Barring any last minute peaks, it looks like the sea-ice has reached its yearly maximum.

DMI4 0322 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

This maximum is about the same as last year, but, because it is among the lowest in the satellite record, I suppose those still involved in the battles with Alarmists should step back and allow the Alarmists a period of rejoicing. I have never exactly seen the reason for their rejoicing, considering they believe low sea-ice signifies the immanent demise of the planet, but I don’t like to spoil their fun.

I personally don’t think these slight variations matter as much as Alarmists do, and am far more interested in the effects of the Quiet Sun. Therefore I have retired from the Climate Wars. However, for those of you still involved, I recommend that, if the celebrating of Alarmists gets too in-your-face and overbearing, the eyebrow-approach should be utilized.

This involves listening and nodding, but with overly sympathetic eyebrows. Towards the center your eyebrows should be very high, and then each should dip very low to the side. (My dog wears this expression when I play sad violin music on the radio in my truck.) If necessary you may reach forward and gently pat the back of their hand.

Being so sympathetic makes people lose their cocky attitude, and start to worry a little. They feel you are seeing something they don’t. Eventually they are forced to ask ,”What!?”

Then you have them. What you say is, “I’m sad to inform you, but this is exactly what we expected.” (Not that we did expect it; much involving the Quiet Sun is being seen for the first time, and no one predicted it.)  However all is fair in love and the climate wars. Even if they only are uneasy for a moment, you get the satisfaction of seeing them like the monkeys who get the graph wrong in the Superbowl commercial.

The “death spiral” I have been watching doesn’t involve the sea-ice as much as it does the number of sunspots. At the beginning of March it looked like things might pick up, as a string of tiny spots crossed the face of the disc.

Max 3 20170301

However these specks soon faded away, and were followed by 18 straight days of a spotless sun. Now at long last a single tiny speck is rotating into view from the left.

Max 2 20170322

The problem is that these specks are so small they likely would not have been seen by the weaker telescopes they used in the past, and therefore likely should not be counted. Our figures for modern times may be inflated. In any case, even with the possibility of inflated numbers, the current cycle is far weaker than we have seen in the recent past, and we are heading towards the rock bottom of a new low-point in the 10-15 year cycle.

Max 4 Screen_Shot_2017_03_23_at_6_52_09_AM

What does this have to do with sea-ice? Well, if you have the time I suggest you read an interesting overview of the effects of the sun’s cycles that Joseph D’Aleo put together, available on his Icecap site.

He produced a quicker summery on his blog on the Weatherbell site, but, if you are a hectic fellow like myself, most succinct of all is this simple chart he made:

Max 1 Screen_Shot_2017_02_08_at_9_53_42_AM


Besides the stronger hurricanes, which I don’t think we have seen, the chart seems to describe a lot of what we have seen happening up at the Pole. This in turn does effect the sea-ice.

The “amplified meridional flow” has caused the “surges” from the Atlantic and Pacific up to the Pole, acting as feeder-bands for the persistent feature I have dubbed “Ralph,” and these surges have in many ways prevented the growth of sea-ice, for three main reasons.

1.) Whereas a tight “zonal” flow traps the cold up at the Pole, a “meridional” flow allows the cold to escape south as arctic outbreaks. The cold cannot grow as much sea-ice to the north, if it escapes south.

2.) The air that has rushed south must be replaced, and this leads to the surges rushing north, holding milder air. This also makes sea-ice slower to thicken. Furthermore, because it tends to be moister, it can lead to increased snows, which act as insulation on top of the ice so that, when it does get cold, it slows sea-ice growth.

3.) The surges to the north push the southern edge of the sea-ice north, and can also push waters from the south to the north.  This slows, halts or even reverses the extension of new “baby-ice” to the south.

Of course, one must always say, “on the other hand.” A meridional flow also does do some things that can lead to increased sea-ice.

1.) A stormier pattern at the Pole smashes and cracks up the ice more, leading to more leads and pressure ridges.  This in turn

—–A.) Exposes the water in the dead of winter, which cools the water more.

—–B.) Exposes  the water in the dead of winter, which negates the insulating effect of the snow and allows more ice to form.

—–C.) Heaps up the ice as pressure ridges, which is extra sea-ice that doesn’t show in extent graphs, and is hard to measure in volume graphs, especially when it is heaped up by coastlines.

2.) Increased snow on top of the ice increases the albedo of blue ice, and slows the melting once the sun does return.

The thing about the on-the-other-hand items is that they  are all but invisible during the sea-ice maximum. This is what led to so many being surprised both during the summer of 2012 and the summer of 2013. In 2012 more ice melted than most expected, and in 2013 less ice melted than most expected.

The greatest unknown seems to be the temperature of the water under the ice. Most of the melt comes from beneath. Second greatest is how much ice is piled up in pressure ridges, which are difficult to see from outer space, but can web the ice like wrinkles on an old man’s face.

The issue of “albedo”, that is so prominent in the “death spiral” arguments, comes in a distant third, but it too is effected by increased storminess at the Pole. Deeper snows atop the sea-ice not only reflect more sunshine than windswept stretches of blue baby-ice, but they slow the growth of melt-water pools, basically because deeper snow takes longer to melt (as more available heat must be turned into latent heat during the melting process.)

Melt-water pools absorb much more sunlight than white snow, especially when they have black bottoms due to soot, volcano ash, and algae. They only have a short window to do their top-down damage, roughly six weeks. They tend to appear in June and be freezing over in early August (after which most melt occurs bottom-up, and can occur even when surface temperatures have dipped well below freezing.) Anything that slows the appearance of melt-water pools, even by one week, significantly alters the melt-equation. Cooler summers, such as we have seen recently, and most-especially mid-summer snows caused by a summertime version of “Ralph”, tend to do a lot to negate the albedo argument.

However none of this stuff will become apparent until summer. For that reason I tend to find the sea-ice maximum a little boring, even as others jump about exclaiming about slight deviations in the extent graph. The deviations mostly involve the edges of ice far from the Arctic Sea, for example in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence or the Okhotsk Sea. Big deal. I’d rather focus on the Arctic Sea itself.  But at this point the game hasn’t really started. It is as if we are scanning the maps and graphs before the Big Game, comparing the players on each side.

I haven’t done a very good job staying up to date with the maps, partly because it is a little boring. Also I had to deal with a blizzard, due to the meridional flow bringing the arctic howling down to New Hampshire. Then I had the prior post’s ideas whirling about in my head, like a different sort of blizzard. Lastly I’ve got taxes looming, and, despite the fact everyone tells me it would be easier if I upgraded to computers, I persist with my tablets of clay. In any case, the maps I did manage to save showed what follows:

When I last posted DMI maps on March 5 we were coming to the end of a time when Ralph had gone on vacation down in west Siberia, allowing a rare high pressure to build over the Pole, and allowing the cold to build to nearly normal levels, (down close to -40°).  In fact all-time records were set for cold in the Canadian Archipelago, (which of course did not get mentioned in the mainstream media). Yet, despite the dominance of this high, a new incarnation of Ralph appeared, in a nearly uncanny way managing to pull up a feeder band first on the west side, and then on the east side, of Greenland. The “signature” hook of milder temperatures can be seen just north of Greenland in the temperature map below. The fact this feature managed to pierce the wall of frigid cold demonstrates what a stuborn old coot Ralph is.

This version of Ralph was never able to establish the sort of huge Atlantic surge we saw earlier in the winter, and instead was squeezed across the Pole to the Laptev Sea, where he established a new feeder band right through the guts of Siberia. Of course it didn’t have the mildness nor the moisture of an Atlantic surge, but somehow it was enough to reinvigorate Ralph.

(I should give credit where credit is due, and mention that something like three months ago, when the record-setting cold was in Siberia, Joe Bastardi, over on his blog at Weatherbell, said we should “keep our eye out” for something. While that may not qualify as an actual forecast, I did not put my eye away with my other marbles. What he said was that often when the cold is ferocious, and centered on the Siberian side, in November and December, it somehow swings around and is centered in Canada in February and March. Lo and Behold!) (They really did deserve a break, over there in Russia and eastern Europe and northwestern Asia, after that awful early-winter they had.)


At this point the isobars between Ralph on the Laptev Sea and the high pressure over Alaska began to indicate a strong south to north flow up through Bering Stait, as a new, milder, moister Pacific feeder-band developed a new Pacific “surge”, and I started to look for signs of a “Hula Ralph” growing.

And right here, where I should have been saving DMI maps, I forgot to, as I was running around getting ready for our blizzard. But I did post about Hula Ralph.

By the time I remembered to save maps Hula Ralph had already formed, and was doing an amazing job of taking a huge mount of “mild” -10°C air and turning it into -25°C air. Also it crushed sea-ice into the west entrance of the Northwest Passage, at the very time that, last year, winds were blowing ice away from that entrance.

A sort of secondary formed in the North Atlantic, but Ralph’s circulation moved it east, and its warm sector moved east and gave Siberia further less-than-awful weather, rather than moving north to the Pole as another “surge.”  However I should have paid attention, for, in the lee of that secondary low, milder air began nudging north in the Atlantic, and Svalbard’s south coast even saw a thaw.

Of course, right when I should have been paying attention, I got too preoccupied in my last post. Therefore I forgot to save the maps that watch Hula Ralph fade, even as an innocuous looking low north of Iceland explodes into a deep gale just northeast of Norway.

The following maps show this new gale persist, fed by secondaries. It represents a big change in the sea-ice situation, because it was positioned in such a way it did not greatly surge the edge of the sea-ice north, in Barents Sea, but rather, especially towards Fram Strait, surged the sea-ice south, slamming it up against the north coast of Svalbard (which was ice-free during the southerly surges, earlier in this winter.)

The other thing I note is how this gale cannot roll east along the north coast of Russia, all the way to Bering Strait and perhaps even further east along the north coast of Alaska, as storms were wont to do other years, but rather suffers Ralphitis, and is inevitably tugged north to the Pole.

Here I missed some maps, and can’t even think up a good excuse for it. Let’s say I was celebrating sunrise at the North Pole, (although it is Lent, and my refrigerator is sadly devoid of beer).  What we now witness is Ralph continuing to persist at the Pole, fed by an exotic feeder-band which likely is Atlantic air, very moderated by a passage of several thousand miles of Siberian tundra, and also a little Pacific air squeaking north. It looks like there is a chance of a more direct Atlantic feeder band forming, but the main message is that Ralph goes on and on and on. The first real chance of decent high pressure developing over the Pole looks like it might be peeking over the horizon on April 1, but that is so far off we can’t truly trust the models.

As long as Ralph persists the temperatures up there will be above normal, until the sun gets higher in the sky around May, when the persistence of Ralph may lead to cooling. I’ll risk a forecast, and guess that, without as much El Nino warming as we saw last year, the red line in the graph below should duck beneath the green line of “normal” in May.  Date? Hmmm. May 13 (for luck).

Dmi4 0323 meanT_2017

The lay-out of the sea-ice seems different this year, as the persistence of Ralph has involved a lot of west-to-east winds along the coasts of Siberia, Alaska and Canada, which makes the Beaufort Gyre spin counterclockwise rather than clockwise. There is a polynya to the west of the Kara Sea as sea-ice is piled up to the east, thin ice to the west of the Laptev Sea with ice piled up to the east, and the ice has shifted west to east in the Beaufort Sea and really clogged the approach to the Northwest Channel. The flow of ice from the Arctic Basin into the Atlantic has only recently resumed, with a big bulge of ice coming south through Fram Strait.

Thickness 20170323 Attachment-1

Hudson Bay will be interesting to watch. Most summers it becomes ice free, but the ice is piled up very thickly against the southwest coast, and also in the east, due to a lot of shifting this winter. It ls not too often that you see polynyas both at the very top and very bottom of the Bay.

Days may be longer than nights, but it isn’t too toasty up at Barrow, Alaska. It is 2°F (-15°C) with a north wind off the Arctic Sea at 14 mph. The sea-ice along the shore isn’t budging despite tides and winds.

Barrow 20170324 08_13_00_447_ABCam_20170324_160900

I have a bit of good news. I recieved a nice birthday present, as O-buoy 14 came back to life after a winter spent hibernating. It seems frozen fairly solidly in Parry Sound, a short ways east of where it signed off last November. Currently it is not moving at all, nor is it likely to budge much until the melt is well underway. It appears to be attempting the Northwest Passage.

Obuoy 14 0324 webcam

There are some new pictures, without text, from the Russian site about their Barneo base. If these are current pictures, and not from some prior year, they may be helicoptering in supplies and getting ready to build the blue-ice jet port. (I’ll see if I can learn more, and if I can, I’ll update later.)


Barneo 2 13051705_1023415624402202_4868506117936992761_n

Barneo 1 17457954_1316375058439589_2922843653078765459_n

Barneo 3 13043427_1018307331579698_5537084612033005426_n

Update: (Translated from Russian Site)

The North Pole is preparing for the opening of “Barneo-2017” camp


In 2017, the 16th in a row “Barneo” camp, which is organized annually by the Association of Polar Explorers, with the participation of the Expeditionary Center of the Russian Geographical Society on the drifting ice near the North Pole, is expected to run from 4 to 26 April.

For the organization of the camp must first find a suitable ice floe. Strict requirements: it must be oval in shape, about 1 km wide and 2 km long, that on the ice field was possible to pave the runway for aircraft. Search ice floe – is not easy. As described one of the organizers and founders of the “Barneo” Irina Orlova, first from the island of the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago Middle fly helicopters that fly over the ice as far as fuel in short supply. Then they sit down, according to their position, and from Murmansk to flies IL-76 and resets the fuel for the helicopters to this point (it is called “Blinds-1”). Helicopters are filled, at which time IL-76 flying as close as possible to the pole and resets it to search for more fuel under the ice floe “Barneo”. At the same point called “Blinds 2” jumping paratroopers who give birth to helicopters with “Blinds-1.”

“This intermediate camp will work two or three days, until they find a suitable ice floe for” Borneo “. Then get over to the ice floe and begin to make the runway “, – said Irina Orlova. Nowadays helicopters are preparing for flight in point “Blinds 2” to start the search for an ice floe at the camp.

When the “Barneo” will be deployed, it is a few weeks will be the main scientific and tourist center in the Arctic.The organizational base camp is located on the Norwegian Svalbard, since it is more convenient to start from this tourist programs. In 2016 it was planned to transfer base “Barneo” the Russian Franz Josef Land, as the Norwegian authorities have tightened the rules for the use of their infrastructure. However, common interests have helped to successfully resolve all the contradictions, and the Expeditionary Center decided to leave the base in Spitsbergen.

“Everything is almost without exception ski program managers approached us with a request not to do so, because they work with clients more convenient to Longyearbyen, because there is a good infrastructure, is where to wait out bad weather, hotels, shops, bars, a warehouse, where they are can store their equipment.Then workers Longyearbyen – Hotels, travel agencies, catering business – would lose a lot of customers.Airport takeoffs and landing of our aircraft is also well paid. From this the party has lost quite a lot. We have been in negotiations with the governor and decided that leaving things as they are, “- said Orlov.

In addition to the tourist programs in 2017 to “Barneo” will be held the annual international marathon.Participants from around the world to be run in the arctic cold classic marathon distance of 42 km 195 m.

Research – one of the important components of the “Barneo” camp activities. 2017 will be no exception – on a drifting ice floe will run the Russian, French and American scientists.

Here is a picture of fuel being dropped for one of the two helicopter-refueling-camps leading out to the Pole (called “Blind 1” and “Blind 2”). [Notice the smoke-marker beneath, which likely makes some environmentalists cringe.] It is the cargo helicopters that lug out the bulldozers, which clear the runway for the jets that bring up scientists and tourists, and the staff for a restaurant.

Barneo B3 barneo-2017-airdrop2-irinaorlovafb

The Norwegian view of last years’s hubbub centered around the idea that Svalbard is suppose to be a demilitarized zone, due to the Svalbard Treaty of 1920.  The Russians likely felt that “training exercises” were not war-like, but images such as the following made the Norwegians nervous:

Barneo B2 airborne_mil_ruBarneo B1 paratroopers.arctic_mil.ru_

Here’s an article from last April expressing alarm:

The Norwegians apparently are keeping an eye on the “training exercises”, but have decided the money made by tourism outweighs the value of demanding the old treaty be obeyed to the letter. The Russians were irritated by the wrench Norway threw into their Barneo operations last April, and considered having a  base camp on Franz Josef Land. However they too decided the money made by tourism outweighed the large expense of opening a new base camp.  In other words, tourists saved the day!

Here is a Norwegian take on the resolution of negotiations:

An agreement between Svalbard Governor Kjerstin Askholt and Aleksandr Orlov, Vice President of Russian Association of Polar Explorers, was reached on 13th March.

The original plan, however, was to move all logistical operations to Franz Josef Land. 

“Following journalists’ publication of misleading news about last year’s expedition, there appeared problems in our relationship with Norwegian aviation authorities, and these were so serious that we were forced to abandon our work in Longyearbyen in favor of Franz Josef Land”, Irina Orlova says.

According to the chief operations officer, the developers of Barneo-2017 changed their minds after leading tour guides insisted that the Longyearbyen remain base for the activities.

It was the Barents Observer which in April last year first reported about Russia’s plan to use Longyearbyen airport for bringing military instructors to an airborne drill in the Arctic. That created an uproar and subsequent introduction of stricter regulations by Norwegian aviation authorities.

In any case, I’m glad they have patched things up, because the Barneo base gives us some of our best arctic pictures.

Here is a Sunday afternoon picture from Barrow, Alaska:

Barrow 20170326 12_47_37_536_ABCam_20170326_204400

The temperature is -4°F (-20°C) and the winds are west at 17 mph. Winds have to swing around to the east to clear the ice from the entrance of the Northwest Passage. (Southeast is best.)

O-buoy 14’s wind vane and anemometer are either frozen fast or busted, but the thermometer shows it has warmed from -29°C to -24°C. This buoy is going nowhere, for a while.


Obuoy 14 0326B webcam

The DMI maps have shown another storm blow up northeast of Norway and proceed through Barents Sea.

Judging from the isobars this will continue to push ice into Fram Strait and against the north coast of Svalbard, and may nudge ice southward in Barents Sea. It may also complicate things a bit for the Russians at their Barneo Base.  Stay tuned!



We are hunkering down, here in New Hampshire, in a blast of Arctic air transplanted south from the North Pole, as we wait to see if an east coast storm slips out to sea south of us, or clobbers us. That will likely be my next “Local View” post.

Of course, when the Pole is robbed of its very cold air we should expect a surge of milder air (by “milder” I mean -10°C rather than -40°C) to move in behind the departing cold air up at the Pole. And indeed this is what has occurred.

To state things in a simplistic manner, “Ralph”, who had wobbled over towards Siberia, allowing very cold, record-setting cold to settle in the Canadian Archipelago, came wobbling back towards the Pole, and bumped the cold down towards North America. (I’m certain my description causes some meteorologists to cringe, but I am Ralph-centric and, if I want to see all things in terms of Ralph, I am entitled, because this is my obscure blog and I’m boss here.) (Just for the record, one could also say the cold high pressure was the ruler of the situation, and rather than being “bumped” south, it “settled” south, and sucked Ralph back north in its lee, but that is not the Ralph-centric view.)

At this point I looked confidently towards the Atlantic, for that is where our surges have usually come from, but that never developed. Rather an impressive surge came north through the Bering Straits from the north Pacific, refueling Ralph and turning him into what I call a “Hula Ralph”, (because an adolescent part of me never grew up and the word “Pacific” always suggests ladies dancing in grass skirts to me.)  Dr. Ryan Maue’s great maps, over at the Weatherbell site, show this Pacific invasion clearly:

HR 1 gfs_t2m_arctic_1

This is the GFS models “initial” map, which is made up of current conditions fed into the computer, and is as close as a model ever comes to reality. My own sense was that such a surge of milder air, while no thaw, would interupt the influx of bitter air into Canada. However I was apparently utterly wrong. That “mildness” is lost to outer space with astonishing rapidity. Here is the forecast for 12 hours from now.

HR2 gfs_t2m_arctic_3

And here is the forecast for 24 hours from now:

HR3 gfs_t2m_arctic_5

In only 24 hours Ralph has consumed an amazing amount of heat. Some may say the milder air was merely “mixed”, with cold air sucked up from Siberia, but if that was true the Siberian air would be milder, but it isn’t. Others will say the milder air was “lifted”, and this is likely true, but lifted air gets colder and precipitates out water as cold snow (with the process releasing latent heat that helps the uplift of all the heat to the verge of outer space, where it is lost.) Lastly, some of the milder air has invaded the Canadian Archipelago, but let us look ahead a second day to see what happens to it there.

Here is the situation in 36 hours:

HR4 gfs_t2m_arctic_7

And here is the situation in 48 hours. What happened to the mild air in the Canadian Archipelago?

HR5 gfs_t2m_arctic_9

At this point I think it can be said that the Hula invasion didn’t warm the Pole, but rather squandered the planets supply of Pacific heat. This is bad news, because women will not wear grass skirts if it gets colder in the Pacific.

The model suggests Hula Ralph tops out as a 975 mb storm, and then starts to weaken. Three days from now all the “milder” air is used up, and some very cold air is pouring into northern Canada. (Further south some west winds may be bringing a Chinook over the Rockies, but the mildness that may occur further south in Canada is not due to the Pole being milder. In fact if you compare the 72 hour map below with the initial map above, it is incredible how much “mildness” was replaced by bitter cold. (Hula Ralph has managed to suck in a feeder band from the Atlantic, but it is so weak it is barely visible.)

HR6 gfs_t2m_arctic_13

Models diverge from reality increasingly, but it is tempting to peek ahead 12 hours to see if the cold at the top of Canada bulges south. Also to see if there is a hint where the next “surge” may come from.

HR7 gfs_t2m_arctic_15

Yes, that cold is bulging south (which is bad news for me and my plans to plant peas early). Also, besides the very weak Atlantic feeder-band, it looks like a feed might be pushing north right through the heart of Siberia. That, at least, is a sign of spring, as mildness has a hard time coming north in Siberia in January, unless it is Pacific air over towards Bering Strait.

As an aside I should note that this latest incarnation of Ralph will continue to generate west winds that will jam ice into the western approaches to the Northwest Passage, which is opposite what occurred last year.

Lastly, (and the actual point of this post), it should be noted that although the skies are brightening at the Pole, and sunrise at the North Pole is only a week away, the Arctic still has an amazing ability to squander heat. Even after the sun rises there is a net loss of heat, despite 24-hour-a-day sunshine at the Pole. The sun has to climb higher before the heat-loss ceases, and then there is only a brief period, roughly six weeks, when the Pole can help the planet at all, in terms of warming.

Stay tuned.


ARCTIC SEA ICE –A Third Surge–(With Updated Update late Thursday night.)

I should begin by mentioning the sun has gone spotless for 31 days, using the “layman’s count”, (which doesn’t include sun-specks that would not have been visible with older telescopes.)


Although for years I have heard Alarmists state that the variations in the sun’s output are not enough to cause variations in our weather here on earth, I have seen too many  studies that suggest otherwise, to swallow the idea that the only thing influencing our weather is CO2.  (Exhibit A is the coincidental matching up of the Maunder Minimum with the Little Ice Age).

I should also state I do not think we really understand the engineering involved. It seems hideously complex to me, and to involve a lot more than visible light. The number of cloud partials created by cosmic rays changes, the chemistry of Ozone in the upper atmosphere is effected by shifting levels of infrared radiation (or is it ultraviolet?), and even the frequency of volcanic eruptions at high latitudes increases (due to things I can’t fathom.)

In some ways a Quiet Sun is a wrench in the works of our efforts to comprehend various actions and reactions we thought we were starting to get a handle on. Various cycles and oscillations now are liable to go out of sync,  with the addition of a new factor. (For example, I’ve been waiting patiently for the AMO to move into the second half of its sixty year cycle, where it switches from “warm” to “cold”, but I confess to a certain unease, because the Quiet Sun may mess it all up.)

It was while straining to get my little mind around the enormity of the factors involved that I found myself becoming increasingly aware what a small factor CO2 is, in the totality of the scheme of things. Water is by far the most dynamic and vital greenhouse gas, and is so quick to respond that it likely erases any effect a slight alteration of a trace gas like CO2 has.

However the trivial effect of a rise of  four molecules per million of CO2 in the atmosphere is not trivial in the minds of Alarmists. Sometimes it seems they see absolutely everything as being caused by CO2. If you hit your thumb with a hammer, CO2 is to blame. And therefore, even if CO2 doesn’t effect the physical atmosphere, it sure does effect the mental atmosphere of science and art and politics and even Superbowl parties.

Therefore I am nervous about the hoopla likely to arise when the effects of the Quiet Sun start to manifest, for, as certain as winter follows fall, every cotton-picking thing the Quiet sun causes will be ascribed to CO2. The Alarmists simply will not be able to help themselves. They have been expecting things to go haywire, and therefore when things do go haywire they will congratulate themselves and feel certain they know the cause, when they  don’t. (It is a bit like the mother of ten who stated she knew the cause of pregnancy was pink champagne.)

In any case 31 days without a sunspot is something to sit up and take note of. The sun is most definitely going “Quiet”.

One effect of less energy coming from the sun may be less energetic winds, which produces an effect quite contrary to  what one might expect, namely: Warmer waters.  It is when the Trade Winds get strong that the warmer surface waters get pushed west to Australia, and there is up-welling from the cold deeps off the coast of Peru, and we see the cooler temperatures of a La Nina. When those winds weaken the milder surface water sloshes back east towards Peru and we get the warmer temperatures of an El Nino. Considering the last El Nino was warmer than expected and the current La Nina is not as cool as expected, the Trade Winds would seemingly be the culprit and be weaker, but of course Alarmists immediately blame CO2, not the Quiet Sun.

Then, as soon as you have warmer tropics against a general background of a cooler planet, you can get some rip roaring winds going, further to the north, and also the jet stream may become more loopy, to transport the excess heat north and bring things towards the elusive balance the planet can never achieve (because the sunhine keeps seasonally flipping back and forth from Pole to Pole.) (They haven’t blamed CO2 for that…….yet.)

The loopy (meridional) jet stream has brought a lot of mildness up to the Pole this year, including two remarkable “surges” I have described in these notes, and now it looks like a third is trying to set up.

When I last posted the general area of low pressure I called “Ralph” has at long last been pushed off the Pole by high pressure I dubbed Fred.  The question was whether Fred could hold his ground, and allow some cold air to build over the Pole, or would a new incarnation of Ralph manifest with more mild air rushing north to be squandered to the depths of the arctic night. Right off the bat a pacific “Hula-Ralph” appeared and drew a feeder-band north of Alaska, and Fred slowly backed towards western Russia and weakened.


Fred did manage to keep a north Atlantic gale from coming north, but as that storm sank southeast through Scandinavia it pumped high pressure in its wake, and that high pressure slid swiftly to Scandinavia and, on its west side, south winds began to create a new “surge”.  In that surge low pressures began to pop up.

Meanwhile very strong high pressure grew on the Pacific side, and between that high and what was left of Hula-Ralph and the new Atlantic lows a strong cross-polar-flow began to develop from Siberia-to-Canada. This was a complete reversal of the Canada-to-Siberia flow of only a few days earlier.

By January 7th some purple can be seen on the coast of the Laptev Sea, in the temperature map, representing -50°C air pouring off the Tundra. Close to the surface this air is swiftly warmed, for the Arctic Sea is at -1.9°C, just the other side of ice only around 5 feet thick, and compared to -50°C that is like a warm radiator. However not much higher up the air is not warmed much, and it is never good news for North America to see purple in the Laptev Sea and a cross-polar-flow.

Today’s map shows a string of Atlantic lows feeding into the Pole, plus some new Pacific air coming in from the other side. Ralph is back, and the planet continues to squander its reserves of warmth.

The pause between surges did allow temperatures in the Central Arctic to dip with five degrees of normal, but now we shall see if this surge can raise them, and generate more Alarmist hoopla.


The extent graph shows a new dip, caused by the erosion of ice in Bering Strait due to the invasion of Hula-Ralph.


Between now and the maximum the ice that forms is outside the Arctic Sea, and is fleeting stuff that never lasts very long into the spring. The place most interesting to watch will be Barents Sea. The Atlantic surges have made it hard for ice to expand south there, and Svalbard is experiencing a nearly ice-free winter so far. (I’ve seen Alarmist headlines focusing there.)


While there is likely to be all sorts of hoopla about the edges of the ice, and how that effects the extent graph, what I am interested in is whether the “surges” will cause the ice to be thinner.  To me it seems only logical that the imports of milder air should make the ice thinner, (though it might increase the depth of the snow on top of that ice.)

Below is a comparison with last year, at this date. 2016 is to the left and 2017 to the right.

The ice definitely looks thinner on the Pacific side and north of the Canadian Archipelago (except right by the shore), but there is a tongue of thicker ice this year from the Pole towards the New Siberian Islands that is a bit of a surprise to me. I’ll need to think about that.

In earlier posts I’ve commented that when a surge rushes up to the Pole a sort of “backwash” occurs further south. The “Ice Age Now” site is a gold mine of stories about the current “backwash”.

I like this picture of Istanbul, Turkey:


I’ll likely update later, after I research the Sahara. What is a sea-ice post without a mention of the Sahara? I did notice the cold front marking the edge of the “backwash” was getting down that way, a couple days ago:


Notice in the above map it is warmer in Scotland than in Sicily. Scotland is in the “surge”, and Sicily in the “backwash.”









Across the Pond, in North America, a record-setting cold wave has broken, with the arctic outbreak surging all the way to the Carolina’s with sub zero temperatures (-17°C), only, like a big wave followed by a big undertow, to be followed by a surge of mild air up the east coast of the USA. This “January Thaw” is likely the next “surge” headed up to the Pole, as the pattern remains meridional.


Temperatures where I live in New Hampshire have risen from -2°F (-19°C) two days ago to 41°F (+5°C) this morning. As the warm air pushed north we had a brief blast of heavy wet snow, and the roads were treacherous last night, but this morning it is sunny and breezy and the wet roads are nearly blinding when you need to drive into the low sun. I am enjoying the mildness while I can, because I don’t trust this back-and-forth weather at all. I can recall two winters back when I was a teenager (1960’s) when we had January Thaws so mild I was able to take off my shirt and sunbathe, and both were followed by major snowstorms in February. (One being the “Hundred Hour Snow”.)


I’ve had to attend to “important stuff”, which basically boils down to worldly responsibilities (yawn) that one cannot neglect without spiritual repercussions and even spiritual harm. So only now can I stay up late and try to catch up on the cloud-watching I have missed. It amounts to dreaming, so I don’t think it will hurt me all that much if I miss a little sleep.

The “backwash” is a huge distraction. I am suppose to be focused on Sea-ice but the snows that have fallen on the islands of Greece are amazing. Postpone your vacation there, until further notice.

There is other interesting “backwash” news as well, which you can study if you visit the “Ice Age Now” site. But I need to grit my teeth and discipline my mind to focus on the Pole.

The problem is that, though this post is suppose to be about a “third surge”, so far the surge has been a bit of a dud. To really generate sensationalist headlines you need arctic temperatures (in places) thirty degrees above normal, but the best we can seem to manage (so far) is a lousy seven degrees above normal.


In case you are wondering why seven degrees above normal is no big deal, you should understand the green line in the above graph describes more ordinary and “zonal” conditions at the Pole, when conditions are basically windless and cold air can sink and pool as high pressure. As soon as it gets more windy the air gets more “mixed” and temperatures jump. Therefore to be seven degrees above normal when, rather than “zonal”, conditions are “meridional”, is nothing to write home about. In fact it is a bit boring.

How could this happen to me? I am being embarrassed by this unruly weather!  Here I go to all the trouble of posting a blog with a sensationalist headline, and the weather can’t even bother to do the decent thing, and obey me? What gives?

To find out, I suppose I should look at the maps.

When I began this post we had a lovely train of Atlantic lows training up in what I call “Ralph’s signature hook” to the Pole:

What I failed to notice was in the temperature map. The relatively mild air was not heading straight up to the Pole, but was deflected east along the shores of Siberia.

(Missed Map)

The above map shows a low exploding off the coast of Norway, which involves more heat not making it to the Pole.

In order to visualize the warmth being used up off the coast of Norway, and not making it up to the Pole, it is helpful to look at the UK Met map:


All the pink fronts in the above maps are “occlusions” which are, in the simplified world of North American weather, basically the warm sector of our tidy weather systems lifted off the ground. Across the Pond, they seldom have tidy weather systems, which likely explains why their better forecasters never have time to comb their hair and look slightly demented. (I call the above map more of a mess than a map.) All I can deduce is that a heck of a lot of milder air never made it to the Pole, and instead is wound up in occlusions off Norway’s coast.

Also the above maps show that the North Atlantic lows have established a more normal north-to-south flow in Fram Strait, and sea-ice can finally progress down the east coast of Greenland.  As was pointed out by the blogger “Fred4d” in the comments of this post, truly cold air is finally getting down to Iceland.


However the cold is transient, and just as temperatures where I live went from -2°F to 55°F, the slug of mild air passing over me now will reach Iceland by Sunday:


While this mildness is coming north over the Atlantic, the actual center of the low will crash into Greenland, and transit the over-10,000-foot-tall icecap through what I call “morphistication”, and continue on to be the next incarnation of “Ralph” at the Pole. (If you can believe computer models, that is.)

If this actually happens, it will add to the unreal, “unprecedented” snows they’ve been having on Greenland, which had been experiencing a lull:greenland-1-20170112-accumulatedsmb

Furthermore, it will add to my wonder: I’m puzzled by the fact some of these surges make no headway, and wind up as a tangle of occlusions off the coast of Norway, while the next surge finds the 10,000-plus icecap of Greenland no problem whatsoever and (if the models are correct) traipses right up to the Pole.

Some talk of “blocking high pressure”, but my imagination is thinking about something that doesn’t allow a block, and rather offers an opening. I decided it needed a name, and decided to dub this figment of my imagination an “Arcticorf”. (Short for “Arctic Orifice”.)

Now, we are accustomed to think of storms moving west to east, in the Westerlies, but when they get far to the north we notice over and over they screech to a halt and do a little loop-de-loop, before they fade and our attention is diverted to the south, to a secondary on their cold front. However why do they screech to a halt?  I assume it is because they have left the Westerlies, and are into the rather tenuous Easterlies that irregularly rotate clockwise around the Pole.

The “Arcticorf” is a nebulous opening rotating clockwise around the Pole in the Easterlies (in my imagination) that allows storms to penetrate the Easterlies and reach the Pole, or even continue right across the Pole.

How to test this theory out? Well, lacking the fabulous amounts of money granted to people who are politically correct, I merely keep track of when and where the “feeder bands” of warmth, (in a meridional pattern) make it north to feed the next reincarnation of “Ralph”.  And indeed, the “feeder bands” seem to rotate clockwise around the Pole (and run into problems when crossing the vastness of moisture-less Siberia, but then reappear once they reach the Atlantic).

I am fully aware of how bias will cause me to see what I want to see, but feel I should note that, while the “Arcticorf” was crossing Siberia, the “surge” could not penetrate to the Pole, however, (if computer models are correct), the next surge will have no problem, just when the “Articorf” reaches the Atlantic and makes it possible.

Just sayin’.




ARCTIC SEA ICE –Not Too Early To Donate $20,000 To Fund My Barneo Trip–

I’m sure there are some who wouldn’t mind sending me away to a dangerous place where jets can occasionally land (in 2005) like this:

And I am equally certain some wouldn’t mind me residing in a base where the sea-ice occasionally cracks and leads form between the tents, like it did in 2010:

Nor would some mind having me aboard a jet whose landing gear collapses slamming down on a rough, blue-ice airstrip, (seen at the start of this 30 minute film from 2015) (There is some controversy about whatever happened to the jet, with cynics stating the Russians polluted the pristine waters by letting it sink when the sea-ice melted, and more sanguine sorts suggesting they disassembled it and removed it in pieces.)

Here’s a picture of the jet:


and here is where I discussed the jet’s fate:

In 2016 (last spring) the Russians had troubles with cracks forming in the runways, and needed to shift their entire airstrip. Here is a wonderful video of a landing on the cracked blue-ice airstrip from the cockpit of a jet.

However the real troubles last spring were political, and caused by the fact that one of the reasons for the Barneo base is to train soldiers. Norway decided to make it hard for the Russians to conduct flights from Svalbard right in the midst of operations that have a very tight schedule and small window (basically three to four weeks in April) to work within, which pissed off the Russians no end, and is to some degree described in these articles.

The upshot of the political squabble seems to be that the people of Svalbard have lost some tourism dollars, as the Russians have decided things will be easier if they stage operations from Franz Joseph Land. This will involve the logistics of building the infrastructure for tourism in a stark landscape that has not known tourism (at least in April) before, but the Russians seem untroubled, perhaps thinking that if they can serve cutlets at the Pole they can do the same in Franz Joseph Land.

I am fairly certain that, after a winter of putting up with me, and with cabin-fever setting in, my wife will be extremely appreciative if I can be sent to Franz Joseph Land this April.

The question is, of course, will there be a Barneo base this year, after all the smashing and crashing the Pole has undergone with weather patterns very “loopy” (IE Meridional), and the Pole looking like this last September.


The thing is that, even when the above satellite picture was taken last September, when sea-ice was at its minimum, temperatures had already dropped below -10°C at the Pole and the leads of open water were already freezing over. What the Russians will do is attempt to locate one of those chips of “baby-ice” in the above picture, (much larger than they look), which will be, by April, “second-year-ice,” and thick enough to land a jet upon. The problem is that the “chips” drift many miles from where they are in September, and by April are not so obvious, for the entire surface is frozen and covered by drifting snow, and to the uneducated looks like one, vast expanse of white. Locating the thicker ice isn’t easy.

Nor is the logistics of building a new base in Franz Joseph Land easy. However the Barneo Facebook page reports:

Irina Orlova, the chief operations officer of the Barneo Camp: “I would say the recent official trip to Arkhangelsk was successful: we took the first step on a long and thorny way of Barneo starting point relocation to Franz Josef Land. It’s well-known that the FJL archipelago forms part of Primorsky district of the Archangelsk governorate. That’s why we had to negotiate with the governorate officials. And now we have got support of all departments, considered several ways to unfold an expedition, and made a plan for the nearest future. So we are satisfied with the results of the trip.”

The various non-Russian tourism entities seem uncertain about whether they will be flying in from Svalbard or not, but still are courting customers. For example, here is “Quark” page:

and here is the “Polar Cruises” page:

Now, I’m just wondering if, while you are digging deep into your pockets to send me up there for three days,  you could find the extra generosity to send a friend of mine as well. I’m speaking of Roger Anderson, who is part of the University Of Washington NPEO program, who for 14 0f 15 years since 2000 gave us the luxury of being able to view the Pole via the North Pole Camera, but went unfunded last year, ( I think because the camera showed Truth and not enough ice melting, though I may just be being suspicious.)

In fact, when I think about it, just send Roger. If you send an old geezer like me to the Pole I’ll probably just get hypothermia or get eaten by a polar bear. Fund Roger, and we’ll get excellent pictures of sea-ice conditions all summer long.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –The Long Arm of the Ralph–Updated Friday Morning

Ralph is back at it at the Pole, fed by feeder bands of milder air brought up by the loopy jet stream. The most typical feeder band comes up from the Atlantic, but now I am starting to see signs of more unusual sources, taking more difficult routes. Also I am starting to notice it is not only the milder air that is drawn in, but colder streams are pushed around too, along with their accompanying blobs of high pressure.

It is very interesting to take the high view, and see the planet from the top down. I’m sure some see what occurs at the Pole as mere side effects of greater events further south, but I prefer to see Ralph as the boss and supreme controller of all weather, (even if I am seeing the tail wag the dog).

When I last posted we had seen the feeder band come up through the Canadian Archipelago, holding very moderated Atlantic air that came via the still unfrozen waters of Hudson Bay. Though chilled and I imagine somewhat dried, this air still managed to fuel the latest incarnation of Ralph, which weakened the high pressure over the Pole into a mere ridge. The flow was still largely north to south in the North Atlantic, preventing reinforcements of Ralph from that direction, but reinforcements did come north through the Archipelago.

By the next day the reinforcements arrived, rebuilding Ralph towards the Pole, and pushing the high pressure ridge further towards Scandinavia.

By afternoon the flow in Fram Strait was reversing, to south to north, and Atlantic reinforcements could sneak up the east coast of Greenland as a wrong-way-flow. Ralph was starting to draw mild air up from the Atlantic at the same time he was pulling very cold air off Siberia out over the Arctic Sea, and developing a cross-polar-flow from Siberia to Canada.

The next morning saw the cross-polar-flow pulling a large mass of cold air (high pressure) across Bearing Strait. The open waters there warmed a thin layer at the surface, but most of the cold crossed unscathed and the cold began building in Alaska.  The flow was still south-to-north in Fram Strait but north-to-south over Scandinavia. The cold pouring across from Asia is starting to cut off the supply of mild air through the Archipelago, but a new Atlantic stream was developing. A weak low was developing north of Iceland, but headed east and not north.

By the next day the weak low in the North Atlantic was starting to mess with Ralph’s supply of Atlantic air, but enough of that air had penetrated to create Ralph’s “signature” in the temperature map, (mildness hooking up towards the Pole from the Kara Sea). This milder stream is running side by side with bitter cold being drawn off Siberia by the cross-polar flow, and the clash between the two temperatures feeds Ralph. So much cold is pressing down over Alaska that it is pumping up high pressure.

Today the high pressure over Alaska has become so powerful it no longer is an effect of the pattern, and instead is starting to effect the pattern in a new and interesting way. The Pacific storms cannot move east into Alaska due to that high pressure, and instead are deflected north and then west, first up through East Siberia, and then backwards along the Eurasian Arctic coast. This may be the next feed for Ralph.

What is odd about this situation is that, if the Pacific storms send weak impulses west along the Eurasian coast, and Atlantic storms send weak impulses east along the same coast, somewhere in the middle you are going to have a complete mess. I’ll leave it to European meteorologists to figure it out. They seem good at figuring out maps that to me look like a hopeless tangle of fronts, troughs and occlusions.

Actually today’s UK Met map is remarkably simple. The above map shows the flow has switched back around to north-to-south in Fram Strait, and this is bringing a nice, neat cold front south in the North Atlantic.


However if you follow that cold front west you notice it becomes a warm front over Iceland. A weak low will form in that area and ripple across to Norway, to join the low stagnating over Sweden. Meanwhile the official Icelandic Low will spin its wheels far to the south of Greenland, but all the fronts associated with it will get kicked across the Atlantic and look like a bad hair day over Europe by Thursday.


Now this is a more typical European map, and is why European meteorologists are sometimes found writhing about on the floors of their offices in abject frustration.

I’ll simply over-simplify, as I find it makes life a whole lot easier.

For the time being the Icelandic low is going to wobble where it is, making it very hard for mildness from the Azores to stream north. Meanwhile a unnamed fixed-low will wobble to and fro between Scandinavia and the Kara Sea. On the far side of the Planet the fixed Aleutian Low won’t even be allowed east to the Aleutians, but rather looks like it will wobble back west to the Pacific Coast of Siberia, sending blobs of mildness north across East Siberia on one side, and pouring cold out over the Pacific on its southern side.

It will be interesting if mildness streams north over East Siberia, as that is often the coldest part of Asia. The anomaly maps will show cherry red, for in East Siberia temperatures of -10°C are still thirty degrees above normal. (The usual suspects will seize upon such cherry red maps, so be forewarned.)

What I will be watching for is these blobs of Pacific mildness to roll the wrong way, west along the Eurasian Arctic coast, and then perhaps to even swing north to the Pole as future incarnations of Ralph.

The headlines will be about that tremendous cold in Alaska heading south to afflict Canada and the USA, and I suspect I myself will soon be too busy removing snow to focus much on sea-ice. It looks like the true winter will arrive here in the Northeast of the USA next weekend.

Even if I don’t post I’ll be watching to see if our planet continues to squander its warmth via Ralph, which I see as a big drain at the top of the planet.

The last influx of heat, squandered via the Canadian Archipelago, only resulted in a slight spike in the DMI temperature graph, but that is because the temperature is so much above normal to begin with.  If the graph spiked up to current levels from the green line of normalcy it would give a quite different impression than the current graph’s plunge gives. The simple fact is our planet has brought a lot of mildness north, where it can do nothing but be lost to outer space.


If I have time I’ll update with maps of ice extent later.


I felt I should include today’s DMI maps, for they show the theory came true, and a blob of Pacific influence is moving the wrong way (west) along the Siberian coast to a rendezvous with a mess of low pressure milling around between Scandinavia and the Kara sea and Ralph, up at the Pole.

Despite the “signature” of Atlantic influence at the Pole, the Atlantic flow is very balked, not only by the position of the Icelandic Low well southeast of Greenland, but also by the small low scooting east towards Norway, right in the entrance region of flows from the Atlantic into the Arctic. However the “signature” does show some mildness did sneak past the barricades, and create an uptick in the DMI graph of temperatures north of 80 ° N latitude.


Of course one reason it can get milder at the Pole is because the cold has been exported elsewhere, and the above maps make it obvious the cold is pressing down, (because cold air is dense and sinks), and is creating an intimidating high pressure over Alaska and northern Canada. I use the word “intimidating” because the bitter cold might head south and bring misery to my neck of the woods. However I have a shred of hope it will all spill east, south of Greenland, and chill Atlantic Waters, rather than my humble life.

I should be more manly about the coming onslaught of winter. However I confess often I’d rather skip winter’s challenge to the status-quo. I find it rather upsetting when a tropical paradise like Hawaii has weather reports of three feet of snow, up at the tops of its volcanoes. I thought volcanoes were suppose to be hot!


However some status-quos deserve to be challenged. For example, Turks are beautiful and Kurds are beautiful, but rather than sitting about admiring each other’s beauty, they feel compelled to obey a status quo where they slaughter each other. I am rather glad to see such military operations balked by unexpected snows, displaced far south of normal by Ralph, up at the Pole.


Fifty years ago I used to trot off to school, where a nice fellow like myself ran up against an ugly status-quo wherein I got sneered at a lot, because I was not a star athlete nor a star scholar. I didn’t care a bit what the stars thought, nor what the teachers and coaches, who seemed to fawn ingratiatingly at star juveniles, thought. But I did care what the cheerleaders thought. When these big-bosomed women, a foot taller than I was at that time, sneered at my smallness, and preferred dopey athletes and dopey intellectuals to the marvelous wit of yours truly, I was deeply depressed, and wanted snow to shut things down. Back then, when snow cancelled school, it was a gift from God. I was freed from my daily humiliation, made unexpected coins by shoveling snow, and rather than a fool at school I was the neighborhood hero (because in my neighborhood most children were younger than I) by building the best igloo.

It is amazing what a difference a half-century makes. Now I run a Childcare, so now I am the guy who runs the school. Now I don’t want school cancelled, because it involves my income. Now I have to clear the snow away so the children can come to school. Once I loved snow, but now I hate it.  About the only thing that is the same is that, even after all these years, I am still the guy who builds the igloo. (But even that has changed, because now building igloos makes me sore from head to toe, where a half century ago it was about as hard as building a sand castle, and invigorated me.)

In any case, I wish the cold would stay up at the Pole, where cold belongs. I wish Ralph would just quit his whirling, and have the decency to fade quietly away.  No such luck, so far, this Autumn. But hopefully, when Winter comes, Winter will be different.

I am hinting at something, as I make the above comment. I am hinting that the politicized concept of Global Warming matters about as much to working people as a flea to an elephant, (when the flea is on the elephant’s toenail and can’t bite his hide). Real people have real stuff to deal with, and Global Warming is last on their list.

I have now spent over a decade debating Global Warming fanatics. Increasingly it seems a complete waste of my time. Increasingly it becomes obvious they don’t really care what is actually happening, up at the Pole, and down at lower latitudes, and in terms of snow-cover, and in terms of sea-ice. Such things are wonderful, but they don’t care about what is wonderful, and prefer not to deal with the world of wonder. They have their minds made up. Science is settled. They have the universe figured out. Einstein was stupid, compared to their certainty.

What complete dopes. The scam has been obvious since Climategate. This cartoon is from 2009.


In any case, here are the maps of sea-ice concentration and sea-ice thickness. Despite Ralph’s appetite for inflows of mild air, the sea-ice goes right on expanding. Bering Strait grew ice swiftly when the cold was streaming from Siberia to Alaska, but I expect the ice-growth to slow there, now that Ralph seems hungry for Pacific air. Hudson Bay was protected by a former inflow, but I expect it to rapidly skim over because of the enormous high pressure of bitter cold building over Canada. (Until Hudson Bay does freeze over expect to see crimson on temperature anomaly maps over its waters, which will be warming a thin layer of air at the surface.)

Kara Sea is swiftly freezing up, and Franz Josef Land, which was completely surrounded by water when Ralph’s mild feed was heading north there, is now completely surrounded by ice.





This morning’s map shows the “official” Ralph fading away north of Greenland, but his “signature continuing to be very apparent, hooking up over the Pole. (Keep in mind that the “milder air” just over the Pole is between -15°C and -20°C.) However what is most interesting to me is what I suppose I should call a “Pacific Signature”, poking north (down) through Bering Strait. Some models show this surge of mild air fueling a second wrong-way storm, moving west along the north coast of Siberia, in the coming days.  It will be interesting to watch this polar invasion, though I think the media will largely be focused on that bitter cold over Canada sending arctic outbreaks south into the USA for the next 15 days.


Things are getting so interesting that I might see if I can find the time for a new post, in which case this is just notes for that post.

The most noticeable feature on the map is the enotmous high pressure that has built over Canada, and has bulged a ridge all the way south to Texas. (That is why ranchers in the northern plains of Texas brag, during a “blue norther”, “There’s nothing between here and the North Pole ‘cept a couple of stands of barbed wire.”) However it makes the Pole warmer to export that arctic blast, in this case because a mild “feeder band” is being drawn north through Bering Strait, along with weak bulges of low pressure, which interest me because they seem to be becoming the next “Ralph” at the Pole.  In the map below one has weakened, but dents the isobars by the Pole, and a second is bulging north on the coast of the East Siberian Sea.

This morning’s shows little change. Very cold air is venturing north in the Laptev Sea, clashing with the Pacific air coming in through Bering straight, which should fuel a path for the second Pacific low. The real culprit at this point is the Aluetian Low, at about 1:00 on the edge of the map. It has been suppressed west by the huge high over Alaska, and is actually slightly inland in Asia.

The mild air being pushed north through Bering Strait is below freezing, but far above the usual frigid temperatures seen in East Siberia. It shows up very nicely in the temperature anomaly maps produced by Dr. Ryan Maue over at the Weatherbell Site. The anomaly is so great it is not merely “cherry red”, or even “white hot,” but downright peachy.hula-1-gfs_t2m_anom_arctic_1

Now watch where that “heat” heads in the next two maps, (24 hour forecast and 48 hour forecast.)


You can see a “Ralph signature” swirl starting to show, so lets switch over and look at Dr. Maue’s surface-pressure-and-wind maps for, 24, 48, 74 and 96 hours. Does Ralph reappear at the Pole?




Well bust my sprockets!  Thar he blows!  But actually I’d expect a low to form with so much heat transported to the cold Pole. What could the air do but rise? (And consequently lose all that heat to outer space).

For those of you who are more interested in the boring subject of weather further south, notice what happens behind Ralph. The isobars stop coming north through Bering Strait and instead indicate a cross-polar-flow crossing from Siberia to Canada. (To me this indicates the current blast of cold afflicting North America will not be a one-shot-deal, but will involve a second blast.)

I’m more interested in what becomes of Ralph once the Pacific winds stop rushing north through Bering Strait. He will be cut off, and likely have to stop dancing about in that ridiculous hula skirt he wears, when Pacific air is involved. Will he simply fade away? Or will he pull off another reincarnation?

Stay tuned.


The high pressure over northern Canada is disgorging its cold south. This will rob the Arctic of its reservoir of cold, and that high pressure indeed looks weaker, from our top-down view. The Aleutian feeder-band, sucked around the top of that  band, has made it all the way to the shores of the Canadian Archipelago, and as it clashes with cold air lodged there it seems a surprise version of “Ralph” is forming. This took me by surprise, as I’ve been watching that low rolling west along the Siberian Coast.

Besides this important stuff, up where nobody lives, there is the small matter of the arctic air pouring down from the Canadian Archipelago to Texas and effecting hundreds of millions of folk. This only concerns us sea-ice fanatics because the Arctic is being robbed blind of its cold air.


I suppose this blast is of interest, as it rushes over Hudson Bay which is not yet frozen, though it it starting to freeze at the top. Last year it was nearly more than half frozen at this date. (2015 to left, 2016 to right.)

It is interesting to note that, while Hudson Bay is refreezing more slowly than last year, the cold air pouring into the Pacific from Siberia has the Sea of Okhotsk freezing more swiftly.

As Hudson Bay chills it swiftly warms the arctic air passing over it, with further heat robbed via the process of evaporation. This warms areas downwind of the Bay, and also the Great Lakes, as can be seen in this Dr. Maue map of temperatures.


While this warming effect may concern a few millions in the Northeast of the USA, a true sea-ice fanatic is primarily concerned with Hudson Bay’s rate of refreeze. I am particularly concerned because I stuck my foolish neck out and bet a nickle it would be frozen by Christmas.


By next Wednesday the robbery of arctic cold will have bone-chilling air pouring into the USA. (This is a anomaly-map of temperatures next Wednesday a bit higher up in the atmosphere, at the 850 mb level.)


Of interest in this map is not the records being set in boring old USA, but the counter flow roaring up towards the north of Hudson Bay. (I suppose I should be interested because that warm flow seems to pass over my house and keep me from the chill, at least until Thusrday). Also of interest is the warmer-than-normal air persisting up towards Bering Strait.

This seems a continuation of the topsy-turvy pattern where the Pole may be milder than normal, but lower latitudes get their socks frozen off.

When the arctic surges south on the American side, Europe often gets a break, and indeed the Dr. Maue temperature-anomaly map of Europe shows them milder than normal, except to the southeast:


However despite the mildness in Europe and East Siberia, plenty of arctic air lurks in the center of Asia, especially in Western Russia. If I was European I’d keep an eye on the cold over Russia, and keep my guard up.  Winter hasn’t officially even started yet, and I have a hunch this could be a winter when both sides of the Northern Hemisphere get hammered. Here is a Dr. Maue map showing how far below normal the temperatures are over Western Russia:


Of course, Europe doesn’t matter much to a true sea-ice fanatic. Keep your eyes peeled for feeder-bands heading north to Ralph, for Ralph is the real “polar vortex”, (no matter what you may hear about the big arctic trough hitting the USA next week).



ARCTIC SEA ICE –The Surge Snipped–

The Pole continues to make for interesting theater, though the drama has died down from what it was a week ago, when temperatures were soaring to 35 degrees above normal and the ice at the north edge of Barents Sea was retreating. Fueling this weather was a strong south wind from the Atlantic that at times pushed right past the Pole towards the Pacific, thus confusing everybody, because a south wind became a north wind without changing direction.  This flow achieved its peak around November 14:

By November 16 the flow was pushing an Atlantic low and its secondary up through Fram Strait, whereupon, due to the strict laws of this website, they are automatically dubbed “Ralph”. The southerly flow, while remaining southerly, had swung east, and was now coming less off the Atlantic and more off shore from Europe, but it nearly was able to push above-freezing temperatures to the Pole.

So strong was this flow that the sea-ice, which usually is expanding south as a thin sheet of ice, was pushed north by strong wind until it was briefly well north of Franz Josef Land, and unable to refreeze because temperatures were above freezing in that area. This produced a brief and unusual dip in the ice “extent”graph, which usually is rocketing upwards at this time of year. However the ice swiftly grew back down to Franz Josef Lands’s north coast as conditions began to change, and the graph resumed its upward climb.


The surge from the south had raised eyebrows by raising temperatures to unprecedented levels (in a history that goes back 58 years).


However my eyebrows were raised by the steep decline that followed.


This interested me because, whereas other places can get colder air from lands further north, there is no place north of the North Pole. Therefore it must get cold air imported from colder tundra to the south, but I didn’t see any strong flow from such tundras. This meant the cold must instead be home grown. Or, to put it more scientifically, the heat was lost locally, radiated upwards into the unending winter night.

Still, it seemed odd to me that the warm southerly flow should just turn off like a spigot. My curiosity sought reasons, for the cessation was obvious as early as November 17, because the first and second lows, following a storm track straight north to the Pole, (incarnations of “Ralph”), weakened with surprising speed. It was as if they were cut off from their warm inflow of mild, moist air, while the third storm in the sequence came to a dead halt and refused to head north, and just sat off the coast of Norway and twiddled its thumbs, remaining fairly strong.

I wondered if the stalled low off Norway might be consuming all the available energy, but this didn’t satisfy me, for the isobars in the above map still indicate a strong flow from the south. Why wasn’t the warmth heading out over arctic waters? The temperature anomaly map still showed the above-normal temperatures moving north in central Europe, but then being bent east at the top. What was stopping the import of heat north to the Pole?


I’d likely still be mystified, but dawn broke on Marblehead when I visited Joseph D’Aleo’s blog over at the Weatherbell Site, and during the course of one of his elegant descriptions of complex situations he turned on the light-bulb in my noggin.

Just as a meandering stream straightens its course from time to time, cutting across the neck of a loop and leaving an oxbow lake behind


So too can a loopy jet stream decide to straighten up its act, and the “surge” was part of a loopy jet:


When a jet straightens up it act, the cut off part of the stream is not called an “oxbow”, but rather a “cut off”, (which shows that meteorologists are occasionally more sensible than geologists).  By November 23 the upper air maps showed the “cut off low” was sitting down over Spain. Over Spain a large part of the surge was no longer heading north, but caught up and going around and around and around, like a taxpayer caught up in a bureaucracy.


You will notice that at the top of the above map the jet is basically zooming west to east. The surge from the south has vanished, making a mess of all my forecasts that calculated the surge would move east this far one day, and this far further east the next. The surge simply disappeared, or at the very least fell over and surged west to east. It was confusing. (Actually the same thing happens when I straighten up my own act. It confuses people who depend on me to be loopy.)  In any case, this morning’s surface map had a reflection of the cut-off-low stalled over Spain, but what about the North Atlantic low? It will plow west-to-east across Scandinavia in the jet, nothing like the lows that headed straight north, last

The tipped over surge can be seen giving some relief to central Asia in the temperature maps.


In the anomaly map the west-to-east surge looks like an arrow, making a layer cake out of the map (to mix my metaphors). The old cold is to the south, still capable of generating a few headlines, but likely to be slowly moderated out of existence. The new cold is along the top, and likely needs to be watched, for it seems likely to be a lasting feature. The “surge” itself seems likely to linger but weaken, but will remain interesting to watch.  At the very least it will give some Asians a break, after they have been through an autumn colder than some winters.


But this is all off the point, which was (in case you can’t remember), that the mild air is not surging up to the Pole any more, and that the vast pool of mild air that was transported up there is slowly cooling, day by day.

I should note that Joseph D’Aleo mentioned that when a jet really gets roaring west to east it can act downright human. (After humans have straightened out their act, what tends to happen next? Answer: Their resolve buckles.) In like manner, we should be on our toes, watching for where the jet will next buckle, and get all loopy, (like a human falling off the wagon after keeping a New Year’s resolution as long as they can bear it).   However, for the time being, up at the Pole, “Ralph” has little hope of reinforcements from the Atlantic.

Not that “Ralph” has vanished completely. Largely he has retreated to the Canadian Archipelago, as high pressure dominates the Arctic. At the end of my last post there actually was a small ghost of Ralph by the Pole, and hint of Ralph’s “signature” in the temperature map, hooking mildness towards the Pole, despite the power of the expanding high pressure. (See the tiny low by the Pole?)

The next day Ralph’s ghost was just a dent in the high pressure’s isobars. Freezing temperatures had snuck down to the northeast coast of Svalabard.


The next dawn Ralph, like all good ghosts, was vanishing, because that is what ghosts do at dawn. (If you you squint you can still see a microscopic low under the Pole.) The only real import of air towards the Pole was from central Siberia.

The following dawn saw an odd dimple in the high pressure’s isobars, on the Canadian side. It looked like (if you use your imagination) a face, that the ghost of Ralph had punched. Freezing temperatures were engulfing Svalbard. By evening the ghost of Ralph reappeared, (as good ghosts do at dark), just north of the Canadian Archipelago.

Today saw the freezing isotherm slump well south of Svalbard, and Ralph retreat and regroup north of Canada. Models are suggesting Ralph will soon start attacking the Pole from the Canadian side, though with colder air than before. The North Atlantic flow is totally from the north, and Scandinavia looks likely to get a dose of north winds.

The north winds are allowing the sea-ice to build south again where the “surge” had forced it to retreat, in the north part of Barents Sea, and sea-ice is again touching the north coast of Franz Josef Land. There was also a slight reduction on the Pacific side, due to strong south winds and a brief mild inflow a week ago, but that has been more than made up for by regrowth, which has now engulfed Wrangle Island.


A major difference from last year is that Hudson Bay was half skimmed-over last year, and the refreeze hasn’t even started this year. I think this will soon change. The Bay’s waters are shallow, and it tends to freeze over with remarkable speed, which contributes to the speed of the growth of the “extent” graph.  I’ll bet a nickle the Bay is entirely frozen by Christmas.

Even though the flow from central Siberia has been weak, it appears to have nudged the thicker ice just off shore, in the Laptev Sea. Watch for the formation of polynyas along the shore there, for that is indicative of the export of ice into the Central Arctic Basin.

Baffin Bay is swiftly icing over, but remains behind last year’s rate of growth..

The Kara Sea’s sea-ice shrank back before the “surge”, but that sea has since swiftly grown sea-ice on its eastern side.

The reversing winds have seen multi-year ice start down through Fram Strait, along the east coast of Greenland, but the ice down towards the coast opposite Iceland in Denmark Strait is largely home grown.


I’m not sure how it is possible, but some models see a colder version of Ralph moving up from Canada to regain complete control of the Pole in a week to ten days. Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –El Norte Nina–

Bob Tisdale posted this animation over at WUWT., at this post:

Something to Keep an Eye On – The Large Blue Ribbon of Below-Normal Sea Surface Temperatures in the North Pacific

The animation shows how the cold air draining off the Pole into Siberia didn’t only move west to Europe, but also spilled east into the North Pacific, dramatically cooling the waters over the past month.


You can see the modest La Nina extending off the west coast of South America, and also the “Warm Blob” shrinking and being pressed up against the coast of Alaska. However the cold water hasn’t been named, so I’ll call it the La Nina of the North, or “El Norte Nina”.

It will be interesting to see how long El Norte Nina lasts. I imagine it is a wrench in the works of long term winter forecasts, likely based upon the “Warm Blob”. If it persists it will likely represent an end to the “warm spike” in the PDO, and a return to a cold PDO, just as I forecast.  I forecast it two years ago, and it didn’t happen, and I forecast it last year, and it didn’t happen, but now, at long last, the blind squirrel finds the nut.

(Actually there was a warm spike in the cold PDO of the 1950’s, and I was imagining the current warm spike would behave the same way, and last the same length of time. Fail. The current situation is unique, and the warm spike was far more powerful and lasted longer.)

The El Norte Nina fits nicely into my idea that we can’t have all the mild air rushing north to fuel the low pressure “Ralph” at the Pole, without having an exit route for all that air, bringing cold down to sub-polar regions. This year Eurasia has experienced a bitterly cold autumn, “unprecedented” in some places. I’ve been waiting for this autumnal pattern to flip into a winter pattern, but so far it is hanging tough. The map below shows the cold over Eurasia, with the cold pouring east into the Pacific over Japan. Of interest is the slot of warmth in the upper left. It is due to the latest incarnation of Ralph, which formed off the northeast tip of Greenland and crossed the Pole on the Atlantic side, finally crashing down into Eastern Russia. It’s odd when the “mild” air comes from the Pole, but that is how topsy-turvy  the pattern is.


Looking ahead to next Tuesday, Mongolia gets a respite, but the cold  gets incredible over central Russia, with temperatures forecast to be 35 degrees below normal. It looks like cold air is continuing to spill east over Japan, which likely would continue to fuel El Norte Nina.


To me this suggests another surge of mildness should be heading up to the Pole. So we first look at the current GFS anomaly map (produced by Dr. Ryan Maue over at the Weatherbell site [week free trial offered]).


Things indeed are mild up there, but not as mild as they are forecast to be next Tuesday.


Indeed, just as temperatures are 35 degrees below normal down in Siberia and Kazakhstan, they are 35 above at the Pole. In a few cases they may even be a bit above freezing, and I expect that will generate the usual hoop-la from the usual suspects. The DMI temperature-north-of-80°-latitude map will likely show yet another up-spike, perhaps even higher than the last one.


There will be further hoop-la about such a spike, and I feel there should be, but not because I feel the planet is warming. I feel it demonstrates our planet is spending heat like a drunken sailor, and will face one heck of a hangover in the morning, (the “morning” being midwinter.)

The next surge of warmth will come from the Atlantic and in some ways will be a repeat of where we left off last time I posted. Back then (November 7) an Atlantic-to-Pacific cross-polar-flow was bringing a spike of milder temperatures north of Greenland. (Ralph’s “signature”)

Besides creating a wrong-way-flow in Fram Strait, the rising mild air fueled yet another incarnation of Ralph himself.

Rather than heading up to the Pole, Ralph headed over to the Kara Sea, and I was thinking maybe the pattern was changing a little, and Ralph was merely a North Atlantic storm that happened to be displaced way, way, way to the North. I watched for high pressure to build at the Pole.

The high pressure did build, but the flow in Fram Strait remained a wrong-way flow, and that can lead to the reappearance of Ralph’s “signature.” And indeed today’s map shows a weak signature north of Greenland, and a weak Atlantic-to-Pacific cross-polar-flow starting, right where I was thinking high pressure might build. And….what is that dent of low pressure over the Pole? No! Not the ghost of Ralph, haunting me!

This really is a remarkable pattern, and a lot of fun to watch. I was expecting a pattern flip, and I guess El Norte Nina fits the bill. Not that I was expecting it to happen so quickly, (though I did say it would happen quickly, back in 2014), but I’ll call it a correct forecast, because I’m not able to say I’m right all that often, and even a blind squirrel wants a pat on the back every once in a while.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 98 years ago, the guns stopped shooting and silence descended over Flanders Field. People really did believe men had fought the war to end all wars, and mankind would never be so foolish ever again. Alas, Hitlers arise, and some men must leave warm homes to defend us. May God bless them, and may God save us from ourselves.