This post foreshadows the next one on sea levels, and has that place not because melting sea ice raises sea levels (it doesn’t, at all), but because it is one of the tenets of the orthodoxy that warming will take place first at the poles, and, of course, that a warming sea will be a bigger sea, meaning higher sea levels. Let’s forget about the South Pole, and concentrate on the North Pole and the Arctic Ocean.
One of the most authoritative books ever written on Arctic sea ice, including a section on the warming of the Arctic, has come from Russia. It is written by one of the pioneering researchers in Arctic sea ice, N. N. Zubov, who spent his career studying the Arctic region. His observations of warming in the Arctic, which he described as not localised, but universal, are taken from his book entitled Arctic Ice. What follows are several pertinent passages, which should convince you that he at least thought that the warming of the Arctic is happening.
‘Along with the fluctuations in ice abundance in each individual sea from year to year, in late years a most interesting phenomenon has been observed – a warming of the Arctic, as evidence by a gradual and universal decrease in ice abundance. The main evidence of this general warming of the Arctic are:
1. Receding of glaciers and “melting away” of islands…. all the Greenland glaciers which descend into Northeast Bay and Disko Bay have been receding since approximately the beginning of the century. On Franz Joseph Land during recent years several islands have appeared as if broken in two. It turned out they had been connected up to that time by ice bridges… I noted a great decrease in the size of [Jan Mayan and Spitzbergen] glaciers. Ahlman terms the rapid receding of the Spitzbergen glaciers “catastrophic”.
2. Rise of air temperature. (Over the last 20 years) the average temperature of the winter months has steadily increased… (in the last 10 years) in the whole Arctic sector from Greenland to Cape Chelyuskin there has not been a single (negative) anomaly of average annual and monthly winter temperatures, while the positive anomalies have been very high…
3. Rise in temperature of Atlantic water which enters the Arctic Basin… the temperature of surface water and of Gulf Stream water has steadily risen…
4. Decrease in ice abundance… 15 per cent to 20 per cent (over 20 years)…. In earlier times, polar ice often approached the shores of Iceland and interfered with fishing and navigation. For the past 25 years ice has not appeared in significant quantities.
5. Increase in speed of drift ice.
6. Change in cyclone routes. There is no doubt that the increase in air temperatures, increase in Atlantic water temperatures, intensification of ice drift, etc., are closely connected with an intensification of atmospheric circulation, and in particular with a change in cyclonic activity at high latitudes. Vize shows that Atlantic cyclones are now shifting considerably north, by several hundred kilometres, from their courses in the period before the warming of the Arctic.
7. Biological signs of warming of the Arctic … fish have ranged further and further to the north… cod in large quantities have appeared along the shores of Spitzbergen and Novaya Zemlya… also mackerel, dolphin where formerly were not found… during recent years fishing has gradually shifted into the Arctic waters, and this unquestionably must be ascribed in considerable degree to the warming of these waters…. many heat-loving bottom organisms are now found in regions these organisms were not found (30 years ago). Knipovich says: “In a matter of fifteen years… there occurred a change … such as is usually associated with long geological intervals”.
8. Ship navigation…. a number of ship voyages (have been made) which could hardly have been accomplished in the preceding cold period.
Still more remarkable is the fact that the warming of the Arctic is not confined to any particular region.’
These observations seem to be quite compelling evidence that the warming of the Arctic is indeed unprecedented, and that we should take it seriously. The only problem is that Zubov’s book was published in 1945, though the material related to the 1930s. Zubov is real: he was an oceanographer in the Soviet Union, well qualified and important, who held the rank of Captain in the Soviet Navy. He died in 1960. He insisted that his book was neither a textbook nor a monograph, but his own personal opinions, based extensively on his own work, about which he was becomingly modest. It was translated in fits and starts by the US Navy and published in the 1960s.
How did I know about it? Well, this rendition appeared first in Dr Roy Spencer’s excellent website. I have adapted it a little, and repeat it here because it points once again to the difficulty of showing that anything in nature is truly unprecedented. There is quite a lot of contemporary evidence about the relatively warm state of the Arctic Ocean in the interwar period, but you never read about it in the orthodox literature. And as I pointed out yesterday, the current level of sea ice there today is very much back to normal conditions, though the summer melt is yet to be experienced.
To me all this illustrates uncertainty, which seems to me characteristic of the data supporting the whole AGW scare, and it puzzles me once again that the orthodox can be so sure that they are right and everyone else must be wrong. Science doesn’t seem to me to work like that.