Does Antarctic Wind Dominate?

This is a cruise ship off Antarctica.

The wind and seas are getting a bit rough down there (and remember, this is the approach to summer). I think in the video there is a point where it sounds like someone is shooting a line over; but they don’t seem to connect. Then again, it could just be “stuff” banging about in the rough seas.

These folks:

Say it’s lost an engine but is still limping along. From the article:

BUENOS AIRES (Dec. 8) — Officials say an Antarctic cruise ship with 160 passengers aboard has lost an engine in high seas, but is limping safely to its scheduled port.

The Argentine Navy says the Clelia II is heading for the port of Ushuia at the extreme south of the country at about 5 mph. It says all passengers are safe and it is being accompanied by an Argentine naval vessel.

The ship declared an emergency on Tuesday when it was northeast of the Shetland Islands and about 500 miles from Ushuaia. The ship set out from Ushuaia on Nov. 30 and was scheduled to return on Wednesday.

While in Bulgaria, their news emphasizes that there are Bulgarians on board, while doing the thing I’ve come to love about Slavic news sources, actually giving you some facts and context:

The Clelia II cruise ship, with Bulgarians on board, suffered technical damage when it was battered by bad weather in the Antarctic’s Drake Passage, the private television channel bTV reported on December 8 2010.

The ship was slammed repeatedly by massive waves, when finally a 30-foot wave knocked out one of the ship’s engines, disabled the ship’s communication system and shattered her windows. There were 88 tourists on board, plus 77 crew, some of whom were Bulgarian nationals. The exact number of Bulgarians on board is still not known.

A National Geographic ship came to its aid. Both are now making their way back to its port in Argentina, international media reports said.

The big takeaway for me is what I’ve bolded. It’s a severe weather event that did the deed.

Does Antarctic Weather Drive the Rest?

All of this leads me to wonder if Antarctic Wind dominates our climate cycles. Pure speculation, mind you. But the circumpolar wind drives the overturning current (that helps the Gulf Stream warm Europe and has the Humbolt Current drive El Nino / La Nina events).

Perhaps we all need to become better watchers of weather patterns in Antarctica…

In this comment on WUWT:

I posted links to a couple of interesting papers about the impact of the Southern Ocean and wind on the rest of the world. Far more interaction than I’d expected.

E.M.Smith says:
John Kehr says: The great Pacific Shift happened at the same time that the Atlantic also started it’s warm phase. I am at a loss as to why the Pacific and Atlantic seem to cycle together, but the changes in both seem to happen at the same time.

Whatever is causing both Oceans to cycle in this manner is what is causing the sawtooth in the global temperatures. That is the 1-2C variation each couple hundred years. We are near a peak of that activity and a drop-off will happen in the next 10-15 years, but the question is why?

Then we have:

Baa Humbug says:
Could be they cycle together due to the interconnected thermohaline circulation I mentioned in my post at 3:56am



Which talks about the Drake’s Passage effect and how it drives the circulation of the ocean currents. (The circulation is NOT just an artifact of salty cold sinking).

Then these two point out oscillations of many years span in the circumpolar current.

Put them together and you get periodic oscillations of the circumpolar current and winds that would cause oscillations of the overturning current that would drive La Nina / El Nino on a short term as well as possibly influencing the strength of the Gulf Stream and temperatures in Europe.

(No, I’ve no proof for this conjecture as I’ve just made the connection… but the pattern “fits” and is worth a “dig here”…)

The bottom line is that I’m realizing that the circumpolar currents, winds, and weather changes are very important to how this whole system operates. I’d generally just thought that ‘that little current around Antarctica’ was far away and kept to itself down there, so could be ignored. Given what that first paper says about the way it drives the overturning current, I’m realizing that it could be very important.

Oh, and I was pointed at the link about Drakes Passage Effect by someone else and they deserve a h/t but I’ve just woke up and haven’t had time yet to go back through my readings of last night and sort it out… To whomever you were: Thanks for picking it out in the first place.

I also note in passing that the Antarctic Ice Cap has been growing, not shrinking, for a few years. I’m not liking where this line of reasoning leads…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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11 Responses to Does Antarctic Wind Dominate?

  1. Baa Humbug says:

    Hi EM

    (Some thoughts, most learned by reading John L Daly)

    You know, for layman sceptics like me who always thought the oceans being the drivers of our climate, your post makes sense.

    Funny how alarmists and especially Gore can cite the Global Conveyor Belt as being capable of causing ice ages, but they reckon the oceans, which the GCB is a part of, can’t drive our weather both long term (climate) and short term (weather).

    And the Antarctic is the driving engine of the GCB. Why? Because for the GCB to work, there needs to be either an upwelling or a downwelling occuring somewhere. And what goes up (or down) must go down (or up) somewhere else.

    How would the GCB get going? Is it upwelling or downwelling that crank starts it?
    Since deep ocean water is colder than surface water, I find it hard to believe it can rise above the less dense warm water above it.

    By the same token, surface water, being warm, is less dense than deep water, it can’t sink. Unless surface water is colder than deep water somewhere, we’re stuck.

    The only place on the globe where surface water can be colder than deep water is at the poles, especially around the ice mass of Antarctic continent. Hence the denser cold water sinks, and what sinks in one place must necessarily rise somewhere else. We’ve started cranking up the GCB.

    And we’ve also started the process of understanding the cyclic evenmts such as ENSO and AMO etc

    These are some of my understandings, thnku for the post allowing me to express them

  2. Jason Calley says:

    Larry, if you like sailing and are interested in the Antarctic, you may like reading “Ice Bird” by David Lewis, recounting the story of his single handed sailing trip trip there.

    It has been a few decades since I read it, but one incident (I hope I have my numbers right!) stands out. Before starting his trip there he was looking for some good nautical charts for the far southern Pacific, and found that the old USSR whaling fleet had supplied the best info to the Soviet mapmakers. He got a copy of the Soviet nautical charts for the area and was immediately taken aback by a warning that “waves up to 35 feet can be expected.” Wow, big waves, bigger than the boat he was in…But then he paused and wondered, “Why would the Soviets list wave height in feet?” Double checking the map, he saw that, no, it was 35 meter waves!

  3. PhilJourdan says:

    It is an avenue worth investigating. However since “the science is settled” and “the consensus says”, I do not guess it is going to get any attention or money for study.

    And the world will miss out on a lot of important facts and data.

  4. Pascvaks says:

    Now imagine the po’fools who did it a few hundred years ago in/on something a heck of a lot smaller and their “engine” was the wind against flimsy canvas sails. Brrrrrrrrr….

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    So if the winds pick up such as to give more of those 35 m or 100 ish foot high waves, then the overturning current goes faster, we get a much colder Pacific, and a big load of more cold rain all over the place (filling the lakes).

    The Gulf Stream slows down, the snow whacks Europe, and it’s starts the albedo feedback thing.

    Add a dash of LOD change with the solar wobble ( per Ian Wilsons’ paper) stirring things up a bit and some added clouds via Svensmark…

    “Brrrrr….” is right.

  6. ROM says:

    For a long time I have believed that the immense and barely explored Great Southern Ocean holds the key to a lot of the so far unexplained longer term swings in the global climate and maybe to some of the shorter swings such as the ENSO.
    A couple of years ago, Bob Tisdale on his climate blog Climate Observations” [ I think, but could be the wrong person / site ] made a brief comment, never followed up to my knowledge, that there had been a significant shift in the Southern Oceans some 8 years previously and the consequences were unknown but possibly significant.
    Of what nature that shift consisted of was not explained.

    The “Southern Ocean” was approved in 2000 by the International Hydrographic Organization. It is now the fourth largest ocean with an official area of 20, 300,000 square Km’s.
    It’s northern boundaries are set at 60 degrees south which is also the [ convenient ] latitude that applies to the Antarctic treaty.

    The real extent of the Southern Ocean influences extend into the southern Pacific, the south Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic.
    When this influence is taken into account, the Great Southern Ocean extends from about 45 degrees south to the Antarctica continent, a distance across some of the world’s roughest, windiest, coldest and most open waters of some 2300 kms.
    Within this great global circling and circulating mass of water there is only one significant land mass and that is the southern areas of the South American continent projecting down to the Antarctic Peninsula
    Two other small land masses, the southern tip of New Zealand and the Antarctic Peninsula are the only other land masses until the Antarctic Continent itself that sits in the middle of the Great Southern Ocean.

    Just to give an idea on the size of the Great Southern Ocean relative to the Northern Hemisphere.
    If the Great Southern Ocean was planted in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s “southern” boundaries, based on the above criteria, would run across the northern States in the USA, across southern Europe, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and just to the north of Japan.

    As well, as was pointed out, the Great Southern Ocean is the only ocean that adjoins all of the world’s main ocean basins plus it is the only ocean connector that enables the global Thermohaline Circulation to exist.
    With no Great Southern Ocean and no ocean basin connector such as the previous Central American Seaway of some 60 million years ago between the North and South American continents, the Global Ocean circulation systems would be limited to the ocean basins and who could predict a global climate with that particular Ocean configuration.

    The truly staggering item in all of this so called climate research is the staggering indifference amongst the whole climate research cabal to the influences of the Great Southern Ocean and the almost complete lack of push and finance to explore the influences, effects and the potential control that this immense global circling body of water has on the whole of the Global Climate

  7. R. de Haan says:

    Big waves

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @R. de Haan:

    Yeah, more academics saying ‘settled science’ and ‘those guys are dumb’ when in fact they just didn’t understand something. The “Linear Model” was simply wrong.

    We’ve since found “freak waves” are quite common (now that satellites see them all the time) and it’s now “settled science” that it’s a constructive interference pattern between colliding wave trains.

    Wonder if they will go back and tell the families of those sailors killed in the “1 ship sunk per week” that they were wrong when they designed their “unsinkable” ships…

    ALL ships are sinkable. Period. Full stop.

    The sheer arrogance of the designers and academics calling experienced seamen liars rather than looking at the data in front of them, trusting that their “model” was right, despite one ship a week sinking, just galls beyond belief.

    Not like we’ve seen such behavior in any other fields…

    (Did you see the snow reports of Paris … and the record cold in Cancun… must be ‘warming’… the “model” says so.)

  9. R. de Haan says:

    Bastardi, Severe event for Europe.

    I left this comment to a post from Real Science about Rahmstorf stating the winter forcast for Europe was hyped and not warm at all.

    When century old temperature cold records are broken from Central Europe to Scandinavia and from the US to Cancún this should be a clear message for any proponent of the AGW theory. This clear message adds up to only three words:


    But AGW proponents, like Rahmstorf are no scientists but hard core ideologues.
    That’s why any discussion is futile and their hollow alarmism and their arrogant statements will continue until they die.

    People like Rahmstorf and his friends make money to screw humanity and the worst part is that they really enjoy their work.

    We have seen several periods in our history that saw a similar rise of propaganda based doctrines with the same kind of ideologues pushing the buttons, in some cases with devastating consequences for millions of people.

    That’s why we will take any appropriate measure necessary to oppose the AGW proponents and dismantle their treasonous schemes.

    Even if it means we have to take on the entire political establishment, the EU and the UN if we have to.

    The line is drawn with the ClimateGate data releases and people like Rahmstorf will be reduced to a shameful chapter in our history books that will be closed, shelved and gathering dust very soon.

  10. R. de Haan says:

    Totally off topic of course but feeding the doctrine:

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