temperatures are still above-normal. (Also, over sea-ice, water temperatures cannot be read so you are actually seeing the change in temperature of the top of air-influenced sea-ice.) What is striking is the cooling which has occurred between Canada and Europe, and also the major cooling of the so-called “warm blob” south of Alaska. Because the “warm blob” is crucial to the location of the jet stream, the fact it has been so abruptly weakened has caused many long-term forecasters to suffer bad hair days, if not go bald. The map below covers the period between December 14 and February 14.

In terms of the actual anomalies, we seem to be seeing the backwards “C” of cold water indicative of a “cold” PDO, forming in the Pacific, and even a “cold” AMO being hinted-at in the Atlantic (though you have to stretch imagination a bit, in the Atlantic.)

SST Anomaly 200217

One thing forecasters use is records-from-the-past, but the last switch from “warm” to “cold” AMO was sixty years ago, and the satellite-records are either very poor or non-existent. Therefore I don’t blame forecasters for scrambling a bit. We haven’t seen this before. But what amuses me is those forecasters who try to look like they aren’t scrambling, and saw this coming. They didn’t.

Nor did I, but I don’t pretend to be a know-it-all. I try to just observe, (though I do compare the present with the past when I can.) And I wonder.

It seems that these superstorms must deeply churn the waters, and alter the stratification of the waters entering the Arctic Sea. Some waves have been ninty feet tall, winds have been over 100 mph, and pressures down to 27.14 inches (919 mb) suck cold waters up from the depths. Considering contrasts in water temperatures to some degree fuel and direct such currents, a significant change in temperatures may even alter the direction such currents flow. And if we replace a warm current under the summer sea-ice with a cold current,  we may find ourselves wondering, “Why isn’t the sea-ice melting?” We shall see what we shall see. Stay tuned.

I tend to roam about like a lurking wolf, skimming over current ideas regarding the current situation, and it is wonderful how the theories flourish and utterly contradict each other. I have read, on the same afternoon, that the arctic has a puny effect because it has so little heat compared to the tropics, and that the arctic has a huge effect and has shifted the El Nino from east to west, from a traditional El Nino to El Nino Madoki.

I prefer to think the Arctic has an effect, (due to my obvious focus-on and bias-towards sea-ice). Here is a link to a couple know-it-alls at the UCSD Scripps center, who suggests  a Global-Warming-caused decrease in sea-ice is causing the westward shift in warmth to a El Nino Madoki in the Pacific:

I note they state “further study is needed”. I think Scripps is hopeful to get some of the ten billion which virtue-signaling Jeff Bezos is getting a charitable deduction for, for donating to the cause of “Climate Change”.  Personally I would like to remind Jeff that a few years back Scripps predicted a massive La Nina which never occurred, and also that we could use a few fifty cameras drifting about on buoys in the Arctic Sea.

(It seems to me that, as the “cold” PDO starts to form the backwards “C” of cold water in the Pacific, the extension of the southern arm of that “C” would tend to push warm water west, and turn El Ninos to El Nino Madokis, but perhaps that idea is too simple and requires too little research money.)

I’m expecting to see things we haven’t seen before simply because we didn’t have much in the way of eye-in-the-sky satellites, the last time the AMO flipped from “warm” to “cold”. However I predict that when others see what they have never seen before they will state it is “unprecedented”, and a sign of End Times, and that if I fill my gas tank I will be told, “How Dare You!”


And I will meekly whimper that I’m not the one misbehaving. It is the weather that is misbehaving.

One final bit of misbehavior was enacted by the most recent and largest Icelandic Superstorm. It waited until people had stated the cold was “locked up” at the Pole, due to the breakdown of “stratospheric warming” at the end of last year, which created a strongly positive AO.

Strat donut 2 hgt_ao_cdas__2_(13)

Ryan Maue tweeted a wonderful picture of this highly stable stratospheric doughnut, convincing me of its stability and the inability of cold air to escape its wrapping embrace.

But what does the danged superstorm then do? Instead of fading away and sliding along the north coast of Eurasia, it drove right on up to the Pole and became a “Ralph”, giving our first truly sizable spike in Polar temperatures of the winter.

DMI meanT_2020 200219

I note this spike is small, compared to the steadily higher temperatures of 2016 (lower left) or the amazing spikes of 2018 (lower right):


However the appearance of Ralph is a bit unnerving to me, for when “Ralph” bumps up and becomes king-of-the-mountain he tends to bump cold air south, and it looks like it is being bumped to the Canadian side. In other words, as soon as I assume the cold air is “locked up”, it escapes.

Don’t ask me what happens next. I’ve learned my lesson. Instead I’ll just sit back and be a quiet observer.

Here are some DMI maps I saved which show the pelude-to, the comings, and the goings of the two recent superstorms:

I’ll begin back on January 31. We’d been seeing a pattern with High Pressure wobbling from side to side of Bering Strait, marking the center of a tilted “Polar Cell” as, in a quasi-Zonal-manner, low pressure drifted around the edges, displaced to lower latitudes in the Pacific and climbing to higher latitudes in the Atlantic. However towards the end of January I thought I might be seeing the end of that pattern, as the high pressure, (which I will dub “Bear” for Bering Strait) was fading and eroding away, as a “Ralph” appeared at the Pole. I’ll call this particular Ralph “Trub” as it was troublesome. In fact I should call it “Trub 3”. It was one of a string of “Ralphs” which made mincemeat of my theory that Ralphs are formed by warm feeder-bands of milder air surging to the Pole and rising. In the case of Trub there was little mild air and in fact the center of Trub was very cold, and in my book had no business rising at all. Also it formed first and the feeder-band came second, drawn north by Trub’s circulation.

This new pattern resulted in an elongated feeder-band nearly from the Atlantic to the Pacific, feeding Trub, with the feeder-band seeming to start to form a more traditional “Ralph” near Svalbard. However Bear was showing signs of reforming over Siberia. The two maps below illustrate how swiftly the feeder bands cool over a twelve hour period.

By January 7 Bear had reasserted itself over Bering Strait, and low pressure been repressed back to the Atlantic side. I thought a new Ralph might be trying come north through Baffin Bay, but we’d seen this earlier and it seemed the old pattern was reasserting itself. In the end the Baffin bay low couldn’t out-push Bear, and instead hopped over Greenland taking the old North Atlantic route

Three days later this low was crashing into Norway. (I accidentally deleted the isotherm map, so I stuck an igloo in its place).


A day later and the gale is north of Norway, bashing Barents Sea, as many gales have this winter. It is a sub-28.00 inches gale (sub 950 mb) and a superstortm in its own right. Its circulation steered the next gale south of the range of these maps into England.


The next map shows, four days later, the first superstorm lashing Iceland with 100 mph winds. Notice that the storm that was over Barents Sea drifted up to the Pole with a feeder-band, but is much weaker.

Two days later the second superstorm crashes into Iceland, as the first swiftly weakens into a mere appendage. Barents Sea is relatively tranquil.

Now here is where it gets interesting, for the second superstorm doesn’t swiftly fade. but continues up across Barents Sea.

And then, fading but still strong, into Kara Sea

And then it hooks north towards the Pole as a true “Ralph”.

And now we see yet another sub-28.00 inches gale just south of Iceland.

There’s a lot to digest, even as I keep observing.

Stay tuned.


ARCTIC SEA ICE –Saints and Chihuahuas–

I have heard what the United States is currently politically enduring described as: “A battle between a chihuahua and a saint”. On one side you have a chihuahua incessantly yapping, and on the other you have the saint displaying unending patience. The yapping just goes on and on and on, and gives you a headache. Increasingly you wish the saint would just give the little dog a boot.

Most annoying to me is the fact that no matter how carefully you explain what the facts are, the “other side” behaves as if you said nothing. For example, the United States spent two and a half years and millions of dollars determining that there was no conspiracy between Trump and Putin to “steal the election”, yet in his opening statement in the Impeachment Hearings Adam Schiff went on and on and on about Russia, as if the years and millions had never been spent.

This should wake people to what saint-like sea-ice Skeptics have been enduring from Alarmists, during discussions about sea-ice, over the past quarter century. Originally the Alarmists at least made an effort to debate scientific facts, but as the years have passed they have increasingly abandoned debate and discussion, and resorted to  innuendo, shaming and threats, with Greta Thunberg, an emotional young dropout, replacing James Hanson and Michael Mann, supposed scientists in white lab-coats, as the Alarmist’s spokespersons. In the end all a Skeptic’s long-suffering patience, and carefully explained truths, seems a colossal waste of time. It truly has been like attempting to debate with a yapping chihuahua.

Forgive me for expressing how exasperated and disgruntled I feel with a sonnet:

I search their faces, hunting for the hints
And clues contained in clouds, but they are blank.
The clouds have no faces, and seas don’t glint
With sunshine. There is nothing left to thank
With bursting song, and when I sniff the breeze
There is no scent. When two sniffing dogs greet
They exchange more news, and news is more sweet
Than in the zombie blankness that seeks to seize
With deceit’s hate. Disrespecting what’s real,
What’s tried and true, and all of the facts
For lust, gold and power, they try to steal
The jewel of peace with lead’s restless attacks.
What can I do but bow and beg with prayer?
Truth remains true, though I can’t see It’s there.

So what is “true” these days, in terms of sea-ice? The truth is the sea-ice “extent” is at the highest level, for the specific date of January 24, that it has been at in the past five years.

DMI 200124 Extent Screenshot_2020-01-24 Ocean and Ice Services Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut

Therefore, yet again, the “Death Spiral” theory has been debunked. Not that it seems to matter. Greta Thunberg blathers on about the sea-ice melting away. Because she dropped out of school, she apparently has no use for charts and graphs.

It is sort of sad, but I increasingly have to do the Alarmist’s arguing for them, as they apparently can’t even be bothered debating any more. For example, in the above graph it should be noted that, though this year is the highest of the past five years, it is still “below normal”. Then, having stated the Alarmist side, I cross over and state the Skeptic side, pointing out that the “normal” is determined using the time period 1981-2000, when the AMO was largely in its “cold” phase, and then suggesting that a slightly lower “normal” should be adopted when the AMO is in its “warm” phase, as it now is, (but may soon be shifting out of.)

Switching back to the Alarmist arguments, if the “extent” graph doesn’t work, one should shift over to the “volume” graph, which does indeed currently show very low levels. A true Alarmist then suggests the current sea-ice is thinner and more “rotton” than it formerly was.

DMI 200123 Volume Screenshot_2020-01-24 DMI Modelled ice thickness

The Skeptic response to Alarmist excitement over low volumes was more difficult in February 2017 or in March 2018, when Alarmists could use the word “unprecedented”.  However between March 2018 and July 2018 the volume (navy blue line in above graph) went from lowest in recent times to highest (for each specific date) which tended to suggest the “trend” was not in one direction, and that “volume” involved factors and fluctuations that hadn’t been discussed, and which needed to be considered.

The “truth” is that “volume” is very difficult to determine, and involves great efforts on the the part of the true climatologists working on the subject. The numbers we use are “modeled”, which is to say there are no actual people out measuring how thick the sea-ice actually is, in the midwinter darkness.

The thickness is gleaned through satellite measurements which tend to miss the the finer details because they are so far from the surface.  For example, a “pressure-ridge”, formed when two flat floes collide, can heap up a considerable volume of ice in a relatively narrow area, and be missed by the satellite many miles overhead. In fact a satellite may miss the significant difference between flat sea ice (created by a calm winter) and sea-ice crisscrossed by pressure-ridges (created by a stormy winter).

We were able to observe this around seven years ago when funding was more plentiful, both for funding cameras on the ice, and for funding young adventurers upon the ice. Where satellites, even with close-ups, saw smooth ice, our on-the-ground explorers saw and were blocked by new pressure-ridges which one experienced arctic-skier once described as “crazy ice”.  Like mini-mountain ranges, pressure ridges can thrust up ten to thirty feet, and, (because nine-tenths of an iceberg is under water), also thrust down ninety to two-hundred-seventy feet, holding considerable “volume” in what, from outer space, is, even in a close up, thinner than a hair if not downright invisible.

Later in the melt-season, when the pressure ridges tend to crumble and spread out, the “volume” can even appear to increase although the sea-ice is melting, as the satellites can start to “see” ice they formerly couldn’t. (Later on in the melt-season there may be different problems, as melt-water pools are “seen” as open water.) All in all volume measurements need to be taken with a grain of salt, (although the fact we even have such tools to work-with should  earn the scientists involved kudos).

This year likely has seen the formation of many pressure ridges towards the Atlantic side of the sea-ice icecap, for there have been many North Atlantic storms, and on occasion they have remained powerful even after progressing into Barents Sea, where they usually weaken.

Such North Atlantic storms are enormous.  Although they lack the eye-walls and intense inner winds of a hurricane, they are often larger and have tropical force winds over a larger area. The bigger ones have hurricane force winds far from their centers and central pressures below 28.00 inches (950 mb). I think they may actually “expend” more energy each year than hurricanes and typhoons do,  and likely play a large part in keeping the planet from growing too hot, and in transferring heat from where it accumulates at the equator to where it is lost to outer space at the Pole.

In essence hurricanes and typhoons transfer bundles of energy from Hadley Cells up to Ferrel Cells, and North Atlantic (and North Pacific) gales transfer bundles of energy up to the Polar Cell. It is part of a majestic and elegant system which (in a simplified form) works in the manner pictured below:

Hadley-Ferrel-Polar general-circulation-hadley-ferrel-polar-cell

As beautiful as the above portrayal of our atmosphere’s workings may be, reality is in some ways more messy, or perhaps more intricate. Above is a picture of things in balance, but wrenches get thrown into the works.

Some of the wrenches are predictable, such as the fact the sun moves from shining on the North Pole on June 21 to leaving that Pole in darkness and shining on the South Pole on December 21. Also the swings from a spotted sun to a sun with a clear face and back is a fairly predictable cycle of eleven years. These cycles likely interact to create oscillations, such as the AMO and PDO and the fluctuations between El Ninos and La Ninas which, even if secondary in nature, are wrenches-in-the-works in their own right. Furthermore there are dramatic events, such as the eruptions of enormous volcanoes and even the strike of a major meteor, which disturb the poise of the planet.

One cycle, perhaps predictable or perhaps not, is what may be a 200 year cycle from a quiet sun to an energetic sun and back to quiet again. The last “quiet sun” was the Dalton Minimum, around 200 years ago, which was marked by Global Cooling, and leads some to feel that current concern about Global Warming is patently absurd, and that we are donning bathing suits on the day of a blizzard.

It seems to me that, no matter what it is that whacks things out of balance, the planet has ways of recovering its balance, and I’m curious to identify what these “ways” are. It seems to me that if we had a list of phenomenon or sequences to expect, we might be better prepared, irregardless of whether the wrench-in-the-works was an El Nino, the AMO switching from “warm” to “cold”, an extended solar minimum, or a whopper of a volcano.

For this reason I watched with interest the past few winters as the above scheme of atmospheric circulation seemed disturbed, for rather than descending air and high pressure at the Pole, there tended to be an anomalous area of low pressure (which I dubbed “Ralph”.)

Of course, often, when you are looking for one pattern, that pattern refuses to show its face. “A watched pot never boils.” This winter has seen little of “Ralph”, and things have swung back to a more ordinary pattern, but with intriguing variations that make things unique, wonderful and puzzling.

While high pressure has generally owned the Pole, it has been displaced to the Pacific side, and there has been an interesting hubbub in the North Atlantic.

The typical Atlantic gales tend to peak around Iceland, which has led to such low pressure being dubbed “The Icelandic Low” (complimented by the matching “Aleutian Low” in the Pacific.) After stalling out around Iceland its remnants tend to wander away to the east, sometimes as secondary and tertiary storms along the trailing cold front, and sometimes as “kicker” storms on the warm front. In the fall, before sea-ice forms, such remnants of the Icelandic Low can be traced as they roll on along the arctic coast of Eurasia all the way to East Siberia and Bering Strait, but as the sea-ice forms such residual systems seem to be starved for moisture, and fade away earlier and further west.

During the past few winters the east side of huge Icelandic lows brought mild, surging “feeder bands” of Atlantic air north into the Arctic Sea, resulting in the formation of various incarnations of “Ralph”,  but this year has seen little of that. Instead the warm air has come north only so far, before being sucked in to intensify the Icelandic low, but the low hasn’t anchored itself by Iceland, and instead has peaked as a 950 mb giant as far east as the western border of the Kara Sea, and as far west as (recently) the east coast of Labrador.  In essence the Icelandic low has had a bad case of wanderlust.

To shift where the Icelandic low anchors itself and “peaks”, locating it more than a thousand miles east or west, must utterly derange the typical temperatures, stratification,  and currents of surface waters.

First, such enormous storms suck heat from the ocean and transport it to the top of the troposphere, for even when the seawater is below freezing (because it is salty), when such water is whipped to sea-spray, it creates moist air at 29º F which is so much warmer than overlying arctic air of -40º F that “bombo-genesis” results, with lapse rates favorable to amazing updrafts.  Heat from the ocean is removed to the edge of outer space, with further heat removed as latent heat released during the phase-change from vapor to liquid and from liquid to crystal, and that heat is left behind in the upper atmosphere as cold snow falls back down. (Though gas cools as it rises, expands and decompresses, solid does not warm as it falls for it does not re-compress. Therefore what goes up does not come down. The heat uplifted is lost to outer space.)

Second, such enormous storms have such extremely low central pressures they cause water to up-well beneath them,  as if they were a large mouth sucking on a soda-straw. Passing hurricanes leave a stripe of cooler water in their wake, and the same event occurs in the arctic, though less obvious. This is bound to derange the stratification of arctic waters in terms of temperature and salinity.

Third, such enormous storms have “fetches” that can be hundreds of miles long, and fetches of even a thousand miles have occurred. When such a fetch is from south to north it transports warmth north, and when such a fetch is from north to south it transports cold south. If the Icelandic Low is over Iceland it has a southerly fetch between Iceland and Norway, but if the Icelandic Low is displaced to the border between Barents and Kara Sea, as occurred earlier this winter, the southerly fetch becomes northerly, and a derangement of ordinary currents occurs.

“Fetch”, as a five letter word, fails to adequately describe what occurs in such storms. One needs to be out in a small boat in such a gale to appreciate the power involved. I, as a foolish young man, was once south of Cape Cod in a 28 foot yacht heading for New Jersey,  and had the misfortune to observe how swiftly the sea changes (as does ones intellectual Atheism). Because I had the good fortune to survive I can pretend I was scientific and that I took rational observations, and was aware the storm I was experiencing was downright puny, compared to the storms up by Iceland. (Actually I was sick as a dog and my scientific objectivity was reduced to swaying between groaning curses and whimpering, “Mommy.”)

They say the seas “build”, which is another inadequate five-letter word. What is fascinating is how the rather disorganized points of wavelets get their act together and become lines of marching waves, growing taller and taller until you can’t see over the oncoming wave until you are lifted to its top. The tops are torn and breaking in the wind,  creating streaks of foam on the water and flying spray in the air. The storm I experienced was a force 9 gale, (though when I tell the tale to grandkids I make it be force 12) and for me 50 mile an hour winds and thirty foot seas were enough. I have no desire to scientifically investigate true Icelandic bombs.

Yet what is odd is that, while the power and energy involved is tremendous, and so blatantly obvious one would be a fool to deny it, it has an elusive quality. It can slip under the radar in certain ways, in certain computer models. Why? Because in the midst of chaos the temperature may be stable, and the barometer may have bottomed-out in be flat-lining;  according to those two instruments nothing is happening. Also the water is theoretically barely budged by a wave passing through it, a cork on a windless swell describes an up-and-down circle and makes little progress, (in the same manner the sound waves of a song don’t stir the air they pass through very much). A wave may have little effect crossing thousands of miles of sea,  as if the sum of its passage was zero, and such a wave only reveals the power it holds when it crashes into the cliffs of a distant continent and crumbles solid stone to sand. Great power and energy is there, but, because such power cannot be measured by a thermometer, barometer or even anemometer,  it is neglected, and not included in some discussions about “Global Warming”.

A perfected climate model would need to include formulas I haven’t seen written down. For example, we may know how much energy there is in a sunbeam, but how many sunbeams are in a fifty knot wind? And how many sunbeams are in a thirty foot wave?

Because some forecasters bear the burden of warning sailors and “boaters” (who aren’t really sailors) when the seas may build and become dangerous, some good science has developed formulas that work fairly well. If you know the fetch is a hundred miles and the winds will rise to forty mph for three hours,  you can plug those three numbers into your equation and come up with an answer telling you how big the “average sea” will be, and by adding around 80% to that figure you can arrive at the size of the biggest wave. Though such numbers are now automatically fed into computers, with wave heights popping out to be read by clerk-like meteorologists,  the invention of this formula took a lot of hard work by dedicated scientists over many decades.

The invention of submarines meant further hard work needed to be done to determine how far down into the stillness of the depths the great agitation at the surface extended. (It is not as far as I originally imagined.)

Further hard work is needed, for the situation turns out to be far more complex than it may appear. For example, although waves move through the water without moving the water much, the wind does more than make waves; it bodily moves the water at the surface. When a fetch extends many hundreds of miles and then runs up against a shoreline, the water can pile up and create especially high tides. Also, because low pressure sucks water upwards, a mound of higher water exists at the center of a storm which can create a different sort of especially high tide, should the center cross a shoreline. Both of these events involve the shifting of huge amounts of water, which we notice when our beach house gets washed away, but tend to ignore when it occurs far from shore, in the middle of nowhere.

One thing we have never studied in great detail is what occurs in the North Atlantic when the “warm” AMO swings to “cold”. This lack of knowledge is due to the fact the last major swing of this sort occurred sixty years ago, when satellites were just being invented. (The first satellite, Sputnik, flew 63 years ago.) These early birds had no cameras, and then had very poor cameras. But one thing we do know, from the reports of fishermen, is that some mysterious shifts in cold and warm currents were involved,  which caused fishing grounds to shift hundreds of miles, to the great concern of fishermen (until they tracked down the fish.) We know it happened, but how it came to pass is sheer speculation, at this point.

Besides satellites, an array of buoys has been set in place in the North Atlantic and in Barents Sea to measure temperature and salinity at various depths. (I wish I could study the data they are gleaning.) This is the beginning of the hard work a new generation of scientists will do to further our understanding.

It is somewhat irritating when some Alarmists state “the science is settled” and fill the young heads of uneducated dropouts like Greta Thurnberg with panic, for the science is not settled and much awaits discovery (and some Alarmist “science” is just plain bogus, rather than “settled”.) Worst is that the funding seems to be being dramatically cut back, partly because, “who needs scientists, when they can hire a  bimbo like Greta?” Also it seems much of the funding was entangled in the “Swamp” mentality of “pay to play”, involving kick-backs and other forms of corruption, more concerned with power than with Truth. There seems to be a sort of push-back now occurring against such nonsense, which is making the money tighter in the “Swamp”, and far less trickles down to the true scientists, or even to the pseudo-scientists who….well….perhaps I won’t go there…….

To return to the subject of the North Atlantic, the wanderlust of the Icelandic Low did have some effects I could see. While the movement of currents below the surface and the stratification of those waters can’t be seen by satellites accessible to the public, we can watch the sea-ice.

When the Icelandic low formed up in Barents Sea, becoming a monster with a central pressure below 950 mb, stalling for days and only slowly crawling east towards Kara Sea,  south winds on its east side scoured the west coast of Novaya Zemlya, pushing the edge of the sea-ice (which had been advancing south) many miles north, actually creating a slight downward blip in the sea-ice “extent” graph. This downward blip might have been greater, but on the other side of this monster storm sea-ice was driven south, with a polynya of open water actually forming on the southwest coast of Franz Joseph Land, as sea-ice crushed up against the east coast of Svalbard and moved into Barents Sea south of there. There even seemed to be an increase of sea-ice on the west coast of Svalbard, which is often kept open by a warm tendril of the Gulf Stream that sneaks into the arctic along the easternmost side of Fram Strait. It seems likely that the flow of this warm tendril was interfered with, not only by north headwinds in the strait itself, but by contrary gales along the entire route this tendril takes as it moves north from Norway.

While I cannot dignify such observations by calling them “data”, I do park them in the back of my mind, for it seems probable that anything that impedes the inflow of warmer water into the Arctic Sea could eventually encourage the current formation, and impede the later melting, of sea-ice.

Further to the east, the general positioning of low pressure to the west, in western  Siberia, and high pressure to the east, towards Bering Strait, created steady south winds between the two.  Such south winds are not warm, for they come from the cold heart of Siberia in the dead of winter. In fact even without these south winds there is a tendency towards offshore winds along the Siberian coast during the winter, because the cold and sinking air over the interior is drawn out over the water as, even when ice-covered, the sea creates warmer air that rises; the south winds only enhanced this tendency, and the south wind was so persistent that the heart of Siberia was drained and did not get as terribly cold as it sometimes does.

The tendency for offshore winds seems to usually be greatest smack dab in the middle of the Siberian coastline, in the Laptev Sea. Because these wind push the ice away from the coast, forming polynyas of open water which skim over with fresh ice which in turn is also pushed out to sea, the Laptev Sea tends to be the greatest exporter of sea-ice to the Central Arctic of all the marginal seas. This year that export has seemingly been enhanced. The skim of ice near the Laptev shoreline has been exceptionally thin, while the ice has piled up to an exceptional degree where it runs up against thicker ice in the Central Arctic, forming a long band of thicker ice from north of Svalbard to north of Wrangle Island, and now a second band seems to be starting to form closer towards Eurasia.

DMI Thickness 200124 Screenshot_2020-01-25 FullSize_CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20200124 png (PNG Image, 1337 × 1113 pixels) - Scaled (53%)

The piling-up of this sea-ice towards the Pole is interesting (to me) for a number of reasons.

First, a feature I’ve sometimes noted during the melt-season, and dubbed “the Laptev Notch”, (a triangle of open water based at the Lena Delta and pointing towards the Pole,) seems apparent as thinner ice, even though the formation of ice continues for three months. This baffles me, for all the theories I’ve come up with to explain the Laptev Notch involves things such as the Lena River Floods that involve warmer weather. (Time to eat some humble pie).

Second, the piling-up of this sea-ice is alarmingly close to where they bulldose a blue-ice airstrip for the yearly “Barneo” research-station dash military-base dash tourist-trap. There has been trouble holding the event for the past few years due to quibbles between Norway, Russia and Ukraine, and last year the event was cancelled because some rule (which never existed before) abruptly decreed that an airline could not land jets north of eighty degrees latitude. Among other things this meant several hundred members of the elite could not joyously squander roughly $30,000 each, spending a couple days at the Pole. Now that the people involved have had a year to think about how roughly ten million dollars they could have fondled slipped through their fingers, they perhaps are rethinking their need to quibble.

Third, the fact this piled-up sea-ice is so visible in a satellite-derived model suggests it is far more than a few pressure-ridges, which are all but invisible from outer space. The “thickness” maps are an average-thickness,  and do not speak of the variations in thickness in the piled up area. When the sun rises over this sea-ice in March, the area will become discernible to the naked eye via satellite,  and we will be able to squint at close-ups. Sea-ice has a geology all its own, and it will be interesting to see what it looks like.

Fourth, it should be noted that the Naval Research Lab “Thickness” maps show nowhere near the same size and thickness, for this piled-up area. The Danish Meteorological Institute model seems to show sea-ice six feet thicker, which hints at problems with the reliability of models. It will be interesting to see which model is more correct, when daylight dawns at the Pole in March.

Fifth, The MOSAiC Expedition ship is locked in the sea-ice between this piled-up area and the Pole. If you don’t mind people who drink too much coffee and who strain at gnats, a surplus of information about the expedition’s findings is discussed at Nevin’s sea-ice site here:,2906.500.html

It will be interesting to see if the piled-up sea-ice interferes with the resupply of the MOSAiC expedition by icebreaker, next June.

Lastly, if sea-ice levels are determined by cycles of the AMO and PDO, then at some point we should see the levels of sea-ice begin to “recover” at the Pole. Such a recovery would put a final nail into the “Death Spiral” theory. Could we be seeing hints of the mechanisms involved?

Moving further east along the Arctic Eurasian coast we leave the influence of the North Atlantic gales and move into the orbit of the displaced high pressure which we see in the middle of a traditional “Polar Cell”. Besides wobbling to and fro between the Pole and Bering Strait, this high pressure has wobbled from side to side in Bering Strait. When it leans toward the Siberian side very cold air drains south through Bering Strait, and when it shifts to the Alaskan side the winds reverse and Pacific air flows north through the strait.

What I have noticed is that the cold air draining south, besides growing sea-ice south of the strait in Bering Sea, has (along with cold air pouring into the Pacific from western Siberia) chilled the “warm blob” in the Gulf of Alaska a lot. This may explain why, when the winds shift around and Pacific air comes north, it is not as mild as I expected. In fact, if this shift in sea-surface-temperatures continues the northern Pacific will start to take on the characteristic of a “cold” PDO, (which is also occurring, interestingly enough, on the Atlantic side, with a hint of the “cold” AMO appearing.)

SST anomaly 200127 anomnight.1.27.2020

This is quite a change from last November:

SST Anomaly 191104 anomnight.11.4.2019

While the sea-surface-temperatures remain confused, and don’t seem to want to resolve into anything definite, there is clearly some chilling occurring in the northern pats of both oceans. (As these are anomaly maps, the chilling is actual, and not merely because it is winter.) One thing that seems interesting is that both the Gulf Stream and the Kuroshio Current are above normal to the south, which suggests that the continental cold is heading out to sea further north. This is more indicative of a “zonal” flow than a “meridional” flow around the Pole, and suggests that although the high pressure is displaced towards the Pacific, much of the winter cold is being trapped up at the Pole rather than escaping south as arctic outbreaks, (which, because the cold stays over the Arctic Sea, may result in thicker sea-ice).

Another indication that the cold was trapped to the north was cold temperature records being set in Alaska over the New Year.

Alaska cold Fairbanks-Graphic

I found the cold in Alaska troubling, especially when the trajectory of the air-mass seemed to be from the Pacific, and therefore seemingly should have been warmer. I supposed I could dismiss it as “home grown”, due to the very long nights and brief days. However if I followed the trajectory of the “Pacific” air further back it often had poured off Siberia, and while that air may warm at the surface as it crosses the Pacific the warming isn’t all that deep. (Even as far south as California there is a difference between “Pacific” air that originated in Siberia and air from Hawaii.)

Besides the air from Siberia that crossed the Pacific there was Siberian air that bled across the Pole itself, due to the contrast between high pressure in Bering Strait and low pressure in the North Atlantic. This air did “warm” as it crossed the “warm” sea-ice, (if you can call temperatures rising from -50º to -25º “warming”), but these surface temperatures also seemed shallow, and as soon as the air bled into the Canadian Archipelago it reverted to extreme cold.

As a result it looks to me as if the central section of the Northwest Passage is frozen very solid, and if things were left to nature I’d say a sea-ice breakup would be unlikely this summer. Of course, we do have icebreakers helping with the breakup these days, so all bets are off.

Despite all the cold on the arctic coast, not all that much managed to charge south to my neck of the woods in New Hampshire, and frost has not been a worry in the orange groves of Florida (though one time they had just a touch.) Our cold air has tended to be “home grown” in Central Canada, due to snow-cover and short nights, or it has sneaked down through Quebec along the east coast of Hudson Bay,  timid compared the roaring blasts of arctic air which we’ve experienced other years.

This supports my contention the flow has been zonal, albeit in a confused and indecisive way. Perhaps the factoid most supportive of the idea the cold “stayed north” is that an all-time cold temperature record was set on the icecap of Greenland. (On January 3)

Greenland record ENYfUFSW4AAr-s3

This record was not merely the record for a single date, but for all time. Nor did it beat the old record by a small amount. The old all-time record was -81.9°F, and the new record is -86.8°F, nearly a five degree difference. (Inform Greta.) I find this especially amazing because, due to the fact various oceanic oscillations are in warm modes, the average humidity of the planet is slightly increased, and this makes a big difference in polar regions.

(Basically, if you measure humidity in terms of volume, a small volume (say a tablespoon) of water evaporated into the air at the equator makes very little difference, in terms of relative humidity, but makes a far greater difference at the Pole. IE, if you boiled a cup of water in a tropical kitchen you’d hardly notice any change in humidity, but if you boiled the same cup in an arctic igloo at -40° the room would fill with fog. A small amount of moisture raises the dew point a lot at the Pole, and, because the dew point represents a sort of basement to temperatures, (because latent heat is released as fog forms), a slight increase of moisture at the Pole results in a big jump in temperatures.)

Anyway, if you had asked me I would have told you would will see no record cold at the Pole until the oceans cool and the planet’s air gets drier. And I would have been (and was) wrong. The new record set in Greenland really raised my eyebrows.

Greenland summit_camp_e1578045880344

In terms of temperatures at the Pole, they have remained a few degrees above normal, but so far have lacked the spikes we saw in recent years when huge surges of Atlantic air rushed north as “feeder bands” to feed a “Ralph”. To me the difference is noteworthy. (2017 left; 2020 right.)

This brings me all the way around the Arctic Circle to the North Atlantic again, and returns me to my wonder about why it is that some years the milder “feeder bands” continue on up to the Pole, whereas other years they get spun up into an Icelandic Low with wanderlust further south. And the honest answer is, “I don’t know”.

And perhaps that is the difference been the way I am now, as an old man, and the way I once was, when I was a spoiled but frightened teenager like Greta Thurnberg. Now I know I don’t know, and it doesn’t bother me much, whereas back then I thought I knew everything, and was troubled. (I’m not sure, but perhaps this hints that even a chihuahua may hope to someday become a saint.)

(Note: If I get time I’ll include an update with all the DMI maps I’ve managed to save, but my old computer crashed and I’m inept with my new laptop. It takes me a long time to post maps, and time is in short supply in my life, for sea-ice is my avocation, and I have a vocation to run.

I should mention that the maps do show some incarnations of “Ralph”, though they aren’t of the well-fed Atlantic variety. One sort comes through Bering Strait, as an extension of the Aleutian Low,  and seem to occur when the high pressure shifts from one side of Bering Strait to the other. Another sort seems to come up through Baffin Bay along the west side of Greenland, and puzzle me a lot as they seems to have a cold core and haven’t much of a warm “feeder band.”

Here are the most recent DMI maps, showing more quiet than usual in the North Atlantic, especially in Barents Sea, and a weak “Ralph” that came through Baffin Bay fading away over the Pole. The “feeder band” curving up west of Svalbard through Fran Strait towards Francis Josef  Land is a new feature, drawn north by the fading Ralph, and will be interesting to watch.)

Stay tuned.