Windy Pole

A fantastic atmospheric image of the conditions when the wind does pick up on the sea ice
Courtesy of MOSAiC

As you know I’ve been keeping an eye on the MOSAiC expedition that left bound for the North Pole in September. They are currently at around 87° north, but what’s surprised me about the hourly weather observations data that I’ve been collecting as they edge ever closer to the North Pole is the strength of the wind – it’s hardly ever stopped blowing since they got there at the end of September and at the moment the mean for the whole of the last four months is 14.1 knots. The wind rarely if ever falls light or calm, and if it does that’s when temperatures plummet. At a quick glance at the hourly mean speeds I notice that the highest reported was 42 knots on the 16th of November. Unfortunately they don’t report the hourly maximum gusts up there, but I wonder if that might not be that much higher than the ten minute mean.

Temperatures have been generally in the range -16 to -32°C during their time up there. The lowest temperature that I’ve noticed from the Polarstern was -34.2°C on the 31st of December, and even then there were 11 knots of wind blowing. Pressure was quite high till just before Christmas (~1028 hPa) but has dropped steadily since then, and is now around 1004 hPa. I wonder if they’ll be any sudden incursion of mild air from the south as has happened in previous years?

There seems to have been a more definite southwesterly drift in recent days of the Polarstern, if things go on like this the ship may slip a little south of the North Pole itself.

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