Words on Weather & Climate

Arctic Sea Ice

How is this for an alarmist statement? It appears in a journal called Monthly Weather Review, which is published by The American Meteorological Society:

Meteorologist Craig James, new Squire columnist

“The arctic seems to be warming up. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers who sail the seas about Spitzbergen and the eastern Arctic, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions , and hitherto unheard-of high temperatures in that part of the earth’s surface. … Ice conditions were exceptional. In fact, so little ice has never before been noted. … In Arctic Norway… where formerly great masses of ice were found, there are now often moraines, accumulations of earth and stones. At many points where glaciers formerly extended far into the sea they have entirely disappeared.”

Sounds like something from today’s newspapers or evening news reports. However, this article was printed in November 1922.

Take a look at this picture from the US Navy Archives: “http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08578.htm” http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08578.htm

This is a photo of the first submarine to ever surface at the North Pole. The photo was not taken at a period when the ice is at its lowest extent, in September, but on March 17. This is when the ice is near its maximum extent. Notice all the open water. The photo was taken in 1959.

In 2007, we were flooded with news headlines that the Arctic Sea Ice Extent had dropped to its lowest level since the advent of routine monitoring. Keep in mind routine monitoring only goes back to 1979 when satellites began to monitor the ice near the poles. But the low Arctic Ice extent in 2007 brought out all kinds of dire predictions about how soon the Arctic Ocean would become ice-free during the summer, due of course, to human caused global warming.

You can see Al Gore in 2008 stating the Arctic Ocean would be ice-free by 2013 in this video:

“http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/al_gore_s_new_thinking_on_the_climate_crisis.html” www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/al_gore_s_new_thinking_on_the_climate_crisis.html

In December 2007, a research team from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California used computer models to forecast that “northern polar waters” would be ice-free by 2012 or 2013. In June 2008, Mark Serreze, the Director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center offered 50-50 odds of an ice-free Arctic Ocean that summer. It didn’t happen. Other forecasts (guesses) ranged from an ice-free Arctic by 2020 to as late as 2100.

It actually turns out that the 2007 low Arctic ice extent may not have been all that unusual. Take a look at this image.

The short curved line to the east of northern Greenland is the approximate southern extent of the sea ice based upon ship reports back in 1922. The longer line running from southern Greenland to the east is the southern extent of the ice based upon satellite observations in 2007. As you can see, the ice extent was less in 1922.

There is also this study published in 2008 by the Geological Survey of Norway stating:

“The climate in the northern regions has never been milder since the last Ice Age than it was about 6000-7000 years ago. We still don’t know whether the Arctic Ocean was completely ice free, but there was more open water in the area north of Greenland than there is today.”

The period of time during what has been called the Medieval Warm Period, between 900 and 1200 AD when the Vikings farmed in Greenland, undoubtedly had less ice than today.

Our 30 years of satellite observations just don’t go back far enough for us to make any conclusions about whether the decline in Arctic Sea Ice measured this past decade are unusual or not. In addition, the ice hasn’t been behaving as the alarmists have suspected it would. In fact, the extent of Arctic Sea Ice has been increasing since the minimum in 2007 and at the beginning of April this year was back to the 1979-2000 average. Had the average been calculated for the period 1979-2009, this year would be above average.

The Director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center has recently said he is “surprised” by the Arctic’s recovery from the great melt of 2007 when summer ice shrank to its smallest recorded extent. “In retrospect,” he says, “the reactions to the 2007 melt were overstated. The lesson is that we must be more careful in not reading too much into one event.” Amen to that.

Also, it is important to realize what would happen to the world’s sea levels if all the ice in the Arctic Ocean did melt. Nothing! Absolutely nothing. The ice is floating ice, the same as ice cubes in your water glass. When the ice cubes melt, the water level in the glass does not change.

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