ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Shift in the Drift–

Last post I talked about my yearning to see the Russian records of how the sea-ice drifted, in the cases of their 41 Arctic Ocean Bases, going all the way back to  1937, (as well as the 14 Barneo floating tourist-traps for the ober-wealthy, since 2002.).  Unfortunately such information is in some ways “top secret”, (in terms of industrial espionage, if not military). Because of this hidden record-keeping some shifts in the flow of sea-ice are described as “unprecedented” when in fact they have been seen before. The Russians themselves described two general flows of the sea-ice, translated as “circular” and “wash out”, yet the more political side of NOAA made a big deal of a change in the flow during the very-low-sea-ice year of 2012:

If that shift-in-the-drift was a sure sign of Global Warming, as certain Alarmists suggested when the above video was published in 2012, then surely the shift-in-the-drift away from that pattern to what we see now must refute Global Warming. Except it doesn’t. Alarmists either have very short attention spans, or have such overpowering confirmation-bias they’re blinded, or perhaps both.

The current drift is shown by the movement of the Polarstern and MOSAiC expedition, and is quite like the movement of Nansen’s ship “Fram” 130 years  earlier. (Blue line is the Fram after it was lodged in sea-ice).

This similarity is a little embarrassing for Alarmists, (especially when NOAA was stating currents had dramatically changed, only eight years ago). Fortunately for Alarmists, the Polarstern is moving much faster than the Fram did, and likely will cross a similar distance in perhaps only a third of the time it took the Fram. This can be used to suggest that the sea-ice is more “rotten” and that there is less of it, which may well be the case. (Although it may also be that the Polarstern is in the middle of the Transpolar Drift, while the Fram was closer to the Eurasian coast and may have been slowed by a counter-current which runs close to the coast.)

I tend to look about for other reasons the sea-ice may have been thicker in Nansen’s time. One thing that many have noticed is that the sun was “quieter” back then, if you look over the previous five decades. Nansen sailed the Fram at the end of sunspot cycle 13.

The very high sunspot totals (and low number of “spotless” days) of cycles 18 through 23 represent a time our Sun was quite energetic and pouring extra heat on the planet. Though we are now returning to quiet conditions, the arctic is currently still cooling from the warmer times which are called “The Modern Maximum”.  In Nansen’s day, however, the arctic was warming. In fact the high totals of “spotless days” before Nansen sailed are likely not as impressive as they look in the above graph, when you compare the above upward blip with the greater Dalton Minimum which preceded it, and the Dalton was preceded by the Maunder Minimum which is even more impressive. As measured by Carbon 14 in tree rings,  the energy of the “Modern Maximum” is especially impressive. (The graph below ends with the year 1950.)

I can’t help but wonder if Nansen and the Fram were sailing in an Arctic Ocean which “remembered” far colder times, whereas the MOSAiC scientists and the Polarstern are sailing in an Arctic Ocean which “remembers” warmer times, though those warmer times are now over.

Therefore I have a confirmation bias all my own. I am keeping a sharp look-out for changes which shift away from the lower ice-extents of the present to the higher extents of the past. For there can be little doubt the sun has gone quiet.

(Above from Joseph D’Leo’s blog on the Weatherbell Site.)

As my confirmation-bias looks for increases in sea-ice I often see the exact opposite of what I expect, because my thinking is too simplistic. Some of the ways the planet responds to a “quieter” sun are not what you would expect, and are counter-intuitive. Here are two I’ve mentioned in past posts:

First, you’d think less energy from the sun would make air colder and therefore drier, but instead the air gets warmer and moister, because the surface of the sea is warmer and more moisture evaporates. How can this be? I think this occurs because less energy from the sun also makes the winds less, and without strong Trade Winds the very cold waters can’t up-well along west-facing coasts as surface waters are blown off-shore. Therefore the first response to a “quiet” sun would be warmer seas (and El Ninos) and moister, milder air.  And Indeed the El Ninos have been strong and the La Ninos a bit feeble recently, and to this day the planet looks above normal at the equator.

However such warmth draws upon the bank account of the past, robbing from Peter to pay Paul, and there are indications that, in the Pacific, it is superficial, and is currently being eroded away from below:

Only when the cold water reaches the surface and a La Nina occurs is my bias confirmed.

Second, one would think a “quiet” sun would immediately create more sea-ice in the Arctic Sea, but in terms of an important component it creates less.

The captains of icebreakers in the arctic keep a sharp lookout for “biggy bergs”, which are different from sea-ice of the same size and thickness. When an icebreaker nudges against typical sea-ice seven feet thick the sea-ice is a conglomerate, made of a multitude of thinner slabs, and the bow of the icebreaker finds it easy to break apart the many smaller slabs. However when a seven feet thick section of ice has broken from a glacier, it is rock solid, and the icebreaker gets quite a jar, meeting a “biggie berg”, even if the icebreaker doesn’t sink like the Titanic.

What is interesting about “biggy bergs” is that they are more common when the arctic is warming, and are few and far between when the arctic is cooling. And every Alarmist knows why: Warming causes glaciers to calve more. When times get colder the glaciers stop calving, and extend out to sea more, in some cases becoming shelves of ice.

During the “Modern Maximum” some of the big shelves created by the “Maunder Minimum” broke off, creating handy platforms for the spy-vs-spy bases of Americans (for example “Fletcher’s Ice Island”) and Russians  (for example the basement of their base “NP 22”, which was occupied more than eight years.) However, besides these large “ice islands”, which are few and far between, there are a great many “biggy bergs” deposited into the arctic ocean from glaciers that face north, and whose calving ice is not swept south in Baffin Bay or south along the east coast of Greenland, and instead bobs about in the Arctic Ocean along with more ordinary, conglomerated sea-ice, which is formed yearly by winter cold.

To me it seems “biggy bergs” must have an influence on both “volume” and “extent” of sea-ice, and it seems counter intuitive to me that the colder it gets the less they are seen (because north-facing glaciers cease calving them as it gets colder).

There is a third counter-intuitive thing happening I haven’t yet been able to put my finger on. All I know is that once again my confirmation bias has been sat backwards onto its butt. It has to do with how fast the Polarstern has been progressing across the Pole, and what this means in terms of Svalbard. With so much sea-ice rushing towards Fram Strait, by April 1 sea-ice surrounded Svalbard to levels I’ve never before seen.

The build up of sea-ice around Svalbard is a little embarrassing for Alarmists, for a few years ago the situation was reversed, and south winds had pushed the sea-ice north of Svalbard even on its eastern side, which is relatively rare, and which Alarmists took to be a sign of Global Warming (and the doom of cute baby polar bears).  Now the sea-ice has returned with a vengeance, as have the highly adaptable bears (though hopefully the bears feel no vengeance).

Alarmists likely want to look away from Svalbard, but actually should take heart, for the “second lowest sea-ice extent evah”, in 2007, was achieved largely because a great deal of sea-ice was flushed south through Fram Stait. (Sea-ice south of Fram Strait is doomed to melt in southern waters).

(The site “Polar Bear Science” has a good post on the recent high sea-ice Svalbard situation here:)

Highest Svalbard sea ice since 1988 with Bear Island in the south surrounded

The problem with comparing the situation now with 2007 is that…well…it isn’t the same. That is what is troubling me, and I can’t quite put my finger upon.

Some things are similar: For example 2007 was also close to the minimum of a sunspot cycle, however 2007 was coming off a high maximum while we are now coming off one of the lowest maximums in the past 200 years. Also 2007 was at the heart of the “warm” AMO, while there are indicators suggesting we are now at the very end of the “warm” AMO.  Lastly, while Alarmists like to show decreasing sea-ice by starting their charts in the high sea-ice year of 1979, even their charts show things bottomed out around 2006-2007, and there has even been a slight rise, if you begin the “trend line” at that time rather than at 1979. For example, here is graph for extents in the month of March.

March 2020 average graph 1979-2020 NSIDC

You can’t help but notice the extent is now higher than 2006.

However what was most puzzling to me on April 1 was the sea-ice to the west of Svalbard. That should make any sea-ice geek quirk an eyebrow, for that area is nearly always free of sea-ice. That is where the Fram popped out into open water after crossing the Pole, 1893-1896, and that is where Willem Barentsz “discovered” Svalbard (Vikings likely were there earlier) in 1596. The water is usually open there because a northernmost tendril of the Gulf Stream, the West Spitsbergen Current, bounces off the coast of Norway and heads a little west of due north, entering the Arctic Sea on the east side of Fram Strait.  This current usually has a very impressive ability to melt sea-ice.  I have witnessed strong west winds push large masses of sea-ice across Fram Strait, and seen (in satellite photos) the entire mass of ice shrink and vanish in a few days. But this year hasn’t seen that. What the heck?

My guess is that the WSC (that is what we true geeks call the West Spitsbergen Current) has been cooled this year by the powerful storms we (last winter) saw not stall by Iceland (as is more ordinary) but remain huge into Barents Sea and even the Kara Sea. When such “Icelandic Lows” stay by Iceland, surges of mild air are brought north, sometimes all the way from the balmy Azores, on the storm’s east side. But, when the storms are displaced east, as they were this year, the same waters get north winds on the gale’s west side. This year we saw the waters that hold the WSC blasted by north winds gusting to hurricane force, with waves up to forty feet tall. Not only would this churn and chill the WSC, but it would physically transport the water at the very surface of the current in the wrong direction.

This moves us into an interesting topic, if you are a true geek, involving a sort of water budget.  It must be balanced. The water entering the Pole must be balanced by by water leaving the Pole. The WSC entering the Pole is more than matched by, on the far side of Fram Strait, the very cold EGC (East Greenland Current). More water leaves the Pole by sea than enters by sea, for evaporation is low due to sea-ice and cold temperatures, and much extra water enters via some of the world’s biggest rivers, as well as glaciers.

What is most fascinating is the fact various currents often (but not always) keep their identity as they travel around under the sea-ice. Water from the south tends to be saltier, but is made less salty as it melts sea-ice, yet can still be identified as a separate current.  Some currents dive beneath other currents, because the buoyancy of a current is determined by its salinity and its temperature, which are always changing. When waters are quiet, undisturbed by storms under ice, they can stratify into various layers, with each layer part of an identifiable current. Therefore the WSC, after passing through Fram Strait, forks into the Yerkmak and Svalbard branches, which can be traced all the way around the Pole until they exit as the RAC (Return Atlantic Current) which heads south in the middle of Fram Strait between the Colder and less salty  EGC heading south to the west and the milder and saltier WSC heading north to the east.

To make things either more interesting or more annoying, (depending on your temperament), is that, when you return the following year, things may have changed. For example, the WSC may have three other branches (perhaps more) besides the Yermak and Svalbard branches, but they are not seen every year.

In my humble opinion the study of such currents, and the way they change, is very important. Why? Because they set up certain areas of sea-surface-temperatures (such as the “warm blob” in the Pacific) which have been seen to have a major influence on the route taken by atmospheric jet-streams, which can determine things such as which-crops-are-wisest-to-plant-where.

One such change is the shift in the AMO from “warm” to “cold”, which we know little about because the last time it occurred satellites had barely been invented. It involves some major shifts-in-the-drifts which we will in many ways be seeing for the first time (by satellite, at least). The scant records we have from the past indicate the changes are major. For example, the prime fishing grounds for herring can shift hundreds of miles.

The above newspaper article from 1922 describes how swift and dramatic the change from a “cold” to “warm” AMO was around Svalbard, however it took more than a decade for the warming to start reaching the Russian coast and making the Northeast Passage more passable. (It was fortunate the sea-ice was still low when Hilter invaded Russia, for the British learned it was suicide to attempt to send Russia supplies via the arctic routes during the broad daylight of summer, and despite Stalin’s objections the British only dared do it in the darkness of arctic winter. Had sea-ice been more formidable then supplying Russia might have failed and Hitler might have succeeded.) But, to return to my point,  I assume the change back from “warm” to “cold” might also be swift and dramatic, and might also be first seen around Svalbard.

One major element of the shift-in-the-drift involves a simple fact: Cold water sinks. When the EGC brings cold water south along the east coast of Greenland it stays at the surface because the shallow continental shelf keeps it from sinking, and also to some degree by the fact less saline water is more bouyant than more-saline water, even if it is colder. However down around the latitude of Iceland the bottom falls, and so does much of the EGC.  In a manner that makes niagra falls look like a trickle, humongous amounts of cold water plunge to the ocean’s abyss, and seemingly such cold loses all ability to influence the surface.  But does it?

Allow me to subject you to a simple thought-experiment. Imagine a large box of water is plunged downwards. What will this do to waters at the surface, and what will this do to the waters beneath?

At the surface it is obvious that waters must rush in to replace the water that sinks. But what determines whether it will be warm water rushing up from the south, or cold water rushing down from the north?  History hints both have happened, and that what determines the flows of waters is as varied as what determines the flows of air on a surface weather map. But, on occasions when the flow of waters is increased from the north, the EGC transports south cold water that refuses to sink, called sea-ice. This sea-ice at the surface can change the temperature of sea-surface water hundreds of miles further to the south, changing air temperatures and the weather of lands downwind, and also causing more waters to chill and sink.

Beneath the sinking cold waters is the abyss, which we know little about. However we do know water can’t compress, and when water presses down from above the water beneath must move to make room. Some of this movement is explained by deep sea currents. However such currents are very slow, nor do they vary much. When a charge of bitter cold arctic air causes much more cold water to sink, the deep sea currents don’t speed up, (as far as I know, at this time.)  Therefore things are not adding up. When water presses down from above room must be made for it, but where is the room made?

Two ideas have occurred to me. One idea is that room is made by bulging the thermocline upwards, but this bulge would become a sort of wave moving away through the thermocline like the ripple from a splash, an undersea phenomenon which as far as I know is undocumented, but which, if it did exist, would have some effect when the wave hit a distant coast. A second idea is that, just as when you push a brake pedal an immediate effect is seen in rear brakes far from the actual pedal, when cold waters sink south of Fram Strait, an immediate up-welling effect might be seen in some place far away, because water can’t be compressed. I am well aware this second idea is outlandish, but is it as outlandish as this: (?)

Patient, hard-working scientists have mapped the slow currents of the abyss, and to some degree have mapped the undersea rivers which connect where waters sink and where up-welling brings deep waters back up. Yet none of these rivers ends at the biggest up-welling, off the coast of Peru, which is part and parcel of the switch from El Nino to La Nina.

Thermohaline circulation - Energy Education

Only recently have maps started to include a branch of the thermohaline circulation past the coast of Peru, but this shows a warm surface current and not the cold up-welling so vital to the creation of La Nina’s (and to the fisheries of Peru.)


The generally accepted idea is that the up-welling off the coast of Peru is caused by strong offshore Trade Winds blowing from South America westward into the Pacific. These winds blow the warm surface water towards Australia, which causes cold, nutrient-filled waters to be drawn up from the depths to replace the displaced surface water.  The problem with the idea is that the up-welling has a degree of independence from the wind. At times the up-welling can even occur before the increase in the Trade Winds, in which case the colder water appears to be causing the increase as much as the increase causing the colder waters. This has two effects. First, it makes El Ninos and La Ninas notoriously hard to forecast, and second, it allows madmen like myself to suggest that pushing water down in Fram Strait can cause water to up-well off the coast of Peru.

In any case the shift-in-the-drift off the coast of Peru has major repercussions, in terms of the world’s weather, just as the shift-in-the-drift in the North Atlantic associated with the switch of the AMO from “warm” to “cold” has major repercussions, in terms of the world’s weather. Such major repercussions are interconnected in ways we do not yet understand. Inquiring minds want to know. Scientists state “further study is needed”, holding out a cupped palm for money.

In my opinion the late Bill Gray’s desire for funding to better understand thermohaline circulation was intuitive genius, while Al Gore’s petty prevention of such funding was the initial travesty which has seen Global Warming politics befoul science. Money which could have been wisely used to further our understanding has been redirected to political hacks. Things important to study have been neglected to study the incidental. Not that I have anything against the study of polar bears, but bears can’t determine which crops to plant in Kansas, while the shift-in-the-drift can.

In order to redirect funding in unproductive ways, politicians always seem to need to invent a crisis, whether it be acid rain, or ozone holes, or global warming, or a corona virus pandemic. The problem is that when you are too unproductive you wind up broke.

End Rant.

In any case it will be interesting to watch the sea-ice in the North Atlantic as the winter gales die down and the quieter summer weather arrives. For five years now the two long-term measuring points of the Norwegan Current, which feeds into Barents Sea, have been noting a decline in water temperatures:

Sea-ice extent is within two standard deviations from normal, and high for recent years, though still low.

DMI 200424 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

Both the Kara and Laptev Seas have seen a lot of sea-ice exported north into the Central Arctic this winter, and thin baby-ice now skims them, so I expect a fair amount of Alarmist hoop-la to occur when they become ice-free this summer. This may be reflected in a plunge in the extent graph, as they melt. However the hoopla may then die down as the extent graph flattens, as other parts of the Arctic Ocean see sea-ice more stubborn. If the PDO remains in its “cold” phase it will be especially interesting to see if sea-ice remains stubborn north of Bering Strait.

The “volume” graph is currently very low for this time of year, likely due to the thin ice in the Laptev and Kara Seas, and also due to an incapacity inherent in measuring the volume of pressure ridges, which are numerous in the Central Arctic due to all the sea-ice transported north from the Kara and Laptev Seas. I expect the “volume” graphs to become more normal later in the summer, when pressure ridges tend to crumble and spread out, and be included more easily in the totals.

The MOSAiC expedition is now experiencing 24 hour daylight, and I am enjoying the pictures I crave, which have been sorely missed since the camera-buoys stopped being funded. The scientists are enjoying the one part of the world without corona virus, and witnessing first hand how very dynamic the sea-ice is. A large lead snapped the cables powering one of their remote station, forcing them to operate at a reduced capacity with generators for around three weeks until they were able to lay a new cable.

MOSAiC lead Screenshot_2020-04-23 MOSAiC(1)

Other leads have opened and crushed shut again, forming pressure ridges.

MOSAiC Pressure ridge 4-20 Screenshot_2020-04-23 MOSAiC(2)

MOSAiC Pressure Ridge 4-16 Screenshot_2020-04-23 MOSAiC

Some of the things they are studying are fascinating, such as the biology under the ice. Other studies seem based on the Global Warming narrative, and make me want to roll my eyes. (I will bite my tongue, regarding measuring the nearly non-existant amounts of nitrous oxide exuded by the Arctic Ocean.) (Of course, data is data, and when I was young I would have counted the number of leaves on a tree, if it let me avoid getting a Real Job.)

What really interests me is the shift-in-the-drift, but things do get more tranquil in the summer, and the currents slow down. (The WSC north through Fram Strait nearly halts at times.) While the Polarstern had been making steady progress towards Fram Strait, it recently experienced a bit of “wrong way” drift.

MOSAIC wrong way Screenshot_2020-04-23 MOSAiC(3)


This expedition is experiencing some interesting resupply problems they are not talking about, due to the rest of the world going crazy due to the Corona Virus. If they dawdle too much, getting down to Fram Strait, their story could get interesting.

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE —Pacific To Atlantic Flow—

I’m preoccupied working on my “Manifesto”, and am currently involved studying the madness of the French Terror, and Stalin’s purge of all Russia’s successful farmers, and Mao’s “Cultural Revolution”, because the way some people fanatically insist Global Warming is real despite all evidence presented to them reminds me a little of the Red Guard.

Trying to argue with the Red Guard was a bit like arguing with a Freudian, only rather than seeing everything as sexual they saw everything as political. (Don’t the above gals look lovely? But they couldn’t wear make-up, for either it was evil because it was “traditional’ or was evil because it was western and “imperialistic.”)

Who the heck needs all that? I’m in the mood to run away to the North Pole and just watch sea-ice for a bit.

For a while now there has been high Pressure towards North America and Greenland, and Low pressure towards Eurasia, which sets up a cross-polar-flow from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

This has pulled a feeder-band of milder and moister air from the Pacific up over the Pole.

This is not as dramatic as the surging feeder-bands that came north from the Atlantic last winter, but it has caused a spike in the temperatures north of 80 degrees latitude.

And I suppose this has the Alarmists very excited:

I hate to mention to them that these surges push the colder air from the Pole south, and we in North America are going to be freezing our tootsies off for the next two weeks. So I won’t. Instead I’ll point out some interesting effects this has on the sea-ice. It is moving differently from last year. The south winds have pushed a lot of sea-ice from Bering Sea through Bering Strait and built a wall of thicker ice to the north, towards the Pole:

On the far side of the Pole the south winds become north winds, and push the sea ice south where it was getting pushed north last winter. Last winter there was great excitement among Alarmists when the open water of a polynya opened north of Greenland as the ice was pushed north, and also because there was less ice in Fram Strait and around Svalbard, but this year the ice has come crushing south, flushing through Fram Strait and crunching up against the north coast of Greenland and Svalbard.

The movement of the sea-ice gets me wondering about a couple of things. The first is how open the Northwest Passage will be this summer. It looks like there won’t be much ice in Bering Strait, but I’m a little worried about that wall of ice north of the Strait. It is liable to be chunky and contain piled-up pressure ridges and be slower to break up than usual, and any north wind could bring it to the northwest coast and create an impediment as yachts turn the corner to head east to Barrow.

Barrow Webcam

Once east of Barrow the sea-ice ought break up fairly swiftly, as south winds much of the winter have pushed the thicker ice far out to sea. (The light blue sea-ice is over six feet thick. the vivid blue sea-ice is roughly 3 feet thick, and once the sea-ice gets lilac-purple it is less than three feet.) Down by the Mackenzie Delta it is only around a foot thick, not due to spring floods (as they don’t get going until April) but due to offshore winds. It would take a major shift in the weather patterns to crunch the ice back south to the coast.

As one heads further east next summer there will likely be problems, as the passage east of the Makenzie Delta and south of Parry Channel is very jammed with ice.

Further east, the eastern part of Parry Channel has been surprisingly mobile for the depth of winter, and over the past 45 days a lot of the ice flushed east into Baffin Bay and joined the parade of sea-ice heading south towards Newfoundland, along with a few far larger icebergs that have calved off glaciers. In a sense it seems a reflection of the Pacific-to-Atlantic press. Once again the Canadian Ice Service is noting many icebergs off Newfoundland. In fact this is the fourth winter out of the last six that the “extent” of sea-ice flushing out of Baffin Bay and down past Newfoundland (blue bar) has crept above normal (green line).

Last winter, when Newfoundlander fishing boats became trapped, a young “climate scientist” theorized the increase in ice was due to ice which had formerly been “fast ice” to the north being melted free by Global Warming. The problem with his theory was that the increased levels of ice were getting back to former levels, after ten years of reduced ice (which some had claimed was itself a sign of Global Warming, before the levels recently increased.) Also, way back between 1871 and 1873, the ill-fated Polaris expedition sailed up to the very top of Baffin Bay, and a group of survivors drifted on an ice floe from Nares Strait clear down to Newfoundland in the dead of winter. The sea-ice has always been very mobile.

Image result for polaris expedition 1871

This brings me to the second thing I’ve been wondering about, which involves the effects of an increased export of sea-ice into the Atlantic. This difference between last winter, which saw sea-ice prevented from surging south by “wrong-way-winds” in Fram Strait, (or at least slowed), and this year, when the flow has been assisted by a Pacific-to-Atlantic flow, might assist the study of such effects.

I wonder about this because back around 1816-1817 there was an amazing export of sea-ice south, with whalers noting open water north of Greenland yet icebergs grounding on the coast of Ireland. Some think this may have so chilled the water of the North Atlantic that it lead to “The year Without A Summer” in Western Europe in 1817.

The Arctic Sea must always be exporting sea-ice and very cold water, because it imports water four ways, and can lose little due to evaporation. Even though the Pole receives little precipitation and is sometimes described as a “desert”, air heading north is nearly always moister than the air heading south, which means moisture is left up there. Second, the northern tendrils of the Gulf Stream reach the Arctic Sea, ramming water north. Third, some of the largest rivers in the world pour into the Arctic Sea. (The Lena River is described as “tenth largest”, but I think it may be second or third largest when it is in full flood in August; its water-levels can rise sixty feet.) Lastly, the north-facing glaciers of Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago calve huge bergs.

The export of water occurs in cold currents down the east coasts of Asia, Greenland and Baffin Bay, and the Atlantic receives far more than the Pacific. The water heading south in a liquid form is more dense than warmer water, and at a certain point dives beneath the warmer water. In fact between Iceland and Greenland in Denmark Strait, where the bottom gets dramatically deeper, the cold current plunges down in a manner I have heard described as an “underwater Niagara Falls.” However the sea-ice, (whether the thinner chips of frozen ocean, or huger bergs calved off from glaciers), cannot sink beneath the warmer waters, and instead sails right into the warmer waters, significantly chilling it. Therefore I’ll be watching to see if the Atlantic becomes colder, perhaps influencing the weather in Western Europe.

The ambiguity of the situation is that it is opposite of what some Alarmists suggest. Less ice left up in the Arctic makes it colder, not warmer, to the south. If it chills the Gulf Stream heading north, then, after a lag, it can make it colder in the Arctic Sea as well. I wonder if this fluctuation could play a part in the roughly sixty year oscillation of the AMO.

I’ll be watching to see if there is any decrease in the “volume” graph. Last year, when sea-ice was prevented from coming south, there was an unexpected increase in “volume” that surprised many Alarmists, beginning in February. This year, so far, the “volume” remains above last year, but I’ll be keeping a sharp eye on it.

In terms of “extent” (which means little this time of year, as there still is little or no sunshine to reflect, and “albedo” is not much of a consideration), we may have already passed our winter “maximum”. Alarmists will be dismayed it already beat last year’s (by a hair). Once again the “Death Spiral” is debunked. Not that the facts ever penetrate certain thick skulls.

Stay tuned.

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 –Yet Another Swirl–

Well, it is happening again. Warm air has swirled up to the Pole, where of course it rises, and forms low pressure right where the textbooks say the air should be sinking, and there should be high pressure. At the risk of boring those who visit this site often, here is the textbook idea:

Polar Cell cells_mod

This winter there has often been rising air, rather than descending air, over the Pole, because the Creator doesn’t need textbooks. In fact He never bothered go to college, because according to stuff I’ve read He was something called “omnicient” even back before He invented time. I wouldn’t know about that, because I do need to study, and even then I don’t know all that much. But I do know when the textbooks are wrong.

I think they have been wrong this winter because the El Nino pumped a lot of extra heat into the atmosphere, and, because our planet is always trying to smooth out the difference between hot places and cold places, the jet stream had to become more “loopy” (meridienal) to transfer the heat to the Pole. Rather than low pressure parading around the Pole in a nice, orderly “zonal” manner, lows have headed right up to the Pole itself.

At times it is possible to use the above textbook diagram, even with a low sitting atop the Pole. You just assume the descending  air has been displaced, and look for a high pressure area away from the Pole, and call that the “new center” of the above diagram. But the problem is that sometimes there are two, three or four high pressure areas, and they actually seem to be parading around the low pressure at the Pole, as if the above diagram needs a fourth circulation and a fourth cell, (to the left of the polar cell) called the “super-polar cell”, for at times the theoretical “high pressure at the Pole” has a hole of low pressure in the middle, like a doughnut.

Other times I think that towards the Pole the Coriolis effect is different, and the atmosphere can’t be bothered parading around in circles. If it has a job to do, it takes the shortest route. If it has El Nino heat to be rid of, it just heads to the Pole and gets rid of it, and to hell with the textbooks.

The current map has a bit of the “doughnut” look, with a ridge of high pressure being pumped across the northmost North Atlantic behind the polar swirl, though the storm will not linger at the Pole long. The “swirl” shows up nicely in the temperature map.

Be that as it may, everything is about to change. Even before we have figured out what happened we’ll be busy figuring out a new thing that is happening. First, we are approaching a very small window of time when the Pole isn’t constantly losing heat, but briefly gains heat from 24 hour sunshine, (and winds have to alter to get rid of the extra heat, for a few midsummer weeks). Second, the El Nino is no more, and a La Nina is rapidly appearing, which will greatly decrease the amount of heat the atmosphere has to get rid of, by sending it north to the Pole. If less heat heads north, what might the effects be?

In other words, the swirl we are seeing may be the last one. One feels a certain melancholy, as if saying goodbye to an old friend.

As this low swings up to loop near the Pole and then falls away towards Siberia I’d like to point out a few things Alarmists seem to miss, in their joy over El Nino effects. (They are pleased because the meridienal flow brings warm air up to the Pole, and slightly decreases the extent of sea ice at the edges. This seemingly, and perhaps only briefly, verifies their theory that the Pole is warming, is in a “Death Spiral”, and the Arctic Ocean will be ice free and absorb so much sunshine that we’ll all suffer terrible consequences.  Why this pleases them I don’t know, but it does.) (Maybe “misery loves company”.)

The problem is that a meridienal flow doesn’t just bring warmth north, but also brings cold south.  There have been snows in places that don’t see much snow, such as Saudi Arabia and Mexico, the past winter. And even when such places melt away the snow in a single day, the “albedo” of snow is particularly gigantic in southerly places where the sunlight is intense. In fact Saudi Arabia reflected more sunshine back to outer space in five minutes last January than the entire North Pole did in the months of December and  January. When this data was plugged into an Alarmist computer model, the government threatened to cut off their funding, (or so I have concluded, perhaps unfairly.)

This last fling of the fading El Nino, with its final low at the Pole, seems to not only be bringing snows to France in April, but even to me, here in New Hampshire in North America. Even if the snow only whitens the landscape for an hour, the amount of sunshine reflected as it melts will make all the “albedo” models change their conclusions, or they would change their conclusions, if the people plugging in the data were allowed to include all the data.

For what its worth, here’s the radar shot of the  snow and sleet  over New Hampshire this morning.

20160426 rad_ne_640x480

And here’s a forecast map of the frost (pink) over Britain, France and Germany tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

Europe Frost April 27 gfs_t2m_eur_5

The simple fact of the matter is our planet has myriad ways of balancing things out.

The meridienal pattern has also made the arctic stormy, and winds have shifted the sea-ice about and caused much cracking of the ice. Open water has appeared even when temperatures were down at midwinter depths, approaching -40°.  Alarmists like this, as they assume this shows the ice is weak, and will melt more easily in the summer. In actual fact exposing the sea to the cold may warm the midwinter air, but it cools the sea, and also creates more sea-ice.  You see, a lead five miles wide cannot form without piling up five miles of ice at some other spot in the arctic, and at the same time exposing sea-water to freezing, forming five miles of new ice in an area which, if it was protected by a roof of ice, would have formed far less ice. In actual fact, in the past we have seen that a lot of lead-formation (which seems to prefer the Beaufort Sea), actually creates so much extra ice and so cools the waters that the summer melt is reduced, not increased.

Lastly, Alarmists seem to rejoice when north winds flush sea-ice south into the warm tendrils of the Gulf Stream that enter the arctic either side of Svalbard. They are happy because you can see the sea-ice melt very quickly, with satellite views. What they do not seem to calculate is how much colder these currents become, if forsed to melt so much ice, and what effect that may have on the current’s ability to melt the bottom of the sea-ice, when the current gets farther north. Furthermore, the same north winds that bring the sea-ice south to the milder currents are bringing cold air to ruffle the top of the currents, not only chilling the top-most water, but reversing the direction of the topmost water.

Alarmists should hope for south winds between Norway and Svalbard, to hurry the tendrils of the Gulf Stream north. When those waters see north winds, as are blowing now, the Gulf Stream is not being assisted. Its waters are being chilled, and the topmost part of the current is actually blown south, which creates all sorts of interesting turbulence between south-moving surface waters and north-moving depths.  It is not a situation conducive to hurrying warmth north and speeding the melt of sea-ice.

In Conclusion, I’d say the effects of the El Nino are nowhere near as simple as some make them out to be. Already I’ve been proven wrong about some of my assumptions. Who would ever assume increasing the heat in the atmosphere would give Kuwait its first snowfall we have records of?

And, if increasing the heat can increase the snowfall in an ordinarily hot desert, might it not increase the sea-ice in an ordinarily cold sea? I’m not saying it will, but I am being humble and saying I’m not sure the after-effects of the El Nino will decrease the sea-ice extent this summer. In fact I’m betting my nickle that the sea-ice extent minimum will be the same as last year, next September, (and I think anyone who bets more than a nickle is a fool.)

The coming La Nina will decrease the heat. We need to be humble about our certainty (or lack of it) about the effects that will have, as well. If the atmosphere becomes more zonal, than general cooling will make sub-polar regions warmer.

By the way, O-buoy 13 shows moisture is being drawn north through Bering Strait. This will dust the black-ice of the new leads with white snow.

Obuoy 13 0426 webcam

The moisture hasn’t made it further east to O-buoy 14, so new leads near it will still have black ice.

Obuoy 14 0426 webcam

With black ice here and white ice there, can you imagine how difficult it would be to create an “albedo” model that was truly accurate?









ARCTIC SEA ICE –Insomnia Cure–

I was laying in bed last night contemplating customers, carrots and other things I’m suppose to consider, during the spring on a Farm-childcare, when sea-ice came drifting through my consciousness. It’s usually a sign sleep is creeping up, and worldly worries are melting away. Last night it led to some delightful, dazing dreaminess I doubt I can fully replicate, but which show the complexity of even a thing as simple as water.

Yesterday I was briefly discussing how a tendril of the Gulf Stream, coming north, for a time rides at the top of the ocean, but then takes a dive under the colder waters. For a time it is less dense than surrounding waters, but then it becomes more dense.

This occurs because there are two variables involved. First, there is temperature, and second, there is salinity. The Gulf Stream is more salty than surrounding waters, because it was subjected to a lot of evaporation down in the hot tropics before it came north. Salty water wants to sink. However the Gulf Stream is much warmer than surrounding waters. Warmer waters want to rise.

An analogy is needed. Imagine the water coming north is a bunch of hot air balloons. As long as the air in the balloons is hot, the balloons remain high, but gradually they cool, until they reach a momentous occasion where they take a dive.

It is a simple enough thing to model this on your multi-million dollar computer. First you need to loot the wallets of drained tax-payers, and then you convince the government to print up some extra money. Easy as pie, when you are falling asleep and in a dream world, but I find it easier to command the non-virtual reality in dreamland, and to model the two variables outside computers in the fresh air.

Instantly Fram Strait is experiencing complete calm. What’s more it has been doing so for weeks. The Gulf Stream, coming north, does so in a glassy stillness, and the point where it dives beneath colder water can be seen by the way sea-gull feathers drifting north in the current come to a halt.  The waters to the north are still, even stagnant.

IE:  In dreamland we have simplified things to a degree where slowly moving water is sliding beneath still water. If course we can’t have water coming in without water going out, but let’s have that happen someplace else, so it won’t mess up our dreamland model. Also, of course, you can’t have a fluid in motion moving past a still fluid without this annoying thing called “turbulence” making little whirls along the boundary, like little storms along a front. Fortunately our dreamland model has a “mute” key that dampens that stuff away. In the end we have a nice simple scenario.

Now, as we slip deeper into dreamland and our brains gain super-powers, let’s have a little fun by adding another variable or two.  Let’s reduce the amount of warming due to sunlight, as winter comes and the sun sinks  low.  Or let’s chill the air. This cools the Gulf Stream tendril coming north more quickly, so it reaches the magical point where salinity trumps heat five miles further south.

Oh oh. Problem. If the water sinks earlier, the completely static water which it is sinking under has to move, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it have to move south to fill in the space above the sinking water?

Or suppose we change the salinity of the Gulf Stream heading north. How?  How about a tropical storm dumping a foot of warm rain. Now the tendril wants to come further north before sinking. Would not it plow into the static surface water, and make it move?

But how about both chilling the water and reducing the salinity? How are we going to manage that?

What’s that you say? Why don’t we redirect all the sea-ice heading south along the east coast of Greenland, in that cold current, and push it across Fram Strait into the warm current heading north?  That will both cool the northbound tendril of the Gulf Stream, and make it less salty, you say?

Funny you should say that, for that is exactly the scenario we were looking at yesterday, as vast amounts of ice were melted just west of Svalbard. Svalfloe 3 svalbard 15

Ordinarily it is at this point I get a headache, but when I am falling asleep the implications have a nice way of knocking me over the brink into unconsciousness. Sort of like an uppercut to the jaw. As I pass out, I am usually pondering one of three things.

First, if you cool the water heading north, and lower its salinity,  how will this effect the melt from beneath to the north? In Theory, if you dumped enough ice into the northbound water, you could so cool and so dilute the current that it wouldn’t be all that different from the water to the north, and could skip the bother of sinking beneath it. What effect would that have on surface currents, and submarine currents?

Second, how many more buoys will the taxpayers allow before they come with burning torches? We don’t need a mere string of buoys across Fram Strait. We need north-south strings. We need surface reports and reports at depth, so we can have a 3-D picture of the daily fluctuations of temperature, salinity, and the speed the water is moving, like the weather-maps we get for the air above.

Lastly, what does it mean if ice does not travel in the cold, southbound current to the southerly tip of Greenland? Through much of the winter the ice levels were low, because ice was held back at the Pole, and much of the ice off the east coast of Greenland was “home grown”. Now even more ice is being deprived of it’s right to take the normal route because it has headed across to the wrong lane of the two-lane highway in Fram Strait. Will less ice off the south tip of Greenland make that water warmer?  (Currently there is a fringe of warmer-than-normal water right along the Greenland coast, but then waters are colder-than-normal clear across to Spain.)

Usually thinking about all this is quite enough to cure insomnia. If necessary, you can add another variable: Wind.  A strong wind can move surface water. What effect does a cold north wind have on a current coming from the south? Do you have a current heading south at the surface even as it heads north deeper down? Oh oh. Time to hit that “mute” key again, as I see turbulence rearing its head.

In the end I think very few things travel in the nice neat lines shown by textbooks. I am old enough to remember the way the Gulf Stream was portrayed in textbooks before we could see the surface with heat-sensitive satellites. It was nothing like this:

Gulf Stream images

I have a vivid memory, from back in those pre-satellite days, of attending a class held to make the general public more aware of beach erosion and why we should alter our attitudes about where we built marinas and beach houses. It was taught by a knowledgeable young scientist, and in the audience was a garrulous old fisherman. For some reason the subject got off the topic of beaches and moved out into the Gulf Stream, and at that point the fisherman began to talk about “warm whirlpools” and “cold whirlpools” and how he’d use them to hunt the best places to fish, and the young scientist rolled his eyes, as if the old man was talking nonsense, and finally the young man cut the fisherman off, making it obvious he felt the man was inventing tall tales. Later I always wondered what the scientist thought, when he saw the first satellite images come in, showing exactly what the old fisherman had described.

Perhaps it is for this reason that I, meaning no disrespect to scientists, am less than certain the map below is fully accurate.

Svalfloe 4 svalbard current

The thing I am watching for are the changes fishermen described the last time the AMO shifted from “warm” to “cold”. They were dramatic.

In any case, I highly recommend thinking about this stuff next time you have trouble sleeping.

In more mundane matters,  The DMI maps continue to show the high pressure over towards Bering Strait, and the low nudging toward the Pole, but weakening.

I’m worried they may have had troubles with the airstrip at Barneo, as there have been no reports since the 18th. You can see the ice is “active” across the Pole in the NRL “Speed and Drift” map from yesterday.

Speed and Drift 20160422 arcticicespddrfnowcast

This map also shows ice is likely moving away from the northwest coast of Hudson Bay.

In terms of the Northwest Passage, the western approach looks like it is opening up nicely, with ice moving away from the coast of Alaska. However the ice in Baffin Bay seems to be being crammed north into the eastern approaches.

Lastly, it looks like ice continues to be exported to the “wrong side” of Fram Strait.

The thickness map shows an odd little mountain range of thicker ice crossing right over the pole. (Not really a mountain range, but worth noting: 9 feet thick rather than six feet thick.)

Thickness 20160422 arcticictnnowcast


Lastly the “Race Against Time” expedition has been reporting struggling over a lot of pressure ridges as they approach the Pole from the Russian side. Mark Wood mentioned the ice was much flatter when he skied the route two years ago. At last report they had crossed 89 degrees north. Unfortunately they only report by satellite phone, without pictures.



ARCTIC SEA ICE –Killing Fields–

The true “Killing Fields” were places in Cambodia where innocent people were slaughtered by the insanity of the Khmer Rouge genocide, back when I was in my early twenties. It was a horrible place and time, and a bitter disillusionment for those who felt peace would come if American forces withdrew from Southeast Asia. “Killing Fields” are two words which should be accorded respect, not because genocide has a shred of dignity, but out of respect for the more than a million innocent people who died. “Killing Fields” are not words which should be used to describe an area where sea-ice melts.

But Certain Alarmists are not known for having good taste. John Cook, creator of the Skeptical Science website, and creator of of the preposterous “97%-of-all-scientists-believe-in-man-made-Global-Warming” soundbite which even the American president quotes, seems to find the Nazi uniform either humorous or attractive. There used to be plenty of examples of this “humor” at his website, but they were removed due to embarrassment, but the web never forgets, and they were preserved here:

Skeptical Science takes ‘creepy’ to a whole new level

However a single picture of John Cook from his own website will suffice to make my point about bad taste.

John Cook Nazi1_herrcook

Considering one reason I was originally attracted to the subject of sea-ice was because of the sheer beauty of the snowscapes, there is something repellent in the connection some Alarmists make to the most foul episodes of human history. The simple fact I am dubbed a “Denier” epitomizes the bad taste, for that word formally was reserved for those who denied the foulness of the Nazi genocide.

In actual fact I think associating those-who-point-out-the-obvious (that the sea-ice has failed to melt away as predicted) with mass murderers is more of an example of “denial” and “fascist behavior” than any of my own many examples of bad manners, (due to my short temper). It denies there is a difference between the honesty involved in being forthright, and the brutality involved in killing those who disagree. Nor does it just water-down this difference. It becomes the very  ugliness it accuses others of being.

I can endure being told I’m mistaken. In fact, once I smooth my ruffled feathers, I actually admire the people who correct me, for I am big and can have a fierce face, and sometimes the people correcting me have been quite small and by nature timid. The fact they have the courage to tug at my sleeve and, in a most polite manner, tell me I’m a fool, is something that touches my heart. It moves me.

I am moved in a different manner when Alarmists say Skeptics should be prosecuted, imprisoned,  and even shot. I understand they think they are saving the world, but so did the Khmer Rouge.

Therefore, besides mentioning it to make the above point, I am not going to use the words “Killing Fields” to describe places where the sea-ice melts. To do so seems bad taste. Why? Because the Khmer Rouge took pictures of their fellow Cambodians, who they were about to kill; their actual neighbors who might be guilty of only having a writer’s-callous on their middle finger (which proved they were “guilty” of being “polluted” by Western concepts), and I have seen those pictures, and the eyes of those innocents haunt me.

We need to remember them. We need to stand up to bullies, even when they claim they are “saving the world”. This is not a time when silence is golden. Rather silence is a sin.

To avoid losing my temper and raving like a lunatic, what I am going to try to do is simply point out the beauty inherent in the Truth.  I’ll start by avoiding using the phrase “Killing Fields” and instead using something that means “Areas conducive to sea-ice melt.” I suppose I could use the acronym ACTSIM, but we already have too many acronyms.  I’m just going to call them “melt-areas”.

The best way to become aware of where they are is to go lurk at Alarmist sites. Doing so is sort of amusing, because Alarmists huddle over sea-ice maps like generals over maps of a battlefield. It is as if they are waging a war over sea-ice, and cheer the melt of the smallest ice-cube. (It has never made much sense to me, as they also assert less ice is a bad thing.)

There is often a bit of confusion apparent, as open water can appear in the arctic that involves no melting at all. A wonderful example is currently occurring off the northwest coast of Alaska. High pressure has been parked over the Beaufort Sea for a fortnight, bringing that area winds steadily from the east.

The movement of the ice can be seen in the NRL map:

Speed and Drift 20160420 arcticicespddrfnowcast

Strong winds like this do not melt ice. They move it. When it moves away from shore an area of open water forms. It is called a “polynya” if it is close to shore. In the dead of winter it swiftly skims over, but now, with the sun up and days longer than the nights, temperatures are not so cold and the open water skims over more slowly.

In the past, north of Alaska this has tempted adventurers to make an early start at the Northwest passage. The only problem is that, if the winds shifts, the ice can come right back to shore. A couple of springs ago one such gutsy sailor found his boat suddenly surrounded not only by sea-ice but by curious polar bears. He stuck it out much longer than I think I could have managed, but after a harrowing ten days the coast guard sent out an ice-breaker to rescue him.

That being said, a look at the NRL map shows the pocket of light purple northwest of Alaska, indicating a skim of thin ice six inches to a foot thick (and likely slushy “pancake ice” as well).

Thickness 20160421 arcticictnnowcast

What is less apparent is that the “missing” ice hasn’t melted. It has been crunched up over towards Russia. The Alarmist sites are not big on mentioning this, and tend to crow about the thinner ice, and how swiftly it will melt in the summer.

It may, but we shall see. As soon as the ice gets dusted by snow it is just as white as thicker ice, and reflects sunlight just as well. The real melt comes from below, from the Pacific, and the Pacific is two degrees colder than last spring, south of Being Strait.

Another interesting area is the northwest side of Hudson Bay. There the ice has been pushed away from the coast as well, and the new ice is thin. However, like last year, all that moved-ice is crunched up to the southeast.

But none of these areas involves melting, this early in the spring.  If you want to see a real area of melting you need to travel to the east side of Fram Strait, right off the west coast of Svalbard. A warm tendril of the Gulf Stream moves north there, often keeping the east and northeast coasts of Svalbard ice-free even in the dead of winter, even when the north winds are cold and bringing the sea-ice south. This is a true “melt-area”, where you can watch sizable ice floes dissolve. (You can see the streamers of cloud made by the cold winds as they shift from west to north, in the pictures below.)

Svalfloe 1 svalbard 11Svalfloe 2 svalbard 13Svalfloe 3 svalbard 15

It should be obvious the melt is not due to the very cold winds, nor to trace amounts of CO2. It is due to the marvelous meanderings of the Gulf Stream, and the fact a tendril passes that way.

Svalfloe 4 svalbard current


The yellow dot in the above map is where the warm water takes a dive, and starts flowing under the cold water. If you wonder how warm water can sink and cold water can rise, it is due to the salinity. Salty water sinks and more brackish water rises, and the yellow dot represents where the salinity starts to trump the temperature.

What is fascinating is how variable this “yellow dot” can be. If more ice moves over that warm current it makes the water both fresher, as it melts, and colder.

This is what people should be focused on, and not the obscure and likely inestimable amount CO2 effects the temperature of ocean currents. Why? because, with the AMO wavering on the verge of shifting from the “warm” to “cold” phase, the ingredients that go into where the current takes a dive and the “yellow spot” will be located  will also change.  That in turn will effect where ice forms and where it melts, which in turn will effect the weather, and where fishermen can fish, and even where the fish will be.

Some big changes are already starting to appear in the sea-surface-temperature anomaly maps. The biggest is the bit of blue just off the coast of Peru, indicative of the El Nino fading into a La Nina.

SST 20160418 CgahiESWwAAuZoW

Also notice how the “Warm Blob” in the north Pacific has eroded, and now in some ways is becoming a “Cold Blob”, while the odd “Cold Blob” south of Iceland has spread over to the coast of Spain. The AMO is still “warm” due to the milder waters north of Norway, but this is not a typical “warm” AMO.

Lastly, look at the chart of the AMO below, and consider the year 1975. What changes might we expect, if those conditions return? How might the “yellow spot” by Svalbard shift?

AMO 201603 esrl-amo-thru-mar-2016





ARCTIC SEA ICE –In The Ink–with Freak storm update (Dec 12-31, 2015)

The days are not just short at the Pole; they don’t exist. The entire area north of the arctic circle is now sunless, 24 hours a day, and in terms of the planet’s heat budget the area is spending like a drunken sailor. Colossal amounts of heat is being exported upwards to Alpha Centuri, where they don’t need it.

What our president should do (as he is a madman who thinks he can control the weather) is to make it illegal for any warmth to go north. It is a complete waste to send warmth north this time of year. Keep the warmth down south where the people are. Let the north get so cold that it freezes the arctic sea-ice thick, and has no further warmth to squander, even from the Arctic Ocean. In terms of the planet’s energy budget, it can be fifty below up at the Pole, and all it means is we are not wasting our warmth. Unfortunately our poor president doesn’t have a clue, when it comes to budgets.

In actual fact whomever of the Creator’s angels is in charge of the weather has kept a lot of the cold up there recently. The O-buoys 8b, 13, 14, and 15 (with blinded cameras) have been reporting temperatures down near -40° C.  This has occurred because, on the Asian side of the Pole, we have seen something close to a “zonal flow”, where winds describe a nice, neat circle around the Pole, and the jet stream doesn’t form the grandiose loops south and north that can bring snows to Florida even as cherries bloom in Scotland.

On the North American side the jet stream did loop south, bringing record snows to places like Denver, but from the Atlantic to the Pacific over Eurasia the flow was fairly flat. Great surges of relatively mild Atlantic air surged west to east. I called one a “javelin” in another post, but they were more like snowplows, pushing the Siberian air left, right and forwards. The supercold air that went right became involved in a counter-current, east-to-west, and also involved more moisture than cold deserts usually see, so there were record snows from northern China and the Gobi Desert in Mongolia back to Turkey. There was even winter in Uttar Pradesh in northern India.

This demonstrates that it is not just the Pole that is squandering heat. Areas south of the Arctic circle may see some sunshine, but a four hour day cannot make up for a 20 hour night, especially over Siberia when the snow-pack is deep. All that nice Atlantic air heading west-to-east gets colder and colder as it moves into and across Russia. All the Atlantic air  does is supply unusual moisture and make the snow-pack deeper. However the thrust of Atlantic air does shove a lot of cold air to the left, north towards the Pole, and -15°C is better than -60°C, if you happen to live in Siberia. I’m sure they appreciate lower heating bills, the same way everyone else does, and with so much cold trapped up at the Pole, it has been a Christmas Miracle to the poor in the eastern USA and much of Europe to pay so little staying warm.

In order for a zonal flow to persist it has to be even all the way around the Globe. Otherwise some of the very cold arctic air moves south and comes in contact with nice, juicy air over the Atlantic or Pacific, and “bombo-genesis” occurs, and you abruptly see an enormous gale on the map. The gale is so huge it tends to bend the jet stream north and south, and before you know it your nice, neat zonal pattern has been utterly messed up, and becomes a meridenal pattern.

This seems to be what has happened recently. A huge gale blew up in the Aleutian Sea, followed by a teleconnected gale in Fram Strait. I hope to find time to post all the maps tomorrow, but for now will merely mention that Faboo (the North Pole Camera) has experienced winds over fifty mph, has made it south of 77.5° latitude, and (somewhat amazingly) the cameras are still functioning and producing regular photographs of ink.


A tip of the hat to the bloggers Craigm350 and lectricdog, who sent us these links.

The gale, with hurricane force gusts, is described as the worst to hit Longyearbyen in 30 years.

Svalbard snow storm and avalanche, svalbard apocalyptica l snow storm, snow storm svalbard norway, weather apocalypse svalbard norway, snow storm and avalanche svalbard december 2015, hurricane svalbard 2015, strongest storm in 30 years svalbard december 2015


Before I even start these maps I should show what the super-gale winding down, south of Bering Strait, off the first map.Aleutian Storm gfs_mslp_uv10m_npac_1I likely missed the lowest pressure this storm achieved; the lowest I noted was 943 mb. Computer models were suggesting it could get down to 930 mb briefly, so of course some Alarmists pounced on it as evidence Global Warming was producing “unprecedented” weather. (Actually other storms have likely maxed-out at the same levels up there, out to sea where nobody can measure them.  It is unlikely for such storms to peak as they come ashore, as the land destabilized the perfected requirements. Even as they peak they use up their energy swiftly, and while still remaining monster storms, see their pressures rise.)

I bring up this particular storm to illustrate the massive amounts of mildness and moisture brought north,  to be squandered in the ink. In the following DMI maps you can see the milder air push north into the Pacific side of the Pole, even as very cold East Siberian air oozes north and across the Pole to Canada, and then the Svalbard Bomber blowing up in the Northernmost Atlantic.

DMI3 1212B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1212B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1214B mslp_latest.big DMI3 1214B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1215 mslp_latest.big DMI3 1215temp_latest.bigDMI3 1216 mslp_latest.big DMI3 1216 temp_latest.bigDMI3 1216B mslp_latest.big DMI3 1216B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1217 mslp_latest.big DMI3 1217 temp_latest.bigDMI3 1218B mslp_latest.big DMI3 1218B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1219 mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1219 temp_latest.bigDMI3 1219B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1219B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1220B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1220B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1221 mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1221 temp_latest.big

For the moment the upper air map shows a nice, neat quasi-zonal pattern, with lows rotating a high parked at the Pole, but the pattern is in self-destruct mode, and will look very different in a matter of days500 mb Polar 21051221 gfs_z500_sig_arctic_1

A lot of the arctic cold, when it hasn’t remained trapped over the Pole, has poured over the Pacific east of Russia and then made its way south to the Western USA. More has flooded south down either side of Greenland, occasionally crossing the Atlantic to chill northern Scandinavia, however mostly it has been ocean waters that have borne the brunt of winter rather than people.  This looks like it will change. Though there is no snow in the eastern USA the snowpack has built in Ontario south of Hudson Bay, and the snowline looks likely to leap southward at the start of the New Year. Europe may dodge the bullet a bit longer.


The weakest ice around the Pole is the newest baby-ice, perhaps only three inches thick, extending outwards at the edges, and the one thing that can discourage the growth of such ice is a roaring gale. We have seen two, if you generalize. If you want to count the gale’s secondary gales the number is higher. Such roaring winds can take a square mile of sea-ice three inches thick and crunch it like an accordion to a far smaller area of jumbled slabs.

It is strangely similar to what happens to a flat summer beach, long merely lapped by gentle ripples, when it is hit by several autumnal gales and hurricanes. It is flat no longer. A big dune rises just inland, and a big off-shore sandbar rises just out to sea.

In fact, if you look at the very edge of the sea-ice when the sun first returns to the north it is uncanny how smooth the edge looks, as opposed the more usual blocky look of broken-up sea-ice. It has all the curls and capes and inlets of a sandy shoreline, and hints at how pulverized and fluid the ice became during storms in the ink of winter dark and winter gales. During calms it expanded out as thin baby ice, but during storms it was reduced to many small chunks, basically a soup of slush.

If you pay attention strictly to “sea-ice extent” without paying attention to what the sea-ice is undergoing, you will be puzzled by times the extent shrinks even when temperatures are below, and sometimes far below,  the melting point of salt water. Once you pay more attention you expect the charts to dip, or at least flatten when the ice is subjected to super-gales. And indeed we have seen the extent flatten, both in the DMI 15% extent graph and in the DMI 30% extent graph.

DMI3 1222B icecover_current_newDMI3 1222B icecover_current

I try to keep two things in mind, during such occurrences. First, there may be just as much ice, but it is heaped up into a smaller area, like an oceanic sand dune, or like all the snow on your driveway being shoveled to the edges. Second, the creation of more open water cannot result in any warming of the water when the sun doesn’t even shine. In fact the water is often churned and chilled to a considerable depth by the howling gales, and this process will continue until either the water is sheltered by a roof of ice, or the sun starts beaming over the horizon and rises high enough to penetrate the surface.

In any case, calculating the energy budget of arctic waters is no easy thing, and one should avoid the knee-jerk reaction of certain simpletons, who see a dip in sea-ice extent as a sure sign of warming.


Faboo (my name for the North Pole Camera) may only represent a small chunk of a vast Arctic Sea of bergs, however I feel that the study of Faboo’s antics at least gives us an iota of an idea of what is going on, where we otherwise might see only ink.

On our last post on December 12 Faboo had slowed down a lot, and drifted another 5.81 miles SSW to 78.494°N, 8.274°W. Temperatures had dropped to -28.5°C, and the hoarfrost had grown so thick that apparently both the wind-vane and anemometer were immobile. The cameras likely had encrusted lenses, and produced nothing but pictures of ink.

On December 13 the buoy sped up, moving 12.21 miles nearly due south (but slightly west) to 78.317°N, 8.292°W, as temperatures nudged up to a high of  -21.5°C at 1500Z.

On December 14 Faboo crossed 15.31 miles a little west of due south, reaching 78.098°N, 8.471°W. We can assume the winds were picking up. Temperatures were basically flat, with a low of -22.5°C at midnight rising to a high of -20.1°C at 0900Z before creeping back down again.

On December 15 we veered a bit to the SSW, covering 11.34 miles and arriving at 77.935°N, 8.602°W. Temperatures crept down to a low of -24.5°C at 1800Z.

On December 16 we experienced a bit of a lull, moving only 8.24 miles to 77.953°N, 8.588°W. However in Fram strait such lulls, combined with the fact temperatures steadily rose to -18.8°C, make me suspicious warm air is surging north and a storm is brewing.

On December 17 the Svalbard Bomber began to blow up. Faboo picked up speed and veered SW, moving 14.1 miles to 77.740°N, 9.713°W, as temperatures, -18.3°C  at midnight, rose to -12.0°C  at noon and then -3.4°C at the end of the period. (2100Z) However the real hint was that the winds grew so strong the anemometer blasted free of the hoarfrost, reporting steady winds of 42 mph at the end of the period. (Please note that, although so far the ice Faboo is on has traveled more than 60 miles south in this report, towards eventual melting, it has had little to do with warming, and has in fact involved temperatures so cold you might think (as I once thought) that the sea-ice would be locked rigidly in one place.)

On December 18 the Svalbard Bomber had steady winds of over 40 mph for most of the day, peaking with a steady gale of  51 mph at 0300Z. There was an interesting lull at 1500Z, when winds dropped to 13 mph. Temperatures at that point had fallen steadily to -9.2°C, but at the 1800Z report they’d sprung up to a high of -1.5°C, and winds were back up to 40 mph, and ended the period at 45 mph.  We moved an impressive 27.93 miles SSW to 77.429°N, 10.921°W.

On December 19 the gales blew all day, only slacking to 38 mph at the end, as temperatures steadily fell from -3.0°C to -13.3°C . Faboo charged another 31.71 miles SSW to 77.004°N, 11.716°W.

On December 20 the Svalbard Bomber faded east, and winds slowly decreased from gales to a strong breeze of 20 mph at the end, as temperatures remained fairly flat, with a low of -13.7°C  at noon and a high of -12.6°C at 1800Z. Faboo moved 21.1 miles further south, arriving at 76.710°N, 12.090°W .

On December 21 winds faded further, down to around 11 mph, and the flat temperatures took a plunge to -21.5°C at the end. The ice began to rebound to the east, after being crunched up against the coast of Greenland, which makes me nervous, because it was during such a period of rebound, after a gale, that we lost O-buoy 9. I imagine leads open up. Despite the slackening winds Faboo moved another 11.4 miles south to 76.547°N, 11.970°W.

What amazes me is that the cameras are still reporting. They may be face downwards, but they send their pictures, four times a day. I even think I can detect a slightly less inky ink at noon. (Though the sun doesn’t rise down towards the arctic circle, the twilight gets brighter at noon.)

If I could have a Christmas wish, it would be that at least one of the cameras survives long enough to have its lens thaw, and that it then sends a few pictures of the mess we can’t currently see. You can bet the ice isn’t as flat as it was up at the Pole last April, when we got our first pictures. However that ice must be surprisingly stable and strong, for the cameras to have survived such gales. (The instrument that measures how thick the ice is quit working back at the end of November.)  (The ice was roughly a meter thick at that time.)


The gales up in the arctic have done a good job of compressing and chewing away at the outer edge of the sea ice both on the Atlantic and Pacific side. Despite the cold winds blasting off east Siberia and down either coast of Greenland, there has been little chance to grow the fragile ice at the edges, and graphs focused on the extent (or area) of the ice show a slump or leveling-off, both on the DMI 15% and 30% graphs.icecover_current_newicecover_current

Besides the compression of sea ice, there has also been warmth that has been a blessing to those who pay heating bills, eroding the snow-cover in the east if the USA right up across the border into southern Ontario and Quebec, and across Europe right into Russia.Snowcover 20151224 snowNESDISnh(11)

Of course such mildness holds moisture, and once such mild surges move a certain distance across northern landscapes temperatures can be above normal but chill to a degree where they still build the snow-pack, which has happened in the rest of Russia, and also in northern Ontario and Quebec and even Northern Maine.  Also such surges, in Eurasia, have led to an interesting backwash the other direction, a sort of counter-current bringing snows to India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, and even Romania and the Italian Alps.

That snow-pack is a winter-breeder, as it reflects the wan winter sunlight during the short winter days, and during the long nights radiational cooling is at its yearly high. Deep snow to your north is not a friend, if you yearn for a mild winter.

In like manner, frozen over lakes and bays are not a friend, as open water is an amazing buffer against a cold wave. This year the Great Lakes have not chilled as swiftly as last year, and on his excellent blog at the Weatherbell site Joseph D’Aleo posted a Dr. Ryan Maue map which does an amazing job of showing how arctic winds passing over the Great Lakes are significantly warmed, to the benefit of areas downwind of the lakes. (In this case the frigid winds are west-to-east, and it is areas to the east that benefit.) Great Lakes downwind cmc_t2m_east_33

At the very top of the above map is southernmost Hudson Bay, which is only slightly warming the air, for the big bay is about frozen over. Even the Canadian Ice Service map, (which seems to be the last to show ice freeze in the fall and the last to see it melt in the spring, perhaps because they have a finer grid), shows the bay nearly completely frozen over. Hudson Bay 20151226 CMMBCTCA

Besides Hudson Bay, Canada has its “other” Great Lakes, plus a vast number of smaller lakes and ponds, which show up as yellow specks (indicating they are frozen over) in this map.

Snowcover 20151226 ims2015359_alaska

In conclusion, all those nice buffers, waters holding summer’s heat and steaming in the first cold of fall, have lost their ability to be the protectors of southern lands. Rather they help worsen the radiational cooling during the long winter nights, and have switched sides, turning from a foe of cold to a friend.

It is for this reason that temperatures show no sign of uplift, as the shortest day passes and days start getting longer. Until those ponds, lakes, bays and seas start to melt a slight increase of sunlight not only has no effect, but the cold gets worse.

Which led to the wisdom of a bit of old, Yankee doggerel:

When the days begin to lengthen
Then the cold begins to strengthen.

Which means we will see sea-ice continue to grow past current levels:Consentration 20151226 arcticicennowcast


On December 22 Faboo continued another 8.53 miles a little east of due south, finishing at 76.425°N, 11.881°W.  This is pretty good progress, considering the winds died down from a breeze of 11 mph to slight draft of 5 mph. We never saw Faboo move so far when winds were so light in the summer, however at this point we are seeing a sort of accumulated momentum; the ice and sea-water remembers the gales of the past week, and now forms a current down the east coast of Greenland. It is sort of like when you stop stirring a cup of tea, but the tea keeps moving.  The sea-ice is not frozen to a halt by sub-freezing temperatures, for Faboo saw a high of -21.5°C at the start of the period and a low of -25.3°C, and those extremely cold temperatures didn’t seem to slow Faboo a bit.

On December 23 the winds started to pick up a bit, from 6 mph at the start to 20 mph at the end, and temperatures reached a low of -24.0°C at 0300Z and crept back up to -21.8°C at the end of the period (2100Z). We were shifted primarily south, with our eastward drift ceasing on  11.684°W at 1800Z and then starting westward again, as we wound up at  76.207°N, 11.702°W, which is another 15.31 miles further along.

On December 24 strong breezes and cold temperatures lasted all day, with the breeze between 18 and 25 mph and the temperature between -21.4°C and -24.1°C. The buoy traveled another 22.19 miles, finishing at 75.890°N, 11.934°W.

On Christmas the strong winds began to slack off in the late morning, gradually ebbing from 22 mph to 11 mph. Temperatures remained cold, sinking from -21.1°C at 0600Z to -24.1°C at the end of the period. Our westward progress halted on 12.100°W and we began to be nudged east again, as our general motion continued to be for the most part due south, finishing at 75.592°N, 11.978°W, which is another 20.56 miles on our way.

On the past six days we have moved a hundred miles south from where this map shows Faboo located, back on December 20.2015D_track 20161220 (1)

We are actually getting down to that next circle of latitude on the above map, which represents 75° north Latitude. We sure have been zooming, especially when you consider how long it took us to get across 85° north, and how there was even some doubt we would get into Fram Strait, or whether we’d get sucked west into the Beaufort Gyre.

Well, all doubt has been removed, for now we are officially through Fram Strait, and farther south than the most southern point of Svalbard. In which case, you may ask, why follow Faboo any longer? There can be no doubt the buoy is on its way to to melting in the Atlantic south of Denmark Strait.

Well, one reason to follow Faboo is that there seems to be a misconception about ice moving down the east coast of Greenland, especially because, in terms of “extent”, the ice forms a narrower and narrower band along the Greenland Coast. The misconception is that it is becoming a narrower band because it is melting away.Fram Ice 1226 general_20151223

If you open the above map to a new tab and then click it again you can get a very enlarged version. The orange lines are isotherms indicating the temperature of the sea-water, and show a lot of that sea-water is below the freezing point of fresh water. This includes the northern Barents Sea, the area of open water northwest of Svalbard, and the water moving down the east coast of Greenland. In fact the current moving south along the Greenland coast is one of the coldest in the world, as water that cold usually takes a dive, as it is so much denser than the warmer waters it moves into.

The question should then be, why doesn’t this Greenland current take a dive?  Well, it actually does, further south, but at this point (where Faboo reports from) it doesn’t dive because it is fresher water, and also is not moving into warmer water yet. It is extremely cold salt water that could literally freeze your blood solid, and when it is blasted by steady winds of -20° to -25° there is no way any melting is going on. In fact every bit of ice in that water is like a candle’s wick being dipped in wax as it is made; it is growing, not shrinking. It is also (this year especially) piled up against the coast rather than spread out over the sea, which creates a jumble of thicker pressure ridges. In fact, compare the thickness of the ice along the east coast of Greenland last October 28th (top map) with today’s(bottom map).

Thickness 20141028 arcticictnowcastThickness 20141227 arcticictnowcast

You may want to open these maps to new tabs and then click back and forth to compare them. What is clear is that a lot of the ice on October 28 is a lilac hue, indicating it is thin, only around a foot thick. Now it is a sky blue, indicating it is 5-6 feet thick, and even red right along the coast, indicating it is 12 feet thick. In conclusion, the ice moving down the coast of Greenland is not melting, though it is compressed to a narrower and narrow band along the coast, much of the time.

This ice, as well as the ice moving down the east side of Baffin Bay and then along the coast of Labrador, has a power the water lacks. The cold water takes a dive, under milder waters, but this ice floats right over milder waters, which swiftly become colder, as does the air. (Mixed in with this sea-ice are calved-off chunks of Greenland glaciers, which make them especially dangerous to ships like the Titanic). Such ice-water currents also can mess up carefully prepared models of how colder and milder currents should behave, for they are in effect a cold current that refuses to take a dive.  If a sizable raft of such bergs heads south they can create pockets of very cold water where, in theory, only milder water ought be, and if that water takes a dive much further south than models expect, you can imagine the frightful mess is makes of all the neatly drawn currents.

(My youngest son told me that when they were first engineering metal ships they did not calculate correctly for how much metal would shrink in such cold waters, and how brittle rivets would become, which was one reason the Titanic sunk so quickly, and was a reason early battleships developed unexpected major leaks. Live and learn…if you are an engineer…but if you are like some climate scientists, you live and never learn.)

The amazing thing is that Faboo is still somehow surviving to a degree where it still transmits pictures, though they still only show ink….though… perhaps… the late afternoon picture is a little less inky than the noontime shot? Arctic twilight peeking under clouds?NP3 1 1226A 2015cam1_2NP3 1 1226B 2015cam1_1


Below you will see why true meteorologists have been known to sneak off during all sorts of important events to glance at maps, for I missed a few due to Christmas and an investigation of Obamacare, and I can see I missed a crucial switch from the cold air being penned up at the Pole to the Pole becoming a whirlpool sucking up our planet’s warmth.

—–Missing Christmas Map—–

—–Two Missing Maps—

This is likely not the end of the whirlpool, for the GFS model shows a second influx of Atlantic air surging up to the ink of the Pole, where it vanishes into outer space. (These superb maps are produced by Dr. Ryan Maue from GFS data, and are available at the Weatherbell site.)

Initial (1800Z December 29) Whirl 1 gfs_t2m_arctic_118 Hour forecast (December 30 1200Z)Whirl 2 gfs_t2m_arctic_436 Hour forecast  (December 31 0600Z)Whirl 3 gfs_t2m_arctic_754 hour forecast (Happy New Year!!!)Whirl 4 gfs_t2m_arctic_10

In the final map a new, smaller swirl is forming north of Greenland, as the major swirl collapses and fills in. What is most impressive is the huge amount of air chilled. Don’t forget it begins above freezing, so you need to add in all the latent energy released, first as the water vapor becomes liquid, and then as it freezes. Also a lot of uplift is occurring, so the heat is raised up to the tropopause, which is lower at the Pole.

Perhaps the situation is analogous to a big, fat guy running to a swimming pool and doing a cannon ball at the center, and the splash being so big the pool winds up empty. Or maybe not. (I just like that image.) In any case what goes up must come down, and with all the air rising and cooling at the Pole air has got to be sinking around the edges. The situation aloft is very different from when we started this post. The “Polar Cell”, (if it exists at all and has not been replaced by a displaced “Ferrel Cell”), has been shunted down to Scandinavia.Whirl Upper gfs_z500_sig_arctic_1

Once I start peeking and prying into the doings of the upper atmosphere I am outside my pay-grade, and basically should either shut up, of simply express wonder and awe, however I will note what I have noted, and that is that when lows roll up to the Pole, Cold gets spilled south, (like water in the Pool a fat guy cannon-balls.) And our mild December has ended here in New Hampshire with our first snow.

Note the high pressure poking up from the Pacific into Alaska, in the above map. On the east side of such highs, arctic outbreaks can roar south. So I want it to go away, and kids want it to grow and bring more snow. So I check the map for midnight, when people in England are all shouting “Happy New Year!!!”Whirl Upper 2 gfs_z500_sig_arctic_10Yuk. Sure looks like that high is building, and the flow will be north-to-south west of Hudson Bay. But maybe Chinook air will get sucked in, or maybe the outbreak will veer towards Labrador and out to sea.

But how about that huge high north of Europe, at this 500 mb level? That may bring mild air to the Pole, but south of it, wouldn’t cold Siberian air start seeping east-to-west? In Europe, an east wind can come straight from Mordor.


If you are interested, the hoop-la can be found here:

It includes these maps, which I do believe are Dr. Ryan Maue maps, and were lifted from the Weatherbell site without proper credit being given:

I suppose they have to refer to the Icelandic storm as a “freak” to generate interest. It is the same thing as calling it “unprecedented”.  But they are careful to give no links to Weatherbell, or one might get all sorts of historical examples of similar situations with similar storms. That makes everything seem a bit humdrum, and I suppose some think no one will pay any attention if it has been seen before, and is actually used as an analog, to make Weatherbell forecasts.

This is absurd. When an F5 tornado is heading down your street towards your house, it makes not a cotton-picking bit of difference if it is the first F5 tornado ever seen on earth, or the 94,612th.  What matters is your survival, and the survival of those near and dear to you. What matters is what is actually happening. What matters is the Truth.

For the Washington Post to refer to a impressive Icelandic low as a “freak” storm may increase the dwindling circulation of the rag, but anyone who has paid any attention to the North Atlantic knows that, if you call that huge gale a “freak”, then the North Atlantic is full of freaks.  Even the brief period of NOAA records that the Post article refers to notes two storms with lower pressures. And one needs to be cognizant of the fact often the lowest pressure isn’t actually measured, but is estimated by a computer model.

In 1977, when I lived in Maine, I met a man who had served aboard a Liberty Ship during World War Two. Liberty Ships were tough but lumbering cargo vessels that wallowed across the Atlantic, bringing supplies to England under the constant risk of being sunk by German U-boats. They also often got clobbered by North Atlantic Gales. This old man told me the ferocity of the gales was beyond description, as was the way they appeared out of nowhere, in areas where the weather map showed nothing but an innocuous-looking low the day before. They made the Liberty ships wallow nearly 180 degrees, from side to side, and a few ships simply vanished.

Such ships were hastily built and not entirely well-designed, and the man had served on one ship where you could not get from the rear of the ship to the front without crossing a short stretch of open deck. During one stupendous gale he was ordered to come forward by the captain, so he had to cross the open deck. He tried to time his dash between waves, but was staggered by a blast of hurricane force winds and then a wall of unexpected water from an unexpected angle, and then, even though he tried to grip the railing with both hands and knees, was torn from the ship and hurled into the freezing cold water.

He said he knew he was a goner. There was no way the ship could even think of stopping to look for a man overboard (it was not allowed due to the threat of German torpedoes, even if weather made it possible). He looked up the black side of the ship, seeing the dim light of the deck high above, and thought of his young wife back home and his parents and then, very suddenly, he was not looking up at the ships deck, but looking down at it. Then with a slam that broke his arm he was smashed right in front of the doorway to the forward part of the ship, and scrambled through to report to the captain.

This is a good tale because it demonstrates that even the cruel sea has a merciful side. Quite incidentally it also demonstrates humongous gales have raged in the North Atlantic for decades, and the recent gale is no “freak”.

Nor are the above-freezing temperatures surging up towards the Pole “unprecedented.” All you need to do is look back over my notes covering the past two winters to see other examples of warm air surging north.

Not that I don’t think interesting stuff is being revealed to us. It is just that the Washington Post is, I fear, too seduced by the political agenda involved in the Global Warming hoax to see what is actually occurring.

So what is actually occurring? What seems to be happening is unusual cold at the Pole, caused by unknown reasons, is clashing with unusual warmth in the Pacific, caused by unknown reasons.

And yes, yes, yes, I know people like to think they understand the unknown reasons by sticking a name on it. It is like thinking you understand a spaced-out student by calling him autistic. You don’t really understand, but if you call the warm Pacific “the El Nino” or “the Blob”, then you can strut around like a school psychiatrist, pretending he understands the next Winston Churchill or Thomas Edison, when he doesn’t really have a clue.

In like manner, the cold Pole can have a name stuck on it, and be called “due to the Quiet Sun.” And maybe that is a beginning of understanding, but we should not pretend we are authorities when, in actual fact, we are all novices.  We should be more humble.

However the people at the Washington Post apparently do not believe humbleness sells papers. I disagree, but they will not even attempt my approach. I say humbleness sells, but they insist hoop-la sells.  And they are richer than I am, in terms of filthy lucre, so they think they are justified. (I am richer than they can even imagine, in terms of intangible stuff, so I feel I am justified.)

The weather doesn’t care a flying flip about such debates, as far as I can see, and just proceeds on its own path. So…what is actually occurring?

For one thing, a huge amount of heat is being squandered  up at the Pole. The Washington Post may exclaim about temperatures above freezing, fifty degrees above normal, rushing up there, but if you look at the maps I posted above you will see how quickly that heat is lost to outer space. If you watch the maps over the next few days you will see temperatures over the Pole go down and down.

For another thing, the bitter cold that was safely corralled up there is now dislodged south. Big changes are coming to Europe, which are described in detail by Joseph D’Aleo in one of his excellent blogs at Weatherbell. To put his detailed analysis in a nutshell, look at the two maps below, the upper map showing how above-normal temperatures could be in Europe, when the cold was safely corralled at the Pole, and the lower map showing the below-normal short-term future Europe faces, now that the cold is dislodged.Hoop la 3 ncep_cfsv2_80_t2anom_europeHoop la 4 ecmwf_t850a_eur_29What I hope you see is that the Washington Post is guilty of myopia, when it focuses on above normal temperatures at the Pole, without looking elsewhere.

However I do think the surge of warmth north is very interesting, and well worth watching. And I do think that, while me may be novices, there is something to be said by those who suggest we are watching a war between above-normal temperatures brought about by an El Nino clashing with below-normal temperatures brought about by The Quiet Sun.





I apologize for being slow to update the sea-ice posts. The sun has set up there until March, and I suppose I’m a very visual  person, (whatever that means), and when there is nothing to see there is no way for my lying eyes to inform my lips to blow the whistle on people who depend on models and never use their eyes or even step outside. This time of year I tend to drift away from drifting sea-ice, which is sort of an avocation, and to move more in the direction of my vocation, which is basically to survive. Survival is no easy thing this far north, which is why many pan handlers and bums head south this time of year, and why Syrian refugees are in grave danger when they head north.

One reason I work so tirelessly and unstintingly to recreate myself as a cantankerous anachronism is because modern people tend to be complete fools, when it comes to natural things such as winter. I push myself to be old-fashioned, and to have a pig in the freezer and firewood on the porch (and gas for the generator, for old-timers didn’t have freezers),  because those old timers had common sense about things like winter. Also they had common sense about natural things like sex, and rearing children, which is what I’m attempting to write about on a “local view” post, but I’m not sure I’ll dare publish.

Common sense isn’t politically correct, you see. You need to make a sort of modern-day version of Archie Bunker out of yourself. If figure that if I walk on eggs, and accept the roll of fool, maybe I can write in a manner so droll and humorous people won’t tar and feather me. After all, in long ago times, who was it who dared tell the king the truth, when truth was difficult to swallow? Often it was the court jester.

In any case, that is what I’m busy with, when there are no sea-ice posts. My vocation, with which I eek out a minimalist existence, happens to be Childcare on a farm, and that involves all sorts of government red-tape that is basically nonsense, and far more like a wrench-in-the-works of caring for children than it is helpful, but government meddling always os phrased in a manner that twangs heart strings as it is “For the Children.”  So that is what the Local View post will be called, “For the Children.”

Even when busy with my vocation, perhaps my vocation can leave me annoyed at times, and in need of distraction, so I do indulge my avocation and sneak peeks at the sea-ice situation, and it has raised my eyebrows a bit the past week, even though I didn’t write about it. Though it was pitch dark, a roar could be heard from the Pole.

Basically a long trough of low pressure developed, wider at the Atlantic side and dwindling to a peak short of the Bearing Strait on the Pacific side,  and this trough created a two-lane-highway of opposing winds, although I suppose you could argue the winds both traveled west-to-east. The more impressive fetch was on the Eurasian side, as strong high pressure developed over central Siberia, but strong winds were on the Canadian side as well. On the Eurasian side west-to-east winds roared from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and on the Canadian side west-to-east winds roared from the Pacific to the Atlantic. On the Eurasian side the winds had more mild air, and on the Canadian side the winds were bitterly cold.

Here are the DMI maps of the situation developing and then starting to fade.

DMI3 1117 mslp_latest.big DMI3 1117 temp_latest.bigDMI3 1117B mslp_latest.big DMI3 1117B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1118B mslp_latest.big DMI3 1118B temp_latest.big DMI3 1119 mslp_latest.big DMI3 1119 temp_latest.big DMI3 1119B mslp_latest.big DMI3 1119B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1120B mslp_latest.big DMI3 1120B temp_latest.bigDMI3 1121B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1121B temp_latest.big DMI3 1122 mslp_latest.big DMI3 1122 temp_latest.bigDMI3 1122B mslp_latest.bigDMI3 1122B temp_latest.big                            These maps do not show the cold air in Siberia, beneath the huge high pressure and south of the long west-to-east fetch along the Siberian Arctic coast. I thought the high pressure might press that cold air west towards Europe, but it never did.

The flow broke down when continental air was sucked up into the flow, breaking the long trough into two distinct systems, with the Pacific-side system now wrapping up its inflow of milder air, but cut off and likely to weaken, as the Atlantic-side system is likely to linger longer and attract more storms from the north Atlantic.

So what was the effect of the flood of warm Atlantic air? It pushed the edge of the sea-ice north in Barents Sea, and at the very edge of the snow in western Siberia, caused the snow-cover to retreat east to a degree where the edge of the snow is now “below normal.” But a glance at Dr. Ryan Maue’s map of arctic temperatures at the Weatherbell site shows that, first, the warming missed the core of the bitter cold in Siberia, and also rapidly cooled as it moved into the arctic darkness and left open waters for ice-covered waters.

DMI3 1122B cmc_t2m_arctic_1

These maps are in Fahrenheit, and the dramatic shift from Navy Blue to light grey represents the zero line. (-17° Celsius.) Two areas of extreme cold are in Siberia, (where the sky-blue turns to sky-blue-pink temperatures are below -40°, which is the only temperature fahrenheit and celsius agree about.)  Between them is a “warm” sector with temperatures below -20° Celsius. In that area the snow is deeper than normal, and extends further south than normal, which can be seen looking at the same scene sideways, with an Asian perspective:DMI3 1122B cmc_t2m_asia_1

I tend to see the surge of warmth into the Arctic as a loss of heat. It shows up in the temperature graph:DMI3 1122B meanT_2015 However “above normal” is temperatures that are down around -20°C, and well below the freezing point of salt water. Even with the roaring wind shoving the ice north in Barents Sea, the growth of the sea-ice doesn’t slow noticeably (which I actually expected.)DMI3 1122B icecover_current_new

One reason the ice extent graph still shows growth is because, while winds roared north in Barent’s Sea, they roared south in Fram Strait. The sea-ice, which had been dawdling to the north and often manifesting “wrong way” flows, surged south. Far faster than the ice were the cold winds, which don’t show up well on the two meter maps, as the open waters warm the air close to the sea, while only ten or twenty feet up the air may be much colder. For example the above maps don’t show much cold air reaching Iceland, but not far inland temperatures there dropped to -20° C:

Then this cold blast curved east towards Great Britain, and Europe, blocking the milder Atlantic air south of the Azores, and keeping it from reaching the arctic unless it took a convoluted route through the Mediterranean,  and even that route was blocked when the cold front from this blast reached the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. (I always like to bring Africa into a discussion of arctic sea-ice, if only because it so obviously annoys certain Alarmists.) Lastly, the cold air from this blast meant the air curving around and back up to Barents Sea was not as mild as one might expect a south wind to be. (It always pays to pay attention to an air mass’s source region, even though it may seem a bit old fashioned to label them on maps, as the old-time weathermen once did.)

In the end we have sea-ice much below normal in Barents Sea, and the western reaches of Kara Sea, and surprisingly close to normal in Fram Strait and down the east coast of Greenland.Extent 1122 N_bm_extent_hires

The above map also shows the refreeze starting in Northern Hudson Bay, behind schedule to the west and ahead of schedule to the north.  Once it gets going it usually proceeds pretty swiftly.Hudson Bay 20151122 CMMBCTCAReturning to Fram Strait, it is hard to find a map that gives a true picture of the situation, which involved multi-year ice only now starting south from the north, and much of the ice to the south home-grown “baby ice”, grown over the past few months by very cold north winds, and then crunched up against the coast, in places becoming a jumble that is far thicker than most think of baby ice being.Fram Ice 1122 general_20151120

I sometimes think  the only way to truly know the makeup of Fram Strait ice is to pay close attention on a day-by-day basis. We know the multi-year ice dawdled to the north because we watched it do so. We know the ice to the south is home-grown because we watched it grow.

Currently the O-buoy site is down, but we can watch Faboo (my name for the North Pole Camera) to see how that ice handled the blast.


On November 17 Faboo began to feel the roar, as winds remained between 20 and 26 mph all day, pushing the ice 17.14 miles nearly due south to 82.786°N, 6.041°W. Temperatures ranged from a high of -17.6°C at 0300Z to a low of -22.7°C at the end of the period (2100Z).

On November 18 the roaring lasted all day, with winds between 26 and 38 mph, peaking at 1500Z. The ice was barged 23.51 miles SSE. Temperatures in these gales ranged from a low of -23.8°C at 0300Z to a high of -20.9°C at noon.

On November 19 the roaring slowly faded away, as winds slowed from 26 mph down to 9 mph, and temperatures fell from -21.2°C at the start of the period to -26.4°C at the end. We traversed 14.51 miles SSE, finishing at 82.247°N, 5.149°W.

On November 20 calm descended, and the buoy only moved 6.76 miles, finishing at 82.153°N, 4.945°W. Temperatures remained very cold, -26.4°C for a low at midnight, up to only -25.5°C for a high at noon.

Though the buoy slowed, the 6.76 miles it moved on November 20 is still what we would have called a large amount, in September. In the five days of the roaring we moved further south than we did the entire month of September. And we are not a lone berg in open water, but a vast, flat area of ice with next to no open water beyond a few leads, which are likely freezing over swiftly, in this cold.

Faboo has now likely missed its very remote chance to be peeled off to the west and wind up in the Beaufort Gyre, and is now doomed to float south along the east coast of Greenland, and eventually melt. But remember the doom was not caused by “Global Warming” but by bitter blasts up to gale force that could freeze exposed skin in thirty seconds.