SCREAMERS (Or, “How to lose friends And Irritate People”)

I was first drawn into the Global Warming debate by accident, more than a decade and a half ago. As a latecomer to the internet, around 2002, I began blundering about the web, greatly enjoying the new sensation of chatting to total strangers in far away places, when I accidentally rubbed someone’s fur the wrong way, and they exploded.

As I recall the kerfuffle had something to do with Greenland and Vikings. I was telling a good tale about how the Atlantic was warmer when the Vikings were traveling to and fro between Norway and Greenland in open boats, and was describing how they were able to raise crops in Greenland on what is now permafrost. I thought such history was accepted fact. Abruptly I found myself under attack, and was a bit surprised by the zeal and ferocity of the attack.

Not that I am unacquainted with people becoming irate about inconsequential things. I once attended a baseball game at Fenway Park where a Yankees fan perhaps became a little too rude, and a Neanderthal arose from the row in front of him, turned around, and gave him a gorilla punch on the chest that made a sound like a bass drum.

However the response I received on the internet was more like the response you might get when you politely open a door for a suffragette, and she castigates you for being a chauvinist pig. I had no idea Greenland’s Vikings were such an inflammatory topic. After all, it was ancient history to me.

To be honest, I was secretly pleased by the response. As an unsuccessful writer I had spent years sending submissions off, and had received nothing but rejection slips. There is perhaps nothing quite as faceless and inhumane as a rejection slip. Getting castigated about Vikings was better than that.

Also I was not unacquainted with kerfuffles, because young artists are always confusing originality with being weird, and are always trying to be weirder than the next artist by thinking up something that has never been done before, irrespective of whether it is in good taste or not. (For example, putting a crucifix in a jar of urine.) After some wild times as a teenager I became jaded, and found such “originality” pointless and empty, perhaps because I noticed some things that are ancient are also always fresh and new. (For example, springtime). Therefore I became a very weird thing to be, for an artist of those days. I became more nonconformist than the nonconformists: Shortly before my twentieth birthday I became a conservative. (I also “got religion”.)

Not that I gave up on art completely; I still avoided paying rent and getting a Real Job, whenever possible, and foolishly spent money on coffee, beer and tobacco when I should have purchased food, and I liked talk much more than I liked action.

My talk led to further kerfuffles, because I was conservative concerning sex and drugs. Some found it outrageous that I should say monogamous marriage was a good thing. Many of my friends were bisexual or homosexual, and I explained to them I was a no-no-sexual. I remember one person called me the “token square” of the group. I learned how to debate; how to hold my ground in an argument. Back in those days debates could be civil, even fun, and discussions were “liberal” in the true meaning of the word. (One liberal belief of those times was that it was OK to be wrong, for you could always learn from your mistakes.)

I don’t blame people for having a sort of amnesia concerning the AIDS epidemic of the early 1980’s. It was not a happy time to be any sort of artist. However one victim of that time was, I believe, the idea you could learn from your mistakes. Where the Bible preaches a person should be forgiven seven times seventy times, AIDS didn’t forgive people even once. Entire neighborhoods became brief ghost towns, and then were re-populated as if AIDS had never happened, as if the nation hadn’t lost thousands of its most imaginative minds, and also lost a sort of crude honesty. People had to get on with their lives, and leave grief behind, but this willful amnesia, concerning trauma, does involve the word we all know and hate, called “denial.”

This change to the American psyche manifested in all sorts of ways, but I imagined I saw it manifesting as a sort of “gatekeeper” mentality among publishers. There were certain subjects they steered away from discussing, and these included the observations of a no-no-sexual concerning where the hippie concept of, “if it feels good, do it”, had landed us. To me it seemed a disservice to the people who had sacrificed their lives to AIDS not to say things that they, in their crude honesty, had stated at their end, concerning the so-called “freedom” of being addicted to sex and drugs. However perhaps such blunt truth was too opposed to the liberal narrative, which publishers made be their droning mantra. In any case, it was at that time I first felt that liberals were not being truly liberal any more. (Regan was the new president, and it was he who introduced the statement, “I didn’t leave the Democrat party; the Democrat party left me.”)

Also, since I am talking about blunt honesty, I should be honest and say there was another reason my submissions weren’t accepted. They sucked. Perhaps it is part of the process, when dealing with painful subjects, but the harder I worked at writing the worse my writing became. I knew it was bad, and, while I never completely gave up on writing, I gave up on hoping I’d ever be published.

One big problem I had was: A writer is suppose to write about something they know about, and there was something pathetic about a no-no-sexual writing about monogamous marriage. If I went into details about the love life of a no-no-sexual I’m afraid countless computer screens would be sprayed by coffee. Atlas cringed. Cupid rolled his eyes, and then left to seek psychiatric help.

Not that I was a virgin, but I was a bit like a young student fresh from college who presumes to lecture a grandmother of fifty about child-care. I lacked “real-life experience.” What I needed to do to remedy this shortcoming was muster the Vulcan objectivity of Star Trek’s Spock, find a single mother with three small children, and convince her to marry a 37-year-old failed-writer who had never held a job longer than seven months in his entire life. So I did it. If you don’t believe me, ask my wife. (Well, maybe I didn’t muster Vulcan objectivity, but I got the other parts right.) And now it is twenty-eight years later, and my writing does seem to have improved, somewhat. (Young authors, take heed.)

I first noticed this improvement back in 2002, when people actually started reading my writing. Before then it seemed all I needed to do was raise my index finger, say, “I have written something”, and there would be a jam in the doorway as all tried to flee the room. From my perspective, getting castigated by a total stranger on the web was a distinct improvement.

This brings me back to the original point I made 1198 words ago, which was that I became aware of the Global Warming debate around 2002 when I first entered the “World Wide Web,” and, due to a chance meeting, got screamed-at in print.

I immediately identified the person as the opposite of a true liberal; I.E: A “screamer.”

I was getting tired of being screamed-at. It seemed to be happening on an increasingly regular basis. Not only did I commit the faux pas of holding doors open for suffragettes, but I called people from Italy “Italians” and people from China “Chinamen”, and I failed to call Indians “Native Americans” and failed to call Eskimos “Inuit”. In terms of the grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of America’s former slaves, I was always one step behind the eight ball of political correctness; I got screamed-at for calling them “Negro”, “Colored”, “Blacks”, “Afro-American”, and “African-American”. Amazingly, I almost never screamed back. This was due to a addictive herb that eventually destroyed my lungs. When someone screamed-at me I could always light up and inhale deeply. Of course, it was right at this time everyone began screaming-at people who smoked.

However getting screamed-at for saying the Vikings grew barley in Greenland was a new one, for me. It intrigued me. I lit up, inhaled deeply, and then replied to the screamer on the web in my best, most ingratiating, prosaic version of a-dog-with-its-tail-between-its-legs. Placated, the screamer calmed down and politely informed me everything I thought I knew about Vikings was incorrect, because his Bible said so. Only he didn’t use the word “Bible.” He used the words “IPCC Report”.

In retrospect I think the people behind that report had a very low opinion of the ability of ordinary laymen to gather data on their own. They failed to understand that, while ordinary people do not keep the records that academics do, they often have minds like sponges concerning trivia. Sports reporters are aware of this, because they often meet fans who know more about particular teams and ball-players than they do, and who have this knowledge right at their fingertips. (I once told a Math teacher I couldn’t memorize, andthe clever teacher then asked me what Carl Yastrzemski’s batting average was in 1963, and without a pause I answered “.321″.) However other members of the media considered the general public to be ignoramuses and “sheeple.” Many could not comprehend the sheer bulk of knowledge ordinary people collect as a hobby. Perhaps they didn’t interview enough, for, if you have the time, you can learn a great deal of history from a grandmother, if you just ask her about the clutter of objects strewn about her parlor and on her coffee table. And also, long before the AMO was “officially” discovered by meteorologists, you could learn of it if you bothered to listen to garrulous old fishermen on the coast of Maine.

What the writers of the IPCC report didn’t know about an ignoramus like myself was that I’d been fascinated by Vikings since I was six years old, when my father took me to a strange structure by the banks of the Charles River near Boston called “Norembega Tower”.

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The structure was erected by a crackpot named Eben Horsford, who likely did more to confuse the history of Vikings than to clarify it, but Norembega Tower did (along with my father) open my eyes to the mysterious history of New England before the Mayflower.

Between 1959 and 2002 I’d had 43 years to poke about, as a hobby, because I was curious. I should add I was 21 years old before I left the vicinity of Norembega Tower, and that involved boyhood and adolescence, (wherein one pokes and snoops in improper ways and in improper places). I could go on for pages about the odd lore I learned about that area, the pictographs; the peculiar copper objects plowed up in fields and used as scrap metal; the lore early Puritans learned from the final survivors of the Massachusetts tribe. It was so fascinating and engrossing that I continued to seize upon every article I could find, every obscure book I could pour through. (One thing about failed-writers like myself is that, when we are broke and weather gets cold, a warm place to hang out is a town’s public library, and, if you have to hang out there rather than with babes in a nightclub, you might as well read books about Vikings.)

To cut a 500-page-story short, by 2002 I had collected a lot of trivia pertaining to Vikings. I kept no notes, any more than a sports fan keeps notes. It was a hobby, interesting to me but, I assumed, not to many others. It was like a grandmother’s clutter, quite interesting stuff, if you have the time to visit and ask questions and listen to the answers, but about as useful as your uncle’s collection of butterflies, when it came to paying my bills.

I knew so much trivia about Vikings that it was instantly obvious to me that the IPCC report was attempting to “erase the Medieval Warm Period”, because it was at variance to everything I had ever learned about Greenland‘s Vikings.

Initially I supposed some stupendous discovery lay behind the change to the history books. After all, the Piltdown Skull was only exposed as a hoax the year I was born, and older textbooks I poured through as a child still regarded it as authentic. The theory of Continental Drift exploded onto the scene during the 1960’s, so I knew fresh discoveries could rewrite geology books. However there were no fresh discoveries in the IPCC report, concerning Vikings. There was only the willful ignoring of knowledge that already existed.

I think being tested sometimes clarifies things. For example, one time when I was young I was stating pacifism was a good thing, and my older brother responded that pacifists were weenies, so I took a swing at his jaw. I flunked that test. In like manner, if you want to test how patient, tolerant and kind Christians are, light up a cigarette in church. In 2002 I discovered a good way to see how liberal so-called liberals actually were was to criticize the IPCC report. One was able to quickly ascertain whether a person was a screamer or not. As far as I was concerned, many liberals flunked liberalism.

As much as I liked the attention I got, I found the web a lonely place at first. In 2002 there were no sites like “Climate Audit,” “Watts Up With That,” or “Real Climate Science,“ and the sites I did find tended to be increasingly “disappearing” the Medieval Warm Period. I found it unnerving. Perhaps it was not as bad as actual people being “disappeared”, as happened in Argentina in the late 1970‘s and early 1980‘s, but it was creepy all the same, especially when I seemed to be the only one noticing.

It is when you are alone that the self-doubt sets in. It’s unpleasant, but probably a good thing, because if you don’t wonder if you are deluded, every now and again, then you probably are. Fortunately I’d been toughened up by rejection slips and, even tougher, the rejections of beautiful women, and had survived miserable moments which didn’t seem momentary at the time. Now I was unexpectedly a married man with a small business. What did I care if fools wanted to disappear the Medieval Warm Period? Yet I did care. Not only was a 500-year-long tale and mystery being forgotten, but the hard work of many scientists was being relegated to what Trotsky called “The dustbin of history.”

In order to survive the sense of being marginalized I reached into my bag of tricks, for ego-bolstering gadgets I’d used as an unsuccessful writer and a no-no-sexual. For example, it helps to tell yourself you aren’t the first to be laughed-at: There were people who stated that the Piltdown skull was made of two skulls joined together at the time of its discovery, who were scorned, and informed they were “merely jealous.” In like manner Alfred Wegener was not the first to be ignored for suggesting continents drifted. The applause of the politically correct is not the true measure of true correctness. Paul Simon traced a truth when he sang:

“Such are promises: All lies and jest,
But a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”

Therefore I was prepared to hold my beliefs firmly, without being agreed with, but then came the delight of discovering I wasn’t the only one noticing the Medieval Warm Period being disappeared. Besides screamers, I met thinkers on the web. They directed me to John L. Daly’s website, “Still Waiting For Greenhouse”, and my delight increased.

In some ways I was slow to catch on to what was occurring. Dawn broke slowly on Marblehead. I initially had the naïve belief that scientists were not corruptible, as if the whiteness of a lab-coat signified sainthood. Mistakes might be made, but certainly not on purpose. Words beginning with the “F” sound, such as “fake”, “fudged”, “phony,” and “fraud”, were not to be used. But then, with a slowly growing sense of incredulity, cracks in the facade of the so-called “consensus” began to appear. Sites like Climate Audit popped up overnight, as miraculous as mushrooms, and, due to the tedious and painstaking work of men like McIntyre and Mckitrick, good, old-fashioned, liberal dialog occurred.

Personally, much of their math was above my head, but I do have a good nose for the reek of politics, and the stink of corruption was increasingly palpable. Event followed event, from the marginalization and de-funding of honest scientists like William Gray to the bloated, incorrect pontifications of Al Gore to the corruption of Wikipedia by William Connolley through the hockey stick debacle of Michael Mann and on to Climategate, until a person would have to be a complete moron not to smell a rat, it seemed to me, yet still the screamers behaved like see-no-evil monkeys. Increasingly they were like monkeys that screamed at you, but back before Climategate there were still a few who would try to explain their delusions in a articulate, civil and humane manner. (God bless them.)

Their explanations always seemed to involve petty details about whether minimum-maximum thermometers were reset at noon or at sunset, or some such quibble, and this quibble was then put into a computer and blended at the puree-setting, and in the end a sludge was extruded that suggested it was warmer now than in the Dust Bowl. I confess I simply didn’t have the patience and stamina of people like McIntyre and Mckitrick, who could follow them step by step through the quibble and “keep their eye on the pea.”

But why bother? I’d known old men who actually lived in Kansas and Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl, and who had fought to avoid becoming dispossessed Okies, and who won the battle, and kept their farms, at a time 2.5 million fled the parched landscape as refugees. The tales they told left absolutely no doubt. No modern heat-wave comes close to what they experienced. Where we whimper about the electrical bills our air conditioners run up, when a heat wave has a few days above a hundred, they experienced day after day with temperatures well above 110 degrees, with no rain, and with dust everywhere, even inside the icebox, and with static electricity so bad that men stopped shaking hands and cars dragged grounding-chains so the vehicle’s spark plugs would work correctly. Anyone who thinks it is hotter now than in the 1930’s is not merely a moron. They are dead wrong.

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I mean, does it really matter all that much whether you are reading thermometers at noon or sunset, when the maximum, registered automatically, rarely is above 110° now, but was above 110° day after day, summer after summer, in the mid 1930’s? Do you have any idea what those people endured, without air conditioners? Are you trying to say they exaggerated, and were liars when they noted down the temperatures at their weather stations? Do you think it makes you look tougher than they were, to say it is hotter now? You’re an idiot.

It should now be obvious to you that I had (and have) a tendency to scream at the screamers. It has been my downfall ever since I attempted to slug my brother for saying pacifists were weenies. In fact the first time I ever had a comment “disappeared” from a website was not at an Alarmist website, (because I almost never commented there). Rather it was at Climate Audit, where I told Steve McIntyre he was too nice, because the people he was dealing with were….and then I used a lot of words beginning with the “F” sound.

Being disappeared from Climate Audit made me stop and think. The experience was as crushing as a rejection slip. But it came from someone I respected far more than the publishers who rejected my writing. After due consideration, I decided it probably was unwise to scream at the screamers.

I also decided that, to avoid screaming, I should avoid getting in over my head. I should avoid anything resembling Math class. I should avoid anything involving computer code. I should avoid anything that quibbled about when thermometers were read. Rather I should stick with what the thermometers read. I should stick with the bare knuckled stuff, the stuff that people who work outside actually experience.

For, when you think of it, the Vikings of Greenland had no computers. They had no maximum-minimum thermometers, so they didn’t have to worry about whether to read them at noon or at sunset. But they did have to survive, and in doing so they did stuff we can’t. They plowed fields where we can’t. They raised 2000 cattle and 100,000 goats and sheep where we can’t. They supplied hay in winter for these herds where we can’t. They supplied water for these vast herds, in the dead of winter where everything now freezes, where we can’t. And when they died, they were buried in graves where we would need a jackhammer to penetrate the permafrost. Most amazing of all, they were able to do all these things we can’t do, even though it was colder then than it is now.

Bwah-ha-ha! Do you see how diabolical I’m being? I’m avoiding all arguments with Michael Mann, ducking all his dweebie computer codes and math, for I’m agreeing that his malarkey-conclusions are correct. I’m facetiously saying indeed it was colder back then. But this makes the Vikings look even more amazing then they already looked, back before the Medieval Warm Period got erased. Where Herbert Lamb explained how the Medieval Warm Period made the Viking’s amazing achievements possible, Michael Mann’s revisionist history makes Vikings look superhuman.

In essence Michal Mann has proven that, if you leave Vikings alone, they can do superhuman stuff. This makes him a libertarian. The progressives will begin to regard him with deep suspicion, and start to consider sending him to a gulag to be reeducated.

(Bwah-ha-ha! Perhaps this is not called “science“. Perhaps it’s called “revenge“.)

Leaving Michael Mann to stew in his own juices freed me to compile some bare knuckled stuff of my own. I had to compile, because it had become obvious to me, when dealing with screamers in various chat rooms, that I was unarmed. There was a weapon used called “the link.” It wasn’t enough to simply say, “Look, buddy, I’ve spent 43 years studying Vikings, and what you are saying is horns-waggle.” They would demand a link, preferably to a peer-reviewed study. And then they would hit me with a link, usually to an IPCC study, which wasn’t very fair, for my pathetic computer would freeze up when I tried to download the massive things. Often I had to resort to trickery, typing something like, “Which point are you referring to? Please clip and paste.” In this way I didn’t have to read the whole damn IPCC report, but just got significant punch-lines. Somewhat accidentally, this turned out to be an important phase in dealing with screamers: Move the discussion from the general to the specific.

No one seemed very interested in what I had learned in 43 years of browsing. I knew trivia that might have lifted their eyebrows to their hairlines, but they were more interested in telling me I was wrong. Therefore I developed the strategy of asking questions, (even though I privately thought I knew it all, and they were the ignoramuses). This strategy turned out to be smart, for I not only learned I don’t know it all, and learned new trivia, but also it turned out that asking questions was a great way to move the subject from the general to the specific.

Once the subject became specific, another wonderful phenomenon might occur. A lurker in the chat room would get tired of watching me ask questions, and seeing me be lectured by a screamer, and they’d become exasperated. They would interrupt, in a sense shoving me aside and challenging the screamer with specific rebuttals, including the all-important “links”. This allowed me sit back and be lazy, and to check out both Alarmist links and Skeptic links at my own leisure.

The best discussions involved Alarmists who were only screamers part of the time, and had a streak of old-fashioned liberalism. Part of the time they allowed you get a word in edgewise. Battles of links occurred, not on a general level but a specific level, and, because things were discussed on a specific level, point by point various things asserted in the IPCC report’s conclusions were rebutted.

This could not happen in chat rooms that were too rigorously moderated. Strict moderators were too prone to “disappear” opposing views, leaving a situation that resembled parrots in an echo chamber. However, without moderation, things could deteriorate swiftly to a barroom brawl, unless the people in the barroom supplied some moderation of their own. Occasionally one could chance upon such a barroom. Occasionally one bumbled into a chat room where people were less concerned with “winning”, and were just plain curious.

For a short period of time in 2005 and 2006, one such place I found was the Accuweather Global Warming chat room. Initially it did resemble a barroom, for initially the moderator Brett Anderson was like a permissive parent, and allowed the children to run wild. However, in one of those rare moments when humanity behaves sanely, the people in the barroom moderated themselves, slightly, at least some of the time, and there was old-fashioned liberal debate, with people actually displaying curiosity about another’s views, and actually learning, (and all sorts of links flying to and fro).

The best exchanges were between an Alarmist who called himself “Brookline Tom” and a Skeptic who called himself “Patrick Henry”. They could be very rude to each other, but were rude with wit that made me laugh, and also they had the decency to supply links to each other to make their points. Consequently a great deal of learning occurred. Sadly the moderation at the site became far more strict in 2007, both were eventually banned, and then the learning ceased.

It might be fun at some point to dig up the old transcripts of that site, during its rowdier period, so people could see what it looks like to have a positive debate despite uproars, where learning occurs and one sees a movement forward. One thing I have noticed about some so-called “progressives” is that they don’t like such progress. Some believe debate involves out-screaming ones opponant. They don’t want to learn, and say things such as “the science is settled”, which are a stumbling block to learning anything new.

“The science is settled” accepts the presupposition that there is nothing left to learn. I don’t like the idea because it is, above all, very boring. It also suggests we were born with voices due to some sort of evolutionary mistake. While some husbands might grant that evolution made a mistake to give their wives voices, for the most part we recognize that we have voices for a positive reason. At the very least we are suppose to alert each other to unseen dangers, so adjustments can be made. Even the most despotic captain will have a sailor at the bow of the boat to alert him to hidden reefs and floating debris; a government without such feedback is like a ship without a tiller to change course with, heading steadfastly for a reef. Feedback is necessary to change course, and the necessary feedback often manifests as debate.

There are situations where the turning of the tide creates swirls in the entrance of harbors that look all the world like surf breaking on a shallow bar, though the water is in fact deep. There are also situations where a dredged channel at the entrance of a harbor is filled-in by storm, and a new sandbar abruptly appears where charts state the channel is safe. In truth the only changeless thing is change itself, and the captain who relies too much on any sort of autopilot, (and “the science is settled” is an autopilot), is liable to see his ship become an Exxon Valdez.

Anyway, if “the science was settled” there would have been no need for revisions of the IPCC reports. The very fact there were revisions either indicated a culprit was changing his alibi, or it proved the science wasn’t settled after all. Differences between the body of the report and the “Summary for Policymakers” were also unsettling. Furthermore, even if one accepted the idea of “95% confidence,” that also allowed for 5% doubt. Lastly, a lot of the “science” was the nitpicking monkeying-around that drives me to the verge of being a screamer, and who wants that?

I was far more comfortable in the bare knuckled world of the outdoors, and it became fairly obvious to me, early on, that screamers in the Global Warming debates were not all that familiar with the outdoors. This seemed odd to me, considering “climate” is not an indoors thing. So I asked lots of polite questions. I discovered that a few screamers had been on “field studies” as interns, and, when prodded, tended to wax romantically and even to miss the experience. However for most screamers such study was an experience of their youth, all but forgotten in their myopic concentration on flickering computer screens. And for others, screens was all they has ever known. They spoke of tree rings, but had never chainsawed a tree in their life. Their view of the sea was a satellite view. They didn’t know the sea a fisherman knows.

I recognized this put me at an advantage, for I had spent time at sea, in boats big and small, and had cut lumber and scanned tree rings, and worked on farms. Furthermore, I has met and talked with men who had spent far more time at sea than I had, cut and milled far more lumber than I had, and farmed far longer and more successfully than I ever dreamed of farming, and such people impart a wealth of knowledge, though not called professors. Lastly, one rule I had hammered into my head as a young writer was that you should not write about things you don’t know about, for, if you do, you risk looking like a fool.

Just as an example, I had some book-learning about buffalo, but no actual experience of how powerful they are until I saw a herd approach a road at Yellowstone Park. Traffic stopped and tourists busily clicked pictures, blissfully unaware they had created a bumper-to-bumper roadblock for the buffalo. A big bull then shifted a few cars and the herd crossed the road. This impressed me with how strong buffalo are, for I’d never seen cows shift cars like that, but then, the same summer, a tough cowboy down on the Arizona-New Mexico border informed me, (not really asking), that I was going to help him pick up a couple of buffalo and move them to a pasture beside his tourist-trap, as they would persuade tourists to stop. We had to transport them fifteen miles. To cut a long story short, the horse-trailer began with a square shape and when we off-loaded the buffalo it was a rounded horse-trailer. I received no college credits, but I think I know more about the strength of buffalo than people who have studied environmentalism in college, and who sometimes presume to lecture me.

The worst of such people honestly could not tell a buffalo from a musk ox, but are far too big for their britches. They are as foolish as a young no-no-sexual thinking he has a clue about monogamous marriage, and, because I have been that foolish, rather than telling buffalo-experts they do not know their ass from their elbow, I ask a question. In this example the question might be, “Have you ever moved two buffalo fifteen miles in a horse trailer?” How they respond will tell you a lot. If they show interest then there is hope, for they may be a true student. If they get huffy, and lift their nose, and sneer, then there is little hope they are anything but a dyed-in-the-wool screamer.

Despite the fact my temper occasionally ruins things, for the most part I have been a good student, for I have discovered others have done things I simply haven’t found the time to do. I may have moved a buffalo, but have never yet moved a yak, and therefore ,if I met someone who casually mentioned they’d moved a yak, I’d be all ears, and ask all sorts of follow-up questions.

I think I became a good interviewer because in my youth hitchhiking was a great form of public transportation, and this involved being picked up by total strangers, and it was only polite to ask polite questions. However I soon moved beyond mere politeness. Because I hitchhiked long distances, for example from Boston to Montreal or Florida, I had some long conversations, and heard some tales which were amazing. A man might have returned from Vietnam years earlier and, during a long drive into the night, chose to unload a tale he hadn’t even told his wife. I got the feeling most people live lives which are humdrum 95% of the time, but all have a 5% that is so mind-blowing that they deserve to be listened to. To call people “sheeple” is to miss something beautiful. It is like missing the most spectacular sunset in ten years, because you are engrossed with your cellphone, or contemplating your navel.

Though times have changed and hitchhiking is no longer the option it once was, I find I now have the same experience by studying history. 95% of history may be banal and boring, but 5% is astounding. I think this may have been what attracted me to Vikings in the first place. Their strange idea of heaven let them dare do stuff I‘d never dare. The more I looked the more I was amazed. Who were the “Rus” of Russia? Vikings. Who guarded the final Roman emperors of the Byzantine Empire? Vikings. Who were the Normans who conquered Saxon England? Vikings. Why is Northern Ireland different from Ireland? Vikings. What made the common law of Yorkshire different from southern England’s, (Daneslaw), and contributed to the independence of the dukes up there, and thus was part of what sparked the Magna Carta? Vikings. Who colonized Greenland successfully, for twice as long as the United States has existed? Vikings.

The Vikings are not the only ones who step outside the dull norm, and dare to be great. History has all sorts of examples of adventurers, both winners and losers. And it just so happens that some of these adventurers visited Greenland, and the arctic. Now that I’m too old to go to sea, (or to hitchhike for that matter), I hitchhike in a different way. There are so many great tales; so many great journeys to join.

Somewhat accidentally, if you go on these adventures with bygone men, you learn about sea-ice conditions. This enables you to recognize certain “reconstructions” of past sea-ice situations are just plain silly, for there is no way the adventurers could have sailed where they sailed without open water. (For a sailing ship could be halted by as little as an inch of sea-ice.)

For example, I never set out to learn the sea-ice conditions in Hudson Bay in the years 1610 through 1614. I just did some armchair-hitchhiking, and traveled up that way with Henry Hudson aboard the Discovery. I shared their joy as they came through Hudson Strait and headed south in Hudson Bay, thinking they were in the Pacific. I understood their dismay when they found no warmer lands, and became trapped when ice formed in the fall, and endured the long winter ashore in James Bay. The next spring, when Henry wanted to explore onward, the crew mutinied and set him, his son, and seven loyal members of the crew adrift in a shallot. For a day Henry and his crew desperately rowed after the Discovery, but finally they faded into the distance, and Henry was never seen again.

Screamers 1 220px-Last_Voyage_Of_Henry_Hudson

Two years later Thomas Button sailed the Discovery and another ship back there, searching for Henry but finding no sign of him, and continuing on to explore the west coast of Hudson Bay and perhaps up the Nelson River to Lake Winnipeg. They spent a winter frozen in at the mouth of the Nelson River, and then continued north up the west coast, searching for a route to the Pacific. The sea-ice was bad enough to cost them their second ship, the Resolution, and in September they headed back to England.

Now imagine, if you will, I am in a chat room on line and meet a young whippersnapper who is convinced we are now experiencing “unprecedented” melting at the Pole, and he directs me to a link that shows far more sea-ice in the past, and this link suggests Hudson Bay was inaccessible because Hudson Strait was frozen up during the Little Ice Age. Can you blame me for asking a little question? Namely, “How did Henry Hudson and Thomas Button get in there, if the strait was frozen?” Sometimes even a simple question like this can start the screaming, and get me called “a denier”.

It’s a pity, because screamers miss so many cool stories. For example, Luke Foxe battled sea-ice to enter the Bay through Hudson Strait in 1631, and explored down the west coast of the Bay, and what does he discover? Another Englishman, named Thomas James. (There is an interesting sidetrack here, about the rivalry and competition between the merchants of London and the merchants of Bristol, but I must try to keep on track.)

All these tales drifted about in my head during the last century, and people had a tenancy to roll their eyes when I shared what I knew. They dismissed me as a sailor spinning yarns, especially if they deemed themselves more educated than me. It is sad but true that education makes some people stupid. (In 1974 I witnessed an old lobster-man try to tell a oceanography student about the AMO, twenty years before it was officially discovered, and I’ll never forget how smug and condescending the young man was.) But one of the wonders of the internet is that you can search and find links. (Of course, one can always assume the link might be to a fraud, and sometimes they are.) But for what its worth, here’s a link to the meeting of Luke Foxe and Thomas James in Hudson Bay in August, 1631:

https://libweb5.princeton.edu/visual_materials/maps/websites/northwest-passage/james-foxe.htm

A lot of the adventuring I read about was prompted by the greed of merchants, and their hope to get rich quick. The French had monopoly on the fur trade, but two Frenchmen had heard there were rich lands, in terms of fur, up towards Hudson Bay. The French governor didn’t want power shifting away from the Saint Lawrence River, and forbid them from exploring, and when they headed north anyway, and returned with heaps of furs, the governor confiscated the furs. Bad move. The two men headed straight to Boston to stir up the greed of merchants there. That is how we know Hudson Strait was choked with sea-ice in 1663. The voyage up from Boston couldn’t get into Hudson Bay. The Boston merchants had invested in a “bad risk”. Then the two Frenchmen headed off to London, the Nonsuch sailed in 1668, and that is how we know Hudson Strait was open in 1668, for 1668 marked the establishment of the first post of the Hudson Bay Company, (and also of a hundred years of war with France in Canada, because the French didn’t want the English butting in to their fur monopoly).

In any case, my point is that sea-ice was never the focus of my armchair-hitchhiking. I simply couldn’t afford a yacht, because I never had a million-seller, and therefore had to go on vicarious adventures, sitting in public libraries to stay warm, or, when slightly better off, sitting in taverns with fishermen.

The college-educated tended to sniff and discredit many tales as “mere lore”, and to refuse to speculate without actual artifacts. But things did happen without leaving much of a trace. Even when they left a trace the trace might get bulldozed. For example, not far from Norumbega Tower there was a sandy field that had never been plowed, because it was deemed too sterile to be more than pasture. Yet the Massachusetts tribe had figured out how to use it to grow corn. They scraped the topsoil together into mounds, gathered herring from the Charles River, and stuck a herring in each mound. The lumps were still faintly visible in that pasture when my father was a boy. Now it is a parking lot. The proof is gone. That evidence has entered the world of lore, and stuffy archaeologists refuse to accept lore.

(I discovered there is actually a way to get stuffy archaeologists to speculate. Buy them a beer, and then another, and then another. Then you may see their eyes get dreamy, and learn some interesting lore, but the next morning you’ll find them cross, hung-over, and again dismissive.)

The further back you get in time towards the Vikings of Greenland the more you enter the landscape of lore. One reason for this is that merchants back then were secretive. You stood to have your goods confiscated if the government found out you didn’t have the proper permits. The Greenland Vikings were great traders, but towards the end faced taxes imposed by the King of Norway, the Hanseatic League, and the Pope. One could hardly blame them if they vanished from the official records and lived as smugglers.

Also one trade item of that time was human beings. Ships could swoop into coastal towns and snatch up people who didn’t run fast enough. This didn’t merely occur in Africa; there were over a million white slaves, in Muslim lands and even among rich Christians. In fact some theorize that may have been the end of the final Greenland Vikings. Pirates swooped in and they were swept off to the Mediterrean, which might have been a blessing in disguise. Most of their livestock had been killed by cold, and as slaves they might have even been better fed. Certainly they would have been warmer.

Also just as certainly such an act of piracy and enslavement would be talked about in waterfront taverns. There is all sorts of speculation about the coincidence of having two Italians, Christopher Columbus and John Cabot, both become interested in lands across the Atlantic, and in sailing west, at the same time. (John Cabot is also recorded as transporting at least one slave from Egypt and selling the slave in Crete.) They were both experienced traders and travelers, and both visited Bristol, where there was lore that men crossed the Atlantic in the 1470’s, (but no evidence).

The only evidence of cross-Atlantic-voyages that we have involves men who sought royal sponsors, and thus are men who still exist to this day, in yellowed parchments. It is likely there were other sailors who preferred to remain unknown, but, (unless you know how crazy sailors can be,) such likelihood is dismissed as “unfounded”. Adding to all the mystery is that John Cabot’s third and final voyage was funded by England but aimed into western lands the Pope had officially given to Spain, and there is no record of any return. In fact the textbooks of my youth stated Cabot had “died at sea”. Lore speculated otherwise, fueled by a map of that time which shows the east coast of North America despite the fact we have no official record of any explorer sailing that coast. The lore suggests the return of Cabot’s third voyage was top-secret, and that other top-secret voyages also occurred, with other captains. Why should things be so hush-hush? Well, Spain had it’s spies. And we do have a yellowed letter from a (perhaps traitorous) Englishman to Christopher Columbus, describing what John Cabot was up to before he left on his third voyage.

During my youth the only way to look at rare books and yellowed documents was to travel to far away places and get permission to see them. Most history came through a sort of filter, as the person who actually could afford to travel and look at ancient papers had to decide what trivia was important and what could be discarded. Different viewers would seize upon different items as important, and this led to all sorts of interesting variations stemming from what was in some cases the exact same documents. In other cases the inclusion of a single scrap of new, yellowed information resulted on a whole new take on what had occurred in the mists of the past.

Now such documents are scanned and made available on the web, and a person can, without leaving their chair, accomplish research in an hour that would have formerly taken thousands of miles of travel and years of effort. It is wonderful, even if it seems to stimulate as much wild speculation as it puts to rest.

One thing I greatly enjoy is to see some fragment of lore, which I was told was ridiculous to even consider, emerge and become, if not fact, at least plausible. For example, due to a yellowed letter of King Henry VII being discovered and published in 2007, an explorer named William Weston now “might“ have explored up to the mouth of Hudson Bay in 1499. He didn’t even exist, as an explorer, fifteen years ago. Not that his journey is an established fact, but it does suggest I wasn’t a complete dope to listen to lore and entertain hypotheses. And it is always reassuring to learn you not a complete dope.

Which is what the screamers do: Call people complete dopes. They completely close down a conversation, refusing to even entertain a new idea. I am at a loss to explain why anyone would want to be so narrow. But this narrowness seems to be important to understand, because, (to me at least), it seems screaming is becoming more and more commonplace.

I can only conclude there is a great dread of being “wrong”. A differing view is seen as a terrible threat, as if mankind’s Universal Mind is a one-party-system and all dissidents must be sent to a gulag to be reeducated. You had better be “right”, because the alternative is dreadful.

Oddest is that the very people who hold this narrow view pay lip-service to the idea of “respecting diversity”. Under examination, however, this “respect” entails never stating your personal view, because it might offend a differing view. It is a preposterous commandment. How can one be honoring difference, if one isn’t allowed to differ?

The escape from this downward spiral of fear is to stop being afraid of being wrong. Instead demonstrate it is good fun to be wrong. How? By showing that every time you see you were wrong you are opening your eyes to something new, something enlightening. It is actually pleasant to have a light bulb go off in your head.

This should also be the case when correcting another. You are not clobbering them over the head by calling them a complete dope. Reeducation shouldn’t involve the pain and penalties of a gulag. Rather it is enlightenment. (This was the idea behind the old liberalism, that now seems so forgotten).

Therefore, when faced with some rabid Alarmist who is utterly freaking out about the sight of melt-water pools on arctic sea-ice, I don’t tell them they are are a complete dope, for, even if they are 99.99% a dope, that is not a complete dope.  There’s a little bit of God in everyone, even if it is only .01%, and you don’t want to tread on God.

Another word for “a dope” is “ignorant”, and we are all ignorant about some things. The best way to deal with ignorance is to arrest it with enlightenment. Ask questions, even if you are fairly sure of what they’ll answer. Ask them, “What’s so alarming about a melt-water pool?” Find out what the starting point is, and move on from there, keeping the emphasis on wonderment. For example, if they are stressing that melt-water pools are a new phenomenon, ask, “I wonder what caused the melt-water pool on the DC-3 runway on Fletcher’s Ice Island in 1959?” And don’t be snide about it. Ask as if you really want to hear, and wait patiently for what they come up with. It could be interesting.

Of course, some will never want to admit they never heard of Fletcher’s Ice Island, which is fun to watch, but there will be a few who will inquire, “What was Fletcher’s Ice Island?” Then you must seize the chance to tell a good tale of arctic adventure.

Make your eyes very round, and describe how crazy the pilots were, landing aircraft with no landing lights and terrible visibility and deplorable navigation aids. Tell of the first airplane to land at the Pole in March 1952, and how this national heritage artifact crashed on Fletcher’s Ice Island in November the same year.

Screamers 2 220px-1972_photo_of_wrecked_usaf_c-47_aircraft_on_t3

Don’t forget to tell how the men on Fletcher’s Ice Island could only be supplied by airdrops in the summer, when the ice grew too slushy for landings, or about the time the generator failed and they all faced freezing to death as they frantically rebuilt it. You might mention the one murder, and also the complete chaos that descended another time, when two women were sent to the Island for a while and a multitude of men fell in love with them all at once. A lot happened between 1952 and 1978. And lastly, while your at it, you might casually drop a link to a scientific paper written in 1952 indicating plenty of summer melting occurred back then. Fletcher’s Ice Island had lakes and flowing streams (and gravel and a set of caribou antlers.)

http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic5-4-211.pdf

The point of all this is to show that learning something new doesn’t need to involve a gulag. It can be filled with wonder and amazement. The arctic involves amazing tales of survival. I could tell fifty, but, as I am at risk of becoming far too long-winded, allow me to conclude with unseemly haste.

Members of the 1871 Polaris expedition saw their captain murdered, and then were abandoned on an ice flow, and drifted from Nares Strait 1800 miles to off the coast of Labrador, where they were rescued by a sealing ship. Not only does this teach about the tenacity of the human spirit, but teaches about the drift of sea-ice in Baffin Bay.

In like manner, the attempt of Nansen during 1893-96 to reach the Pole is an epic. (Blue line: Drift of the ship Fram locked in sea-ice. Green Line: Nansen and Johanson’s journey by sledge and kayak.)

Screamers 3 400px-Nansen_Fram_Map.svg

There are lessons in failure as well. Three men died attempting to reach the Pole by balloon in 1897, yet we have film and records of their effort, discovered with their corpses on an Arctic island in 1930.

Screamers 4 Eagle-crashed

Of course, despite all the wonders one can see as a hitchhiker through history, some sour pusses prefer screaming, to being enlightened. With these, there is a final thing you can try as a last resort. Gently take their hand, pat it, and quietly say, “You are very sensitive, aren’t you?” You’d be surprised at the responses you might get. Some become bashful, and say, “aw shucks”, while other can abruptly burst into tears.

And also, of course, some still insist upon screaming. You can’t win them all.

However, as I look around this increasingly demented world, it seems wise to be completely out of the ordinary, as the Vikings were when they first appeared. Back then, what was “ordinary” and was deemed “politically correct” was for monks to collect loot as “donations” and to stash it in monasteries that held fabulous wealth. No peasants seemed to even think of objecting, or of stating such a society was not what Jesus proposed. Then along came the Vikings, and stated heaven was a rowdy, non-stop battle called Valhalla, and they looted the loot in monasteries. The Viking idea of heaven was utterly incorrect, according to the monks, but the Vikings didn’t care.

Currently it seems to be the idea of some, and even to be their “heaven”, to scream at any who differ, and then to seek to send them to a gulag for reeducation. Like a Viking, I don’t care what their idea of heaven is. I will march into their monasteries of screeching, and devastate them with the ways of wonder.

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ARCTIC SEA ICE –The AMO Chill–

One of the most exasperating mistakes made by Alarmists is their refusal to study history. Instead they steadfastly insist all is caused by CO2. For example, history teaches us that summer is followed by winter, but, the next time winter comes around, so blinding is their bias that Alarmists will see the next winter as having a new and alarming cause all prior winters lacked. This time it will be caused by CO2. Not only do they insist they know the cause, but they then invent the cause-and-effect out of whole cloth.

Basically Alarmists follow the rule, “If you can’t blind them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” When confronted by a plaintive voice that asks, “You said there would be Global Warming, so why is it colder?” they put on a white lab coat to look scientific, hold up an index finger, and basically say, “You can’t understand because you haven’t looked hard at the numbers, and haven’t seen they need to be adjusted, and our adjustments show that actually it is warmer”.  Or perhaps, “The increased heat causes more snow in the north, and the increased snow is floating south as bergs, so that the warmer it gets the colder it gets. Understood?” The problem with this ingenious excuse-making is that, when you look back in history, you can see the same thing happened in the past, which begs the question, “What caused it then, and is that cause happening again now?”

Once you study history you become aware of various cycles that influence the weather, (with much debate about how large and how regular the influences are).

Alarmists tend to pooh-pooh all other influences, calling them inconsequential, which seems rather odd, for at the same time they are saying a giant thing like the sun has no effect they are saying a very tiny change in the number of CO2 molecules, parts-per-million, has an enormous effect. Skeptics do not deny CO2 has an effect; the planet is indeed greener; but they question the denial of all other effects and cycles.

Things would be easier if we didn’t have a variable star, but our sun does have its cycles of sunspots. And things would also be easier if those sunspot cycles were neat and tidy, but they tend to be irregular, with the sun shifting from very active sunspot cycles to times when we see a “Quiet Sun”. The sun’s regularity likely creates oscillations in the world’s weather, even as the sun’s irregularity throws the same oscillations out of whack.

The current Quiet Sun seems to be messing with the oscillations between El Ninos and La Ninas, as the El Ninos seem stronger and the La Ninas weaker than expected. (Not that we are all that great at predicting them.) Also the Pacific oscillation (PDO) swung from warm to cold as expected, roughly a decade ago, but then unexpectedly spiked back to warm, and has been taking its sweet time getting back to cold, (though it may be trending that way this summer). Last but not least, the Atlantic oscillation (AMO) is not expected to turn cold for a few more years, but unexpectedly and dramatically shifted in that direction this summer.

The signature of a “cold” AMO is a backwards “C” of colder-than normal waters in the Atlantic. Recently the back of that “C” was broken by a blob of warmer-than-normal water that drifted east and pressed between England and France, but the rest of the “C” remains evident, repressing the development of hurricanes to a certain degree off western Africa, and most especially evident off the northeast coast of Canada and south of Greenland.

SST 20180712 anomnight.7.12.2018

 

The colder water off Canada and Greenland historically leads to colder weather in Northeast Canada, which they have seen this year, with snows even as we had a heatwave not far to their south, in New England. The ice has been much slower to melt out of Hudson Bay than last year.  (July 13, 2017 to left, July 13, 2018 to right)

It is a bit embarrassing to Alarmists to have this sea-ice sitting around in July, so they are likely busily inventing a theory from whole cloth even as I type. However all you need to do is study history to see the situation is not “Unprecedented”. A ship from Boston, early in Boston’s history, failed to get through the sea-ice into the bay in 1663, but the Nonsuch successfully entered the bay in 1668 and established the first Hudson Bay Trading Post at the mouth of Rupert River (the current town of Washaganish, Quebec.) So what does that give us; 370 years of history?

The trading posts had to be resupplied, and also furs needed to be onloaded, and we know the ships were not icebreakers. Therefore it is sheer foolishness to suggest the Bay was ice-bound in the past, and only recently has become ice-free. An early aerial picture of Fort York shows they were still using sailing ships as late as 1923.

Hudson Bay Company YorkFactoryaerial

However the historical record also shows there were occasional grim years when the posts could not be resupplied. If ice-bound years had been too common the enterprise would have become impractical, and perhaps traders would have starved. For the most part the Bay opened up in the summer; excessive sea-ice in July was the exception to the rule, and was likely caused by a cold AMO, just as we are seeing now.

In like manner, the chill is affecting Greenland. In July Greenland is experiencing the height of its melt, and usually gives Alarmists wonderful opportunities to take truly amazing pictures of  the yearly phenomenon. At the peak of the melt, Greenland loses roughly 4 gigatons of ice to melting every day.  Rivers of melt-water course across the surface of the ice.

Greenland melt 1 55-researchersd In places these torrents plunge down holes called moulins, forming spectacular waterfalls, and then continue on as subterranean rivers.

Greenland melt 2 hqdefaultIce also flows off Greenland as massive glaciers, and during the summer enormous slabs calve off the ends into the sea, with some bergs “half the size of Manhattan”.

Greenland melt 3 NINTCHDBPICT000419182729

And of course all this melting is fodder for Alarmists, and gives the media a chance to write thrillingly sensational stuff about ice melting and seas rising.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6739060/greenland-iceberg-melting-video-climate-change/

However I think it’s wiser to not get too caught up in the hoopla, although it is fun, once in a while, to run around in circles waving your hands in a tizzy. It’s good exercise. But once you’re done it pays to calm down and catch your breath. And then ask a question or two. “How much ice usually melts? What is normal?”

The map to the right below shows the normal melt for July 14. You notice right away the melting is all at the edges. That is where all the photographs are taken for the newspapers. In the middle of Greenland the altitude is so high, (over 10,000 feet), that it almost never gets above freezing. Judging from the records of ice cores, only once in every 40 years does it get warm enough, on a windless summer day, to soften the snow a little. Not much; not enough to make rivulets or puddles, but enough to make a crust on the snow, when it refreezes, usually within hours. (When this last happened, in 2012 (I think) the media went completely berserk. They reported so inaccurately that you would have thought torrents, even mighty rivers, were coursing across the icecap. The actuality was that the snow softened for a couple hours. [yawn])

The map to the left shows what happened this year, on July 14. It set a record, but went unreported, for it was a record increase of snow, for the date.

Greenland MB 20180714 todaysmb

What happened was that, likely due the cold AMO, heavy snow punched inland in west-central Greenland, reducing the melt in that area at the same time snow was added. In fact more was added than was subtracted, which means that rather than the icecap losing 4 gigatons, as is normal, it actually gained a little. This shows as the spike in the upper graph below. Notice how the spike moves above the area shaded gray, which shows the historical range, and enters record-setting territory.

Greenland MB 20180714 accumulatedsmb

The lower graph shows, with the blue line, how Greenland’s icecap is failing to melt much this summer. Usually it loses roughly 200 gigatons, and this year it has lost 5, so far. This is a failure on the part of reality to support the Alarmist’s narrative. (Bad reality. Bad! Go to your room.)

Also notice, in the graph above, how, on an average year, (gray line), Greenland gains more than it loses. It ends the year with nearly 400 gigatons more than it started. (A gigaton is a billion metric tons, and a metric ton is 1000 kilograms.) How many Manhattans is that? In any case, for Greenland to stay in “balance” 400 extra gigatons worth of iceburgs must calve off Greenland’s glaciers.

Lastly notice the red line in the graph above. 2011-2012 was a winter and summer that pleased the Alarmists greatly, for it supported their narrative. Nearly all the winter’s increase melted away that summer. There was a gain, but it was small, only around 25 gigatons. It wouldn’t take many calving icebergs the size of Manhattan to arrive at a net loss. And how many gigatons would it take to rise the oceans a milometer?

I can’t do the math, but I did find this after searching the web a bit: “A one mm increase in sea-level requires about 3.618 × 1014 kg = 361.8 Gt of meltwater”.

In other words, while a billion metric tons might seem like a lot, it is a speck of dust, compared to the enormity of the icecap and the oceans. Greenland’s icecap is estimated to be a total of 2,850,000 cubic kilometers of ice. How many gigatons is that? (You do the math for me, please.)

Therefore even a “good” year (for Alarmists) like 2011-2012 really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but last year was a “bad” year. Greenland’s icecap actually gained ice, according to NOAA:

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/greenland-ice-sheets-2017-weigh-suggests-small-increase-ice-mass

Of course, NOAA speaks of the gain as if it is an exception-to-the-rule, but still it is a failure on the part of Mother Nature to support the narrative. And what tactic does an Alarmist use, when something doesn’t support the narrative?

1.) Change the subject. Turn the camera to where the ice is still melting, to dramatic waterfalls pouring into turquoise moulins. Focus the lens on the spectacular sight of a giant berg calving off a towering glacier. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Don’t look at the summer snowstorms in Labrador, and the summer trout fishing camps struggling to dig free of snow.

Fishing Lodge in June labrador-snow

The only problem is people can only be distracted and deflected so long, in which case it is time for…

2.) Invent a theory out of whole cloth. When people notice northern sandpipers can’t even lay their eggs because the snow hasn’t melted, figure out a way to blame the snow on warming. (Hat tip: Brett Keane)

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/late-snowpack-signals-a-lost-summer-for-greenlands-shorebirds/

Sandpiper on snow 6450EF03-C77C-450D-8080621943C1804F

Here is the money-quote: “Senner fears this nonbreeding year in eastern Greenland could herald an alarming trend. Climate Models predict the Arctic atmosphere will hold more moisture as global temperatures rise, he notes. A wetter atmosphere means more snow in winter and spring, potentially causing late snowmelt to interfere with shorebird reproduction. He says the bird populations should be resilient to a single poor breeding year like 2018 but worries what might happen if this year’s catastrophe becomes standard. “Even though things aren’t normally as extreme as the current situation in Greenland,” he says, “this is the kind of thing that seems to be happening more and more frequently across the Arctic””

Balderdash. First, the increase in winter moisture is in air so cold that you are talking about the difference between air that is only very, very dry, rather than very, very, very dry. Second, the amount of snow that falls from that dry atmosphere is small, only inches, and tundra usually swiftly melts such snows under 24-hour or near-24-hour sunshine that can bring heatwaves to the north. Third, the snow is now falling in the summer. I repeat, the summer. Fourth, temperatures are colder over Greenland and eastern Canada because the AMO is cold, not because the planet is a tenth of a degree warmer overall. Fifth, it is also colder at the Pole itself.

DMI5 0715 meanT_2018

I’d like to help Alarmists out, but the simple fact polar temperatures remain so persistently below normal does suggest the Quiet Sun may be supplying less heat. The best I can do is to suggest it may be cloudier at the Pole, due to the low pressure I call “Ralph” reappearing and hanging about. Maybe we can concoct a theory out of whole cloth that explains Ralph is due to Global Warming, and that it is colder at the Pole because it is warmer. That would explain why the the sea-ice, despite having a head-start on other years last winter, is failing to melt as fast as other years.

DMI5 0715 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

And it also might explain why the ice is thicker than last year, especially along the coasts of Alaska and East Siberia.  (2017 left; 2018 right)

But in the end there is little I can do for the poor Alarmists. It simply is a terrible year for them. All around there are signs of cooling, at least in the short term, but they must continue to genuflect to the emperor of funding, as if he wore clothes when it is increasingly obvious he is butt naked.

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –High Summer–

It is now the time of thawing at the Pole. The sun never sets, and instead rolls around and around, high enough above the horizon to nudge temperatures just above freezing. There are brief freezes, when the sun goes under a cloud or a downdraft brings cold sleet down from a summer shower, but for the most part non-stop thawing occurs, 24 hours a day, for around 1440 hours. This is no new thing; it has been occurring as long as men have wandered the Arctic Ocean. Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s and early 1970’s, men stationed on Fletcher’s Ice Island wore hip waders at times during the summer, the slush could get so deep.

Although we think of tabular icebergs as a feature of Antarctica, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, on the northern coast of Ellesmere Island in Canada’s high Arctic, produces them. A big berg from this shelf broke off, likely in the 1940’s, and was 50 m (160 ft) thick and covered an area of 90 sq km (35 sq mi). Between 1952 and 1978 it was used as a manned scientific research station that included huts, a power plant, and a runway for wheeled aircraft. Discovered by U.S. Air Force Colonel Joseph Fletcher, the iceberg was named T-3 or Fletcher’s Ice Island. It moved around the Arctic Ocean for many years, eventually exiting through the Fram Strait, between Greenland and Svalbard, and moved south and around the southern tip of Greenland to disintegrate and melt in Davis Strait. While it was inhabited in the high Arctic things grew so slushy in the summer the men could only be supplied by air drops, which meant they could receive mail, but never send any, for months. (No cell-phones, back then.)

The guys had to be tough and resourceful, as they awaited to things to freeze up in the fall. One year a large, shallow lake formed in the runway, and they tried to prepare the runway too soon, and a CAT broke through the ice. With things freezing up rapidly the men had to work furiously for 24 hours to get it out. The location of the berg that year was such that, “The first sunset was September 7th; the last sunrise was September 14th. So within a week, we went from total day to total night. Temperatures in September were often below 0°F, -17°C.”  With  the first flight not scheduled to land until November, but temperatures down to -35°F by late October, the generator quit. A hero named  Bill Hallett rebuilt it in a frantic rush, well aware there was no hope of outside help.

One interesting aside involves a time two women were sent north to work with the men. Apparently it was such a fiasco, in terms of multiple romances, jealousy and brawls, that it was never attempted again. So much for political correctness. But I digress. I’m suppose to be talking about a different sort of heat.

In the 1950’s a R4D (Navy version of the DC-3)  crashed on Fletcher’s ice island and, stripped of all valuable parts, became a sort of landmark that servicemen had their pictures taken with.

Fletcher's DC-3 1 kf3aa_p4

It is interesting how it looked years later:

Fletcher's DC-3 2 t-3-picture-r4d-on-pillar-apr-62-t3

This is not to suggest the Air Force puts itself on a pedestal, but rather that summer melting has always occurred at the Pole, for as long as we’ve been watching. And now we are watching it again.

DMI5 0619 meanT_2018

Sea-ice “extent”, “area”, and “volume”all tend to crash during the melt. The “extent” graph is being carefully watched, partly because it best supports the Alarmist narrative this year, and partly because some expect the melt to slow, once the thicker ice in the Central Arctic is reached.

DMI5 0619 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

The DMI “volume” graph puzzled many, as the black line vanished. Apparently the computer program is designed in a manner where the gray line representing “normal” takes precedence, so the black line had to pass under it, as volume moved from below to above normal.

Above normal? Did I say the volume is above normal? Yes. But do not expect Alarmists to bring the subject up. They are quite glum about it, and tend to ignore the DMI graph and flee to the PIOMASS data.  But here is the DMI graph they don’t like to look at. It shows volume plunging in the way it plunges every year,  but above-normal. In the past year we seem to have seen an increase of over 4500 km³ of sea-ice.

Volume 20180619 FullSizeRender

Where is the ice increasing? Here is a comparison of the thickness of the ice last year (left) with this year (right).

There is more open water north of Svalbard and in the Laptev Sea this year, but the sea-ice is obviously thicker towards East Siberia and in the Central Arctic.

Of interest to me is the area north of Bering Strait. Alarmists felt the melt would be faster this year than last year, for waters south of Bering Strait were surprisingly ice-free last winter, and Alarmists felt this would give those waters a head start , in terms of warming, and that warmer water would head north of Bering Strait, and hasten the melt in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. This hasn’t happened yet, though the waters are warmer than normal in Bering Strait.

SST anomaly 20180618 anomnight.6.18.2018

Just a reminder: The above map shows anomalies. The cherry red in Bering Strait does not mean the water is warm. Rather it means it is roughly 3 degrees above normal, or in other words +2°C rather than -1°C (which would be the temperature of the water with bergs floating around in it.)

Further south the La Nina is fading and an El Nino appears to be building. Oddly most of the warming is north of the equator, so far. Any warming effect due to an El Nino will be in a lagged manner, and we likely will still be seeing the lagged effect of the cool La Nina for a while longer at the Pole.

The Atlantic side is very interesting, as the backwards “C” of cold in the Atlantic is the signature of a cold AMO, which we haven’t seen in a long time, and were not expecting for another five years. NOAA will have to update the x-axis of its AMO graph, for the most recent “+” for the month of May is just into the negative, and you can only see part of it poking up at the very bottom right of their graph.

AMO May 2018 amo_short

This cold AMO is making conditions colder in southern Greenland and eastern Canada. This is of concern to people on the east coast of Hudson Bay, where the sea-ice is hanging tough. (2017 to left; 2018 to right.)

The concern involves getting a tanker to the east coast settlements, because people no longer heat igloos with blubber lamps, nor spend the entire winter fully dressed. Or maybe they could, but most prefer fossil fuels and warm houses. Therefore all are in a hurry to refill fuel tanks during the window of opportunity offered by the Bay being ice-free. It’s a problem when the ice hangs tough. People don’t sit around drumming their fingers waiting, because it would be downright dangerous to go without resupply.

I remember a clamor arose in 2015 when the ice hung tough into July, and the people in the east coast settlements asked for an icebreaker to clear a path for their oil tanker. Of course this didn’t make headlines. I only knew about it because some Climate Scientists had hired the icebreaker so they could study how the ice was vanishing, and instead the ship was diverted to where the ice wasn’t vanishing. I did not fail to note the irony, but also was puzzled, for the maps and graphs I used didn’t show all that much ice, but then I saw this picture of the path being cleared on July 17.

Hudson 2015 Icebreaker hudson-july-28-3-ccgs-pierre-radisson-in-sea-ice

I hope this explains why I sometimes seem distrustful of maps and graphs. When possible I seek out the Twitter and Facebook feeds from ships and small towns, because a reporter who is actually on the scene is best, even if they are unpaid by any newspaper.

In any case, I’ll be keeping an eye on Hudson Bay.

The cold AMO seems to be effecting Greenland as well. The yearly thaw has started around the edges of the icecap, but there are also some heavy snows. For example, yesterday heavy snow fell in the northwest.

Greenland MB 20180619 todaysmb

Of course, if more snow falls than melts then it is hard to be a true Alarmist about the icecap melting away. For a while this year’s “accumulated mass balance” roughly paralleled  2011-2012, which was a great year (if you like to worry about melting), but roughly a month ago the two years parted ways, and where 2011-2012 fell like a stone, (red line), this year refused to start falling (blue line).

Greenland MB 20180619 accumulatedsmb

One final effect of the cold AMO: Some fishing lodges in eastern Canada are taking a financial hit, for it is difficult to operate a fishing lodge when six feet of winter snow sits outside, refusing to melt. The picture is from Labrador in mid-June. (Hat tip to Ice-age-now site).

Fishing Lodge in June labrador-snow

The fishermen may be sad, but I understand the trout are tickled pink.

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –The Newfoundland Crunch–UPDATED

Crunch 1 FullSizeRender

The coast of Newfoundland is an excellent example, this year, of how the sea-ice”extent” graph can decrease even as the “volume” graph increases. In the middle of February the sea-ice had spread far from the coast, to the cross-hairs formed by the 50° W longitude and 50° N latitude lines.

Crunch 2 FullSizeRender

However a month later we see that the area the ice covered has shrunk back to the west.

Crunch 3 FullSizeRender

Initially one might think the decrease in extent was due to melting, but then we notice how thick the ice is along the Newfoundland coast. What has happened is that a series of nor’easters, which gave headline-making snows in the northeast of the USA, created persistent east winds to the waters off Newfoundland, pushing all the ice towards the shore, where it piled up. In actual fact the “volume” of this particular bunch of ice likely was roughly the same, but the “extent” was greatly reduced.

When the sea-ice piled up to such a degree it became a problem. Or actually a number of problems.

The first problem was that boats up in those waters are built to handle ordinary sea-ice, which tends to be a foot or two thick, and a bit slushy in its consistency.  It is not the same thing as the huge and beautiful icebergs that drift down to those coasts after calving off massive glaciers up in Greenland. It is sea-ice a boat can motor through. But when east winds persist the ice piles up thicker and thicker, and this year reached thicknesses approaching thirty feet. At that point the smaller boats became stuck, and a few even were sunk, and icebreakers and helicopters need to be called to the rescue.

Crunch 5 la-scie-fishermen-rescued-from-boat-suck-in-ice

This creates a second problem. Certain climate scientists have been warning that all the sea-ice was melting away and polar bears would have no ice to stand on, and would drown. To have ice thirty feet thick along the shore placed these gentlemen in an embarrassing situation. Like a boy with undone homework standing in front of an Algebra teacher, they needed to think, and think fast.

I must give the fellows credit. If they were standing before an Algebra teacher, their excuses would cause the entire class to rise and give them a standing ovation.

Basically their excuse was that less ice made for looser ice, that was more able to shift and crunch up against the coast. In order to understand this lovely excuse you need to understand the concept of “fast-ice.”

Fast-ice is actually ice that is slow. It was so slow that it was “frozen fast” to the shore, where it can remain for years, during periods when the climate is cold. When the climate warms, large areas of fast-ice can break off. It is very different from “shelf-ice”, which is far thicker and derives its origins from glaciers. Fast-ice derives its origins from sea-ice, and is seldom thicker than thirty feet. Fast-ice bergs are far more crumbly than the huge bergs than can sink a Titanic,  for they are made of compacted chips of ice and slush, as opposed to glacial bergs, which are solid ice. A slab of fast-ice tend to quickly revert to many small chips of sea-ice, and a thirty foot thick slab can then spread out like butter over bread to cover a larger area with chunks of sea-ice, causing a confusing rise in “extent” even as weather warms.

In any case, the excuse now being given for the situation along the coast of Newfoundland gets double points, for not only does it explain the ice getting there, but also explains the larger chunks of sea-ice which are in the mix.

According to this excuse hypothesis, before Global Warming happened all the ice was held to the north as fast-ice, and the thinner fast-ice formed a wall that held the thicker fast-ice in check behind it. Now Global Warming has melted the thinner fast-ice, which allows the thicker fast-ice to come south.

I hope you recognize the beauty of this excuse explanation. Now not only does Global Warming explain more sea-ice, but it also explains bigger chunks of ice in the sea-ice. Because bigger chunks may damage and even sink small boats, it becomes all the more important to raise carbon taxes on hard-working fishermen, and fund climate scientists.

But there is one small, third problem. We have the records of sailors going back into the past, and can look to see if indeed fast-ice held sea-ice to the north.

The route to the posts of the Hudson Bay Company in Hudson Bay tried to avoid the sea-ice that moves south down the west side of Baffin Bay and along the coast of Labrador, by sailing along the east side of Baffin Bay, but to enter Hudson Bay they had to cross over and penetrate the river of sea-ice. And when did these voyages start? Well, the “Nonesuch” sailed up there and then down to the very south of Hudson Bay in 1668, and founded the first post. So we have 350 years of records, showing that some years the passage was easy, and some years the passage was blocked.

“Oh, well”, you may say, “That only shows the passage was possible because the lack of Global Warming kept the thicker sea-ice trapped behind fast-ice to the north”.

But here we face a fourth problem. Besides traders after furs there were whalers after whales, and they sailed farther north. In fact, after what was likely an amazing discharge of sea-ice around 1816-1817, one whaler is even reported to have sailed up the east coast of Greenland, around the top, and down the west coast.

Also, besides the whalers, there was a whole slew of British explorers attempting to navigate and map the Northwest Passage in the first half of the 1800’s, and they quite routinely navigated through Baffin Bay.

Lastly, members of the ill-fated American “Polaris” expedition, after steaming up to the to the top of an open Nares Strait in 1871, became separated from the ship and were marooned on an ice flow at the bottom of Nares Strait in 1872. What better proof could you ask for (that the sea-ice was mobile) than to have a group of men ride it all the way south along the west coast of Baffin Bay and onward, over 1800 miles,  to where they were rescued off the coast of Newfoundland in late April 1873 by sealers.

Crunch 6 Polaris_Expedition_route

All in all, judging from the sea-ice conditions reported in the past, I have to conclude the excuse hypothesis that sea-ice has only recently come south, because Global Warming’s melting freed it, has been refuted. However I do give climate scientists an “A” for effort.

Perhaps there was more fast-ice during the Little Ice Age, but it seems the flow of sea-ice down the west side of Baffin Bay, and even through Nares Strait at the top of Baffin Bay, is a persistent geological reality, even in cold periods.   Perhaps it may briefly halt during an especially cold winter, but ice grinds south along the northeast coast of Greenland even when winds are at -40°, only rarely becoming fastened to the shore for a while, and I can see no reason Baffin Bay should differ.

In conclusion,  the flow of ice down the west side of Baffin Bay and along the coast of Newfoundland has varied, and still can vary, greatly. Some years there is little, some years there is a lot, some years the ice freezes solid to the shore and becomes “fast-ice”, some years big areas of fast-ice break lose and swirl south. The people of Newfoundland have learned to grin and bear it, but likely appreciate the efforts of climate scientists to bring reporters north, for it increases the tourist trade.

Sadly, when reporters focus in on the trials and tribulations of the people up there, when east winds pile the sea-ice up along their coasts, the climate scientists hog the spotlight, and there is hardly any reporting of what the fishermen suffer. Is it only climate scientists who deserve pity?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/arctic-sea-ice-research-1.4583150

*******

It took some digging, but I did finally find news about the fishermen.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/fishing-boats-stuck-ice-la-scie-1.4151075

Crunch 4 fishing-boats-la-scie-returning

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Vortex Hubbub–

My favorite long-range forecasters, Josrph D’Aleo, Joe Bastardi and Tom Downs over at Weatherbell, forecast a sort of sandwich winter back in October. That is: Two slices of bitter cold with a thaw in the middle. They have gotten the first two parts, and now I’m adopting a wait-and-see attitude about the third, but I must admit it increasingly looks like they have hit the nail on the head. If the long term forecasts prove true, that team deserves confetti and a parade, or at least some kudos (whatever those are), because predicting a winter the October before it occurs is danged hard.

I don’t usually pay much attention to upper atmosphere stuff, as it is over my head, but I do note the high clouds on days I can see up that far, and know a few old-timer rules concerning the various types of cloud, how fast they are moving, and the direction they are moving in relation to the winds down here on earth. So far I have seen nothing all that alarming, but did order an extra load of firewood, due to this couplet:

The longer and stronger the January thaw
The more that February’s snowstorms will awe.

I figure this is largely common sense. Weather is seldom “normal” or “average”, but rather tends to swing back and forth between warm spells and cold spells, so it is quite pragmatic to expect a colder February after a warmer January. Also, because spring starts in February way down south on the Gulf of Mexico coast, storms can access some warm, juicy air in February, which can feed storms like gasoline into a fire, and brings us people to the north some amazing February and March falls of snow.

But what has this to do with arctic sea-ice?

Largely it is due to the fact the Arctic Ocean is the source of our coldest air. The way winds howl up there influence us, as well as the movement of sea-ice. Also, though it has less influence on sea-ice than winds do, if the arctic is robbed of its coldest air sea-ice will form more slowly and less thickly. (For this reason biased Alarmists tend to focus on times the arctic is above normal, utterly ignoring the not-inconsequential fact we bumpkins down south in New Hampshire are freezing our socks off.)

In any case, one phenomenon that influences both sea-ice and New Hampshire is a strong cross-polar-flow from Siberia across into Canada, and then down to New Hampshire. These winds create polynyas of open water along the Siberian coast, as ice is shifted across the Pole via the Transpolar Drift to smash as impressive pressure ridges against Canada.  At first this lessens the area of sea-ice, but then the polynyas freeze over, and the sea-ice recovers back to what it was, in terms of “area”. But in terms of “volume”, no sea-ice has melted, and the total amount has increased. (You have to pay attention to such details when in discussions with biased Alarmists, due to their tendency to pick and chose only the data that supports their bias.)

So far the winds down at the level of the sea-ice have been mostly gentle, but I do notice when the winds aloft are more vigorous. This is not to say I understand what is going on up that high, but just as old-timers around here notice the antics of high clouds, I’m sure savvy old Eskimos are noticing the high clouds streaming south, and coming to conclusions. Therefore I perked up when Ryan Maue  tweeted about a “vortex”, way, way up at the tropopause, getting whipped across from Siberia all the way down to another “vortex” located over Hudson Bay. I have yet to see any sign of this cross-polar-bullwhip translating down to the surface, but it does make me pause and scratch my jaw a bit.

Also the meteorologist Judah Cohen produced a comparison of the “Vortex” as models forecast it to be on February 3 with how the situation looked during a very cold period back in 2014. (2014 to left, with North America at six o’clock. 2018 forecast to right, with North America displaced to eight o’clock.)

 

Judging from all this above-my-head stuff, history could repeat itself, and we could see a return to bitter winter. However so far our down-to-earth maps don’t show it.

20180130 satsfc

Though we are currently getting some north winds from the low developing out to sea, they are nothing like the blasts we got after Christmas. Our current “cold spell” will get down to 17°F (-8° C), but you would be surprised at how kindly such temperatures feel, after your body has acclimatized to windchill of -30°F (-34°C). Not that I don’t hunch my shoulders a bit against the chill, but I have noticed fellows younger and more hotblooded than I sauntering about with their jackets unzipped. And this is a cold spell? If you look west in the map you can see plenty of Pacific air leaking into the flow, diluting and moderating the winter. West winds are so different from north winds, in New England, that I can see why Indians felt different angels in the spiritual hierarchy, (wherein God [or the Great Spirit] is the only One worthy of worship),  were in charge of the west wind. After bitter blasts from the north, west winds, even when not a true Chinook, are downright kindly.

Therefore there is no real short-term reason for alarm. True, the meteorologists who focus on the upper atmosphere have a better record for correct forcasts, but sometimes even they are wrong. In fact I hope they are wrong. I don’t like bitter cold. However when they agree with old-timer’s maxims, I am especially inclined to take heed. And I remember,

The longer and stronger the January thaw
The more that February’s snowstorms will awe.

And for this reason I have made a complete mess of the side lawn of the Childcare.

Woodpile FullSizeRender

The wise old Indians used to say, “if you want to know how bad the winter will be, look at the white man’s woodpile.”

In terms of arctic sea-ice, having the “vortex” move down to Hudson Bay should lead to above-normal temperatures over the Pole as a whole, but we will have wait and see how the cross-polar-flow translates down to the surface. Having very cold air blast from Siberia to Canada will please Alarmists with polynyas along the Siberian coast, but that coastal ice is far thicker than last year, and shifting it across the arctic could lead to far thicker ice in the Central Arctic.

Stay tuned.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ice Traps Narwhals–

One thing that has fascinated me, in my study of sea-ice, is how swiftly vast areas can freeze over. This is apparent from many sources.

The captains of whaling ships, tempted north by whale’s habit of hunting in the rich ecosystem that exists at the very edge of the ice, sometimes appear like cowards for turning tail and fleeing the refreeze far before the whales chose to depart. (You might think whales would know best when to depart, for they suffocate when trapped under ice). However this choice does not seem so foolish once you understand larger whales could break up through a foot of ice, (with smaller beluga whales following and using the air-holes big whales created), while, without a strong following wind, a sailing craft could be bogged down and halted by a skim of ice only an inch thick. And despite all precautions, the ice formed so swiftly some years that whaling ships, and sometimes entire fleets of ships, were caught by the ice, resulting in some remarkable stories of survival.

The O-buoy cameras captured the refreeze on several occasions, and it always was remarkable how quickly it occurred. One day the buoy would be bobbing in open water, and then suddenly there would be a lot of slush swiftly transformed to solid ice.

The refreeze happens so swiftly I’ve taken to calling it a “flash freeze”.  The phenomenon is particularly striking in the vast but relatively shallow waters of Hudson Bay.  Several times I’ve made Alarmists look silly by drawing them into a sort of a trap, pointing out the open waters of Hudson Bay in late November and getting them to claim the open water is a sign of Global Warming; then the entire bay freezes over even as the discussion continues, (because some debates go on and on and on, for days, at some websites.)

Last year the jet stream resulted in south winds, and the freeze was late on Hudson Bay, but this year sees north winds (caused by the same looping jet that results in less ice in Bering Strait). Below is a comparison of the ice on the two years, with the lilac hue representing ice roughly a foot thick, which is enough for polar bears to walk on. (2016 to left; 2017 to right).

 

To me a change in the first formation of sea-ice by weeks doesn’t mean much. Back in the early history of the fur trade there are records of years when the sea-ice formed very late, followed by years when the Hudson Bay post could not be resupplied, for the ice was so thick and the summer so cold that the sea-ice never melted.  The change of the past two years is merely indicative of natural variation. However for some Alarmists the fact that the ice formed earlier this year causes deep depression, for they feel the change should be in one direction to be a true “Death Spiral”. Instead they see a dead spiral.

Slinky tangled 8532040475_67e4f48a27_b

A depressed human mind clicks into problem-solving mode, which in some cases turns Alarmists into Skeptics, but in other cases causes Alarmists to look further afield to seek verification of their belief.

One “verification” I have heard involved the suggestion that such variations have increased, due to Global Warming, and this is proven by the fact that narwhals, which are adapted to the Arctic, are “now being trapped” by the “changed” formation of ice. I haven’t yet heard the claim this fall, but fully expect it, because the formation of ice in Hudson Bay was “ahead of normal” while the formation of ice in Foxe Basin to its north was “later than normal”. To have waters in escape-routes freeze before waters further north creates the conditions that cause entrapment.

Narwhal 3 hudson-bay-weekly-departure-from-normal-2017-nov-20

In actual fact, the cause of below normal ice-formation to the north is likely not because the ice didn’t form ahead of schedule, but rather because howling north winds blew the newly formed ice away from shore, forming a polynya of open water. It is unlikely whales could even get to such open water, not only because sea-ice lies in the way, but also because they aren’t stupid. (Also polar bears are not endangered by such polynyas; they simply ride the sea-ice, when it blows away from shore, though mothers with cubs are more prone to keep their cubs on shore. Also some older males, who are usually first to move out to sea, perhaps are savvy to gales, and in no hurry to head out when winds howl from the north.)

Whales do become entrapped, despite their natural wisdom, and it usually involves a field of pack-ice that formed in the north moving south across the mouth of a bay.  As Narwhals live to be fifty, likely the older whales know enough to avoid such entrapment, but even they can be trapped by once-every-hundred-year conditions they’ve never seen before. Old reports tell of a thousand narwhals being entrapped in Disko Bay in 1915 (which is too early for Global Warming to be a cause).

All the same, an entrapment of narwhals does tend to excite the Alarmist media, leading to claims Global Warming is to blame. Here is a Canadian article from two summers ago:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/unicorn-of-the-sea-1.3718732

Rather than becoming upset by such blather, I have found it rewarding to simply do the fact-checking that the editors used to do, but now seemingly are too lazy (or politically invested) to do. Often I find myself going on voyages from my armchair, seeing sights I’ve never seen before, and learning wondrous things. The photographs alone can be strikingly beautiful.

Narwhal 4 narwhal

While there is an unspoken insinuation, in the above article, that the narwhals  in the above picture are entrapped, I can find no statement that they actually were. Apparently is was a picture “from files”. Narwhal are superbly adapted to life among ice floes, and there is no indication their populations are endangered. However the researcher in the above study wanted to learn more about the narwhal’s horn. (And who will pay for such study? Not most businessmen. However there are heaps of money spent on Global Warming, as long as you promote its reality.)

The narwhal’s “horn” is actually a single tooth, usually seen only in males, but also in 15 % of females (in a few cases they have two). Like most teeth they have a nerve in the middle. In the narwhal’s case the nerve is highly developed. What is it sensing? Some have suggested it may amount to a sixth sense, able to detect salinity (which increases and decreases as sea-ice freezes and thaws). What is even more interesting is the idea (which could be balderdash) that when male narwhal tap their horns together it has nothing to do with male rivalry, but rather is a way of exchanging information gathered by this sixth sense.

Do you see what I mean about the wondrous ideas you can chance upon from an armchair? I also learned that Vikings could make a fortune by harpooning a narwhal, because, a thousand years ago, the horns were worth more than their weight in gold. (This alone justifies the existence of the Greenland colony, even when the farms became unprofitable. )

To return to the subject of entrapment, they do occur, and are a boon to those who stand to profit. That tends to be polar bears, who can grow so fat from clawing and hauling the whales up onto the ice and gorging on them that their bellies drag on the ground. Also men stand to profit. During the entrapment of 2008 off Pond Inlet, the bureaucrats involved were smart enough to see the whales were doomed and going to die whether they were “harvested” or not, and waived ordinary quotas of around 130 narwals, allowing over 200 extra whales to be harvested from the entrapment. (As the local population of narwhal was 20,000, this did not constitute serious over-hunting.) This boon was shared with others in the Inuit community, (though I imagine some tree-huggers to the south were horrified, and felt an ice-breaker should have been deployed to free the whales), (unless they themselves had to pay for such a rescue).

http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/Hundreds_trapped_by_ice/

Though such entrapment is awful, if you are a narwhal, they are apparently a fact of life, like car crashes on super-highways are for humans.

Narwhal 6 A_polar_bear_(Ursus_maritimus)_scavenging_a_narwhal_whale_(Monodon_monoceros)_carcass_-_journal.pone.0060797.g001-A

The pity is that Alarmist media cannot seem to educate the public, and doesn’t do a little reading-up on the subject, but rather seems determined to horrify. Horror is not helpful, unless your intent is to herd people with a sort of bullying. To paraphrase FDR, in truth we have nothing to be horrified about but horror itself.

In some cases I don’t blame some scientists for promoting their own area of interest by making it seem more important than it actually is. However when scientists hurt other scientists for bringing up points which suggest their area of interest is not as important as they suggested (as may very well be the case with Global Warming) I think they are stepping over the line, and have left the bounds of civilized behavior.

This was recently the case when a group of scientists attacked Susan J. Crockford, suggesting she had no business talking about polar bears. In actual fact she is a highly qualified zoologist who has long studied and written about arctic wildlife, including polar bears. One scientist who attacked her was Michael Mann, who hasn’t studied polar bears very much at all, beyond their status as a political icon, yet who has himself written papers containing data that caused them to be soundly debunked. He needs to clean up his own work before criticizing others.

A fine example of Susan J. Crockford’s work actually involves the entrapment of narwhals, and can be found here:

Narwhal and beluga ice entrapment is natural – not caused by global warming

One thing I notice about Susan’s posts is how careful she is to give references for every point she makes, and all data she uses. She is a good example of fact-checking which puts me to shame, and should put the media to even greater shame.

Another thing I notice is that in her posts “comments are closed”. I think she doesn’t want to spend time moderating the comments likely to appear, or to deal with internet “trolls”, whom I know, from personal experience, can be nasty, and can draw you into debate that is fairly useless because they have no real interest in what you are saying. (I myself sometimes get a sort of pleasure in battling such trolls, but I can understand anyone who doesn’t have time for it.) Susan gets enough grief from climate scientists, and has no need to seek extra grief from trolls.

A last thing I note is that her posts do have a tab for “tips and notes”, and I know that if I write a polite letter I will get a polite response. (In my case she kindly has pointed out my factual blunders, which I am grateful for.  The pity is that her fellow scientists are not equally grateful for her sterling work.)

In the end it is likely we will not often receive the kindness we crave, from our fellow man. Such kindness is a beautiful rarity on this planet, and if I don’t receive any on a gloomy day I try to give some. Also I find that if I simply go out and study what our Creator has created I see beauty, and that gift is a beautiful kindness I don’t feel I’ve earned, and I accept it with gratitude. There are Christmas gifts all around us.

Narwhal 5 Pod_Monodon_monoceros

 

 

 

 

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.

dmi4-1123-osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

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

dmi4-1116-meant_2016

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

dmi4-1126-meant_2016

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?

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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

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

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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.

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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 week.uk-met-20161126-42268142

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.