ARCTIC SEA-ICE —Pacific To Atlantic Flow—

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I suppose this has the Alarmists very excited:

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

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

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

Barrow Webcam

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

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

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

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

Image result for polaris expedition 1871

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned.