LOCAL VIEW –Moody Monday–

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Sometimes the weekend is too short. I’m not ready for the sheer inanity of my fellow man when Monday rolls around.

I’ve been in an on-line discussion with someone about sea-ice. It has been frustrating because he or she will not talk about the things my eyes can see and that I can point to, but instead resorts to invisible things sensed by satellites, such as “mass-balance.” Finally I gave up trying to show what eyes can see, and basically stated, “Be that way, if you want.” I thought that would be the end of it, but this morning I got this lovely note:

“Caleb, you should be aware by know that the Heartland institute support whatever fake science industry pays them to support. This includes lobbying and generating doubt against regulations on CO2 emissions, ozone-destroying chemicals, second-hand-smoke, endangered species etc. They are part of the paid anti-science forces in the US. You are truly living in a conservative bubble if you are not aware of this. And Fred Singer’s past? For-hire fake scientist…shameful stuff.
I know this won’t be published, I just hope you read this and reflect a bit what kind of forces you are dealing with and endorse.”

Great. I haven’t even had my first coffee.

Anyway, I am reflecting on what kind of forces I am dealing with (if not endorsing.) It made me pout a bit. After all, I am only pointing out what my eyes can see, and discover I am a bad-guy, part of “anti-science forces”. Me!  And I’m such a nice old fossil.

Then, when driving the little children to kindergarten, I discover this lovely object has been parked at the entrance of the high school.

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I think the point of this is to stress the gravity of reckless driving to the high school seniors, who tend to go wild at the time of graduation. However, as is often the case with alarmists focusing on worst-case-scenarios, it immediately backfired. Someone was gawking at the appalling wreck, and promptly went off the road, not fifty yards away.

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Sometimes human efforts look particularly lame and ineffectual, and I want to stop the world and get off. Funny how often this happens on Mondays.

Take my cheeks in Your palms and raise my eyes
To Your hills, for my vision’s gone heavy.
(Too much talk of itches with hearts so dry
They make thirst.)
                          Faith that has never been steady
Knows most about the worst, yet it yammers
On insistent, (Professor of Dullsville),
As my tired heart slowly hammers
A cage for itself.
                                   Even the seagulls will
Rise from their dumps and let beauty soar
But I need Your help; It would be so easy
For You.
                  You open Springtime’s golden store
Of lemon green, make trees lacy and breezy,
And dab dark pines in honey. One glance kills
All woe, so raise my eyes to Your hills.

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ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barents Bounce-back–

Over at Tony Heller’s site at realclimatescience.com I spotted an interesting map which emphasizes the growth in sea-ice in Barents Sea since 2006. (more ice than 2006 shows as green.)

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With the sun up close to 24 hours a day now, at those high latitudes, the increase in ice represents a significant area where sunlight is reflected back to space, as opposed to 2006, where the reduced extent allowed darker waters to embrace the sunlight and suck it into the sea and….and…and eventually result in the highest September ice extent in recent years?

Hmm. Some sort of flaw is boldly rearing its head here, in terms of the simplistic “albedo” theory of how the Pole is to become as ice-free as it was in prior optimums. If we were comparing apples to apples, the above map should mean we would have more sea-ice this September than in 2006. I think we will have more than last year, but more than 2006 would surprise me (though it is not outside of the range of possibility.)

I only bring this up because I think the “albedo” idea is way, way too simple, and the above map should make that obvious. The “albedo” theory is an idea concocted for the simple, in the manner Santa Claus was conceived to explain Christmas to little children.  It needs to be discarded, in the manner serious Christians discard Santa Claus. The reality is far more wonderful.

Let’s just compare last year on May 16 to May 16 this year; (2016 to left, 2017 to right):


Last year there was open water north of Svalbard, where this year ice piles against the north coast. However, before you leap to any conclusions, lets compare May 16 last year (left) with March 1 this year (right):

The polynya northeast of Svalbard should leap out at you. 45 days ago all the sea-ice between Svalbard and Franz Josef Land was slush and pancake ice, in places only inches thick. One could leap to different conclusions two months ago, and indeed some did.

Some concluded that, if the ice was so thin on March 1, it could only get thinner as the sun rose and temperatures moderated between March 1 and May 16, but compare the maps: (March 1 to left, May 16 to right.)

Hmm. Abruptly the waters between Svalbard and Franz Josef Land are filled with ice 4-7 feet thick. What the heck happened?

Well, a little is due to temperatures being below normal, but largely the change was due to winds.  Earlier in the winter south winds shoved the ice north and created polynyas north of Svalbard (and even north of Franz Josef Land at times) but then that pattern reversed and more northerly winds brought all the ice crunching and crashing back south.

Conclusion? The thickness of sea-ice often has little to do with air temperatures, and with any slight effect CO2 may have on that air. Rather it is largely effected by winds.

I should add it is also effected by the temperature of the waters below the ice. And this is another reason the area shown by the above maps is important, for it is the area where Atlantic water enters the arctic.

Atlantic water has a component brought north by the Gulf Stream, and Gulf Stream water has been subjected to warmth that has evaporated enough water to increase the salinity of the sea-water. Gulf Stream water is therefore more warm and more salty than the arctic water it moves into. The warmth makes it want to rise but the salinity makes it want to sink. For a time the warmth holds Gulf Stream water up at the surface, but after a while it cools to a degree where it’s salinity makes it take a dive, and it then flows as warmer but more salty water beneath the cooler but less salty water just beneath the ice. (At this point it is usually referred to as “Atlantic” water rather than “Gulf Stream” water.) In a very general sense, the cooler water just beneath the ice is the “mixed” layer, the Atlantic (and/or Pacific) water is the “pycnocline” layer, and the deeps are, with amazing creativity, called the “deep” layer.

As an aside, I should mention that some don’t think such stratification exists at the Pole. NASA states,  “At high latitudes, the pycnocline and mixed layer are absent“, and proves it with this lovely graphic:

Sea layers ocean-vertical-structure_clip_image002

I suppose they assume the water is so cold at the Pole the variations of temperature don’t matter, especially as the northern waters that head south are so chilled they take a dive and become part of the “deep layer.”

In truth, slight variations of cold temperatures matter a lot, in the world of sea-ice. A tenth of a degree can be the difference between water being liquid or solid, and that can be the difference between cold water sinking from sight or cold water bobbing as ice at the surface.  Therefore sea-ice scientists, while not telling NASA to go to hell (due to funding concerns) are so rude as to ignore NASA graphics and to speak of the arctic’s “mixed”, “pycnocline” and “deep” layers, and some even may divide the pycnocline into “Atlantic”, “Pacific”, and “Preexistent” layers.

Considering a lot of the melt of summer ice comes from beneath, it pays to attend to any news you can find about what is going on under the ice. It turns out the antics of these layers is insidiously complex. It is not enough to merely get a little data from the north and then flee south to a computer, and attempt to model the antics, for there are too many variables and too much chaos-theory involved. What we really need are real-time measurements from real buoys put in place by real scientists with real guts.

Most of what we know about the antics of waters under the ice was discovered by just such gutsy  scientists, and often what was discovered was things that were not suspected beforehand, and therefore were not included in computer models.

For example, the “mixed” layer is assumed to be mixed by waves, as explained by this simple diagram:


Therefore, when ice forms, there can be no waves, and therefore no mixing, right?

Wrong. It turns out there are at least two mixings that occur even when the waters are seemingly still, under the ice. The first is that the ice, as it freezes, exudes salt as brine, and a steady rain of these brine-droplets wormhole down through the new ice and then rain down into the less-salty mixed layer, making it both colder and more salty, and therefore to differentiate differently from the pycnocline. The second is called “Ekman Spirals”, and is caused by Ekman Transport.

Allow me to pretend I understand this Ekman stuff:  Basically floating ice has a keel, which creates drag, which allows the Coriolis force to influence motion. Even in 1897 Nansen noted that the sea-ice drifted at an angle to the direction the wind blew, and in the 1960’s real scientists with real guts were out on the sea-ice noting strange stuff in the waters beneath,

It should be noted that this does not merely mix waters in the “mixed” layer, but pulls up water from the pycnocline as an upwelling:


Conclusion? Well, the ruckus that has been going on all winter and into the spring, in Barents Sea, has had to have had an effect on the Atlantic water moving north into the Arctic. What might that effect be?

How are we to know, without gutsy scientists heading up there to place real buoys that give us real-time data? I sure don’t trust any model, because a model depends on real-time data. If you put guesses in you will get guesses coming out.

My own guess is that the arctic pycnocline has been effected, and in the future this will effect the sub-surface measurements of the layer of “Atlantic” water in other parts of the Arctic Sea.

How? I think there will be less slightly-warmer-slightly-more-saline water to be stirred up by summer arctic storms, to hurry the summer melt. But this is just a guess. How can I know without real-time data?  And how can that data be gathered, if funding is cut at the Pole, so frantic beltway bureaucrats can line their nests?





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

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

How does this involve sea-ice?

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

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

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

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

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

Piomas piomas_ice_motion_anomaly_JanMarch2017

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

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

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And so on and so forth.

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

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

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

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

ARCTIC SEA ICE –The Laptev Enigma–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


And the second on August 28

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

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

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


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

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The phenomenon continued through February

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expect the unexpected, and stay tuned.

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

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Below normal temperatures at Pole–

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

DMI4 0502 meanT_2017

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

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

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

DMI4 meanT_2016

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

DMI4 meanT_2015

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

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

SST 20170501 anomnight.5.1.2017

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

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

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

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

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

(Missing maps)

(Missing maps) Here we see Ralph revived.

(Missing maps)

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

Is Ralph attempting to sneak back into the picture?

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

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

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

Thickness 20170501 Attachment-1


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

Obuoy 14 0502 temperature-1week

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

Obuoy 14 0502 webcam

….and how quickly the nights get shorter.

Obuoy 14 0502B webcam

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

Barrow 20170502 22_52_20_90_ABCam_20170503_064900

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

2017A 20170502 2017A_thick

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

2017B 20170502 2017B_thick

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

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barneo Bear Incident–(Updated)


Barneo F7 18033962_1344607375616357_5874720438280785513_n

It sadly seems that the Russians are incapable of getting through a of year running a tourist trap at the North Pole without doing something that causes the heads of the politically correct to explode. Of course, the politically correct are very touchy  sensitive, and I myself have been known to pass through polite circles leaving accidental craters in my wake. But the Russians can’t seem to avoid offending elitist whack jobs nature-lovers.

Two years ago it was a crashed jet that besmirched the pristine snow.


Last year they offended the Norwegians by having soldiers march about, and the Norwegians offended the Russians by instituting a three-day-wait for tourists going to Barneo, so bags and backgrounds could be checked.


Sadly I think tourists may have been turned off by how badly they were treated last year. Norway may have killed the goose that laid the golden egg, by being so politically correct, for Svalbard stood to make a nice chunk of change from North-Pole-tourism. Or perhaps the elite are nervous about their wealth, with Hillary losing, and are less willing to pay $30,000 for a five day junket to the North Pole. In any case, there seem to be far fewer tourists this year.

Not that I pay any attention to all the fun they are having. Nope, not me. I am utterly focused on the sea-ice in the background, and I’m not at all jealous. Nope, not me. Disinterest is my middle name.

In any case, this year everything has gone like clockwork, but as they collect snow to melt for water, who is the water for?

Barneo F1 17904290_1343550235722071_3194572420379308515_n

Barneo F2 17992025_1343550232388738_680360811705048603_n

Barneo F3 17990702_1343550239055404_6001322689655380822_n

However it was with great dismay I then noticed they were already disassembling the tourist lodges, two weeks early.

Barneo F5 17523498_1343988779011550_2576095876919455219_n

However there was hope for the future. The lack of customers might be explained by the failure of Norway and Russia to iron out their differences until the last minute. Also the wonderful efficiency of the crew might be seen as practice, and as a dry run for next year.  What’s more, commitment to landing on the sea-ice might be seen in the fact a small passenger airplane called the L-410, (originally developed in the late 1960’s), was resurrected and production has started again, and one landed at Barneo.

Barneo F4 18034250_1343577049052723_5851154802314987153_n

A few skiers did show up, and found beautiful weather and conditions that appear far better than last year’s. (I love the pictures they post, which allow me to study the sea-ice.)

Barneo F9 18034302_1344607378949690_5218654346061449993_n

Barneo F8 18010425_1344607382283023_1598515973610740792_n

Right at this point, when it seemed the Russians might get through a year without offending anyone, a 1500 pound bear walked up to introduce itself to a 140 pound woman, and the woman was politically incorrect, whipping out a gun and blasting the bear.  There may have been a desire to hush up the incident, but it later made the Barneo Facebook page. Here is a translation:

“Our season rarely follows a rigid schedule: one day we’re relocating the camp because of a crack, another day we’re trying to deliver spare parts from Moscow for broken tractors, and so on. We did this season without such kind of a cataclysm, but… An incident has occurred, a sticky one, and – most importantly – a dangerous kind of event.

I already used to tell about bears who terrorize skiers on the route: invaders are walking within 50 meters from the group, men put them off with rocket launcher, and they get back after a while. Each group leader has a rifle for that case.

So, a few days ago it happened that one skier fired a pistol at a bear. She had a Magnum, a combat weapon. I’m not a gun expert but I know this unit has a huge penetrating power. The bear was wounded and then disappeared. It’s hard to say how appropriate it was for the purpose of self-defense; it really may be do-or-die situation. But. The group leader Dirk Dansercoer did not informed the chief expedition leader at the Barneo Station about the incident. He did not informed the person responsible for safety of all of us. It means that people who wounded a dangerous creature concealed the fact that all groups following the same course are in danger from now on. It’s hard to predict how a wounded bear behave.

As soon as we started to get troubling messages that one of the groups is followed by a bear leaving footsteps of blood, we explored from Dirk Dansercoer (who already was at Longyearbyen) the details of the incident. Today all the groups are aware of that danger, they have established a day-and-night duty. And we scheduled a hotwash for all of the guides to elaborate rules for that sort of incidents.”

I can’t really blame a woman for defending herself, but I just know the Russians will catch hell for this. (Groan)

Not that I care. Disinterestedness is my middle name. What is it to me if a lady has a bear for dinner, or vice-versa? All I care about is sea-ice, right?

The ice Barneo is sitting on has slowed its drift in the kind weather, though the temperatures are slowly dropping, from -15°C on April 16 to -24°C on April 18 (which demonstrates the Arctic continues to lose heat under clear skies, despite 24-hour-a-day sunshine. The sun is simply still too low. Any warming is still imported from the south. But the imported air chills more slowly now.)

Barneo F10 18034195_1343988812344880_495692716340196140_n


There is more to this than meets the eye. From yesterday’s Barneo Facebook page:

In the matter of yesterday’s message about the bear incident: as we just learned, the case is more complicated than it appears to be. Mr. Dansercoer misinformed us. Now the incident is exploring by Norwegian Police; as far as we know, they have a footage and witness testimony. We’ll inform our readers as soon as we get exact knowledge.

But then I suppose the lawyers got involved. From today’s page:

Victor Boyarsky, a member of the International Polar Guides Association, has just informed us that the Bear Shooting Case study is scheduled soon after completion of the Barneo season. They will make a decision after consultations with all the people involved. Until that moment we won’t make any comments on the matter.

What interests me most is the mention of “footage.” Now, that would be an interesting bit of film to see. I hope it appears on You Tube. But I suppose the reputation of an arctic guide is at stake, so we should be patient. I do know one thing: Those bears could care less about our rules and regulations.

In other news, a new lead (crack in ice with, initially, open water exposed), apparently has made one end of the runway unusable, so they extended the other end. I can’t find any pictures of it yet, nor a description of how wide it is, but here is a nice picture of a “pressure ridge” (what happens when the two sides of a “lead” slam closed):

Barneo G1 17951739_1345499942193767_8863357487366031983_n

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Beaufort Buildup Bedlam–

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

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

Rorschach test InkblotTest

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

Skeptical Science Nazi Herr Cook

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

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

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

Franklin Map Franklin's-Lost-Expedition

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

Sub at Pole 1959 download

And on May 18, 1987.

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

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

Barneo E5 17952888_1341818589228569_6926960017063686340_n

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

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

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

Extent Polyak et al 2010 fig2a

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

Andre 1897 image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Barrow 20170418 07_27_39_65_ABCam_20170418_152400

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

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

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

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

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

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

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