Historic Variations in Arctic sea ice. Part II: 1920-1950

by Tony Brown

Satellite observations that provide an hour by hour picture of every part of the Arctic make it easy to forget that large areas of it had not even been even explored 80 years ago – let alone its ice extent minutely observed.  This paper explores the controversy surrounding the period 1920-1950, which was a period of substantial warming in the Arctic.

 Historic variations in Arctic sea ice  is a series that attempts to determine the arctic warming events through the Holocene which commenced some 11000 years ago. Part 1 covered the warm period from approx. 1816 to 1860. This paper – Part 2 – examines the period of warming 1920-1940 with a decade long overlap. Part 3 will examine the evidence for other episodes of warming through the Holocene.

During the course of compiling this article numerous relevant papers and studies were referenced, personal research conducted at the Scott Polar Institute archives and library in Cambridge, the Met Office archives and library in Exeter, and communications made with such organisations as the University of Fairbanks in Alaska, NSIDC, and arctic climate scientists.

Introduction

To provide context for the decline of Arctic sea ice extent observed since 1979, we need to understand how sea ice has varied over the Holocene, and particularly over the past 1-2 centuries.  One period of particular interest is 1920-1940. This statement was made by the IPCC in AR4 of 2007:

‘Average Arctic temperatures increased at almost twice the global average rate in the past 100 years. Arctic temperatures have high decadal variability, and a warm period was also observed from 1925 to 1945’

The arctic ice melt extent noted by the IPCC, was supplemented in an interview by Dr Walt Meier of The National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder:

“Analysis of the temperatures does not support a cyclic explanation for the recent warming. The warming during the 1920s and 1930s was more regional in nature and focused on the Atlantic side of the Arctic (though there was warming in some other regions as well) and was most pronounced during winter. In contrast, the current warming as observed is amplified over almost the entire Arctic and is seen in all seasons. Another thing that is clear is that, the warming during the 1920s and 1930s was limited to the Arctic and lower latitude temperatures were not unusually warm.”

The period from around 1920 to 1940 has become controversial due to the substantial variance between the ‘official’ view of modest and geographically limited arctic (and global) warmth, and the view held by others that are unconvinced that current arctic (and global) warming is exceptional. The controversy was noted in Neven’s respected ‘Arctic sea ice’ blog where an excerpt from the Sunday Times was highlighted:

“Professor John Christy director of the Earth System Science Centre at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said the Arctic had indeed warmed (in recent years), but there was also anecdotal and other evidence suggesting similar melts from 1938-43 and on other occasions.”

Neven’s reply: My question to Dr. Christy: Why do you lie?

The rationale behind this blunt response makes the short article-and the comments- worth reading.

A longer article on the period was carried at Skeptical Science: It states:

Christy has become very reliable for arguing that anything and everything related to climate change probably just boils down to natural variability, as he recently told US Congress was the case with regards to the frequency of extreme weather events, contrary to the body of peer-reviewed scientific literature.

How reliable are the sea ice observations during the first half of the 20th century?

During the period 1920-1940, the Arctic Ocean was regarded as relatively unexplored territory.  A 1934 National Geographic article  discusses the Lindbergh’s flights over the Arctic:

 “National Geographic, Sept. 1934, pp. 261-304, “Flying Around the North Atlantic” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She and her husband crossed the icecap twice, followed the coastline, from Disko Bay area to Clavering Island, visited Dr.Lauge Koch’s research area, and literally ”redrew” the map of some areas of Greenland.”

The lack of data from Russia and other areas because its sheer remoteness made accurate data gathering problematic, large gaps in knowledge due to WW2 i.e no DMI maps (Danish Meteorological Institute) during this period, a hiatus in cooperation during the Cold war, uncertainty over final summer amounts as DMI did not usually record data after August, and estimates by climatological methods  means historic sea ice data is fragmented and incomplete. This is not helped by the different sea ice data bases often being at considerable variance with each other and changes in the way in which ice concentrations were calculated as described below:

“In 1968, The United States began reporting ice concentration in eights rather than tenths, then returned to tenths reporting in 1980. Canada retained the tenths format throughout the period. […….] SIC summary analyses in eights frequently overlay reconnaissance data which is plotted in tenths. Since SIC produced these charts for in-house, not public use, which of these formats is used is seldom noted on the charts….There is also a period when U.S. recon data receives a slightly different treatment from chart to chart…… With a good knowledge of codes and the history of code changes and a dash of intuition and care, it is possible to roam the data set without great fear of misinterpretation. Others entering without some preparation may find it hazardous.” [link]

Of course, professional arctic sea ice researchers are aware of these factors and adjust data accordingly but the preceding does raise the question as to whether X amount of ice in the satellite era (1979 onwards) is really the same as X amount in the period prior to that, derived through climatological or physical observations in often difficult conditions by such as whalers, which brings us to the thorny question of what the definition of ice extent actually is.

This concern led me to ask the following question of NSIDC:

“ …..how did pre satellite researchers estimating sea ice extent tell the difference between water, water floating on ice, and solid ice, and how can satellites differentiate between the three states? I was struck by Russian reports from the 1950’s at The Scott Polar institute in Cambridge when staff at the floating research stations commented about using Wellington boots in order to walk around the station, and how little dry ice islands eventually formed by the end of the summer surrounded by water on top of ice.”

I received the following reply from Julienne Stroeve (reproduced with permission):

“ … using passive microwave data it is very easy to tell the difference between ice and water as the dielectric constant differs quite a bit and this is reflected in large differences in the microwave emission. The main advantage of using passive microwave is that it can see the ice even if it’s cloudy or dark. There is a problem however in summer when melt ponds form on the ice since the sea ice algorithms then underestimate how much ice there really is (they think it’s open water). That’s one reason why we focus on extent rather than true ice area for the NSIDC sea ice news and analysis web site.

Visible and thermal imagery provides higher spatial resolution but is often hampered by clouds. Trying to do this work using earlier visible and thermal imagery requires the scientists to go through each image and manually filter out the clouds and determine where the ice is.

 The Arctic in those pre satellite days was simply too large to be effectively and continually monitored. Observers getting close enough to the ice edge to make physical observations might be deterred from proceeding further by apparently impenetrable ice although better, more open conditions, might lie beyond. Data from such as the Russian sector – where much warming occurred, was not always taken into account. (However, the reader should be aware that, as Larsen noted, ice did sporadically return whilst reports from 1939-45 are sparse for obvious reasons.)

In trying to determine the true extent of sea ice during the period we run the risk of comparing apples-physical observations, and oranges- satellite altimetry, and the different methods employed over the years creates uncertainties over whether each accurately picked up what is ice, what is water covered ice and what is open water. This makes it difficult to determine how modern ice extent compares to the past with any certainty.

This paper provides evidence that supports a conclusion that the official sea ice data bases covering 1920-1945/50 appear to very substantially overstate the ice area extent. Some of the thinning of the ice and reduction of glaciers noted today appears to have had their genesis in the period.

Section One The History of Sea Ice Data

There are many meetings and areas of research of particular significance to recent arctic ice science. The following are reasonably representative in noting key papers, players, and uncertainties that persist to this day.

This workshop in 1978 represents the knowledge of the time.

‘Workshop on Mapping and Archiving of Data On Snow Cover and Sea Ice Limits-Boulder, Colorado 2-3 November 1978)” (Published in May 1979) [link]

A conclusion from this Workshop is that:

“There is a wide need for ‘historical’ series of sea ice and snow cover charts. Operational series should be carefully revised, incorporating data from all sources … It is important that estimated and interpolated values be flagged in data sets derived from chart series. Final digitised products should be cross-checked and their consistency documented.”

The next meeting to highlight is from 1997:

Report on Study of the Arctic Change Workshop November 10-12, 1997 University of Washington Seattle, Washington

The most interesting item for our purposes is Arctic warming during 1920-1940; A review of old Russian publications by Pisarev (A paper we return to later)

This was followed by:

Proceedings of the Workshop on SEA-ICE CHARTS OF THE ARCTIC (Seattle, WA, USA, 5-7 August 1998) Sponsored by the US National Ice Center July 1999 [link]

This extract is from the Executive Summary:

“The Workshop for Sea-ice Charts of the Arctic was convened…because of the perception that information contained in ice charts was under-utilised by the scientific community. Participants…distinguished ice charts of the historical era (1200 through 1930 A.D.) when information was primarily limited to ice extent, from ice charts of the modern era 1930 A.D. to present) when information about the ice pack interior is more generally available. Several reports illustrated the quantity and quality of the ice chart information, and suggested the data are adequate to support scientific investigations of the historical era (e.g., the Historical Ice Chart Archive Project) and from the modern era (e.g., Global Digital Sea-ice Data Bank).”

By 1995 the IPCC second assessment provided a focal point for climate science. References are made to them in the extended abstracts from the July 1999 workshop; this from “On The Use of Historical Sea-ice Charts in Assessments of Century-Scale Climate Variations” (page 1) by John E. Walsh, Konstantin Vinnikov and William L. Chapman [link]

However, the sea-ice record presented by the IPCC extends back only to the early 1970s. Conclusions about sea-ice trends prior to the 1970s must be based on historical sea-ice charts. Thus the adequacy of these charts for meaningful detection of sea-ice trends is a key issue in the context of century-scale climate trend assessment, especially since the greenhouse scenarios of global climate models show substantial decreases of sea ice coverage over the next several decades. In this paper, we discuss the feasibility of using historical sea-ice charts to assess century-scale sea-ice trends in the context of the projections of a global climate model

And from “About Clarity and Resolution of Ice Charts” by Igor Appel on Page 28 of the extended abstracts;

“The main goal of the present meeting is to review and assess ice chart information to the scientific community.…. Research spans a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. Even consideration of climate change can be limited by small area. Therefore it is desirable to create ice charts with fine resolution. It is clear that resolution does not signify accuracy. There were a lot of discussions at the meeting about improving spatial resolution of ice charts; 10 km and finer resolution have been mentioned. But there are numerous examples demonstrating that ice charts created in different ice centers for the same area and day differ very significantly. Difference in location of ice edge can reach hundreds of kilometers.”

This apparent lack of consistency of sea ice charts makes this next document highly relevant as some issues mentioned in the first few workshops remain ongoing and the gathering and interpretation of historic sea ice data is incomplete.

Cambridge UK meeting of the International ice charting working group  October 17-21, 2011 British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, U.K.

The ‘Back to 1870’ project described here will re-examine existing material and input new data in a manner that enables modelling through a digitised gridded Pan Arctic data base. [link]

“The 30-year timeframe of gridded pan-Arctic sea ice data sets limits their utility in reanalysis and climate diagnostic applications. The one available pan-Arctic database extending back to the 1800s is the Hadley Centre’s HadISST, in which the gridded sea ice is essentially climatological prior to the 1950s, especially in the winter half of the year. Our project will synthesize various historical datasets that have recently become available for inclusion in a pan-Arctic sea ice dataset spanning 1870-2010.”

The International Ice Charting working group ‘Back to 1870’  project will be invaluable as there is a clear need to improve our understanding of past, present, and future ice extent.

Estimates of Arctic ice extent, density, volume etc.  has been carried out informally and formally for many years by whalers, explorers, the Hudson Bay co, indigenous peoples and many others. The Cambridge group notes the various data bases used to construct ice conditions prior to and during the period in question as follows:

  • AARI gridded data, 1930-1970s [1990s]
  • Danish Meteorological Institute yearbooks,(DMI)1870s-1960s
  • ACSYS sea ice databank (North Atlantic ice edges, 1750-1966
  • National Research Council of Canada (B. Hill), Newfoundland ice extent, 1810-2000+
  • Alaskan ship reports (whaling and others) K. Wood and Bockstoce/Mahoney/Eicken, 1850-early 1900s
  • HadISST-1 and coordination with new HadISST-2

Other influential reconstructions include those from Kelly, Chapman and Walsh, B Hill and S Jones (shown in the Cambridge 2011 document) and the Kinnard et al reconstruction.

The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI)  yearbooks mentioned are online from 1893-1956 and from which this explanatory quote is taken: [link]

“The positions of direct observations are marked on each chart with red dots (Figure 1). Each chart shows the mapmakers’ inferred ice edge as well as the type of ice present, for example large ice fields or new ice, in certain locations. As a reference for today’s user, these descriptors have been converted into approximate percent-coverage values by V. Underhill and F. Fetterer at NSIDC, based on a combination of historical references

Coverage is considerably better over Greenland, Iceland, and Spitzbergen than for the rest of the Arctic, and direct observations over the Western Arctic are particularly sparse over the entire period of record. From 1946 to 1956, the ice edge in this region solely reflects annual climatology; the DMI probably did not have access to any data in this region because of the Cold War.“

This from the 1978 conference previously referenced:

“ Sea ice charts have been published (by DMI) from 1900 to 1956 for the Arctic seas, and from 1957 to 1964 for the Greenland waters (Fabricius 1961 DMI 1964) .The earlier data are from ship reports. Aerial reconnaissance has been used since 1959.”

“Please note that large portions of the pre-1953, and almost all of the pre-1900 data is either climatology (weather conditions averaged over a period of time) or interpolated data and the user is cautioned to use this data with care (see “Expert user guidance”, below). “ (Chapman)

Section 2   1920-1940:  A Period of warming in the Arctic

Section 2 examines the output of scientists during the last few decades who have examined the 1920-1940 warming.

This next item was presented at the Arctic change workshop in Seattle in 1997 as “Arctic Warming” During 1920-40: A Brief Review of Old Russian Publications by Sergey V. Pisarev and was briefly mentioned previously [link]. This rich source of information is briefly described in the index:

The idea of Arctic Warming during 1920–40 is supported in Russian publications by the following facts:
* retreating of glaciers, melting of sea islands, and retreat of permafrost
* decrease of sea ice amounts
* acceleration of ice drift
* change of cyclone paths
* increase of air temperature
* biological indications of Arctic warming
* ease of navigation
* increase in temperature and heat content of Atlantic Waters, entering Arctic Basin.

The two page extract linked above can be read in full.  The larger report it comes from is no longer available on the link cited [link].

A collaborative approach by two leading organisations suggested possible causes of the warming and queried the official ice estimates relating to the period:

The Early Twentieth-Century Warming in the Arctic—A Possible Mechanism by LENNART BENGTSSON, VLADIMIR A. SEMENOV, OLA M. JOHANNESSEN [link].  Excerpt:

The Arctic 1920–40 warming is one of the most puzzling climate anomalies of the twentieth century. Over some 15 yr the Arctic warmed by 1.78C and remained warm for more than a decade. This is a warming in the region comparable in magnitude to what is to be expected as a consequence of anthropogenic climate change in the next several decades. A gradual cooling commenced in the late 1940s bringing the temperature back to much lower values, although not as cold as before the warming started. …this warming was associated with and presumably initiated by a major increase in the westerly to southwesterly wind north of Norway leading to enhanced atmospheric and ocean heat transport from the comparatively warm North Atlantic Current through the passage between northern Norway and Spitsbergen into the Barents Sea….the increased winds were not related to the NAO, which in fact weakened during the 1920s and remained weak for the whole period of the warm Arctic anomaly. …the process behind the warming was most likely reduced sea ice cover, mainly in the Barents Sea. This is not an unexpected finding because of the climatic effect of sea ice in comparison with that of an open sea but is intriguing since previously available sea ice data (Chapman and Walsh 1993) did not indicate a reduced sea ice cover in the 1930s and 1940s. However, as we have shown here recent sea ice datasets [Johannessen et al. (2004) give a detailed presentation] actually showed a retreat in this period

The following extracts come from Johanssen et al 2004 [link]:

“The global gridded SAT data set (Jones et al., 1999) used most extensively for studies of climate variability has major gaps in the northern high latitudes, in particular over the ice-covered Arctic Ocean and some surrounding land areas.”

And:

“However, it remains open to debate whether the warming in recent decades is an enhanced greenhouse-warming signal or natural decadal and multidecadal variability (Polyakov and Johnson, 2000; Polyakov et al., 2002), e.g. as possibly expressed by the arctic warming observed in the 1920s and 1930s followed by cooling until the 1960s (e.g. Kelly et al., 1982). The uncertainties are exacerbated by a lack of homogeneous, century-scale instrumental data sets (see Moritz et al., 2002, whose fig. 2a includes no temperature data for the central Arctic) needed to resolve the inherent timescales of variability in the Arctic (Venegas and Mysak” Figure 1a shows the time evolution of the zonally averaged anomalies in annual mean SAT from 30–90N. Two characteristic warming events stand out, the first from the mid 1920s to about 1940 and the second starting about 1980 and still ongoing. Here, we show that the early twentieth-century warming was largely confined to north of 60N, whereas the latter warming encompasses the whole Earth (Jones et al., 1999) but is none the less significantly enhanced in the Arctic (Fig. 1a).”

“In the Atlantic–European sector (Greenland and Barents seas), the sea-ice extents from 1900 to the late 1950s are known only from spring and summer (April to August). …. An attempt has been made to obtain these missing mean annual data. Towards this end, the actual year-round data on the ice extent from 1959–1988 were used to derive an equation to calculate the annual average ice extent in the region….(enabling) the missing annual ice-extent means from 1900–1958 (to be) calculated. The main problem of any reconstruction is errors inevitable in the procedures of data series reconstruction. This problem can be resolved by comparing the actual and calculated annual ice extent averages…Thus, the methodological error of the reconstruction comprises only one third of the rms deviation of the actual series, indicating a sufficiently high reliability of the reconstruction method used.”

A report about North Western Russia entitled ‘Long-term climate trends of the Yamalo-Nenets AO, Russia’ from 2010 comments [link]

“All series show warm periods in the 1940s and 1990s, and a cold period in the 1960s. Salekard (the only station with observations at that time) was cold also around 1900.”

Page 40 summary and conclusions:

1. Increasing temperatures from 1900 to the mid-1940s (often referred to as the “early 20th century warming”).

2. Decreasing temperatures from the mid-1940s until about the mid-1960s.

3. A “recent warming” from the 1960s to 2003.

For Yamal this is shifted to the period 1965/70s-1990/95s.”

Note: This paper contains much useful meteorological information covering this significant area, including first and last day of snow cover, temperatures etc .

Reference was made earlier about the lack of Russian data possibly impacting on the historic charts. It was noted in this 2008 document ‘Observed sea ice extent in the Russian Arctic, 1933–2006’ by Mahoney, Barry, Smolyanitsky and Fetterer (two of whom are involved in the ‘Back to 1870 group.’) [link]

“We present a time series of sea ice extent in the Russian Arctic based on observational sea ice charts compiled by the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI). These charts are perhaps the oldest operational sea ice data in existence and show that sea ice

extent in the Russian Arctic has generally decreased since the beginning of the chart series in 1933. This retreat has not been continuous, however.”

And:

“During the second International Polar Year in 1932, the Directorate of the Northern Sea Route was created in Russia to ‘‘develop the Northern Sea Route as a regularly operating transport system’’ [Barr, 1991, p. 27].  Shortly afterward, in 1933, the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) began to regularly produce sea ice charts of the Russian Arctic seas based on aerial, ship, and coastal reconnaissance. The AARI ice charts, as we will refer to them, therefore represent the longest operational ice chart record in existence” 

Generally speaking, from 1933 onwards there were four prime methods of ice observation, land, air, ship and official polar meteorological stations. Aviation, for much of the period examined, was in limited use especially in remoter areas which encompassed much of the region.

‘From the mid 1930s, aviation was used to collect ice information and from the mid 1940s became the main source of sea-ice information in the Siberian Arctic (JOHANNESSEN et al 2004)’

The Alaska edu link continues:

“The earliest chart in the AARI data set is from July 1933. Charts were produced every 10 or every 30 days, depending on time of year. Spatial coverage did not extend far into the central Arctic, and the charts were only produced during the summer months in the early part of the series.”

Other limitations are noted here:

“Because of a lack of sufficient data coverage we only consider the western (Russian) area of the Chukchi Sea. Similarly, the sea ice edge could not be consistently located in the westernmost sector of the Kara Sea, so this is excluded from our analysis.”

 “The eastern half of the Chukchi Sea was omitted because of insufficient data coverage. Similarly, the sea ice edge could not be consistently located in the westernmost sector of the Kara Sea. This area is excluded from the analysis”

“…. Period A, from the beginning of the record (1933) until the mid-1950s, was a period of declining summer sea ice extent over the whole Russian Arctic, though not consistently in every individual sea. Period A is not evident in the winter and spring months and is not as well defined during the autumn partly because of a lack of sea ice charts at this time of year at the beginning of the record. Period B extended from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s and was a period of generally increasing or stable summer sea ice extent. For the Russian Arctic as a whole, this constituted a partial recovery of the sea ice lost during period A, though this is not the case in all seas. Periods A and B can also be seen in the MY ice record for the overall Russian Arctic (Figure 7), though as mentioned earlier, MY ice extent in the Barents and Kara seas peaked in the 1960s. Period C began in the mid-1980s and continued to the end of the record. It is characterized by a decrease in total and MY sea ice extent in all seas and seasons. In this regard, period C is markedly different from periods A and B.”

“The sources used to compile the HadISST data set are given by Rayner et al. [2003]. Up to 1978, HadISST used the Northern Hemisphere Walsh fields [Walsh and Chapman, 2001] as its main data source, which in turn relied upon ice charts from a number of different sources to locate the sea ice edge. However, prior to satellite observations, none of these charts provided coverage in the Russian Arctic further east than the Kara Sea [Kelly, 1979; Vinje,2001]. Where no sea ice edge data were available, a baseline climatology was used. Such instances are apparent in Figure 8 where the green data points are constant from year to year in the early part of the record.”

Item 4 of the paper Discussion and item 5 ‘Conclusions on page 9 are worth reading in full.

Section three   A look back from the 1960’s and 70’s

The 1960’s and 70’s saw increased scientific attention to climatology with growing access to records and modern instruments, amid concerns we were headed towards another mini ice age. In this section we examine the 1920-1940 period from that mid-century perspective.

P59 of Volume 1 of Jean Groves book ‘The Little Ice Ages’ second edition, noted: ‘that the relationship between (Icelandic) glacier variations and climate change can be traced most closely since 1930 when glacier monitoring began and meteorological measurements were already long established. Very cold decades at the beginning of the twentieth century were followed by strong warming in the 1920’s and an unusually warm period from 1926 to 1946. Within ten years glaciers were in retreat and the whole period from 1930 to 1970 was one of predominant withdrawal. By 1962 all the monitored glaciers had retreated from their 1930 positions.”

Additional scientific information comes from the 1971 book ’Times of Feast, Times of Famine-A History of Climate since the year 1000’  by Dr Emmanuel le Roy Ladurie-a renowned French historian- page 82 onwards,  which here references information on the various recent waves of warming:

‘The most spectacular amelioration is that of arctic or sub arctic regions, the areas at the extreme limit of Nordic colonization from Greenland to Spitzbergen . In the 1930’s Scherlag diagnosed a winter amelioration November-March of plus 5 degrees C at jakobshavn (Greenland) comparing the periods 1883-1892 and 1923-1932. At Spitsbergen the winter increase reached the phenomenal height of 8 to 9 deg C in the decade 1930 as compared with the normal for 1912-1926.”

It continues; ‘the tendency toward amelioration in the present century in the USSR, varying greatly in degree from the Ukraine to Siberia, was observed just before the last war and by Rubinstein in 1956 (with) mainly the winter months affected. The tendency is more pronounced in northern areas like the Barents sea, the shores of the Arctic ocean and the estuaries of the Ob and Yenisey rivers. Mitchells curves (showing temperature anomalies from 100 stations, one of the precursors to Giss) (demonstrate) there is indeed a world amelioration particularly in winter. It affects principally the Arctic and (secondly) the cold and temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere including the US, Europe and Siberia. Thirdly it affects the tropics and finally in a much less perceptible way the temperate zones of the Southern Hemisphere. The only areas unaffected by the annual amelioration between 1900 and 1940 are North eastern Canada, a large part of south America, most of the SW quarter of Africa and certain regions of central Asia and Pakistan and of the Indian ocean SE Asia and Australia.’

Page 122 from this 1977 document returns us to arctic- rather than global- observations.

Hunt and Naske, 1977: A BASELINE STUDY OF HISTORIC ICE CONDITIONS IN THE BEAUFORT SEA, CHUKCHI SEA, AND BERING STRAIT [link]

It gives interesting insights into how data were collected by whalers, traders and govt. skippers and how each exercised their own degree of caution when approaching pack ice and the leads that may lie beyond. Whilst trips may be regular they were often following the same route so consequently observers may have had a limited perspective.

“Plotting their tracks is an exercise in frustration for anyone seeking a pattern in ice movements because patrol vessels steamed from point to point, doubling their track when necessary, avoiding the ice, of course, but otherwise disregarding it. One factor is common to all three types of Arctic cruises from which data has been drawn: the ice was viewed as a potential obstacle, an impediment to navigation. It was not a seasonal physical feature subjected to long ranged scientific curiosity. There were no standards by which its particular qualities might be described; comparisons were not drawn from season to season; information was never collected or exchanged. In fact, the ice observer was happiest when he had no reason to mention ice conditions.”

And

“ Since the Department of the Interior has operated ships annually since the 1920… the logs of several Bureau of Indian Affairs ships were eagerly sought… it was disappointing to learn that ice observations were not systematically recorded. The paucity of data cannot be attributed to negligence of reporting standards of an earlier age, as it shown by a second case. The logs of the Foss Tug Co. for recent years of barge voyages to the Arctic are sprucely kept and generously accessible, yet the printed form used by navigators has not provided for ice observations. This situation can be  understood, of course. Captains of both types of vessels were never indifferent to the ice, and they guided their ships in response to the closest scrutiny of the ice. Yet, except in the general sense, history was not made in documented form.”

Reading the extensive information and asides, the arctic ice researcher might surmise that any records -prior to the satellite era-should be discounted, as the inconsistency of ice data collection methods and unlikelihood of collecting data from leads that may lay beyond pack ice, confirms that comparing the past to the present mixes apples and oranges.

Page 12 of Hubert Lamb’s ‘Climate History and the Modern World’ (originally published 1982 using material collated during the previous decade) notes ‘…from around the beginning of the century up to 1940 a substantial climate change was in progress, average temperatures were rising,  most of all in the arctic where the sea ice was receding…the almost four and a half decades of near immunity to very cold winters ended abruptly with Europe’s notably severe war winters in 1940, 41 and 42 and another in 1947.’ 

Page 259  comments  ‘…warming was rapid from about 1920 to 1940 …it was during the second and third decades of the (20th) century that the climatic warming became noticeable to everybody,  places near the arctic fringe such as Iceland, Spitsbergen and even Toronto experienced warming that was from twice to five times as great… the average total areas of the arctic sea ice seems to have declined by about between 10 and 20% ….when account is also taken of the changes in the atmospheric circulation and hence in the distribution of rainfall and its variability as well, it is hardly too much to say that the twentieth century climate regime from 1920 to 1960 changed the world.’ Page 261 ‘… the frequency of snow and ice decreased generally and the retreat of the glaciers from about 1925 became rapid.’

In the 1979 book ‘Earth’s Climate Past and Future’ M I Budyko of the State hydrological institute in Leningrad remarks ‘the greatest climatic change within the period of instrumental observations started at the end of the 19th century. It was marked by a gradual rise in air temperatures at all latitudes in the northern hemisphere throughout the year. This warming was especially pronounced at high latitudes and during the cold seasons. The warming intensified in the 1910’s and reached its peak in the 1930’swhen the mean air temperature in the Northern Hemisphere was 0.6c higher that at the end of the 19th century. In the 1940s the warming trend changed to a cooling trend which continued until recently. ‘..In the NH the air temperature rise was accompanied by a contraction of polar ice, a retreat of the permafrost boundary to higher latitudes, a northward shift of the forest and tundra boundary and other changes in natural conditions.’

Section four   Data from Contemporary sources-1920-1940

The comments from the IPCC , Walt Meier and blogs such as Neven, together with data from Walsh and Chapman, Kennard, Hadley and others, indicate  a modest intermittent often .localised arctic warming, through the 1920 to 40’s.  However, the data they base this on appears to be fragmented, and a different viewpoint can be construed from the work of other modern and mid twentieth century researchers referenced in the previous section. However the most telling glimpses into the past comes from those living during the period. Here we examine contemporary records for tangible evidence of arctic warming, discern the period it covers and put it into context with areas outside the arctic described as ‘not unusually warm.’

Continuing the theme of conditions in the Russian sector not being fully covered in official sea ice data- comments should be prefaced that due to World War Two, then the ‘Cold war,’ together with the remoteness of much of the area, international cooperation at the time, and for a period afterwards, was often limited as regards the Russian Arctic.

However, prior to this difficult period, and even during it, research still went on and much data was produced which, over the course of time, seems to have taken a back seat.

Arctic researcher Hans Ahlmann noted in 1952 that:

 “The extent of drift ice in Arctic waters has also diminished considerably in the last decades. According to information received in the U.S.S.R. in 1945, the area of drift ice in the Russian sector of the Arctic was reduced by no less than 1,000,000 square kilometers between 1924 and 1944.”

This reference by Ahlmann and others concerning the rapidly warming arctic can be picked up on the occasion of a lecture he gave in 1952 as the principal address at the meeting of the Seventeenth International Geographical Congress in Washington, D. C. [link]

It gives an intriguing glimpse of the science at the time, highlighting the warming that was of intense interest to many researchers.  Several relevant extracts are given below:

“The thickness of the ice forming annually in the North Polar Sea has diminished from an average of 365 centimeters at the time of Nansen’s Fram expedition of 1893-96 to 218 centimeters during the drift of the Russian icebreaker Sedov in 1937-40. The extent of drift ice in Arctic waters has also diminished considerably in the last decades.”

“ The shipping season in West Spitsbergen has lengthened from three months at the beginning of this century to about seven months at the beginning of the 1940s.”

“ The Northern Sea Route, the North-East Passage, could never have been put into regular usage if the ice conditions in recent years had been as difficult as they were during the first decades of this century.”

“The same influences that have affected the drift ice have affected the animal life of the North Polar Sea. Various kinds of fish, especially cod, have migrated northwards. Now for the first time cod is available to many Greenland Eskimos who previously had to rely on seal for food. In a (1947) speech…the Danish Prime Minister said:

“In the last generation changes that have had a decisive influence on all social life have occurred in Greenland. …These changes are primarily due to two circumstances. Firstly, the Greenland climate has changed, and with it Greenland’s natural and economic prospects…”

“…herring catches off the north coast of Iceland have greatly diminished in the last seven years, possibly because of changes in the sea currents connected with the present climatic fluctuation. Herring has become an open sea fishery; its 1952 season was extended to November instead of ending as usual in August.”

“…the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea adopt(ed) the following resolution at its meeting in Denmark in 1948: “Having considered a number of lectures on climatic fluctuations, the Council recommends that these important and far reaching problems ought to be more closely investigated, and that these investigations might be adequately supported by the Governments in the different countries”

Historic note: Dr. Ahlmann was Professor of Geography at the University of Stockholm, and from 1948 to 1951 served as President of the Commission on Snow and Ice of the International Association of Hydrology (I. U. G. G.). He forged particularly good links with Russian arctic scientists during a difficult period of international scientific cooperation (especially American), as noted here:

“…in 1934 Ahlmann was invited to lecture at the Arctic Research Institute on his Svalbard expeditions in 1931 and 1934. Ahlmann returned to the Soviet Union several more times, deepening his respect for Russian arctic research especially during visits in 1958 and 1960 as president of the International Union of Geographical Sciences.”  [link]

This next site gathers some thirty articles and science reports in chronological order concerning the warming that covered a wide area of the world in the period 1900 1949. [link]

Probably the best known and most widely quoted item is this from the Monthly Weather Review of Oct 1922. (Edited for space reasons.) [link] [link]

‘The Arctic seems to be warming up, states George Nicolas Ifft American consul at Bergen, Norway. “ …. fishermen, seal hunters, and explores who sail the seas about Spitsbergen and the eastern Arctic, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, and hitherto unheard-of high temperatures……

In August, 1922, the Norwegian Department of Commerce sent an expedition to Spitsbergen and Bear Island under Dr. Adolf Hoel, lecturer on geology at the University of Christiania. The oceanographic observations (reported that) Ice conditions were exceptional. In fact, so little ice has never before been noted. The expedition all but established a record, sailing as far north as 81o29′ in ice-free water. This is the farthest north ever reached with modern oceanographic apparatus…..

In connection with Dr. Hoel’s report…note the unusually warm summer in Arctic Norway and observations of Capt. Martin Ingebrigtsen, who sailed the eastern Arctic for 54 years past. He first noted warmer conditions in 1918, since that time it has steadily gotten warmer, to-day the Arctic of that region is not recognizable as the same region of 1868 to 1917.

Many old landmarks are so changed as to be unrecognisable. 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.

The change in temperature, says Captain Ingebrigtsen, has also brought about great change in the flora and fauna of the Arctic. This summer he sought for white fish in Spitsbergen waters (where) formerly great shoals were found. This year he saw none, although he visited all the old fishing grounds.

There were few seal in Spitzbergen waters , the catch being far under average. This did not surprise the captain. He pointed out that formerly the waters about Spitzbergen held an even summer temperature of about 3o Celsius; this year recorded temperatures up to 15o, and last winter the ocean did not freeze over even on the north coast of Spitsbergen.”

We can reinforce observations that determine the conditions around 1900 and 1940 with this Russian report from that latter year [link]:

“Is it getting warmer at the North Pole? Soundings and meteorological tests taken by the Soviet explorers who returned this week to Murmansk, Russia’s sole ice-free Arctic port, concluded that near Polar temperatures are on average six degrees(C) higher than registered by Nansen 40 years ago. Ice measurements were on average only 6½ feet against from 9¼ to 13 feet. The return of the Soviet icebreaker Sedoff (note variations in spelling) brought to a close a Polar expedition, involuntarily undertaken which led to important discoveries. For 2½ years she had drifted while trapped in Polar ice. Fifteen men volunteered to stay on board until relief came. In the drift to the north-west these men passed nearer to the North Pole than any other ship. Their highest latitude was 86 degrees 56min North. They discovered by soundings a near Polar sea pocket, 17,260 feet deep.”

Here we can identify the warming extending to around 1952 with again a useful reference to 1900 [link]:

“Dr. William S. Carlson, an Arctic expert, said to-night that the Polar icecaps were melting at an astonishing and unexplained rate and were threatening to swamp seaports by raising the ocean levels….it would take hundreds of years for the melting to have much effect, but the rate in the last half century had been exceedingly rapid.

The glaciers of Norway and Alaska are only half the size they were 50 years age. The temperature around Spitsbergen has so modified that the sailing time has lengthened from three to eight months of the year.”

Historical footnote:  William S. Carlson, for whom the University of Delaware’s International Polar Year public events are named, president of UD from 1946 to 1950, was an accomplished polar explorer and scientist.  [link]

 This 1939 report confirms the observed warming was considered widespread, and that the warming that caused this retreating ice could be dated to some 100 to 200 years prior to 1939. [link]

“One of the riddles which is puzzling geologists all over the world is the continuous retreat of the ice glaciers. Does this phenomenon indicate that the sun is getting hotter … or is it dependent upon comparatively unimportant changes in the earth’s atmosphere?

…these were discussed by Professor R. Speight, formerly professor of geology at Canterbury College, Christchurch, New Zealand in his presidential address to the …Science Congress to-day.

 The steady retreat of the glaciers in New Zealand …had been observed during the last 70 years. Photographs taken in 1896 and 1935 showed several glaciers had retreated distances varying from 100 yards to half a mile in 40 years.

The phenomenon, however, was world-wide. Equally impressive records were obtainable from Switzerland, Scandinavia, Iceland and the United States. In Alaska glaciers had been retreating from 100 to 200 years, the average rate of recession being about 50 feet a year. The Antarctic ice- sheet also showed signs of recent retreat.

Professor Speight said, ” (no) region of the world (shows) present signs of an advance. This is quite apart from the general retreat since the pleistocene age and may be merely a pacing phase. Its precise significance can only be determined by continued observation.”

This knowledge that some glaciers had been retreating for some hundreds of years had been expounded by Gordon Manley at various times. [link]

“The earth is getting warmer. The oceans are getting deeper. The glaciers are getting smaller. Even the fish are changing their way of life. All this and more is going on because of a vast, unaccountable, century-by-century change, in climate (according to)  Britain’s distinguished geographer, Professor Gordon Manley. Since about 1850 there have been hard and soft winters (he said) but the general tendency has been toward higher average temperatures. It means little at the North Pole, or in Central Europe or America. But there are certain “fringe areas,” on the meteorological edges between hot and cold weather, where the effects even now are spectacular.”

Historical footnote: Gordon Manley was a renowned English climatologist who assembled the (CET) series of monthly mean temperatures stretching back to 1659. He hypothesised that (some) glaciers had been in stasis or retreating since around 1750. [link]

The references concerning the long established retreat of the glaciers – and the specific reference to Alaska-  can be put into its context and given a useful time frame here: [link]

Glacier Bay was first surveyed in detail in 1794 by a team from the H.M.S. Discovery, captained by George Vancouver. At the time the survey produced showed a mere indentation in the shoreline. That massive glacier was more than 4,000 feet thick in places, up to 20 miles wide, and extended more than 100 miles to the St. Elias mountain range. By 1879, however, naturalist John Muir discovered that the ice had retreated more than 30 miles forming an actual bay. By 1916, the Grand Pacific Glacier-  the main glacier credited with carving the bay – had melted back 60 miles to the head of what is now Tarr Inlet.”

Historical footnote:  George Vancouver was a renowned English officer of the British Royal Navy, best known for his 1791-95 expedition, which explored and charted North America’s northwestern Pacific Coast regions, including the coasts of contemporary Alaska. He gave his name to the city of Vancouver. [link]

John Muir was a renowned naturalist and “one of the patron saints of twentieth-century American environmental activity.”  He founded the Sierra club which to this day remains a leading environmental organisation. [link]

Practical on the ground observations are a useful adjunct to scientific papers, with here noted a comparison of warmer seasons from as far apart as Disko island (Baffin Bay off west coast of Greenland)  and Alaska, over as much as a 50 year comparison period. [link]

 ‘Similar (warming) changes have occurred throughout the Arctic in the natural vegetation… Thus, in 1937, when approaching Disko Island in Bob Bartlett’s schooner Morrisey, I noticed that the flat tops of mountains west of Godhavn that formerly showed no green vegetation above the 2000-foot level were distinctly green from several miles away. During the summer of 1926, which I spent in Alaska, I noticed that on Seward Peninsula the vegetation was fully one month farther advanced that in 1879 when the Swedish botanist Kjellman collected there.”

Historic footnote: Bob Bartlett was a familiar figure to our cinema going forefathers during the 1920’s and 30s, his adventures  eagerly awaited on British Pathe news reels as Captain on board the vessel Morrisey travelling a warming arctic.

This 1932 article demonstrates that, unlike the modern era, the warming affected both poles whilst highlighting the continued retreat of the glaciers generally and in Greenland and Alaska specifically: [link]

“Some great world change is taking place on the Antarctic Continent. Its glaciers are shrinking. L.A. Bernacchi, who visited the South Polar land 30 years ago, says that the Great Ice Barrier which fronts the continent with a wall of ice for 250 miles has receded at least 30 miles since it was first seen and surveyed. Sir James Ross…on the earliest Antarctic expedition of the nineteenth century, and those who followed him, left clear descriptions of this tremendous ice frontage and its position. It was a cliff 150ft. high and 1000ft. thick. But now it appears to be continuing its century-long process of shrinking; and that process may have been going on for centuries. It might imply, unless it is offset by some increase of ice in another less explored part of the Antarctic, that the climate of the South Pole is changing and becoming warmer. The shrinkage of the Alpine glaciers of Europe is a well-known and carefully measured fact. Professor Buchanan, of. Edinburgh, drew attention to it twenty years ago, and showed from old and accurate drawings of (many) that they were retreating rapidly. This led to the continuous measurement of the Swiss glaciers (and) examination of other glaciers of the Northern Hemisphere, Greenland, Alaska, and elsewhere. Prom these measurements many geologists concluded that the northern part of the globe was still recovering from the last of its Ice Ages, of which the more southerly of its glaciers in Europe were a relic. If all the glaciers of the Southern Hemisphere as well as those of the Northern are shrinking, the geologists would have a new problem to examine. It would be whether, instead of areas of cold and ice having shifted on the earth, the whole globe is growing warmer. Even if that could be shown the change might prove to be temporary.” [link]

By the time of this article in 1937 warming was an accepted fact and attempts were made to quantify its extent and attribute reasons for it. [link]

“The discovery by American seal fishers that …there has been a remarkable increase in the mean temperature of the Arctic, and that in some parts of the Polar basin no ice has been seen less than 9 degrees from the North Pole, agrees with the experience of many Arctic explorers in recent years. Just before the war a party of Russians exploring Nova Zemblya (Russia) discovered clear evidence of a branch of the Gulf Stream running north of that Arctic island, between it and Franz Josef Land (Far north of Russia), though all existing charts of that hot-water system place its most northerly extension well to the south of Nova Zemblya. (Recent) evidence has accumulated that the Gulf Stream has been diverted, and there is little doubt but that any increase of Arctic temperatures must be caused by warm ocean currents coming up from southerly latitudes.”

1939 heralded World War and the end of much international scientific cooperation for some years, making this next item something of a period piece, highlighting doubts that the warmth should be attributed to the Gulf Stream. One scientist believed that increased CO2 could be responsible for warming-an attribution to this gas that predates most estimates of any likely effect by 30 years, whilst others looked to the sun, so there are intriguing parallels to theories of our current age.

Historical footnote: GS Callendar had published his seminal article on CO2 in 1938.

From 1939 [link]:

1939. What is The World Coming To? Scientists have confirmed that Arctic regions around Spitzbergen are warming at the rate of approximately one degree in every two years. Since 1910, when observations first started there, the cumulative rise of winter temperature has amounted to nearly 16 degrees. Such a profound change has been at- tended by new and strange phenomena over the whole area surrounding the Polar basin…Polar ice fields are receding gradually northwards… soil which once remained solidly frozen throughout the year now undergoes a partial thaw during the Arctic summers. In the Barents Sea area where, during earlier observations, only small patches became free from ice, large spaces of open water now occur at frequent intervals. Ice-breakers and other vessels which regularly make journeys to the far North are now able to penetrate with comparative ease into regions which could not be reached twenty years ago. There has been a gradual drift northward of several kinds of fish into areas once completely ice covered. The milder conditions have not been confined to areas north of the Russian coast. From parts of Greenland comes evidence of a higher winter temperature, with considerably less snow, than in the early part of the twentieth century. ….Parts of the Polar regions not affected by the warm waters have grown decidedly warmer in the last 20 years, while temperatures have become higher in the far north-east of Siberia and well inland—remote from oceanic effects. In support of the belief that the Atlantic river of warmth cannot be wholly responsible for the widespread rise in temperature there are the trustworthy records by…. the Weather Bureau at Washington, which show that the rise in temperature at places as far apart as Canada and Africa. South America and Asia, Bombay and Santiago (Chile) has been well marked since the middle of last century. It is possible that the world as a whole is becoming warmer. One scientist…theorises that an increase in carbon dioxide (due to the huge amounts of coal being used) may be responsible…while astronomers look to the sun for an explanation. Quite apart from any fluctuations in the sun’s actual output of radiative energy, it is possible that the warmth received from the sun may vary from time to time due to the earth passing through regions of space in which meteoric dust is unevenly distributed.”

This next item from 1943 is a fascinating historic journal, all the more interesting because of its date and the location of many of the observations. It is inscribed;

“I also wish to express my indebtedness to Rear Admiral I. D. Papanin and to V. D. Novikov, who by their care and attention have aided in the completion and publication of this book. Moscow. May, 1943. N. N. Zubov, Naval Captain, Professor, Doctor of Geographical Sciences”

This link leads directly toArctic Ice’ by N.N.Zubov. [link]

Page 396 describes 10/10 ice concentration, yet further north very little ice-these extensive leads may not have been taken into account in ice charts where the prime means of observation was by ship. Figure 178, also table 118 on Page 458, concludes that the ice in the Russian sector is hugely variable year by year. In section 162 entitled ‘Warming of the arctic’ Dr Ahlman is mentioned once again.

“Thus, for example, a vessel which attempted to traverse the Northern Sea Route at any cost in August 1936 would have gotten the impression that the route was completely impassable due to ice. On the contrary, a through passage of the Northern Sea Route in the second half of September of that year did not present particular difficulties. “

(Authors note: this illustrates the potential problems in relying on DMI sea ice charts which terminate in August)

“We may nevertheless point out a number of ship voyages which could hardly have been accomplished in the preceding cold period. Among these are: our voyage on the sail motor boat Knipos around Franz Joseph Land in 1932, the rounding of Severnaya Zemlya by the icebreaker Sibiryakov in the same year, through passages by ordinary steamships of the whole Northern Sea Route in 1935 (no ice being found on the route), etc….starting with 1930 there was not a single year when it would have been impossible to round Novaya Zemlya from the north even in a ship which was entirely unsuited for navigation in ice. At the same time we know that the icebreaker Yermak in 1901 attempted to round Cape Zhelanla from the west and was unsuccessful, although the Yermak spent almost a month in a struggle with the ice while waiting at the northwest shores of Novaya Zemlya”

“We could cite numerous such examples , but the foregoing are sufficient to show that the navigational conditions, at least in seas such as the Greenland, Barents and Kara which have been more completely studied as to ice conditions, have become incomparably easier during the past 10 to 20 years than in previous years. Due to insufficiency of observations, the question of warming of the arctic in its whole broad connotation has been propounded only very recently, namely in connection with preparation for carrying out the Second International Polar Year, when I had to plan the sea expedition routes in advance. Certain phenomena connected with warming of the arctic had been noted earlier. For example, Knipovich was the first to turn his attention to the high temperatures of the Barents Sea in 1921. This warming was then confirmed in 1923 by our voyage on the Perseus to Franz Joseph Land without meeting ice.

Still more remarkable is the fact that the warming of the arctic is not confined to any particular region….the same signs of warming of the atmosphere and hydrosphere are found in the Bering Strait, in the Pacific Ocean as in the western sector of the Soviet Arctic.

 A warming of the Antarctic is evidently also going on simultaneously…On the background of general warming of the arctic we are observing warmer years and colder years, but there are not signs as yet that this warming is terminating…”

“Sumgin informed me that the southern boundary of permafrost in Siberia is everywhere receding northward. In 1837 this boundary, for example, ran somewhat south of the town of Mezen and was found at a depth of 2 m. In 1933 the Academy of Sciences Expedition found this boundary at the village of Semzha 40 km further north.

Section 156 of the Zubov book mentions fluctuations and noted periods of less or more ice. In the graphs it mentions ‘probability of presence of ice’ not that it was actually physically seen.

Historic footnote: The opening of a Northern sea route (also called the Northeast passage) has implications for understanding ice dynamics of the time, becoming an important supply route during World War 2 although until the period in question was not useable in any practical manner, as noted here:

In 1932, a Soviet expedition led by Professor Otto Yulievich Schmidt was the first to sail all the way from Arkhangelsk to the Bering Strait in the same summer without wintering en route. After a couple more trial runs, in 1933 and 1934, the Northern Sea Route was officially defined and open and commercial exploitation began in 1935. The next year, part of the Baltic Fleet made the passage to the Pacific where armed conflict with Japan was looming [link]

The ‘Arctic Circle’ was an organisation based in Ottawa. Their annual ‘Arctic circular’ provides fascinating insights into the period. These short excerpts do not do justice to the publication which details many interesting facts about all facets of arctic life in the 1940’s.

This item from 1949 refers to page 3 of this document; [link]

“During the last three decades there has been a marked change in the climate of the Arctic which is being felt throughout the northern hemisphere where, especially, the mean temperature of the winters has increased considerably. In the North American sector this change is perhaps best understood and also most marked in Greenland, where long meteorological records exist from a number of points on the west coast, Thus at Jakobshavn, in latitude 690 13 North, the mean winter temperature for the years 1913-1922 was about 5 degrees F above the mean of 50 years and that of 1923-1932 almost 10.0 degrees F. above. In 1935-1936 the mean for the winter at Godhavn was 13.40 higher than the normal at the end of last century, that of Godthaab 7.60 and at Julianehaab 9.8oF.  Increasing temperatures are not limited to the air; sea temperatures also have increased and while the amplitude is not so great, the result is even more profound and far reaching.”

This from page 4:

“The warming of the arctic seas has caused a diminishing of the arctic drift ice, which again has improved shipping conditions. In the 1907-1917 period Norwegian coal mines in Spitsbergen were able to load and export coal an average of 94 days each season, while 20 years later this period has been extended to 192 days. In 1878-80 Nordenskjold in the Vega was the first to navigate the North East Passage, but to do this he had to winter twice. In 1936 a convoy of fourteen Russian ships mode the trip in one season without encountering serious ice difficulties and during the last war this northern Sea route was used extensively by Soviet shipping. During 1942-45 even war ships, which are especially vulnerable to ice, were able to reach Thule without difficulty.

The seas around Greenland have also been remarkably open in later years. The east coast, which frequently remained completely blocked by pack-ice, in 1931-33 was almost free from ice. “

And this:

“In 1941-42 the low-powered, 80 ton R.C.M.P. schooner St. Roch made the North West Passage for the first time from the Pacific to the Atlantic and again in 1944 in the opposite direction in only 87 days.”

Historical footnote: Larsen, an experienced arctic seaman who commanded the vessel noted:
“The three seasons of the short Arctic Summers from 1940-42 had been extremely bad for navigation, the worst consecutive three I had experienced as far as ice and weather conditions were concerned, and in my remaining years in the Arctic I never saw their like.”

This allows us to observe that whilst Arctic conditions were often highly favourable for something like three decades, there were intermittent periods during the early years of World War 2 when the ice returned, but then abated again.

From page 5 of the ‘Arctic Circular’ comes this observation;

“The warming of the arctic seas has profoundly affected marine life. The Irminger Current, that branch of the Gulf Stream which washes the south western part of Greenland’s west coast, can now be traced as far north as Melville Bay. The increase in sea temperature of Greenland waters, varying from 5 to 8 degrees F., has brought the Atlantic Cod and the halibut, besides numerous other Atlantic fishes to Greenland, so that today the fishing banks off the west coast are among the richest in the world. At the same time many arctic marine animals, including the beluga or white whale, the arctic cod and the capelin, to mention only a few, have retreated north.”

 It also notes the harsh conditions in 1946 and 1947 and the exceptionally ice free conditions in 1948 on Page 17;

“Throughout the north mean temperatures were well above normal for the months of June and July except in the area of coastal and south-eastern Labrador (North East Canada). The highest temperatures recorded were in many cases 10 to 20 degrees (F) higher than the mean maximum computed over a considerable period of years. Arctic Bay (Canada) with a normal mean maximum of 510 F in July, reported a maximum temperature of 680 F and a mean temperature of 46°F as compared with the normal mean of 43°F. Nottingham Island with a mean maximum temperature of 490 F for July and a mean of’ 42°F reported a mean of 49 degrees F and a maximum of 680 F.” (Mention is also made of very icy conditions in 1941)

And this;

“In this connection it is interesting to note that the amount of water released by the melting of glaciers has already caused a measurable increase in the level of the Oceans.”

 

Page 47 records a somewhat ironic outcome to intended cold weather experiments by the Royal Navy in February 1949;

“In the course of this (six week) cruise, the Vengeance penetrated more than 450 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Thirty-three special observers were aboard to watch trials on new methods of keeping guns, radio and radar equipment free from ice, the effects of extreme cold on the ship’s company, and the efficiency of the latest type of survival suit. The weather throughout was abnormal for that time of year, and instead of northerly winds and extremely cold weather there were southerly winds, with higher temperatures, strong gales and snowstorms, which restricted flying operations. Owing to these unexpectedly warm conditions the trials were stopped on March 4, a week ahead of schedule.”

A number of additional contemporary reports has been placed at the end of this article as a small fraction of the material available, demonstrating the widespread warming in the arctic and further afield over many years.

Section Five   Comments and Conclusions

In trying to determine the true extent of sea ice melt during the period 1920-1940, we run the risk of comparing apples to oranges, since the different observing methods employed over the years makes it difficult to determine how modern ice extent compares to the past with any certainty.

However, the conclusion must be that drawn that warming was more widespread in the Arctic – not just the Atlantic side – than is currently noted in the official sea ice data bases covering 1920-1945/50 and that the official records appear to very substantially overstate the ice area extent during this period.

The 1920-1940’s arctic sea ice melt can therefore be seen as remarkable, albeit the caveats about apples and oranges need to be applied. Looking at the evidence available from each of the arctic oceans means the ice extent probably lies somewhere within that experienced during the first half of the 2000’s, but was probably not as low as 2007 and 2012.

It is anticipated that the ‘Back to 1870’ project will objectively look at the available information from all sources and put the period to 1870-and especially 1920-1940/50- into its proper context to today.

Supplementary information (dowload supplementaryinformation29jan2013amednded april2013leads to a variety of additional studies of the period, some modern, but most dating from the 1920-1940 era

JC comment:  I would like to thank Tony Brown for posting his meticulously researched and fascinating essay at Climate Etc.

Moderation note:  This is a technical thread and a guest post.  Please keep your comments on topic and civil.

353 responses to “Historic Variations in Arctic sea ice. Part II: 1920-1950

  1. “However, the conclusion must be that drawn that warming was more widespread in the Arctic – not just the Atlantic side – than is currently noted in the official sea ice data bases covering 1920-1945/50 and that the official records appear to very substantially overstate the ice area extent during this period.”

    Yet another arrow in the heart of CAGW alarmism. Thank you for this.

  2. Tony

    Sincere gratitude and admiration for your diligent efforts.

    Qualitative studies are of great value to science; without them the context and interpretation of quantitative statistics is fairly hamstrung.

    Though one suggests greater attention still to statistics; there is enough data in observations to generate a great deal of relevant tables of numbers.

    Also, the attention to what indigenous peoples say in their oral tradition ought be expanded, I think. Courts in several countries have deemed oral tradition equal in weight to written documents (albeit with reservations and exceptions).

    Another source you may wish to consider is architectural: wherever man can build, by and large someone has built. The differences between building on permafrost and on thaw are marked, giving us a basis of inference on which to draw conclusions about Arctic permafrost extent, which we may want to examine as a possible proxy for sea ice extent.

    Also, a warming of 1.78C in 15-20 years, or a range of that amplitude? Could you further expand on that derivation and its details.

    Good work, keep it up.

    • Bart, courts in Australia have also found that oral “traditions” have been fabricated in collaboration with non-indigenous activists, most notably in the Hindmarsh Island bridge case. Oral tradition alleging continuity over thousands of years – surely implausible at best – was used to prevent study of an ancient human body in the US.

      • Faustino | April 10, 2013 at 10:38 pm |

        Huh. When you say “most notably” by any chance do you mean “only, ever”?

        And when you advertise the findings of the commission, you leave out the overturning opinion of the Australian federal court just six years later, rejecting bridge developers’ claims for damages. Why is it you leave that out? Could it be you are what in fiction is known as an “unreliable narrator”? Not that I have a side in this Australian controversy: I’m not from there, it would be presumptuous of me to claim I’m qualified to judge. (It would be like, for instance, someone who’s only experience of snow is the feeble shadow of real snowfall found in the UK, and of ice merely the stuff used in a drinking glass, claiming expertise Dunning Krugerishly in Arctic matters, so I don’t do it.)

        This is hardly surprising. History is full of unreliable narrators, and people who fervently believe what they write in their ignorance and zeal. There’s no shame in it. Well, there’s little shame in it. Well, it’s not the most shameful possible thing. Except in science.

        Indeed, it’s well-known indigenous peoples’ beliefs may be contradictory and complex in their expression and the process of handing down, among anthropologists. So interpretation of indigenous records, and let’s be frank, of historical reconstructions by zealous amateurs with a particular bias, must be undertaken with greatest care and skepticism.

        (Tony, you know I appreciate fiction as much as any, and always look forward to more of your historical pieces.)

        Let’s look at some of the well-documented reports — which I hold in the highest regard and respect — of aboriginal peoples of the tundra.

        In case after case, geographically separated and from different remote peoples, we hear the testimony of Inuit and Eskimo and Lapp peoples living north of 60 degrees that the Earth has dramatically tilted or the sun and stars have shifted dramatically in the sky in their lifetimes such that the sun rises and sets kilometers away from its original path in their childhood. This, to science, is of course impossible. What is likeliest is that a combination of a far higher solar tide and slightly different atmospheric composition is causing the apparent location of celestial objects to shift. Are the narrators lying? No, not at all. They are in earnest, and their observations are meaningful and consistent. Are their conclusions correct as Physics? No. But Physics does provide a satisfactory explanation.

        In case after case, First Peoples report a sizeable increase in polar bear population. Yet we can be fairly certain that 100 years ago there were about three times as many polar bears overall as there are today. How can both be true? 80 years ago a vast slaughter of bears was under way, and ninety percent or so of the population was lost in perhaps four decades. From that nadir, there’s been a maybe 50% increase, perhaps as much as a doubling of the population as the decimated populations recovered. But the most careful tallies of the past decade report bears are again losing numbers or not growing in number in eighteen of the nineteen polar bear populations.. and the bears are so hungry they are roaming into human habitations seeking food, increasing human contact with bears.

        So qualitative reports are valuable for framing statistics and hard observations. But they’re still just stories, and still likely unreliable.

      • Bart R,

        Huh. When you say “most notably” by any chance do you mean “only, ever”?

        Why do you assume Faustino misled or lied?

      • Peter Lang | April 11, 2013 at 12:01 am |

        Misled or lied? Where did I say that about “most notably”? I merely propose a likely definition based on broad reading of literature regarding indigenous peoples’ cases.

        Why do you assume I assumed?

      • I ought clarify.

        I operate on the premise of doubting every source, even myself. When I hear something, think something, read anything, there is a reflexive shout of, “No! NO! No! That can’t be right!”

        Every time. Every new idea. Every new hypothesis. Every new theory. Every new story. Every new version of old stories. It’s not the friendliest compulsive obsession, to be sure, but it can be managed.

        How? By turning mania into skepticism. By building ab initio from the most assiduous, rigorous and reliable proofs and evidences every case to find one above all others — or failing a single champion, an acceptable undecidability among candidates, or even tolerable uncertainty or admission of ignorance — until new evidence begets better search. By using science, that pure rejection shouting in my head is quelled.

        So you may say I assume everyone is lying or misleading, but I don’t yield to that impulse so far as I can manage.

        So.. why don’t you do the same?

  3. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Please allow me to commend to Climate Etc readers two books by submarine commander Captain William Anderson, which augment TonyB/Judith Curry’s post with vivid descriptions of the first-ever accurate observations of Arctic sea-ice thickness:

    Nautilus 90 North: an Account of the U.S. Submarine Nautilus and Its Daring Voyage Under the North Polar Ice Cap (1959)

    The Ice Diaries: The True Story of One of Mankind’s Greatest Adventures (2008)

    Captain Anderson speaks to us of striking changes in Arctic sea-ice thickness (as seen from below!):

    The ice near the pole was compact and running up to about thirty-five feet draft, although as noted, we had seen keels extending down more than one hundred feet. In most spots the ice depth averaged generally from five to eighty-five feet deep.

    The deepest ice draft we measured in Nautilus was 80 feet, but we learned later that our instrumentation missed far thicker and more dangerous upside-down peaks of ice, and we were fortunate not to have learned about them in a more dramatic fashion. Subsequent voyages have measured ice jutting as deeply as near 190 feet.

    As readers of Neven’s Arctic Sea Ice weblog appreciate, modern polar travellers never encounter Arctic sea-ice that is anywhere near as thick as the hundred-foot-thick (!?) ice that the atomic submarines of the 1950s and 60s encountered.

    Hmmm … perhaps modern-day naval officers like Admiral Titley are formerly climate skeptics, for reasons that are soundly evidence-based. These submarine commanders know a *lot*, after all!

    Of course, nowadays every citizen gets to personally track the Arctic sea-ice death spiral, eh?

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

  4. Dr. Susan Crockford, who writes the polar bear science blog, notes a paper from 1972:

    “Changes in ocean currents and climate affect sea ice. Vibe (1967)…distinguishes three different climatic periods, each about 50 years long, between 1810 and 1960, reflecting three stages of penetration of East Greenland ice into Davis Strait. He believes that conditions of 1810-1860 are now repeating themselves. He designates this as a drift ice stagnation stage where…Greenland ice does not penetrate far north into Davis Strait. The climate is cold, dry, and stable.

    Several authors have presented data indicating that sections of the Arctic have experienced warming trends prior to about 1950 and have experienced cooling trends since that time. Zubov’s (1943) data show a warming of the Arctic for approximately 100 years prior to publication in 1943. He shows that Arctic glaciers have receded and the southern boundary of Siberian permafrost has moved northward. Zubov also present[sic] comparative data obtained during the drift of the “FRAM’ [1894] and the drift of the ‘SEDOV’[1937], 43 years later, over similar tracks in the Eurasian sector of the Arctic Ocean. The mean ice thickness was one-third less and the mean air temperature 40C higher in 1937-40 than in 1893-96. Dorf (1960) quotes Willett (1950) who states that in Spitsbergen mean winter temperatures have risen ~8[sic] between 1910 and 1950. …Mitchell (1965) states that world climate during the past century has been characterized by a warming trend from the 1880’s to the 1940’s. Thereafter, the warming trend appears to have given way to a cooling trend that has continued to at least 1960 with some evidence that it was continuing to 1965.”

    http://polarbearscience.com/2013/03/31/polar-bear-sea-ice-relationships-what-biologists-knew-in-72/#more-1796

  5. Why is the debate regarding what level of sea ice was present in the early 20th century really all that important?

    Is the amount of ice in the arctic in the summer critically important at all? Why? Isn’t the overall important issue the rate of rise of sea level and the potential for the rate of rise increasing as a result of ice melt?

    We will see over the next decade what the trend is for arctic ice.

    • Its important for several reasons. If we are to attribute the recent decline in sea ice to AGW, we need to understand the natural variability over the past century (and as far back for the past 10,000 years as we can go). Further there is an emerging hypothesis that Arctic sea ice and its interactions with the atmosphere and ocean are a critical fulcrum/lynch pin for the multidecadal modes of climate variability (stay tuned)

      • Judith

        Thanks for the response and your perspective.
        I do understand how the arctic melt is a potentially important in the “blame game” associated with demonstrating that we see signs that AGW is happening. To make the case effectively one needs to better understand the historical perspective better. The critical issue at the end of this game is still the rate of sea level rise imo.

        Regarding your comment:
        “emerging hypothesis that Arctic sea ice and its interactions with the atmosphere and ocean are a critical fulcrum/lynch pin for the multidecadal modes of climate variability”
        I assume (always dangerous) that you are referencing the idea (which imo seems very creditable) that the extent of summer arctic sea ice impacts weather trends in the Northern hemisphere. Is my assumption close?

      • Judy says:

        > Arctic sea ice and its interactions with the atmosphere and ocean are a critical fulcrum/lynch pin for the multidecadal modes of climate variability (stay tuned).

        Rob hears:

        > I do understand how the arctic melt is a potentially important in the “blame game” associated with demonstrating that we see signs that AGW is happening.

      • lynchpin that is very appropriate.

      • Perhaps she means that polar ice controls OHT. That hypothesis is floating around out there.

      • Further there is an emerging hypothesis that Arctic sea ice and its interactions with the atmosphere and ocean are a critical fulcrum/lynch pin…

        Interesting statement. Seems to me that a fulcrum and a linchpin are almost entirely dissimilar. Are you saying that they might be both? Are you saying that they could be either?

        At any rate, to use such very different metaphors suggests either an impreciseness or a great deal of uncertainty…. It will be interesting to see how you fill in the picture.

      • Joshua, Somewhat different, but it is easy to take the wheels off after you jack it up :)

      • Cap’n –

        Joshua, Somewhat different, but it is easy to take the wheels off after you jack it up :)

        Well, if I understand your meaning correctly, that was kind of my point (but I was trying to be polite). Is the intent is to deconstruct one hypothesis more than it is to support another? If so, then we could use metaphors rather interchangeably.

        And I’m not sure “somewhat” really applies. Seems to me that there is a major difference – a fulcrum serves the potential to leverage existing forces whereas a linchpin resists existing forces.

      • > A fulcrum serves the potential to leverage existing forces whereas a linchpin resists existing forces.

        Aggressive persons might prefer a fulcrum, then.

        Identifying who might prefer a linchpin is left as an exercise to the reader.

      • Identifying who might prefer a linchpin is left as an exercise to the reader.

        Even more so “lynch” pin – given all the talk recently about who should be hanged.

      • Joshua, If you consider that a fulcrum is a tipping point or balance point, then the Fulcrum/lynch pin just implies a shift or regime change. Not that confusing.

        I like the Lynch pin, because a regime change would tend to help the wheels fall off of certain over-confidence intervals.

      • Cap’n –

        If you consider that a fulcrum is a tipping point or balance point,…

        OK – When I see “fulcrum” I think of leverage – as in the pivot point for a lever, but I guess it isn’t unusual to use it to mean “tipping point” without any reference to leverage.

      • You guys like to debate the most trival imo. (fulcrum vs. linchpin)

        It will be interesting if there is a comfirmation that changes in summer ice in the arctic can be shown to result in a significantly higher probability of certain weather patterns impacting specific regions.

      • Why just the arctic sea ice?

      • hemispheric asymmetries in land/ocean distribution

      • Rob, “It will be interesting if there is a comfirmation that changes in summer ice in the arctic can be shown to result in a significantly higher probability of certain weather patterns impacting specific regions.”

        That is pretty much a given. Multidecal and longer “climate” is the real question or more accurately, why multidecadal and longer impacts are trivialized. With a 21,000 year precessional cycle, 58.3 years is like a precessional day. 1700 years is like a precessional month. Paleo pretty clearly shows pseudo oscillations of both periods.

      • Judith says: “stay tuned.”

        Is it a model-based study or a data-based study?

      • data based, you will like it :)

      • Bob Tisdale

        If it is a model based study where the model(s) have not been demonstrated to match observed conditions within a stated margin it would not be interesting at all. it would only be a step in the model development process. I assume it is a data based study.

      • Rob Starkey

        I think “blame game” may be the wrong expression (except for media hypesters that like to paint specters of “death spirals” and other non-scientific concepts).

        A better term might be “attribution”.

        But our hostess is right. It is important that we look at earlier periods of Arctic warming if we want to develop an better understanding of the current period. Tony’s studies are important for this reason.

        Max

      • Max

        I do not disagree with what you wrote. The melting of the arctic may be evidence of something happening as a result of it warming. It may also not have as much to do with the planet warming as some believe. Out side of the study that Judith is referencing, I am not sure the amount of arctic ice is of much importance to people. It is difficult to see where it harms humanity.

      • David Springer

        @Dr. Curry

        According to satellite data of temperature and ice extent it appears that Arctic summer ice extent is anti-correlated with global warming. No global average temperature rise in past 15 years yet lots of summer ice loss. Conversly when there was significant warming between 1980 and 1998 there was very little decrease in summer ice extent.

        What’s up with that?

      • Springer –

        First, a nit. As I understand it, “anti-correlation” implies a negative relationship, which is not really what you described (there has not been a decrease in global temperatures) – which could simply be a lack of association or an inconsistent association.

        Second, allow me to fix that for you:

        According to satellite data of temperature and ice extent it appears that Arctic summer ice extent is anti-correlated with global warming land surface temperatures. No global average temperature rise in past 15 years yet lots of summer ice loss.

        I wonder what does tony’s evidence tell us about that “anti-correlation.” Is there evidence that previous summer ice extent is “anti-correlated” with global average temperature?

      • Joshua

        What an exceptionally interesting question you ask about correlation or anti correlation at 9.48.

        In the 1920-1940 period there was a strong mostly global warming signal and the arctic and (I think) the Antarctic, responded by melting, no doubt helped by such things as favourable winds and currents. The arctic is currently warming although the globes temperature is at best at a plateau (certainly not here in the UK-see the comment about Julia Slingo) The Antarctic is not responding however.

        However in the early 1600’s when most of the globe appeared to be cooling the arctic seemed to be melting according to Kinnard et al referenced earlier

        http://neven1.typepad.com/.a/6a0133f03a1e37970b017744530698970d-pi

        I think he is right here (but not about the 1920 period onward) but his extent is overstated. Around the 1550’s there seemed to be several attempts to traverse the Northern sea route because of the lack of ice. But you will have to wait for Part three to read that. Advance subscriptions available. I don’t know what the Antarctic was doing at the time.

        Tonyb

      • Thanks tony –

        As an intellectually limited non-scientist, It seems that to the extent that your evidence is useful (and I don’t doubt that it is) then one thing that it might suggest (not “must” suggest, my friend) is that what we see now in the relationship between global surface temps and ice melting might be anomalous – historically speaking. Which might indicate that what we see now in ice melting is an alternate manifestation (alternate to surface temps, that is) of a heat-budget imbalance created by ACO2. Nes pas?

        Do you take PayPal?

      • David Springer

        @Joshua

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitpicking_(pastime)

        Nitpicking is the pastime of pointing out minor flaws or mistakes. The term is almost always used in a negative light.

        You knowingly cast your reply to me in negative light. Why bother? Just to keep up the appearance of being an asshat? Good job in that case.

      • There is also the issue of albedo feedback.

      • For ten thousand years, we have had warm and cold cycles that have stayed inside plus and minus two degrees all the time and inside plus and minus one degree most of the time. Every time it got warm, it then got cold. Every time it got cold, it then got warm. It snows more when it is warm and then it gets cold. It snows less when it is cold and then it gets warm. It really is that simple. All the complicated stuff does mess with the temperature, but this simple stuff sets the upper and lower bounds of temperature. When the oceans are warm and wet it snows and limits the upper bound. When the oceans are cold and frozen, not wet, it does not snow and that limits the lower bound.

      • The Temperature that sea ice melts and freezes is the set point for Earth Temperature. When the water is wet it does snow. When the water is frozen and not wet it does not snow.
        Look at the actual data. Snow accumulation is directly related to ocean temperature. There is more snow accumulation when Earth is warmer and there is less snow accumulation when Earth is colder. Water in all of its states does regulate the temperature of Earth. The properties of water, including the greenhouse effect of water vapor which is much more abundant that CO2 is only one part of this process. When snow accumulation is high. it causes ice extent and albedo to increase. When snow accumulation is low it allows ice extent and albedo to decrease.
        LOOK AT THE DATA! THERE IS PLENTY OF EXCELLENT DATA!

    • @Rob “Is the amount of ice in the arctic in the summer critically important at all? Why? Isn’t the overall important issue the rate of rise of sea level and the potential for the rate of rise increasing as a result of ice melt?”

      Sea ice melting doesn’t affect sea levels, only land ice melt and run-off from mountain streams and rivers.

  6. What can I say? Important work and conducted with that essential curiosity and serenity of mind which seems to have gone missing of late. I hope Tony’s article is linked widely.

  7. Tony’s work reminded Dan Ariely of the importance of meaningfulness in work:

  8. Steven Mosher

    ‘However, the conclusion must be that drawn that warming was more widespread in the Arctic – not just the Atlantic side – than is currently noted in the official sea ice data bases covering 1920-1945/50 and that the official records appear to very substantially overstate the ice area extent during this period.”

    Huh? the conclusion that MUST be drawn?
    where, how, i don’t think anything you’ve presented here ( words on the page) Force, necessitate, drive, support, the conclusion you say ‘must be drawn.”

    Sorry. not buying it

    • > the conclusion that MUST be drawn?

      All it takes is serenity of mind.

    • Steven Mosher,
      Do you argue then that the IPCC drew conclusions from
      more data, though there were gaps, (as officially cautioned,)
      requiring interpolation, than was later made available, the
      Russian data, Zubov and ALman studies, which showed
      more warming than the IPCC estimated. That is not what
      my careful reading of the paper showed.

      • Steven Mosher

        ‘requiring interpolation, than was later made available, the
        Russian data, Zubov and ALman studies, which showed
        more warming than the IPCC estimated. That is not what
        my careful reading of the paper showed.”

        I see nothing of the sort. I see no russian “data” and nothing in Zubov and Alman. zip. nada. nothing. zero.

        i see an argument that goes like this.

        We have to be careful about comparing the apples and oranges.
        Oh, here are some lemons. We now must conclude this.

        You got apples and oranges. adding lemons doesnt make them any more comparable and doesnt support conclusions that MUST be drawn..

        how quickly folks forget the know unknowns and unknowns unknowns and
        how quickly they drop their skepticism when they read something they like.

        Bottom line. GHGs warm the planet. A warmer planet will, over time, lead to less floating ice at the north pole. Has it been warmer in the past. yup.
        less ice? maybe. Does that have anything to do with the challenge we face? nope, not a lot.

        let me put it another way. vanish all the ice in the 1920-1940 time period.
        We still have a problem because GHGs warm the planet they do not cool it. In fact, we have more of a problem if the swings from natural variability are larger. More of a problem, not less

      • Steve Mosher, seems like you’re entering in the middle of an argument, and cutting off the last person speaking. As near as I can tell, your argument amounts to, “Arctic ice doesn’t really matter. Maybe it was lower in the past, who cares?”
        But you’re ignoring the first half of the discussion: “OMG! Arctic ice is in an incredible death spiral. This is the first visible manifestation of the MANY TERRIBLE CHANGES that will happen because of AGW!” “No, arctic ice is no big deal. It’s down right now, but it’s been down before, recently. I’m not convinced yet that there will be terrible changes.” “Why do you lie?! Look at these awesome records from that time.” “Huh? Just listen to these anecdotal reports – your awesome records aren’t very useful here.” And then in comes Steve Mosher, and blocks the last statement by saying, Arctic ice doesn’t really matter. It would have been more useful to point that out at the beginning.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Steven Mosher –

        … GHGs warm the planet they do not cool it …

        GHG’s do not cool?

        On one hand, GHG’s increase Earth’s average temperature to higher than that of the moon, even though the moon has a lower albedo.

        However, the moon’s temperature increases from below zero to a 250 F peak within a few hours after sunrise. Whereas on earth, peak temperatures are much “cooler”. The production of water vapor – the most important GHG – via evaporation, produces a delay in the warming which results in dramatically lowered max temps. Voila, mufti-cellular terrestrial life is possible.

        It follows that water vapor feedback – which is said to result from CO2 warming – will likely decrease max temps, and in that sense “cool” the planet.

      • blueice2hotsea

        To be more clear.

        There seems to be an assumption that if Antarctic min temps increased from -129 F to -100 F while my local max temps decreased from 105 F to 95 F, I am supposed to feel upset. Yes, avg temps increased. So what?

      • Steven Mosher

        “But you’re ignoring the first half of the discussion: “OMG! Arctic ice is in an incredible death spiral. This is the first visible manifestation of the MANY TERRIBLE CHANGES that will happen because of AGW!” “No, arctic ice is no big deal. It’s down right now, but it’s been down before, recently.
        #############
        Look, if people are making that stupid argument in the first place, making a second stupid argument from anecdote is no better. Arguing that I should believe a second stupid argument because somebody else made a first stupid argument is well, less than smart.

      • Steven Mosher

        Sorry, Mosh, you lost your objectivity with:

        Bottom line. GHGs warm the planet. A warmer planet will, over time, lead to less floating ice at the north pole. Has it been warmer in the past. yup.
        less ice? maybe. Does that have anything to do with the challenge we face? nope, not a lot.

        “GHGs warm the planet.”

        Theory tells us this is likely to be so, but, Mosh, you know very well that we have no notion of how much warming has occurred or will occur as a result of increased GHG concentrations.

        Let me propose:

        “Natural forcing and variability ALSO warm the planet”.

        And, again, we have no notion of how much warming has occurred or will occur as a result of natural factors, so we are unable to estimate with any degree of certainty how much could have resulted from GHGs.

        But Tony’s work gives us a very tiny glimpse of this, as it shows us that there was similar Arctic warming prior to any significant increase in GHG concentrations.

        You add:

        “Does that have anything to do with the challenge we face? nope, not a lot.”

        C’mon. Mosh. That is a stupid statement. You can do better than that.

        It has EVERYTHING to do with whether or not we even face a challenge as a result of increased GHG concentrations..

        Use your head.

        You are more intelligent than that.

        Tony’s work gives us valuable information regarding past warming periods prior to any significant increase in GHG concentrations.

        Max

      • “Arguing that I should believe a second stupid argument because somebody else made a first stupid argument is well, less than smart.” I made no such suggestion. All I’m saying is, you’re off topic. Let those who think this is important argue about it. Or if you’re contributing (I myself have no clue if it’s important or not!), work within the flow of the argument, and with what Tony is trying to demonstrate. Which is, “Christy did not lie” – and that much he did show, even if he maybe overstated his case.

      • Steven Mosher

        Miker613

        you argue

        ‘ Let those who think this is important argue about it. Or if you’re contributing (I myself have no clue if it’s important or not!), work within the flow of the argument, and with what Tony is trying to demonstrate. Which is, “Christy did not lie” – and that much he did show, even if he maybe overstated his case.”

        1. you claim that tony is trying to show that christy didnt lie.
        2. he does that and More. To achieve the end of showing that
        Christy didnt lie he states the following:

        “However, the conclusion must be that drawn that warming was more widespread in the Arctic – not just the Atlantic side – than is currently noted in the official sea ice data bases covering 1920-1945/50 and that the official records appear to very substantially overstate the ice area extent during this period.

        My point. You dont need to show that christy didnt lie, because he didnt.
        you dont need to prove that the moon is not made of green cheese.
        But, if your attempt to prove what is obvious relies on a flawed argument, I’ll take issue with the flawed argument.

  9. This comprehensive paper reveals in the Russian research
    that the amount of ice melt in the 1920-40 period was clearly
    under-estimated by the IPCC.

    Scientists of the 70’s relied on pre -1953 and pre – 1900
    ice chart data that was presented with cautions as being
    climatology, (weather condition averaging,) or inter-polated
    data. Perhaps the Cold War was a reason the Russian
    data, cross referencing glacier retreat observed by Russian
    expeditions was either unavailible or unacceptable to the
    small group of westerners studying Arctic ice at the time.

    The Russian observational data through the 1930’s, North
    Sea Route expeditions, and then routes open to ordinary
    shipping by 1935, plus other data present a rich source
    of observation of a period of significant Arctic warming.

    The records of Professor Speight suggest that this warming
    was not confined to the Arctic region but was global, including
    glacier retreat in New Zealand.

  10. Mosher, I don’t know what conclusion “must be drawn” here. But I do think it’s fair to say that the attack on Christy “Why do you lie?” was wrong. Christy may well have found this volume of anecdotes compelling, and after all never claimed more than anecdotal evidence.

    • Steven Mosher

      Agreed. However, i think anecdotal evidence is an oxymoron

      • Which it seems to me blows a great deal of the case for CAGW.

      • Maybe, but mankind limped by with it for its whole history. Made loads of dumb mistakes too, but it was still way better than not remembering anything at all, or waiting till evolution breeds out those people who walk onto freeways. Scientific method is great, but you go to war with the data you have.

      • Anecdotal evidence an oxymoron? Farmers’ crop planting
        records, diaries of frozen rivers and ice fairs, records of
        famines, plagues, deaths and riots, ships logs, never
        happened, there’s no evidence?

        Some anecdotal ‘evidence’ is unreliable, leaders’ public
        pronouncements, fer example. to fool the serfs, accounts
        where interpretations have no back up. But you could say
        that too about climate projections w/out release the code
        or results drawn from of dubious measurement approaches
        in cloud towers, smoothings, interpolations, … how
        subjective are they?

        Say, ‘Cui bono’ is often a pointer The Russian scientists,
        did not seem to have to make a case in a politicised
        situation or in pursuit of grant money.I’d say that their
        recordings are unlilely to be oxy moronic. They visited,
        were ‘able’ to visit, they observed, trained observers,
        they recorded on the record others could compare.
        disagree, refute..

      • Semantics. Words like “proof” and evidence” mean very different things to a mathematician and a lawyer. On a mathematician’s blackboard, “proof” is airtight. Not so in a court of law. Anecdotal evidence (aka “circumstantial evidence”) is perfectly admissible in court, and can get you sent to prison. Yes, it’s a very real thing if you’re one of those guys sent to do hard time without airtight “proof”.

        The interesting question here is what do they mean in climate science? I don’t think we have a consensus on that.

      • Steven Mosher

        Beth, yes, a single report of ice thickness from a ship trapped in ice, is not what I would call evidence. Any more than you would conclude that
        having a great hurricane was caused by increased c02.

        you will note that no skeptic asked to see the ship records? none asked about calibration. None noted the politics of the captain. None wanted to see the exact location the report was taken from. none checked a single thing about that report. None.
        No check. no question. no application of methodological skepticism.
        Just acceptance. I don’t need to explain why folks shift their behavior, I merely observe that they do.

        Note I am not saying the story is false. I am pointing out a MARKED difference in behavior toward evidence. Long ago in this fight I could count on skeptics to question everything. Good honest methodological skepticism. Now, I see something different.

      • Steven Mosher

        Let me paraphrase your silly statement with another one:

        ” i think anecdotalevidence from model simulations is an oxymoron”

        Max

      • Steven Mosher says,
        ‘I don’t need to explain why folks shift their behavior,
        I merely observe that they do.’
        Pleasing ter see, here, you seem ter believe in
        observation as evidence and not as an oxymoron,
        Steven.
        One – of – the -serfs.

    • David Springer

      @Mosher

      By your definition it would seem that thermometers scattered over a tiny fraction of the earth’s surface would also be “anecdotal”.

      You can’t have your cake and eat it too Steven.

      • David

        Anecdotal figurs are of course different to anecdotal words. You will need to ask Mosh why.
        tonyb

      • David

        Mosh said;

        “you will note that no skeptic asked to see the ship records? none asked about calibration. None noted the politics of the captain. None wanted to see the exact location the report was taken from.”

        Mosh has no doubt carried out the same due diligence on the anecdotal readings taken by the weather station observers which had a huge number of variables. That would be some 30000 readings taken several times per day over a hundred years or so. It was a lot of work but no doubt he will shortly be publishing a paper on ‘the politics of weather station observers.’ Can I put you down for a copy?

        tonyb

      • Yay ha !
        Beth the cow girl.!

  11. S.M. writes (it doesn’t) “Force, necessitate, drive, support, the conclusion you say ‘must be drawn.”

    Doesn’t support? You’d have been much more credible had you quit at “force” and “necessitate”

    Of course you’re “not buying it.” Easy to dismiss a comprehensive paper with a sneer and not much else. But you don’t look good doing it.

    • Steven Mosher

      There is nothing to buy. There are words on the page. None of which support a conclusion that MUST be drawn. The two records are apples and oranges. Tony has added some lemons ( like news reports from Stalist Russia ) and thinks that settles a matter? huh. I see no argument. I see quotes. pfft.

      • “None of which support a conclusion that MUST be drawn.” . Ok, fine, Steve. I award you half a point for clever semantic tap dancing. And I’m leery of getting into science arguments with scientists. But I read the paper, or most of it anyway. I have an IQ I don’t have to be ashamed of. I don’t see how one can say his conclusion is “unsupported,” which I’m pretty sure is what you meant originally.

    • Steven Mosher

      I guess there must have been a bunch of soot in the 20s – 40s, cause we all know warming doesnt cause arctic ice melt.

      dont you find it funny that the warming of the 20’s and 40s causes ice melt, but that the warming from 1979 to present doesn’t according to the FOS
      (Fans of Soot).

      • “In 1920, production of bituminous coal was more than 556,500,000 net tons, an increase of over 98 million tons or 21% above 1919. That year’s total had been the second highest yet just behind 1918’s total of 579 million bituminous tons. Anthracite coal, once predominant, accounted for only 89 million tons that year. In total, more than 677 million tons were mined in 1918—a figure that would not be exceeded until 1944. 1920’s total of 657 million tons was equaled again in 1923 and 1926. Though coal production fell to a low of 476 million in 1922, average production through the decade was roughly 588 million tons a year. 1926 proved a highpoint however, as the economy began to wane ahead of the Great Depression.

        In general, however, coal production would not equal the 1920s levels until the height of World War II in 1944.”

      • This stuff gets so weird. Are there really people who think that warming won’t make ice melt? Why wouldn’t it?
        I have trouble following all the things expressed in all the comments on the web, and trouble seeing why I should try.

        I’d really rather stick with a discussion of “How bad is AGW going to be?” Do we have any clue? One place to look is times of higher temperatures in the past. Of course, Marcott et al are introducing a new idea: Even if the temperature isn’t higher, but that it’s getting there lots faster. Of course, Marcott et al isn’t looking so good right now.

        All in all, messing with the planet’s overall climate and ecology without knowing what we’re doing seems like a bad idea. Wrecking the planet’s economy in a attempt to slow that down very slightly also seems like a bad idea. I haven’t heard too many good ideas.

      • “After the Great London Smog of 1952 killed around 4,000 people the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 were introduced. These gave local authorities powers to control emissions of smoke and to declare Smoke Control Areas where burning fuel that produces smoke is banned. Many towns and cities now have smoke control areas especially in city centres and they have been effective in controlling the levels of smoke.”

        http://www.stovesonline.co.uk/smoke-control-areas-clean-air-act.html

        It isn’t just that coal was being burned, it is where it was being burned. It was being burned at home. Zero pollution controls.

      • Steve, much of the warming in the last few decades is due to black carbon, according to recent articles by NASA scientists:

        http://www.enn.com/press_releases/2877

        If the magnitude of this black carbon effect (about 50%) is accurate, it clearly doesn’t rule out (lesser) warming due to CO2, methane, etc., but it does suggest that absent increasing black carbon emissions in the last few decades, the present day Arctic warming might have been considerably less than the Arctic warming from about 1920 through about 1940.

        Non-anecdotally and relevant to subject of Arctic warming, Greenland warmed more quickly from 1919 through the early 1930s than it has in the last 20 years or so. Here’s the key sentence from the Abstract of the article linked below:

        “The annual whole ice sheet 1919–32 warming trend is 33% greater in magnitude than the 1994–2007 warming.”

        http://bprc.osu.edu/~jbox/pubs/Box_et_al_2009_J_Climate.pdf

        See Figs. 10 and 11.

        If something doesn’t work, the study is “Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007″ and the lead author is Jason Box.

      • Once you can posit a cause, you can search for evidence of that cause. I would expect soot to have left annual lines of deposition in ice from Greenland.
        The point Steve is making is that this essay isn’t bringing any new evidence to the table. An assertion by the Stalinist government that the Northern Sea route was declared open in ’34 isn’t evidence, especially when stood up against the fact that the Sedov was ice-bound for two years in the same area, just a few years later.

        Whatever caused the warming then is not the cause of warming today. Whatever process warmed the Arctic over these two decades, if it comes back it will be additive to the warming of anthropogenic GHG emmissions.

      • Get a grip Steve. Most of this article is talking about sea ice. The melt from sea ice primarily is due to water temperature currents, wind driven flow, etc. The Greenland ice sheet is different and is caused primarily by sunshine, sublimation, and glacier flow which is much slower than sea ice. So land based ice that would normally not melt due to air temps melts due to the albedo change and absorbtion caused by the soot.

        Have you ever spent any time north of San Fran?

      • Steven Mosher

        ‘The point Steve is making is that this essay isn’t bringing any new evidence to the table. An assertion by the Stalinist government that the Northern Sea route was declared open in ’34 isn’t evidence, especially when stood up against the fact that the Sedov was ice-bound for two years in the same area, just a few years later.”

        Yup.

        plus the idea that a single measurement of ice thickness from a ship trapped in ice.. of necessity having a narrow thickness.. says anything meaningful about the arctic is just a laughable steve goddardism

      • Mosh

        You are in a hole.

        Stop digging.

        Max

      • “plus the idea that a single measurement of ice thickness from a ship trapped in ice.. of necessity having a narrow thickness.. says anything meaningful about the arctic is just a laughable steve goddardism”

        Yup Mosh, kinda like the idea of estimating Artic temps by a few thermometers close to the warmth of a Siberian government office.

      • “dont you find it funny that the warming of the 20′s and 40s causes ice melt, but that the warming from 1979 to present doesn’t according to the FOS (Fans of Soot).”

        ah good spot! I am disappointed that I didn’t notice that one.

        Also the other excuses would apply too, not just soot, ie: wind changes, storms.

      • David Springer

        Interestingly black carbon can build up to be darker and darker on multi-year ice. Once the ice melts completely the accumulated soot disappears from the surface and the next ice to develop is pristine to start with. This has explanatory power for some of the observations such as rapid diminishment in multi-year ice thickness but once it’s gone virtually no impairment in seasonal sea ice extent in the winter.

      • David Springer

        Moreover we should expect a warmer globe to reduce winter Arctic extent to the same degree as summer ice extent. What we actually observe is an effect almost exclusively felt in the summer when the sun is shining and none in the winter when it is not shining. CO2 in a well mixed atmosphere warms day and night both with equal alacrity. Black carbon however only has a warming effect when the sun is shining. This is yet more compelling evidence that Arctic ice loss is less about global warming than it is about soot darkening the sea ice surface.

  12. Satellite observations that provide an hour by hour picture of every part of the Arctic make it easy to forget that large areas of it had not even been even explored 80 years ago – let alone its ice extent minutely observed. This paper explores the controversy surrounding the period 1920-1950, which was a period of substantial warming in the Arctic.
    The Chinese did explore and map the Arctic in the 1420’s. Europe’s explorers had copies of the Chinese maps before they set out on their trips a couple hundred years later. This is only one of multiple times the Arctic has opened in the last ten thousand years. Magellan’s Strait was on his map before he found it.

    • oops, The Chinese did map the Arctic and most of the Earth in the 1420’s but that was only 70 years before Columbus. Much of Earth was explored by the explorers from Europe hundreds of years later, but much was somewhat sooner.
      Look for the book, “1421 The Year China Discovered America”

  13. Very well done,
    Tony Brown!
    Great work!
    Congratulation!!
    With regard to sea ice observations during the first half of the 20th century, the President of the Geographical Society of the Soviet Union, Jules Schokalsky, presented to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 1935 the Russian observation:
    _____ “The branch of the North Atlantic Current which enters it by way of the edge of the continental shelf round Spitsbergen has evidently been increasing in volume, and has introduced a body of warm water so great, that the surface layer of cold water which was 200 metres thick in Nansen’s time, has now been reduced to less than 100 metres in thickness.”
    More: http://www.arctic-heats-up.com/chapter_7.html , which indicates that either a slow, or very sudden shift in the ocean current system has caused the shift.

  14. Proof that it was melting faster in the past.
    ——————————————————

    “A stash of 80-year-old photo plates in a Danish basement has proved that Greenland’s ice was melting even faster then that it is now.

    In the thirties, Greenland’s ice was melting rapidly, then there was a cooling period in the middle part of the twentieth century, and now it is melting again, accelerating in the 2000s.

    Images of ice shelves from the pre-satellite era are extremely rare, so it’s often difficult to assess the scale and speed of Arctic ice melting today.

    Researchers at the National Survey and Cadastre of Denmark had been storing the glass plates since explorer Knud Rasmussen’s expedition to the southeast coast of Greenland in the early 1930s.

    In this week’s online edition of Nature Geoscience, Ohio State University researchers and colleagues in Denmark describe how they analyzed ice loss in the region by comparing the images on the plates to aerial photographs and satellite images taken from World War II to today.

    Taken together, the imagery shows that glaciers in the region were melting even faster in the 1930s than they are today, said Jason Box, associate professor of geography and researcher at the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2152004/Lost-photos-prove-Greenlands-ice-melting-FASTER-80-years-ago-today.html

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Sunshinehours claims “Proof that it was melting faster in the past.”

      LOL … Climate Etc readers are invited to Google for themselves the Bjorn et al article “An aerial view of 80 years of climate-related glacier fluctuations in southeast Greenland” (Nature Geosciences, 2012) … see in particular their data-summary (in Figure 5c) …

      … the authors’s data shows that a massive “hockey-stick” acceleration of Greenland glacier ice-melt began in decade 2000-2010 … a decade that saw *far* more glacier-loss than any previous decade in their records.

      Question Didja read it before yah claimed it, Sunshinehours?

      The world wonders, eh?

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • The abstract:

        “Furthermore, the recent retreat was matched in its vigour during a period of warming in the 1930s with comparable increases in air temperature.

        We show that many land-terminating glaciers underwent a more rapid retreat in the 1930s than in the 2000s, whereas marine-terminating glaciers retreated more rapidly during the recent warming.”

        http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n6/full/ngeo1481.html

        Remember folks, don’t believe anything “A fan of …” claims. Check his references.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Yer faded, sunshinehours1!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Greenland glacier melt has limit.Insofar as the basal temperature overcomes the conductive ie pressure wins and melt would be greater with large glacier mass.This is well known and for a long time eg Thompson

        “The suggestion first made by Professor James Thomson, and subsequently proved by his brother, Professor W. Thomson, that the freezing point of water is lowered by the effect of pressure 0.23° Fahr., or about a quarter of a degree for each additional atmosphere of pressure. Now, a sheet of ice 3000 feet thick is equal to a pressure of eighty-three atmospheres, at which pressure it would require a temperature of 19° below freezing point to retain the form of ice”

      • Greenland has been warmer than now in the Spring of 1929/32. It has been about the same temperature in the summer.

        http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/10/historic-variations-in-arctic-sea-ice-part-ii-1920-1950/#comment-310782

        Winter is the only clear winner in comparisons of now versus the 1930s and UHI probably explains it.

    • Heh, here’s an example of anecdotal evidence that
      backs up the Russian anecdotal evidence. Yer could
      say that independent cross referencing is a useful
      reality check.

    • David Springer

      Fan’s in a panic as Arctic sea ice extent in the summer is all he has left to point at in support of the deader-than-a-doornail catastrophic warming narrative. And even that is a bizzaro-world kind of support because Arctic sea extent in the summer decreased far faster than model predictions even as the rest of the world warmed not at all. The usual suspects in climate boffinry just can’t win for losing. Might be time to find a different profession to salvage the small shreds of credibility the science has among science consumers.

  15. I echo Bart R’s sentiments, tony. I think this kind of work is relevant and useful…

    …although I also agree with mosher that your conclusion seems like an unfortunate overstatement relative to the evidence you have collected.

    FWIW.

    • Steven Mosher

      skeptics dont like skepticism when it is directed toward their claims.
      they dont like auditing.
      they dont like folks pointing out that their “science” isnt settled.

      • Mosh

        I have no theories of my own about climate. I merely chronicle things. I check them. I try to cite supporting evidence. To call reports from scientists of the day or observations made in reliable circumstances as anecdotal and that the word itself as an oxymoron seems a surprising thing to say.

        I am not afraid of what history tells us but it seems there are some on this blog that are.
        tonyb

      • tony –

        So, you stand by your “must?”

        No doubt? No uncertainty?

        Only a statement of what we “must” conclude?

        That’s a strong statement. Your evidence is anecdotal, and there is no systematic mechanism for calibration or validation.

        IMO, that does not at all mean that your evidence is without value, that it is necessarily inaccurate, or that it isn’t “evidence,” but that conclusions w/o allowance for any uncertainty, based on your evidence, seems not particularly skeptical.

      • Mosh

        Goddammit, it has nothing to do with skeptics claiming their “science is settled”.

        Tony’s study shows JUST THE OPPOSITE.

        Get it into your head:

        We DON’T KNOW whether increased GHGs have caused recent Arctic warming, which has resulted in loss of late-summer Arctic sea ice – BECAUSE we have apparently seen similar Arctic warming in the past, which also resulted in loss of sea ice – prior to any real increase in GHG concentrations,

        IOW – the science is NOT settled!

        Duh!

        Don’t make stupid statements. I know you aren’t stupid.

        Max

      • Joshua

        If you read Tony’s post you will see that he is arguing the case for UNCERTAINTY (i.e. the “science is NOT settled” that GHGs are the principal cause for the recent loss of Arctic sea ice) – NOT the case for “CERTAINTY”.

        Mosh has fallen into the same silly trap.

        Max

      • manacker –

        Life is not so binary – even when you use all caps.

        Yes, in some ways, tony is “arguing the case for uncertainty.” But in the statement mosher highlighted, he states conclusions that dismiss uncertainty.

      • And tony –

        I have no theories of my own about climate.

        FWIW, that does not seem plausible to me. You seem to have a number of theories about climate – one of which is that the evidence you’ve collected necessitate a conclusion that “…warming was more widespread in the Arctic… than is currently noted in the official sea ice data bases covering 1920-1945/50″

        It seems that you have at least one other theory about climate: That the evidence you’ve collected necessitates a conclusion that “the official records appear to very substantially overstate the ice area extent during this period.”

        That second one is a bit tricky, however, because I can’t quite understand what it means to say that we “must” conclude that something “appears” to be overstated.

      • Mosh, skeptics are wary of sweeping statements which treat a disparate range of individuals as an homogenous, undifferentiated mass. Even when the statements relate to climate scientists.

      • Faustino –

        Mosh, skeptics are wary of sweeping statements which treat a disparate range of individuals as an homogenous, undifferentiated mass.

        Just checking to see if the irony of that comment really is lost on you.

      • Joshua, I’ve put it in Mosh’s phraseology. But if it were not taken in that way, I’d be using “skeptics” not as a blanket term for those who do not fully accept CAGW, but in the definitional sense – you are not a skeptic if you accept sweeping claims without verification.

      • Faustino –

        Fair enough. I agree. (Hence the difference between “skepticism” and skepticism.)

      • Steven Mosher

        ‘I have no theories of my own about climate. I merely chronicle things. I check them. I try to cite supporting evidence. To call reports from scientists of the day or observations made in reliable circumstances as anecdotal and that the word itself as an oxymoron seems a surprising thing to say.

        I am not afraid of what history tells us but it seems there are some on this blog that are.
        tonyb

        #####################

        Lets see.

        1. you look at the satellite record and you question it.
        2. you look at maps drawn in the past and you question them.
        3. you read a report from stalinist russia and CRICKETS

        Its the flip from uncertainty to certainty. You look at modern records and all you express is uncertainty. You look at other peoples work on documentary records and you express uncertainty.
        You do your own history and all that critical thinking disappears and then
        you say we MUST CONCLUDE. i don’t even have to look at the evidence to know that something is wrong. I merely observe the method and the change in method. I observe the structure of argument and the change in structure.

      • Mosh your 11.38

        I think its best if you left the attempts at amateur physchology to Joshua don’t you?

        It has been interesting to observe the anti russian sentiments emerging here. Perhaps the cold war isn’t dead after all. Relying solely on Russian tracts that might be politically inspired would be foolish. They do however constitute a large part of the arctic and can not be ignored although there has not always been a constant exchange of data with them.

        I wrote;

        “Continuing the theme of conditions in the Russian sector not being fully covered in official sea ice data- comments should be prefaced that due to World War Two, then the ‘Cold war,’ together with the remoteness of much of the area, international cooperation at the time, and for a period afterwards, was often limited as regards the Russian Arctic.

        However, prior to this difficult period, and even during it, research still went on and much data was produced which, over the course of time, seems to have taken a back seat.

        Arctic researcher Hans Ahlmann noted in 1952 that:

        “The extent of drift ice in Arctic waters has also diminished considerably in the last decades. According to information received in the U.S.S.R. in 1945, the area of drift ice in the Russian sector of the Arctic was reduced by no less than 1,000,000 square kilometers between 1924 and 1944.”

        There were various scientists who were tracking ice extent, there are numerous references to them through the paper.

        Can I ask you Mosh, do you believe the current sea ice data to be highly accurate as regards the 1920 to 1940/50 period. If so what do you base that belief on?

        You will excuse me if I do not immediately reply. I am off to Iceland in the morning where I hope to do some highly anecdotal research. No doubt on my return you will then enjoy some icelandic sagas liberally spiced with climate change references.

        tonyb

      • Steven Mosher

        Tony.

        Its not psychology. Its rhetoric.

        Joshua sees the rhetorical difference and he decides that he must explain that ( for example by motivated reasoning) I see the difference and I refuse to clamor for an explanation. WHY the style of argument changes is less important than the fact that the style does change.
        When I see a switch from skepticism to certainty I know that something is afoot. I have no need to delve into the why of the matter. the switch in style is enough. doubt doubt doubt doubt… certain! is a pattern that I see over and over again. Nothing personal, it is very hard to consistently practice methodological skepticism. In any case, I spent a huge portion of my life studing classical skepticism. So I kinda know the territory and each and every move in that game has a nice name. hmm tropes.

        Any way

        Here. Now what would help is that when you see folks arguing that a warmer world is not causing our current ice melt that you would chime in and say.. Well, we get the following lesson from the 20-40s.

        Any here. enjoy

        “The most pronounced warming phase in our reconstruction
        occurred between 1900 and 1940, which is clearly
        seen in the measured meteorological records as well. In the
        instrumental record, positive SAT anomalies were largest
        in the Arctic Atlantic region during this period (Wood and
        Overland 2010). This early twentieth-century warming
        (ETCW) has been subject to many studies, yet its reasons
        still defies full explanation. Natural and anthropogenic
        (land-use, aerosols) forcings are believed to have contributed
        to the ETCW (e.g., Delworth and Knutson 2000;
        Bengtsson et al. 2004; Bro¨nnimann 2009). According to
        Chylek et al. (2009), the Arctic warming from 1900 to
        1940 proceeded at a significantly faster rate than the
        warming during the more recent decades and was highly
        correlated with the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation
        (AMO) suggesting that the Arctic temperature variability is
        highly linked to the Atlantic Ocean thermohaline circulation
        at various temporal scales.”

  16. Stephen Wilde

    Good to see Tonyb’s historical information getting the attention it deserves.

    The idea that anything that has happened recently is ‘unprecedented’ or even unusual is becoming increasingly untenable.

  17. Stephen Wilde

    curryja said:

    “Further there is an emerging hypothesis that Arctic sea ice and its interactions with the atmosphere and ocean are a critical fulcrum/lynch pin for the multidecadal modes of climate variability (stay tuned)”

    Well of course it is but as a consequence rather than a cause.

    A warming world pumps more energy from equator to Arctic Ocean so that sea ice melts and a cooling world pumps less energy from equator to Arctic Ocean so that less sea ice melts.

    And it takes 15 years or so for changes in trend at the equator to reach the Arctic Ocean.

    We are currently close to the turning point.

    What you cannot say is that the current low level of Arctic sea ice is causing the current equatorward positioning of the climate zones and meridionality of the jets.

    For 20 years the reducing Arctic sea ice was accompanied by more poleward climate zones and more zonal jets and it was said that that was all our fault.

    For the next 10 years the further reduction in Arctic sea ice was accompanied by more equatorward climate zones and more meridional jets.

    All the model predictions have failed so let me make a prediction.

    If the sun stays quiet the climate zones will remain equatorward, the jets will remain meridional and within the next 5 years Arctic sea ice will start to recover.

    • Maybe

    • “What you cannot say is that the current low level of Arctic sea ice is causing the current equatorward positioning of the climate zones and meridionality of the jets.”

      Zonal jets act as transport barriers on Meridional flows.The interaction of the flows on the rotating planet (the so called beat effect) has similarity on planetary atmospheres eg Jupiter .

      The largest warming events say eg ENSO occur when external forcing is less eg solar minima, volcanic excursions with enhanced polar dynamics such as the polar vortex.

      http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JAS-D-11-084.1

  18. Hi Tony
    Great article, long but excellent read, should be a must for every climate student and a scientist alike.

  19. Tonyb
    Thanks also for your hard work, science contributions and gentlemanly behavier. It is a pleasure to read your work. You are appreciated.
    Scott

  20. Tony, fantastic article. I fundamentally disagree with some above who say this is only qualitative, or worse anecdotal. It is absolutely objective and quantified, only with less precision then we pretend to have today. But still with plenty enough precision to inform policy. The Arctic decided once before in the past century, and quite substantially, without CO2. Ergo CO2 cannot be said to be the sole, or even the principal, cause of the past decades events. Showing conclusively ( and differently than the present pause) that the models are lacking substantial components of natural variability. Thatnisnthe sort of research that should be going on, rather than ever more expensive computers to run ever more complicated models that miss basic fundamentals.
    Well done. I look forward to reading part three.

    • Exactly, agree totally. Models that can’t even hindcast without significant adjustment should not even get a dime of research money. Get out of the computer room and into the field.

  21. Arctic and the climate change a reflection for inquisitive reader
    It is not global warming that changes Arctic temperature. It is Arctic currents that are cause of the climate natural variability. Extent of the cold Arctic waters outflow in turn regulates the inflow of Atlantic water warming the Arctic Ocean and consequently regulating the Arctic ice extent.
    Crucial to this warm-to-cold oceanographic choreography is the Denmark Strait Overflow Water (about 3 Sv), the largest of the deep, overflow plumes that feed the lower limb of the conveyor belt and return the dense water south through gaps in the Greenland-Scotland Ridge.
    In this link

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/Arctic-NV.htm

    - first illustration shows The North Icelandic Jet current -NIJ. At its source the ocean heat loss to atmosphere is generator of the Icelandic Low atmospheric pressure system, determining latitude of the polar jet stream over the North Atlantic.
    The NIJ is a cold current that runs west across the top of Iceland, then southwest between Greenland and Iceland at a depth of about 600 meters at sea bottom, across the Icelandic plateau.
    The NIJ contributes to a key component of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.
    - second illustration shows the Denmark Strait’s bathymetry and its critical properties for the passage of the NIJ further south, as the main variable contributory component to the subpolar gyre, the home of the AMO.
    - third illustration shows correlation of the geological records in the area to the past solar activity (for time being an impenetrable geophysical quandary), but it does explain why many credit the sun for the climate’s natural variability.
    - forth illustration shows historic correlation between geological records, the CET and the trailing North Atlantic SST
    - fifth illustration shows the above in more detail.
    - sixth illustration shows change in the local magnetic field (directly related to the geological movements) and its correlation to the global temperature reconstruction.

  22. Tony b

    Thanks for a very interesting and informative post regarding the Arctic warming period 1920-1940.

    You cite the temperature at Jakobshavn (also known as Illulissat), near the mouth of the Jakobshavn (or Sermeq Kujalleq) Glacier. There is a long temperature record for this location.

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/greenland/illulissat.dat

    Taking this record, one can calculate the winter (Jan-Feb-Mar) and summer (Jul-Aug-Sep) temperatures for the 20-year periods 1928-1947 and 1986-2005 (last year listed).

    Both summer and winter temperatures were significantly warmer in the earlier period than in the most recent period.

    1928-1947
    -11.8 winter
    +6.6 summer

    1986-2005
    -15.5 winter
    +5.7 summer

    Another comparison can be made by calculating the average annual temperatures and plotting these in Excel to get linear trends.

    Here we see that there was a general warming trend in the first half of the 20th century and a slight cooling trend in the second half, with an overall flat trend over the century. Since the 1990s we again see a warming trend.

    This record, while only for one single location, seems to show similar trends for the early 20thC to the other data you have cited.

    It appears from these data that there is nothing “unusual” about the recent warming in the Arctic.

    Max

    • 1986-2005
      -15.5 winter
      +5.7 summer

      I’d love to see the 1994-2013 average…

      • Neven A

        The data I plotted in 2009 only goes through 2005. I have not seen an update of this record beyond 2005.

        If you find anything, let me know.

        Max

  23. Dear Tony Brown, if you have to refer to the Arctic Sea Ice blog from here, I would kindly like to ask you to do it properly so people can make up their own minds as to what the “rationale behind this blunt response” was. You do not link to the blog post in question, but to the well-known Kinnard graph that I had used for another blog post on potential consequences of the current rate of Arctic sea ice loss.

    If the Kinnard graph – mentioned in someone else’s comment I quoted – would have been my rationale, I would have used it for the blog post. Instead I used the August 1938 DMI sea ice extent map from this archive (which I coincidentally learned about through WUWT, probably one of your guest blog posts there).

    If you know of or can produce a better, more accurate map using all the anecdotal evidence you have accumulated, I would love to see it. Otherwise – in my view – to suggest that there were “similar melts [to the 2012 record smashing melting season] from 1938-43 and on other occasions”, as Dr. Christy did, is to lie. Pardon my bluntness.

    • NevenA

      I admire your blog but fear that perhaps you have read the article too quickly.

      Early on in the account I use the phrase ‘Nevens respected arctic sea ice blog’ those words lead directly to the article you mention. Only The second link gos to kinnard.

      Please direct me to where I suggested there were similar melts to 2012. Please read the conclusions carefully as I say the exact opposite.

      2012 and 2007 were exceptional. I will leave others to determine why they were apparently lower than the period I reference.
      Tonyb

      • Indeed you did, I thought it linked to the blog’s main page. Because the link under ‘article’ led to the graph instead of the article/blog post, I assumed you didn’t properly link it. Thank you for linking to the piece where I accuse Dr. Christy of lying.

        Please direct me to where I suggested there were similar melts to 2012.

        I was mostly alluding to Dr. Christy, although I was under the impression that your piece was meant to go somewhat in that direction, although it’s easy to lose track of what you’re trying to say with that multitude of copied quotes.

        Saying for instance that the 1920-1940 period is controversial in the discussion about Arctic sea ice, is in my view not even exaggerated, as there is nothing to exaggerate in this respect.

        This paper provides evidence that supports a conclusion that the official sea ice data bases covering 1920-1945/50 appear to very substantially overstate the ice area extent.

        It would be most useful if you could quantify this (even just an approximate number would do), or like I said, produce a map of sorts, so I and your other readers could compare and judge.

        I will re-read your piece tomorrow.

      • NevenA
        In the supplementary information is a link to frank lansners article in which he makes an effort to quantify the extent. It seems fairly reasonable to me.sorry I can’t provide the link for you but my connection tonight is decidedly intermittent and I have had to change devices twice already.

        Wouldn’t it be a great bit of science if a couple of us from climate etc and a couple of you from your blog made a serious and objective attempt to quantify the real ice levels of that period? Because of space I had to severely curtail the amount of evidence I could include In the article but it would provide a good basis for estimates.
        Tonyb

      • Speaking for myself, I’m too busy working, Arctic watching, blogging, building and personal life-ing to dig through all of that material, but there is something called the Arctic Rediscovery Project that aims to do some of that. Although, to be honest, I don’t really see what the use is if current trends don’t start slowing down real fast. If natural variation has to do with the incredibly rapid rate of Arctic sea ice loss, it better start variating soon.

        With regards to Frank Lansner: most of what I’ve read of him, was a turn-off to me (you know, things like consistently writing extend instead of extent), but I’ll try and have a look tomorrow. Perhaps I’ve already seen it, but forgotten about it.

      • Tony, is this the link to the Lansner piece? Because that’s where I got the August 1938 map from that I used to compare to the 2012 map, to clarify why IMO Dr. Christy was lying.

      • Neven

        It was more figure 17 I was thinking about from that link, but I would prefer to do my own graphic with the input from others.

        I think English is a second language to frank so I make allowances on spelling.

        I don’t like the name of his blog as it suggests a conspiracy and I don’t believe that is the case. He seems a nice guy though and does good work. He is worth reading.

        Tonyb

      • LOL Neven

      • Speaking for myself, I’m too busy working, Arctic watching, blogging, building and personal life-ing to dig through all of that material, but there is something called the Arctic Rediscovery Project that aims to do some of that. Although, to be honest, I don’t really see what the use is if current trends don’t start slowing down real fast. If natural variation has to do with the incredibly rapid rate of Arctic sea ice loss, it better start variating soon.”

        IOW NevenA, it doesn’t meet with my CAGW belief system so I cannot subject myself to its blasphemies. Really the mark of a great scientist, huh?

    • dennis adams

      @ NevenA
      You know we only have to read your reference to Christy as lying to see why all of your ilk is losing the race for the public’s support. I was agnostic about AGW until i started to read the AGW crowd’s reaction to papers and individuals who did not agree with the party line. Really, cant you elevate the discussion beyond 8th grade little girl talk. Maybe you and others do that out of desperation since you cannot rely on science.

      • “I was agnostic about AGW until i started to read the AGW crowd’s reaction to papers and individuals who did not agree”

        So your position is not based on scientific evidence but on personalities?

      • So NevenA doesn’t like Lansner’s work because he says ‘extend’ instead of extent. English is not Frank’s first language; I think he does a fantastic job; his work on the CO2 lag showing no correlation with temperature over geologic periods was a brilliant insight and verified by the same lack of correlation during the 20thC and so far into the 21st.

        NevenA offers the choice between either Christy or him lying; that is a classic Hobson’s Choice, a term which had its origins in the 1500s,a time where the Arctic was probably warmer than today as well.

      • “So your position is not based on scientific evidence but on personalities?”

        You’re too clever by half, lw. I actually had a similar journey, although I started out as a agw believer. It quickly became evident that certain well known alarmists were angry, defensive, cowardly (in their refusal to debate) jerks. I was especially shocked by the fact that alarmists blogs would not allow skeptical comments. One uses what evidence is at hand, including personalites yes, in making judgments. See nothing wrong with that at all.

      • cohenite,

        Fancy finding you turning up here. Another Aussie to add to this list of Aussies to fix the issues:

        http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/05/u-s-climate-policy-discussion-thread/#comment-310656

      • Hi Peter; a great list; Aussies travel well.

    • NevenA

      Otherwise – in my view – to suggest that there were “similar melts [to the 2012 record smashing melting season] from 1938-43 and on other occasions”, as Dr. Christy did, is to lie. Pardon my bluntness.

      To accuse Dr. Christy of “lying” implies that he was intentionally telling an untruth in order to deceive.

      As you clearly have no evidence for such a claim, one could just as easily accuse you of “lying” (if you’ll “pardon my bluntness”).

      Right?

      Max

      • To accuse Dr. Christy of “lying” implies that he was intentionally telling an untruth in order to deceive.

        Yes, that’s right. I think that that was what he was doing, trying to confuse people and downplay the 2012 record melting by suggesting something similar might have happened before between 1937 and 1942.

        As you clearly have no evidence for such a claim, one could just as easily accuse you of “lying” (if you’ll “pardon my bluntness”).

        Sure. Either he is lying, or I am. Everyone is free to make up his own mind.

        I, of course, never lie. ;-) :-P

      • Yep, it did happen in 1940 and before, 40 years earlier

        http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NP.htm

      • All I see is a link to a paywalled article by Leake, with no confirmation about what Christy actually said, when he said it and in what context.

      • NevenA

        Simply from a logical standpoint, you are on weaker ice (pardon the expression) than Dr. Christy when it comes to the question of which of you was “lying”.

        This is because you are making an overt claim that Dr. Christy not only told an untruth, but that he did so intentionally in order to deceive (the definition of “lying”).

        IOW there is much less evidence to support your claim (intentional intent to deceive on Christy’s part) than there is Christy’s claim (past warming and ice loss during the 1930s/40s may have equaled most recent warming and ice loss).

        Just a bit of logic, Neven.

        Moral of the story: do not accuse others of “lying” unless you have clear evidence that they told an untruth (already hard to show in this case) with the overt intent to deceive (impossible to show).

        Max

      • I will accuse others of lying when I think they are lying. And if you are going all logical and word-gamey on me, you might note that in the blog post I didn’t accuse him of lying, but asked him why he lied.

        But I don’t do word games, because that’s for folks who are only interested in winning discussions. So here it is again: IMO Christy lied with the intent to deceive (thanks for clarifying even further). I wonder if he will have the balls to do it again if the 2012 record(s) gets broken in, say, the next three years. If he wants to explain why he didn’t lie with the intent to deceive, I will be all ears, and will apologize when convinced.

        That’s it. Everyone can draw their own conclusions.

        But you won the discussion with your impeccable logic and semantics, so no need to continue. Congratulations on defeating yet another CAGW commie. :-P

      • NevenA says:

        “And if you are going all logical and word-gamey on me, you might note that in the blog post I didn’t accuse him of lying, but asked him why he lied.”

        Ha, ha; 3rd rate legalese; in NevenA’s world people who lie aren’t liars.

        Same logic for AGW.

      • Hi Peter; righting wrong is an international task :-)

      • NevenA

        You appear to be getting all huffy and then accuse me of “going all logical and word-gamey”.

        “Logical”, yes. “Word-gamey”, no.

        You accuse John Christy of lying (by asking him why he lied). This is apparently based on a SkepticalScience blurb, citing an article by Jonathan Leake, in which he quoted John Christy as follows:

        ”Climate change is a murky science. To some it’s an easy answer to say it’s due to extra greenhouse gases. To the rest of us, separating natural variability from human impacts remains a wicked problem.”

        I see no evidence of ANY lies in this direct quotation. Everything there is absolutely true. Our hostess here had said similar things in the past.

        Leake also “paraphrases” Christy as having said ”the Arctic had indeed warmed, but that there was anecdotal and other evidence suggesting similar melts from 1938-43 and on other occasions”.

        I see no direct quotation from Leake for this – and then I see that SkS corrects Leake’s “paraphrase” to 1938-43 melts were ”very low extent” – rather than “similar”.

        So your whole premise of John Christy having told an untruth is phony-baloney.

        And your insinuation that he did so with the intent to deceive is pure BS.

        Don’t make silly accusations you cannot substantiate, Neven.

        Other folks have BS-meters.

        End of discussion.

        Max

      • > As you clearly have no evidence for such a claim […]

        Well,for what it’s worth, we do have Leake’s quote:

        Professor John Christy director of the Earth System Science Centre at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said the Arctic had indeed warmed, but there was also anecdotal and other evidence suggesting similar melts from 1938-43 and on other occasions.

        Some may think this does not suffice to prove that we do have evidence that John Christy intentionally told anything to Leake.

        The rest of us may think otherwise.

        Some may think that to adduce “yes, the Arctic has indeed warm” with a “but look some anecdotal squirrel” is not an untruth.

        The rest of us may think otherwise.

        Some may think that this alleged untruth, i.e. the anecdotal squirrels to cover up for the concedo that the Arctic is indeed warming, is not deceitful.

        The rest of us may think otherwise.

        ***

        TL;DR — http://memegenerator.net/instance/36912499

      • Crickey, an Australian term used to express disbelief or impatience, first NevenA, now Willard promoting this idea Christy lied. Willard says:

        “but look some anecdotal squirrel”

        Willard should read the Brown’s post; if that is anecdotal then Willard is a troll. Brown substantiates what Christy said and extend[not t]ed it with substantial evidence. What Christy said is therefore entirely reasonable; only an unreasonable person would say otherwise; to say Christy lied is beyond the pale.

        And this:

        “The rest of us may think otherwise.”

        I suppose the ‘rest of us’ is that mythical consensus AGW types refer to.

      • It all really depends on what you define as similar melts. A similar amount of melting doesn’t mean you ended up with the same amount of ice unless you have reason to believe the amount of ice was also similar when the melting started. If similar melts mean you ended up with a similar amount of ice after the melting that means something completely different. I can’t tell from reading that blurb what was similar.

      • Willard

        Frankly, whether you personally think John Christy lied is of little interest to me (or probably anyone else here, except Neven A, who is trying to save face).

        There is no direct quotation from Christy saying the earlier melting was “the same” (or even “similar”) to recent melting – as SkS confirms, he only indicated there were melts “to a very low extent” based on various bits of evidence. This statement appears to be true.

        The direct quote from Christy cited by Leake is also true.

        So there is not even an “untruth” – let alone a “lie” as Neven stated.

        But, hey, you are free to personally think anything you want to.

        It’s a free world.

        Max

      • > Willard should read the Brown’s post; if that is anecdotal […]

        Perhaps Dr. Christy should have read Tonyb’s post before mentioning to Leake evidence he himself calls “anecdotal”.

        If Dr. Christy did say that to Leake.

        If Dr. Christy truly believes what he said to Leake.

        If Dr. Christy expressed those beliefs voluntarily.

        Et cetera.

        None of which we have no evidence except Leake’s words.

        Speaking of Leake, let’s recall this other bit from Christy’s interview:

        > Climate change is a murky science”, he said. “To some it’s an easy answer to say it’s due to extra green house gasses. To the rest of us, separating natural variability from human impacts remains a wicked problem.

        http://climatecrocks.com/2012/08/31/look-over-there-in-face-of-record-melt-deniers-furiously-jingle-shiny-keys/

        Some interesting anecdotal evidence there.

      • MiniMax defines a lie by “intentionally telling an untruth in order to deceive”.

        If that’s all it needs to believe a lie, then all we need is a bit of logic:

        – let’s accept Leake’s words as evidence;
        – let’s assume that what Dr. Christy told Leake was intentional;
        – let’s observe that “yes, but an anecdotal squirrel” amounts to a deception.

        Just a bit of logic there.

        That MiniMax tries to parse his way out by mincing claims into alleged claims and sub claims and alleged sub claims, etc just makes us wonder:

        http://memegenerator.net/instance/36912499

        Perhaps MiniMax should revise his definition.

      • We don’t know Christy’s exact words, or the context in which he used them
        We don’t know whether he said them to Leake
        We don’t know when he said them – it might have been years ago
        We actually know very little
        Yet we’re sure that he lied
        Get a grip, guys

      • willard

        You are getting repetitive without saying anything meaningful.

        Leake “paraphrased” Christy (see SkS) on the first part of the alleged Christy statement. SkS corrected the paraphrase. Check it out, Willard.

        The second portion is allegedly a direct quote.

        Neither is a “lie”

        But if you want to think it is a lie, go right ahead.

        If you, however, make the claim that it was a lie, I will say that you are deliberately telling an untruth, i.e. “lying”.

        Just that simple, old chap.

        Max

      • Willard says:

        “Perhaps Dr. Christy should have read Tonyb’s post before mentioning to Leake evidence he himself calls “anecdotal”.

        So now Christy is at fault because he understated the case against the alleged exceptionalism of the current Arctic warming.

        And then willard stumbles over to some alarmist site to taint Christy with guilt by association by daring to doubt the overwhelming evidence for AGW.

        Very amusing thread.

      • Our field epistemologists deny they know D. Christy’s exact words, and yet marvel at the report of old Russian reports.

        Just a bit of logic right there.

      • …and willard just assumes it’s the same persons.
        Logic fail.

      • Where’s your serenity of mind and body, phat?

      • Steven Mosher

        Let’s all ask neven why he had relations with willard’s squirrel.
        Jeez. Christy couldn’t lie with the statement he made. It’s calculated not to be a lie. It’s calculated to be exactly what it is. A distraction from the facts. Not a lie. Can’t be a lie. Liars will say otherwise. Mostly its not a lie because its true and turns on the ambiguity of the word ‘similar’.

        A smart reporter would ask him “how similar?” do you know it was similar? are you talking area? extent? volume?

        Can you mislead people with true statements? sure. do it all the time.
        Can yuor distract them from important facts by pointing at other true facts? yup.

        Do these have the same effect as a lie? sometimes.

      • Steven Mosher

        Willard: Is your name steve?
        Moshpit: look at that cute girl
        Willard: wow, ya, hey is your name steve.
        Moshpit: Look at my licence, it says frank.

        ” let’s observe that “yes, but an anecdotal squirrel” amounts to a deception.”

        No lets observe that a squirrel or a girl is a DISTRACTION not a deception.
        There is a difference between a distraction and a deception.

      • Mosher says:

        “Let’s all ask neven why he had relations with willard’s squirrel.”

        The squirrels aren’t the problem it’s the nuts.

        This is a gem:

        “Christy couldn’t lie with the statement he made. It’s calculated not to be a lie.”

        Stuff which is calculated not to be lies is generally known as the truth.

        Mosher says AGW is real and a fact but other facts are distracting from this fact.

        I’ve always thought AGW science was made up of people who thought they were first amongst equals. That comment proves it. Mosher’s facts are better than yours.

  24. curryja | April 10, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    Further there is an emerging hypothesis that Arctic sea ice and its interactions with the atmosphere and ocean are a critical fulcrum/lynch pin for the multidecadal modes of climate variability (stay tuned)

    Wrong, dare I say.
    Arctic sea ice extent is a consequence. The ‘critical fulcrum/lynch pin for the multidecadal modes of climate variability’ is a deep cold Arctic current .

  25. It is also shown that various cryosphere phenomena, including glaciers in many places in the world and sea ice in the Arctic Ocean that had developed during the Little Ice Age, began to recede after 1800 and are still receding; their recession is thus not a recent phenomenon.

    The second one is oscillatory (positive/negative) changes, which are superposed on the linear change. One of them is the multi-decadal oscillation, which is a natural change. This particular natural change had a positive rate of change of about 0.15°C/10 years from about 1975 (positive from 1910 to 1940, negative from 1940 to 1975), and is thought by the IPCC to be a sure sign of the greenhouse effect of CO2. However, the positive trend from 1975 has stopped after 2000. One possibility of the halting is that after reaching a peak in 2000, the multi-decadal oscillation has begun to overwhelm the linear increase, causing the IPCC prediction to fail as early as the first decade of the 21st century…

    Indeed, the inflow of warm North Atlantic water shown in 12a and 12b can be one such process that can melt sea ice from below (Haas et al., 2008). Further, it is well known that winds or ocean currents can also move sea ice once it is broken up (Zhang et al., 2008). Thus, it may be concluded that processes other than the CO2 effect have a greater influence on sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic Ocean is special in this respect. In fact, as mentioned earlier (Section 2.1), sea ice around the Antarctic continent shows no clear sign of a similar decrease, and is actually growing a little.f

    (See: Two Natural Components of the Recent Climate Change: (1) The Recovery from the Little Ice Age (A Possible Cause of Global Warming), and; (2) The Multi-decadal Oscillation (The Recent Halting of the Warming). by Syun-Ichi Akasofu,International Arctic Research Center,University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska)

  26. Isn’t the Melting of Arctic Sea Ice Evidence of Warming?
    Warming, yes…manmade warming, no. Arctic sea ice naturally melts back every summer, but that meltback was observed to reach a peak in 2007. But we have relatively accurate, satellite-based measurements of Arctic (and Antarctic) sea ice only since 1979. It is entirely possible that late summer Arctic Sea ice cover was just as low in the 1920s or 1930s, a period when Arctic thermometer data suggests it was just as warm. Unfortunately, there is no way to know, because we did not have satellites back then. Interestingly, Antarctic sea ice has been growing nearly as fast as Arctic ice has been melting over the last 30+ years.
    ~Dr. Roy Spencer

    • “but that meltback was observed to reach a peak in 2007″

      Not really a peak, it’s already been beaten by 2012!

      • Still not evidence of “manmade warming” right. Nor is the Arctic ice-free as global warming alarmists predicted (December 7, 2007) –i.e., “nearly ice free” by the end of 2012.

    • Isn’t the Melting of Arctic Sea Ice Evidence of Warming?
      The melting is not necessarily a good indicator of warming.
      Not only does thinner ice melt more quickly, but it’s more easily moved around and broken up by wind and ocean currents – accelerating the melting even more. And, possibly more importantly, thinner ice offers less impedance to warm ocean currents, meaning still quicker and more widespread melting.
      For these and other reasons, melting can accelerate without any acceleration in warming, and perhaps even without any continued warming.

  27. Chief Hydrologist

    I will have to save the bulk of this for later Tony.

    Here is a graph from Polyakov whom you reference – hey there is a spell check in IE10 yee hah -who uses from memory Russian sources of sea ice data. http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/arcticice-1.gif.html?sort=3&o=92

    Decadal changes can clearly be seen consistent with decadal changes in Arctic temperature.

    http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/chylek09.gif.html?sort=3&o=91

    Which are again consistent with global atmospheric and ocean patterns. We can be sure that these shifts are emergent reorganisations of the climate system because of, inter alia, associated shifts in global fisheries ecologies.

    We do appear to be in a period of rapid fluctuation. This is a worry in itself in the theories of coupled non-linear systems. Are we in the midst of tipping point whose outcome is entirely unpredictable? If so – did we bring it on and is it too late to worry now? What happens if the MOC shifts abruptly and Europe and America are plunged into a deep chill? Will there suddenly be a big demand for those 4th gen nukes? If I deluded myself that I was a futureologist I would have the answers to these and many other questions.

    • Chief, don’t. I read your post, looked at your graphic, and concluded that your graphic directionally supports TonyB’s historical reseearch.
      And I can see where you say variability might be increasing based on your personal experience (which I presume is less than 100 years.)
      But then you lost me. What does your comment have to do with earlier 20th century warming as evidenced in the Arctic, or its natural variability as further evidence for falsification of GCMs?
      And, if you get the math of nonlinear dynamic systems, then you get that no matter how unpredictable in detail, they are robustly ‘stable’ around their strange attractors. We have evidence for such stability around a Pleistocene attractor going back over two million years (speculation, since the isthmus of Panama closed, changed ocean circulation, and placed the planet onto a new system). In which case we should be much more worried about the onset of a next ice age than more warming which according to falsified models would still not exceed that of the Eemian a mere 125,000 years ago.
      Please enlighten me, because I don’t get it.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Don’t what?

        ‘In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system’s future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions.’

        http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/505.htm

        The models themselves are chaotic and the most we can hope to achieve are probabilistic forecasts based on a systematically designed model family.

        The models have a range of solutions – within the limits of plausibilble inputs – in a range that has not been systematically explored – e.g. http://www.pnas.org/content/104/21/8709.long and http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1956/4751.short

        And it is apparent that there are multiple attractors and not simply glacial/interglacial states seen in the Quaternary period over about 2.58 million years. These have decadal to millennial impacts on climate. They have implications for ecology, hydrology and surface temperature – all of which are of significant interest to all of us.

        ‘If as suggested here, a dynamically driven climate shift has occurred, the duration of similar shifts during the 20th century suggests the new global mean temperature trend may persist for several decades. Of course, it is purely speculative to presume that the global mean temperature will remain near current levels for such an extended period
        of time.. However, the nature of these past shifts in climate state suggests the possibility of near constant temperature lasting a decade or more into the future must at least be entertained. The apparent lack of a proximate cause behind the halt in warming post 2001/02 challenges our understanding of the climate system, specifically the physical reasoning and causal links between longer time-scale modes of internal climate variability and the impact of such modes upon global temperature. Fortunately, climate science is rapidly developing the tools to meet this challenge, as in the near future it will be possible to attribute cause and effect in decadal-scale climate variability within the context of a seamless climate forecast system [Palmer et al., 2008]. Doing so is vital, as the future evolution of the global mean temperature may hold surprises on both the warm and cold ends of the spectrum due entirely to internal variability that lie well outside the envelope of a steadily increasing global mean temperature.’ Swanson and Tsonis 2009 – Has the climate recently shifted?

        I think I suggested that cooling was definitely on the cards as the MOC adjusts to freshening in the North Atlantic.

        Although I would not hold my breath on initialised models – to link to myself – http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2010/02/ellison – the headline wasn’t my idea by the way.

        Neither the timing of the next climate shift nor the topology of the attractor we may shift to are not known at all. We may warm – we may cool – it may rain more or less in regions – it may cool dramatically. None of this is much of a comfort for a climate catastrophist in the sense of Rene Thom – and is certainly a potential we should engage with regardless.

        I was referring to the maths of complex dynamical system which often exhibit an increase in autocorrelation – slowing down – http://www.pnas.org/content/105/38/14308.full – before flucuating wildly in a noisy bifurcation – called a ‘dragon-king’ by Sornette. – http://arxiv.org/abs/0907.4290

        Both of these papers have been quite influential in recent times.

        The question remains. Are we in a dragon-king and if so what will be the outcome? Neither you nor anyone else has the answer to that Rud.

        Standing elswhere – I can see the potential for rapid and large scale climate change. The current reality is the planetary cool mode more than likely is a 20 to 40 year pause at least in warming.

        How to reconcile dem dumplings is the planetary climate policy question.

  28. That post was way too long. I won’t bother to read it. Instead, I’ll repeat my preconceived notions about global change over and over again as digital mantra: my own private soma.

    • Howard:

      Instead, I’ll repeat my preconceived notions about global change over and over again as digital mantra:

      It’s a good thing no one else here does that, Howard. Imagine how boring that would be.

      • Joshua

        Well, there are some others: lolwot, Willard and (sometimes) Mosh, to mention three.

        Max

      • “It’s a good thing no one else here does that, Howard. Imagine how boring that would be.”

        Joshua old man, I must say your posts are pretty predictable.

        Your comments generally look something like this”

        First, faux outrage over something someone says. Then the reminder that many “skeptics” agree that co2 does in some degree add heat to the atmosphere, as if that’s somehow to be counted against them in a way that only you seem to understand, and then closing with something along the lines of:

        “‘Skeptics.” Heh. Got to love ‘em.”

        :-)

      • Oops – this belongs here:

        http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/10/historic-variations-in-arctic-sea-ice-part-ii-1920-1950/#comment-310841

        Have to be more careful – the only comments I want appearing under Rud’s comments are those that help him to sell his books. .

      • PG –

        One of these days you’re going to have to explain why you’re so obsessed with me.

    • That post was magnificent, thorough, and compelling. You don’t have the time or patience to read and understand it, then perhaps you should go elsewhere to repeat to yourself your preconceived notions. RealClimate and SKS would do nicely, and Prof. Mann surely still welcomes acolytes.
      Dr. Curry’s blog is about science, and the complex issues it raises, which are not usually sound bites.
      Auf Weidersehen.

      • Don’t give up the day job, Rud. I can see my sarcasm is an equal opportunity offender. Of course, Joshua thought it was all about him.

    • manacker –

      FWIW – I think that you’re right about that whole “Spencer lied” debate. Too bad that people on both sides of the debate are addicted to that nonsense. I look forward to you applying the same skeptical (as opposed to “skeptical”) attitude more evenly.

      • Joshua

        Thanks for vote of confidence.

        Please hold my feet to the fire if I fall into the “X lied about Y” trap.

        Max

  29. phatboy

    Isn’t the Melting of Arctic Sea Ice Evidence of [Arctic]Warming?

    Evidence? probably. Indication? yes.

    Likewise:

    Isn’t the Expansion of Antarctic Sea Ice Evidence of [Antarctic] Cooling?

    Uh-huh.

    Max

    • um, no, it could be evidence that the Antarctic ice sheets are melting and sliding into the sea and becoming sea ice.

      Because we have both Steig and O’Donnell, I said both, saying that the Antarctic has warmed.

      So no evidence of Antarctic cooling.

      • The ice sheets supposedly melting on Greenland and the northern Canadian Arctic islands should also cause more ice the Arctic.

      • Sunshine, I was just trying to match Max.

        Actually the amount of mass lost from both greenland and antarctica if it was all turned into sea ice wouldn’t make a difference.

        But if the acceleration of mass oss continues, in a few decades that might not be the case.

    • bob droege

      Both changes in sea ice could well be indications of changes in temperature (not evidence, of course, for the reasons you state plus other possibilities).

      Good try, though, bob.

      Max

      PS The melting ice sheet explanation in Antarctica is doubtful, for other reasons.

      • Indications or evidence, don’t those two words mean the same thing?

        Are you claiming the ice sheets in Antartica are not melting?

        Certainly there is not much evidence nor indication that Antartica is cooling, unless you count Crichton, which most people don’t.

  30. The evidence for anomolous warmimg between 1910 and 1940 paricularly in the Artic is overwheling and increases the credibility of the smoothed global record on my site (underlinrd above) obtained from the Australian BOM. This raises again the issue of why the IPCC labelled the 1940 global temperature as zero anomoly when we now know it was at a peak in its rise. So the IPCC was biassed in its early history, an error it has never corrected. At that point it missed a golden oppottunity to learn more about earth’s climate.

    After such a mistake, how can we trust the IPCC’s advice on future climate?

    • The anomaly being set to zero in 1940 is an unforgivable mistake?

      Another one who doesn’t understand the concept of an anomaly.

      • anomoly = deviation from the normal. Surely when the global temperature was at its peak after a 30 year rise by about 0.5C that could not be described as normal.

        Thanks, Bob for your reply. In the public concept of climate, we would expect a body charged with its assessment to use the common meanig of words.

      • What is the normal temperature then?

        And what would the difference be from measuring changes from that temperature or from the temperature in 1940?

        I’ll answer, no difference, no bias.

  31. http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/10/historic-variations-in-arctic-sea-ice-part-ii-1920-1950/#comment-310782

    Warming A in the Arctic Occurred in the 1920s/1930s.
    Warming B in the Arctic Occurred in the 1990s/2000s.

    Warming A was not caused by CO2.
    Warming B is claimed to have been caused by CO2.

    The fact that Warming A occurred means Warming B is not proven to have been caused by CO2.

    Until Warming A’s cause is explained, Warming B’s cause could have been caused by the same unknown mechanism as Warming A.

    Therefore the last great hope of the AGW cult is demolished.

    • The Vostok ice core studies that were referenced in the Marcott et al study showed evidence of many spikes occuring during the past 11000 years.

      The resolution is 40 to 50 years according to Mosher but if the start point is indeed 1950 then the (unsmoothed) Vostok data don’t appear to be supportive of any large scale thaw in the period 1920 to 1950 notwithstanding TonyB’s strong evidence to the contrary.

      Well done Tony, it is good to have reliable data around when people choose to make conclusions about climate change based on paleo studies alone.

    • @ “Until Warming A’s cause is explained”

      The extreme warming of the sea water at Spitsbergen since summer is a hot track. The matter is an ocean issue. The post mention the –“…..observations of Capt. Martin Ingebrigtsen who first noted warmer conditions in 1918,…. formerly the waters about Spitzbergen held an even summer temperature of about 3 degree Celsius; this year recorded temperatures up to 15 degree. Another observer (Weikmann) either recognised unusual high values at the West coast of Spitsbergen in summer 1918. This caused an explosion of the winter temperatures at Spitsbergen see Birkeland data at: http://www.arctic-warming.com/a.php .
      In 1958 Hesselberg et al wrote: “During the first years of the (Spitsbergen) observation (1912+) show no conspicuous climatic change, but then comes a rapid rise of the temperature in the years 1917 to 1922 ( …in winter 7 degarees…)…” http://www.arctic-heats-up.com/img/c1-p2.jpg [in: R.C. Sutcliffe (ed), Polar Atmosphere Symposium (Oslo 1956), “The Recent Variations of the Climate at the Norwegian Arctic Sectors”, London, 1958, p18-29. ] More consideration on the cause “Where did the early Artci Warming originate?” see: http://www.arctic-heats-up.com/chapter_7.html

    • Sorry Vostok is Antartica. I have nevertheless linked Nick Stokes neat little interactive graph tool for analysis of the paleo data used by Marcott et al. The artic paleo studies that I have accessed still don’t support 1920 – 1950 warming in the Artic. The extent that smoothing may have distorted the raw data is not known.

    • Lauri Heimonen

      Sunshinehours1:

      ”Warming A in the Arctic Occurred in the 1920s/1930s.
      Warming B in the Arctic Occurred in the 1990s/2000s.
      Warming A was not caused by CO2.
      Warming B is claimed to have been caused by CO2.
      The fact that Warming A occurred means Warming B is not proven to have been caused by CO2.”

      Sunshinehours1 expresses a conflict believed to be between ‘warming A’ and ‘warming B’!

      On the base of the proxy results from ice core samples adopted by IPCC, the warming A is not related to the CO2 increase, where even decadal changes of CO2 contents can not be found. Instead, on the base of the results accurate enough from direct measurements can be found that even in the case of A the CO2 content has increased like in the case B; e.g. link http://www.biomind.de/realCO2/ . The conflict disappears as you understand that anthropogenic CO2 emissions have no dominating influence on the increase of CO2 content in atmosphere in either case.

      This means that the mechanism of increase of CO2 content in atmosphere has been similar concerning both the case A and the case B. In both of those cases the warming has taken place naturally. CO2 content in atmosphere has been icreased by warming of sea surface temperature, in which dominating factor has been the warming of sea surface temperarure on areas of CO2 sinks; look e.g. at comments http://judithcurry.com/2011/08/04/carbon-cycle-questions/#comment-198992 ; http://judithcurry.com/2013/01/16/hansen-on-the-standstill/#comment-287036 ; and http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/05/u-s-climate-policy-discussion-thread/#comment-310532 .

    • You could try sulfates and black carbon as a thought experiment. It was interesting that the maps Neven pointed to showed much less open water on the western side of the Arctic, which would have been a lot cleaner. In any case, looking at those maps and comparing them with 2005-2012 showed that there was much more ice in the central arctic ocean basin in August.

      A final thought, the ice edge on the Alaska coast must have been fairly well known even then.

  32. Nothing dispells the all-too-facile conclusions of number-crunching drones like a serious historical study that provides fuller context. Well done, Tony Brown!

  33. Guys like Willard (and sadly, even Mosh) dislike historical data (which they write off as “anecdotal”).

    This is because they might challenge model outputs and theoretical deliberations – and hence challenge beliefs that are very strong..

    Was there a holocaust? Willard might argue that there are only a few remaining verbal (i.e. “anecdotal”) records, so it isn’t certain.

    Or he might say “look, a squirrel” to sidetrack the issue.

    Whatever.

    Max

    • Max

      I like to provide context and perspective that encompasses a greater time scale than the start of the satellite era. Science did not start in 1979 or with computers, much good work was carried out before then. Unfortunately a lot of it is not readily available or is pushed to one side in favour of models that may be using data that should be questioned harder than it is, for example SST’s, of which I wrote separately.

      Through my desk research I am also astonished as to how much material is available but how little has been digitised. If it is not digitised it in effect does not exist as it is not available to most researchers. Even the material in some of our greatest institutions is not digitised as I found at the Met office and the Scott Polar Institute, let lone places such as Cathedrals where there is much interesting and relevant material. For example in our local Cathedral is clear evidence of ‘poor relief’ paid out due to unusual weather conditions which can be traced to such events as volcanoes. The 1258 Volcanic erution for example is well represented but the context is missing when the conditions prior to this event are not outlined

      I am merely trying to paint a wider picture than is often portrayed and it is intriguing as to how upsetting some people find that.
      tonyb

      • Tony, few climate dogmatists are in a hurry to scour history, which is why “anecdotal” is such a pet word with them. The past is to be kept as a blurry and shifting reference point, it is not something to be examined. The future, however…you can have all the solid detail you like!

      • > Through my desk research I am also astonished as to how much material is available but how little has been digitised.

        For those who’d like to rescue data at home, there is this project [1]:

        Data Rescue At Home

        Are you interested in weather and climate? Do you want to make an active contribution to climate research? At Data rescue at home, volunteers and weather enthusiasts can digitise historical weather data from all over the globe. In return, the data will be made available to the public without any restriction.

        http://www.data-rescue-at-home.org

        [1] As featured two years ago over there:

        http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/4163899769

      • Tonyb,

        Please rest assured that you’re not upsetting me, even if you do seem to minimize a bit your endeavour when you say that you are merely trying to paint a wider picture.

        In fact, your overall argument in this blog post could be held against such minimal interpretation of your painting.

        As much as I like to read such reports, I would certainly pay due diligence to this minimization were you to push it furthermore, however equanimous you might sound in doing so.

        Swoon,

        w

      • Willard

        Sincere thanks for that link. I fear the high water mark of digitisation may have been reached for many historic documents, due to cut backs. There is some very valuable material out there in all sorts of places that will be unavailable to those not able to physically inspect them.

        I suspect ships logs might be an exception as there seems to a lot of momentum behind them
        tonyb

      • Tonyb,

        Just like ornithology, Eli’s favourite example [1], some field studies can only be advanced through the work of amateurs.

        If it had to wait for research funds for most of its gathering, science would still be chasing angel heads. The is a meliorative meaning to “amateur”, and I believe it carries an aspiration against which only an avocation could compete seriously. You do tend toward that ideal in your work.

        It is an honour for us denizens to be able to overview results researched with passion. Passion alone? I have rhetorical reasons to remain skeptical about that hypothesis. That question is quite secondary to me, (even though it would in my nature to audit it), since that does not prevent me to appreciate your field work.

        All the best,

        w

        [1] http://rabett.blogspot.ca/2010/05/unto-us-paper-is-given-unto-us.html

      • tony b

        Any light that can be shone on our past climate helps us better understand what might lie in store for us in the future, so your work is very important.

        There may be isolated individuals who either downplay the significance of your work or see it as a threat.

        I am of the opinion that they react this way because actual history is something they cannot personally control as they can the subjective interpretations of dicey paleo-climate proxy data of carefully selected periods of our geological past or the theory-based model projections for the future.

        From things you have written I know that you have a lot of respect for Hubert Lamb, arguably the modern father of climate history, whom you see as a role model – and whose work you are extending through your efforts.

        So keep up the good work, Tony.

        As always, I am looking forward to your next installment.

        Max

    • Max
      While historicism, ‘purposeful’ history, historicism is
      to be avoided, history research is not. Where there
      are gaps in empirical evidence, myth is rife.Orwell put
      it so dramatically in 1984 with its ‘down the memory
      hole,’ changing the past, propoganda department.
      Beth

      !984 George Orwell

      Love is a thoughtcrime.
      The Thought Police make Winston
      forget whatsername.

      H/t David Bader.

      • Beth

        As Orwell might have said

        ‘Anecdotal figures good
        Anecdotal words bad’

        tonyb

      • Think I need me eyes checked, first line edit., only one
        ‘historicism.’ Chuck the other one down the memory hole.

      • Beth

        “Historology”?

        or “normative history”?

        How about “post-normal history”?

        The mind boggles at the opportunities.

        That’s why Tony’s work (and your poetry) are so important IMO.

        Max

    • > Guys like Willard (and sadly, even Mosh) dislike historical data (which they write off as “anecdotal”).

      Three untruths right there.

      We’re talking about historical evidence, not data. To be considered data, we’d need a theory. No theory, no data.

      I don’t dislike historical evidence, and commended Tony twice on this thread for his work.

      I don’t write off anything as anecdotal: quoting Leake, who reported Dr. Christy.

      • Willard

        da•ta
        pl.n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)

        Factual information, especially information organized for analysis or used to reason or make decisions.

        Synonym: information

        Webster prefers:

        factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation

        Looks like the information, which Tony is gathering fits this definition pretty well.

        Max

      • Our field epistemologist relies on an encyclopedic dictionary whence he might have needed a beefier warrant:

        Thomas Kuhn, Norwood Hanson, Paul Feyerabend, and others cast suspicion on the objectivity of observational evidence by challenging the assumption that observers can shield it from biases imposed by their “paradigm” and theoretical commitments. Even though some of the examples they use to present their case feature equipment generated evidence, they tend to talk about observation as a perceptual process. As Hanson (1958,19) put it, ‘seeing is a “theory laden” undertaking.’

        http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/science-theory-observation/

        Just a bit of epistemology.

  34. David Springer

    I didn’t see it mentioned but according to wickedpedia

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwest_Passage

    there were 7 successful transits of the NW passage between 1957 and 1984 then none again until the year 2000.

    Passages made in 2000 and later were aided by precision GPS guidance and real-time satellite images of the ice pack so vessels can pick their though it. Passages made in 1984 and earlier had no such navigation aids making the dearth of passages in the 1980’s and 1990’s even more noteworthy.

  35. Tony

    ‘Anecdotal evidence
    Oxy moron.’

    (Chuck it down the memory hole)

    Beth

  36. ALL CHANGE, Climate is now 4 years of weather
    The Sun UK Newspaper
    “BRITAIN’S winters are getting colder because of melting Arctic ice, the Government’s forecaster said yesterday.
    “Met Office chief scientist Julia Slingo said climate change was “loading the dice” towards freezing, drier weather — and called publicly for the first time for an urgent investigation.”
    Prof Slingo said: “If you look at the way our weather patterns have behaved over the past four or five years, we’re beginning to think that there is something happening. “

    News

    Got a story? Email: talkback@the-sun.co.uk
    Land of hope and igloo-ry
    Britain faces polar winters
    mock up of London in ice age
    Ice Age … how London might look
    By BEN JACKSON, Environment Editor
    Last Updated: 11th April 2013

    BRITAIN’S winters are getting colder because of melting Arctic ice, the Government’s forecaster said yesterday.

    Met Office chief scientist Julia Slingo said climate change was “loading the dice” towards freezing, drier weather — and called publicly for the first time for an urgent investigation.

    Prof Slingo said: “If you look at the way our weather patterns have behaved over the past four or five years, we’re beginning to think that there is something happening.
    ………..
    “Our climate is being disrupted by the warming of the Arctic that we have observed very dramatically since 2007.

    “We should pull together the best scientists to see how we can detect the influence of the Arctic on the jet stream, and on weather around the world.”

    • Looks a lot like Alex Pope’s theory. Less ice more condensation more snow more ice less condensation less snow etc etc.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Perhaps – http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/3/034004/fulltext/

        ‘Three decades later we are still far from understanding how orbital changes are converted into ice-sheet growth and decay.While this is testimony enough to our limited understanding of the climate system and general circulation, abrupt climate change is now the star witness. In this case, the climate changes occurred not only abruptly but,
        apparently, in the absence of any external forcing. The lack of any theory for how such changes could occur helps explain the slow acceptance of what the data were saying. In the two decades since the discovery of abrupt change, two advances have been made. First, the spatial pattern of abrupt climate change has been better delimited, and
        it is now known that these events occurred essentially synchronously across much of the Northern Hemisphere (including the northern Tropics) within the atmosphere, the surface ocean, and the deep ocean. Abrupt changes are not found in the ice records from Antarctica, and the Southern Hemisphere remains a question because of limited
        data. These spatial patterns place some severe constraints on roposed mechanisms of abrupt climate change. Second, mechanisms have been advanced that revolve around the thermohaline circulation (THC). Broecker et al. (1985) were perhaps the first to suggest that rapid warmings and coolings of climate around the North Atlantic were
        caused by rapid switchings on and off of North Atlantic DeepWater formation with “on” states being associated with transport of warm waters into the subpolar North Atlantic. Despite difficulties explaining the paleoclimate record of abrupt changes with the THC theory, no competing idea has yet been offered.’ http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/div/ocp/gs/

    • Adrian

      I do despair. We were warned to expect warmer wetter winters but now colder and drier seems to be the meme.

      The British weather is acting exactly like the highly variable beast it always has been over the past 1000 years of recorded obervations I have researched in the Met offices own library. That includes the shifting of the jet stream that is also obvious in the observations.

      Perhaps we can convene the ‘urgent investigation’ to their library. It will be very cheap and its right opposite their excellent staff restaurant. Before doing so they might like to read some of Hubert Lambs books on climate, also in the library, but sadly underused. His son Norman Lamb is an MP and ‘owning minister’ for the Met Office. Perhaps he could sit in on the meeting?

      tonyb

      • lurker passing through, laughing

        The AGW industry is mostly good at telling us after the fact that they predicted what ever just happened. The other thing they are good is ignoring whatever they say they predicted when the prediction fails.
        The “winter is dead’ predictions” made while warmer winters were occurring is nice example of this. The mindless echo chamber that passes for journalism helps quite a bit.

      • Don’t despair (too much), Tony!
        When “Met Office is calling a meeting of top scientists to look at the “urgent” question of whether the warming of the Arctic is affecting UK weather.”, may be, they have also a look at days SST anomalies in the North Sea http://climate-ocean.com/2013/b/9_4_3b_.jpg , and ask how this could be? Do human activities contribute?

      • Arnd

        Thanks for your comment.

        I reckon we could hold this ‘urgent investigation’ for under £50. All the important scientists needed are already at the Met office. They merely need to find their way to the library. The adjacent staff restaurant could send in tea and biscuits at regular intervals.

        A couple of hours looking at all the ‘anecdotal’ material surrounding them might make them realise that their computer models might need serious questioning and that natural variavbility may well be part of the answers they seek.

        As the author of one of the climate books wrote in the 19th Century;

        .“I have been asked so often during the period that I have been doing this work this question, well after all this grubbing into the wealth of the past, do you think that our climate is changing or has changed? Where are the old snow storms? My answer is that viewed as a whole the English climate during an historic period say from 400 years before Christ to the present time has always been ‘beastly,’ we never quite know where we are with regards to weather.” Reginal Jeffery late fellow and tutor of Brasenose College Oxford. Author of ‘Was it Wet or Was it Fine?’

        tonyb

      • Thanks a lot Tony!
        I am out for a drama tonight: Romeo and Juliet, and another drama may be what the famous oceanographer H.U. Sverdrup (1942) told meteorologists 70 years ago :
        ___”It might appear, therefore, as if the oceanic
        circulation and the distribution of temperature
        and salinity in the ocean are caused by the
        atmospheric processes, but such a conclusion would be
        erroneous, because the energy that maintains the
        atmospheric circulation is to be greatly supplied
        by the oceans. ”
        From: http://www.seaclimate.com/j/j.html

  37. Tony,
    What’s an anomaly of past compared ter now, is that in the past,
    climate records to say mid twentieth century, confirmation bias
    was not an issue. No one who stumbled across an ice core or
    medieval record or entry in a shipping log had something to
    gain because climate change was not a political issue with
    money changing hands.

    Beth the serf.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Beth Cooper asserts “In the past, climate records to say mid twentieth century, confirmation bias was not an issue. No one who stumbled across an ice core or medieval record or entry in a shipping log had something to gain because climate change was not a political issue”

      The unjustified confidence of your post’s assertion nicely illustrates the Dunning-Kruger effect, Bether Cooper! Please research the Stalinist doctrine of “Communist Conquest of Nature” to understand how the scientific doctrines of Lysenkoism (in service of adapting crops to Siberian climate), an open Northern Passage, and geophysical engineering, all served the purposes of the Soviet State (and TonyB in particular needs to study the Communist Party’s doctrinal literature very carefully — because Soviet explorers were required to serve the Glory of the State!).

      Soviet and Tsarist Siberia

      The late Arctic expeditions undertaken by the Soviet Government, under the leadership of Professor Otto Schmidt, [are] leading man to the greatest conquest of all — the conquest of Nature in her most resistant mood.

      As with the abject failure of too-simple communist ideologies in the 20th century, so with the abject failure of too-simple libertarian ideologies in the 21st century, eh Beth Cooper?

      Both fail in consequence of “inconvenient” science + “inconvenient” economics + “inconvenient” human nature!

      That’s why the demagogic astroturfers who serve 20th century communism, and the demagogic astroturfers who serve 21st century libertarianism, similarly seek to deny — by omission, distortion, selective citation, and quibbling — even the plainest facts of science, economics, and human nature.

      Ain’t that pure common-sense, Beth Cooper?

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Fan

        Interesting. In my notes taken at the Scott Polar institute last year I wrote against one book on the Arctic;

        ‘Author seems a stalinist-all to the glory of the great communist state!!.’

        This was against something that I later had cause to check and sure enough his facts were as I understood them to be and the additional informsation about things I was unaware of at the time caused me to check them as well and they seemed to be accurate. Thats about the likely opening up of the Northern Sea route in the 1500’s-you will love that.

        That is not to say that we should dismiss the idea of politicised climate science but that enough people-such as Ahlmann, the Hansen of his day-were able to research the facts behind the hyperbole.

        However, if you are American you are one of several people who have suggested here that the data from Russia might be imperfect. Which is probably one of the reasons it wasnt taken properly into account when the sea ice data was being drawn up.

        tonyb

      • > That is not to say that we should dismiss the idea of politicised climate science but that enough people-such as Ahlmann, the Hansen of his day-were able to research the facts behind the hyperbole.

        Is this an impressionist or an expressionist painting?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        The Lure of Neptune: German-Soviet Naval Collaboration and Ambitions, 1919 – 1941 certainly documents ice conditions in 1940 as being far more severe than in the recent years of the 21st century.

        Needless to say, the Soviets held their Arctic-waters collaboration with the Nazi Kriegsmarine as a closely-guarded secret for many decades!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Fan

        It might help if you could steel yourself to actually ead my article. I know about the severe conditions you state and wrote this;

        “In 1941-42 the low-powered, 80 ton R.C.M.P. schooner St. Roch made the North West Passage for the first time from the Pacific to the Atlantic and again in 1944 in the opposite direction in only 87 days.”

        Historical footnote: Larsen, an experienced arctic seaman who commanded the vessel noted:
        “The three seasons of the short Arctic Summers from 1940-42 had been extremely bad for navigation, the worst consecutive three I had experienced as far as ice and weather conditions were concerned, and in my remaining years in the Arctic I never saw their like.”

        This allows us to observe that whilst Arctic conditions were often highly favourable for something like three decades, there were intermittent periods during the early years of World War 2 when the ice returned, but then abated again.”

        I think that is a fair summary don’t you? I have never hidden the bouts of severe ice, in fact as you can see I drew attention to them

        tonyb

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        LOL … TonyB, in mentioning the voyage of Larson/St Roche, yer cherry-picking kinda brazenly, ain’t yah?

        RCMPV St. Roch
        1928-1962 (interactive on-line tour)

        The St. Roch was made primarily of thick Douglas-fir, with very hard Australian “ironbark” eucalyptus on the outside, and an interior hull reinforced with heavy beams to withstand ice pressure during her Arctic duties.

        Northwest Passages completed One (a two-year voyage, with an in-ice winter-over)

        In comparison we have the 21st century vessel

        The Rus
        2010-2011 (comedic photo here)

        The Rus is a rubber inflatable-hull trimaran, whose mast and rigging made out of large pieces of bamboo, held together by rope and duct tape. RCMP evaluation: “Like something from Gilligan’s Island!”

        Northwest Passages completed One (no need for in-ice winter-over)

        The St. Roch (20th century) versus The Rus (21st century) … it’s a pretty striking contrast, eh TonyB?

        Needless to mention a major common-sense difference … the brave RCMP sailors of St Roche wintered-over in the ice (which her crew barely survived) … the intrepid Russian hippies of The Rus didn’t have to!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

        A fan of *MORE* discourse

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        On closer reading, during 1940-44 St Roche transited the NorthWest Passage in both directions, with a single in-ice winter-over.

        Whereas the 21st century hippie-vessel La Rus is attempting a complete Arctic circumnavigation! Brave hippies, indeed!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Fan

        You are getting a bit desperate here. I used the st Roch as it was of its time and the first to make the voyage. I am trying to describe the conditions of the era I am writing about and fairly pointed out the caveats surrounding the voyage.

        A great achievement by your hippie friends, did they have gps?

        Tonyb

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        LOL … no GPS is needed to tell Arctic sailors that their ship is ice-bound, eh TonyB?

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • The Rus has the advantage of no real keel so they could move it through very narrow passages where ice had melted near shore.

        Real boats could not have done it.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Sunshinehours1 claims  “The Rus has the advantage of no real keel so they could move it through very narrow passages where ice had melted near shore. Real boats could not have done it.”

        BREAKING NEWS  Paul Allen’s 414-foot mega-yacht Octopus has somehow squeaked through the Northwest Passage!

        No doubt the Octopus’ “remotely-operated submarine as well as a twin helicopter hangar and two helipads” are a considerable help in Arctic navigation, eh?

        Thank you for displaying to Climate Etc the utterly mistaken confidence that is so characteristic of denialistic Dunning Kruger syndrome, Sunshinehours1!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Fan and Tony

        To Fan’s point about questionable data from the old Soviet Union.

        Around two-thirds of the weather stations, mostly in remote and rural locations in northern latitudes and many in the former Soviet Union, were shut down between 1975 and 1995, with over 60% of these shut down in the 4-year period 1990-1993. This coincides exactly with a sharp increase in the calculated global mean temperature (particularly in the Northern Hemisphere), giving credence for a significant distortion of the surface temperature record.

        To Fan’s point, there is good reason to believe that, prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union, these remote Siberian locations systematically reported lower than actual temperatures, in order to qualify for added subsidies and fuel supplies from the central government, which were tied to low temperatures. As this distorted record was removed, it resulted in a spurious warming trend. For a graph showing this correlation see:

        http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/nvst.html

        http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/intellicast.essay.pdf

        So Fan’s point of distorted climate-related data from Soviet times apparently has some merit.

        Max

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        You make a good point, Manacker! And there is more:

        The Lure of Neptune: German-Soviet
        Naval Collaboration and Ambitions, 1919-1941

        “The Soviets told the [German warship] *Komet* to proceed east and use the [Soviet] icebreaker *Lenin* to get through the ice. The Germans were told where the ice was and given a detailed course to pursue to the east. *Komet* was advised to follow only specific instructions from *Lenin* and to ignore local ice reports available on [Soviet] radio.”

        Conclusion  History provides multiple substantial reasons to question the accuracy of “official” Soviet meteorological observations.

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • The thing about using Yachts with strengthened hulls as proxies for negating the warmth in the Arctic in the 1930s is that it makes you look extra dumb.

        It was as warm in 1929/1932 in Greenland as it was in 2011.

      • Tony B

        I know you have done quite a bit of research on this topic, but a lot has been written about Northwest Passage crossings. Here is a sample.

        http://geography.about.com/od/specificplacesofinterest/a/northwestpassag.htm

        in 1906 Roald Amundsen from Norway successfully spent three years traversing the Northwest Passage in an ice-fortified ship.

        Amundsen sailed the three-masted schooner Maud in his second crossing of the passage in 1924-1926.

        In 1944 a Royal Canadian Mounted Police sergeant made the first single-season crossing of the Northwest Passage. Since then, many ships have made the trip through the Northwest Passage

        From another source:

        http://www.norwegianblue.co.uk/history.htm

        Nobody was to complete this journey again until 1942 when the Canadian ship ‘St Roch’ and its captain Henry Larsen made the second complete transit and the first from West to East. Larsen didn’t just call it a day there though, he then turned round and went back through the other way!

        Another source tells us:

        http://geology.com/articles/northwest-passage.shtml

        In 1957, three United States Coast Guard Cutters, Storis, Bramble and SPAR became the first ships to cross the Northwest Passage along a deep draft route. They covered the 4,500 miles of semi-charted water in 64 days.

        The first ship capable of carrying significant cargo to traverse the Passage was the SS Manhattan, a specially reinforced supertanker, in 1969. It was accompanied by the John A Macdonald, a Canadian icebreaker. This trip was taken to test the Northwest Passage as an alternative to building the Alaska Pipeline. At that time it was determined that the Northwest Passage was not economical and the Alaska Pipeline was built.

        Yet another source:

        http://www.norwegianblue.co.uk/history.htm

        In 1977 the Belgian sailor Willy de Roos and his steel ketch ‘Willywaw’ became the 3rd yacht to go through, largely single handed.

        Recent development:

        http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch1en/conc1en/polarroutes.html

        In 2007 the Northwest Passage was open during the summer months for the first time in recent history, but it remains to be seen how stable this opening is. In 2009, two German ships, Beluga Fraternity and Beluga Foresight, completed the first commercial journey across the Northern Sea Route (or Northeast Passage) linking Busan to Rotterdam with several stopovers.

        No doubt, modern navigation technologies and systems have made sailing the NW passage much easier than it was earlier. And receding late-summer sea ice could also present a new opportunity. But predictions for the future remain cautious.

        The consideration of arctic routes for commercial navigation purposes remains a very speculative endeavor, mainly for three main reasons:
        • First, it is uncertain to what extent the receding perennial ice cover is a confirmed trend or simply part of a long term climatic cycle. Even if the Artic routes became regularly open during the summer, the medium terms underlines that that Arctic would still remain closed to commercial navigation during the winter months. As of 2010, the ice free conditions of most Arctic shipping routes were only about 30 days. Since maritime shipping companies are looking for regular and consistent services, this seasonality has limited commercial appeal.
        • Second, there is very limited economic activity around the Arctic Circle, implying that shipping services crossing the Arctic have almost no opportunity to drop and pick-up cargo as they pass through. Thus, unlike other long distance commercial shipping routes there is limited revenue generation potential for shipping lines along the Arctic route, which forbids the emergence of transshipment hubs. This value proposition could improve if resources (oil and mining) around the Arctic are extracted in greater quantities, which would favor bulk shipping.
        • The Arctic remains a frontier in terms of weather forecast, charting and building a navigation system, implying uncertainties and unreliability for navigation. This implies that substantial efforts have to be made to insure that navigation can take in place in a safe manner along well defined navigation routes.

        In view of all of the above maritime shipping companies are not yet considering seriously the commercial potential of the Arctic as a navigation shortcut. Still, the rise in bunker fuel prices and slow steaming practices can be considered incentives for the development of niche services that could use the Arctic as a shortcut between major markets of the northern hemisphere. By doing so, shipping services would have the option to mitigate the distance advantage of the shorter Arctic routes with the option of slower speeds and their fuel consumption benefits.

        So it looks like it will still be a while before the NW Passage becomes the preferred route for summer crossing

        But, if and when it eventually does, assuming the current shrinking of late-summer Arctic sea ices continues, it could end up being a net positive development.

        Max

      • Fan

        Regarding the doubtful accuracy of Soviet meteorological records.

        It probably depends a lot on the extenuating circumstances how reliable these might be.

        It the case of the temperature records, which I cited, there was a clear incentive to report colder temperatures.

        In cases where the Soviet leaders felt it would be advantageous to their political cause to fudge the data, I’m sure this was done (and there may be several instances, including the example you cited, where this was the case).

        And, of course, there was probably a lot of sloppiness (it seems endemic in totalitarian regimes).

        But I do not believe that there was a systematic fudging of data in the old Soviet Union just to fudge the data.

        Do you?

        Max

    • Guess this is a kinda intemperate assertion, should have said
      ‘confirmation bias seemed less likely…’ ‘ climate change was,
      perhaps, a less political issue …’ Guess I could learn from
      Tony’s careful evaluation of the data available.

      A serf.

      • Hey, Beth, keep “tellin’ it like it is” and leave the careful caveats and historic finesses to Tony, the historian.

        Another serf

      • Thanks fer yer kind serf message, Max.)
        The other serf.

  38. Apart from history, one big subject to avoid is…the earth!

    No, sillies, not that little bit we walk on and sail across and breathe and fly in…

    I mean the earth! At least we’ve checked out 5% of the oceans. But that big ball with shifting plates over molten turmoil! Good luck with settling that science! Easier to keep looking away, just like with Tony’s history material. Call it a rather large anecdote. Third anecdote from the sun.

    I understand that it’s kind of difficult to find out about what’s just under our feet – it’s either too hard or too volatile or too hot – thus one can only speculate about its role in climate. Really, I understand. And if some dirty basaltic eruption shuts down agriculture and aviation globally for a year or more, I won’t be pointing the finger at anyone. You can only know a bit about anything.

    All I ask is never to hear again that expression “settled science”, even in relation to the best way to coat jelly beans. Deal?

  39. Dr. Christy said that understanding natural variability is a very tricky problem.

    Does anyone here disagree that there is natural variability in the climate system, measured over several decades in the last 150 years, and before?

    If so, how is Dr. Christy lying?

    • Max,
      I’m awarding you the franchise fer
      “Famous Quotations of Yesteryear.”

      Yer might even produce a best seller.
      Bts

      • Gee, thanks Beth.

        I’m flabbergasted.

        How ’bout:

        “The science is settled…”

        Yr fellow serf

  40. Chief Hydrologist

    ‘In summary, although there is independent evidence for decadal changes in TOA radiative fluxes over the last two decades, the evidence is equivocal. Changes in the planetary and tropical TOA radiative fluxes are consistent with independent global ocean heat-storage data, and are expected to be dominated by changes in cloud radiative forcing. To the extent that they are real, they may simply reflect natural low-frequency variability of the climate system. ‘ IPCC s3.4.4.1

    http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/chylek09.gif.html?sort=3&o=91#/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/chylek09.gif.html?sort=3&o=91&_suid=1365708880948007677329326456467

    This is no real likelihood that decadal and longer variability does not occur in climate – driven by complex and interacting mecahanisms. There is no single simple explanation for any of it. In the Arctic we have what seems to be an amplification of global variability.

  41. R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

    A nice bit of historical research Tony…thanks for your hard work. Just wondering, where’s the links to Kinnard’s work?

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v479/n7374/abs/nature10581.html

    Certainly the 1920-1940 warming period, with some regional reduction in sea ice extent is well noted even in that paper, but the longer perspective brought in to play with his multi-proxy reconstruction is a nice bit of research in itself and makes a strong case for how unique and rapid the current reduction in Arctic sea ice is over the past 1450 years.

    The most likely conclusion is that the current sharp reduction is Arctic sea ice (extent, area, and volume) has a large anthropgenic component at 50% or greater contribution. While historical studies such as yours are quite interesting in their own right, especially when looking for patterns of natural long-term variability, of most pressing concern is the rapidity with which the Arctic is changing from anthropogenic factors, and the extent and nature of the effects of that change on NH and perhaps even global weather.

    • Translation: Thanks for the hard work, but it is all superceded by current events.

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        WHT,

        The same can be said for the hard work being put into the climate models that just can’t get ahead of how fast the Arctic is changing.

    • R. Gates, 50% anthropogenic? Possibly, Nuclear powered ice breakers first reached the NP in 1977 and have made quite a few tourist trips since. aCO2 though doesn’t seem to work or at least the surface temperature data seems to indicate that it doesn’t work.

      1450 years ago was a pretty wicked cold snap. I hear those things tend to be cyclic :)

    • Kinnard et al hasn’t been “fully” audited at Climateaudit.org. The partial audit, however, reveals little confidence into their long term reconstruction.

      http://climateaudit.org/2011/12/05/kinnard-arctic-o18-series/

      and Tony’s historical reports support significantly different results in 1920-1940 as well.

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        Yes, and we all know how “fair and balanced” Climateaudit.org is.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        And people say you’re an example of a reasonable “warmist” R. Gates. Someone points you to legitimate criticisms, and you respond by smearing a good source that has provided a grat deal of valuable information and work. There’s a reason I scoffed when Tonyb praised you.

        It’s fine to doubt information because of its source. It is not fine to snidely dismiss information because of its source.

        You just showed Climate Audit is more fair and balanced than you are.

    • Steven Mosher

      The most pronounced warming phase in our reconstruction
      occurred between 1900 and 1940, which is clearly
      seen in the measured meteorological records as well. In the
      instrumental record, positive SAT anomalies were largest
      in the Arctic Atlantic region during this period (Wood and
      Overland 2010). This early twentieth-century warming
      (ETCW) has been subject to many studies, yet its reasons
      still defies full explanation. Natural and anthropogenic
      (land-use, aerosols) forcings are believed to have contributed
      to the ETCW (e.g., Delworth and Knutson 2000;
      Bengtsson et al. 2004; Bro¨nnimann 2009). According to
      Chylek et al. (2009), the Arctic warming from 1900 to
      1940 proceeded at a significantly faster rate than the
      warming during the more recent decades and was highly
      correlated with the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation
      (AMO) suggesting that the Arctic temperature variability is
      highly linked to the Atlantic Ocean thermohaline circulation
      at various temporal scales.

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        This piece from the abstract of the Kinnard 2010 work is probably one the most important:

        “Enhanced advection of warm Atlantic water to the Arctic6 seems to be the main factor driving the decline of sea ice extent on multidecadal timescales.”

        Given that the majority of the TOA imbalance from accumulating GHG’s is going into the ocean, the “enhanced advection of warm Atlantic water” becomes a significant smoking gun in the faster than predicted decline of Arctic sea ice. Furthermore, the Arctic sea could very well be facing a one-two punch or even a one-two-three punch in that anthropogenic warming of the Atlantic combined with natural cyclical AMO warmth which could be further enhanced by anthropogenic factors could be part of this “enhanced advection” Kinnard is referring to.

        The bottom line is, the tropospheric warm and cold cycles of the Arctic represent just a fraction of the far larger increases in energy being advected to the Arctic via the ocean and this (according to Kinnard) could be having a bigger impact on the long-term decline of the sea ice than tropospheric warmth.

      • Steven Mosher

        Delworth and Knutson 2000 do confirm that the models are unable to explain the early 20thC warming (ETCW), as you write.

        IPCC also comes to this conclusion in AR4 WG1. FAQ 8.1 shows a comparison of the model simulation with the actual warming (around 0.21C compared to 0.53C over the 35-year period 1910-1944).

        Since (according to Phil Jones) the ETCW is statistically indistinguishable from the late 20thC warming (LTCW?), this presents a bit of a dilemma for the argument that the models can only explain the LTCW if they include human forcing.

        Of course, it also raises serious doubts regarding the model predictions of future warming.

        Max

  42. Chief Hydrologist

    ‘Understanding Arctic temperature variability is essential for assessing possible future melting of the Greenland ice sheet, Arctic sea ice and Arctic permafrost. Temperature trend reversals in 1940 and 1970 separate two Arctic warming periods (1910–1940 and 1970–2008) by a significant 1940–
    1970 cooling period. Analyzing temperature records of the Arctic meteorological stations we find that (a) the Arctic amplification (ratio of the Arctic to global temperature trends) is not a constant but varies in time on a multi-decadal time scale, (b) the Arctic warming from 1910–1940 proceeded
    at a significantly faster rate than the current 1970–2008 warming, and (c) the Arctic temperature changes are highly correlated with the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) suggesting the Atlantic Ocean thermohaline
    circulation is linked to the Arctic temperature variability on a multi-decadal time scale.’ http://www.lanl.gov/source/orgs/ees/ees14/pdfs/09Chlylek.pdf

    The most likely explabnation is that we don’t know – and to insist on a number for an ‘anthropogenci component’ is extraordinary hand waving.

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      Chief Hydro,

      The current extreme decline in Arctic sea ice is far outside anything we’ve seen in at least 1450 years and possibly much longer. To NOT try and put some percentage of anthropogenic attribution to this is to either be in the big “D” camp or the Ostrich Society. Also, while tropospheric conditions certainly play a role in sea ice, given that the majority of the mass of sea ice is under water, one would be doubly foolish to not look at the increases in ocean heat content and advection of some of that ocean heat to the Arctic when discussing the state of declining sea ice.

      • No, partial audit of Kinnard by Steve McIntyre (e.g. long O18 series) suggests, that Arctic sea ice is nowhere “outside anything” on this time scale, it is actually rather on the cold side.

        http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/compare_o18.png?w=720&h=400

        http://climateaudit.org/2011/12/05/kinnard-arctic-o18-series/

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘Simply put, if you’re attracted to ideas that have a good chance of being wrong, and if you’re motivated to prove them right, and if you have a little wiggle room in how you assemble the evidence, you’ll probably succeed in proving wrong theories right. His model predicted, in different fields of medical research, rates of wrongness roughly corresponding to the observed rates at which findings were later convincingly refuted: 80 percent of non-randomized studies (by far the most common type) turn out to be wrong…’ http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/308269/

        You rely on a single study of proxies of proxies? In a multiply coupled, non-linear, chaotic dynamical system with a multitude of unknowns – especially in the paleo record? I am attracted to dogma as much as the next guy but your 50% is just out to lunch. Let’s call it the pissant progressive, out to lunch absurdist club.

        I have suggested recently that we may be in the midst of a noisy bifurcation. The loss of ice is not the clue but the large fluctuations. It goes both ways and up and down and all around and where it ends nobody knows.

        You still haven’t proved that all the heat or even some of it was caused by greenhouse gases.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Wong2006figure7.gif.html?sort=3&o=96

        I’m looking at changes in ocean heat content driven by TOA imbalances that are all shortwave with cooling in the IR. Do you take me for a fool?

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist, etc.

        Chief Hydro said:

        “I’m looking at changes in ocean heat content driven by TOA imbalances…”

        _____
        Sort of putting the donkey cart in front of the poor donkey isn’t it? Ocean heat content imbalances are not driven by TOA imbalances, rather, TOA imbalances are a reflection of the underlying ocean heat imbalances, which in turn are driven by increases in GH gases.

        So the process begins with alterations in atmospheric chemistry (i.e. the 40% increase in CO2 and similar increases in other GH gases over a relatively short period). This process increases the effective height in the atmosphere of the average radiation from GH gases, and so the atmosphere warms. But more importantly, as the net flow of energy is always from ocean to atmosphere, by increasing the effective height of emission of LW, you cause the source (i.e. the ocean) to essentially transfer energy less readily to the atmosphere and of course the ocean then increases in heat content. This entire process then is, in the end, reflected in the easily measurable TOA imbalance.

      • R.Gates, “Ocean heat content imbalances are not driven by TOA imbalances, rather, TOA imbalances are a reflection of the underlying ocean heat imbalances, which in turn are driven by increases in GH gases.”

        They are coupled systems. Since the oceans produce the stronger of the greenhouse gases, the oceans tend to be able to self regulate. That is the reason that the tropical oceans are not responding at the same rate to CO2 forcing as land which has less potential to self regulate. CO2 and water vapor are the Yin and Yang of climate.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Gatesy,

        You have turned it on it’s arse as usual. Any warming or cooling depends on a radiative imbalance at TOA – whatever the cause.

        What the ERBS TOA data shows is 2.1 W/m2 warming in the SW and 0.7W/m2 cooling in IR. ISCCP-FD data is very similar.

        ‘In summary, although there is independent evidence for decadal changes in TOA radiative fluxes over the last two decades, the evidence is equivocal. Changes in the planetary and tropical TOA radiative fluxes are consistent with independent global ocean heat-storage data, and are expected to be dominated by changes in cloud radiative forcing. To the extent that they are real, they may simply reflect natural low-frequency variability of the climate system.’ IPCC 3.4.4.1

        Low frequency climate variability is very real and – surprise surprise – it seems to affect clouds.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Clementetal2009.png.html?sort=3&o=28

        Ya really need to get another idea gates.

    • @ „(b) the Arctic warming from 1910–1940”

      TonyB did a splendid job by emphasizing, and proving that there was a warming period from 1920 to 1940, and not since 1910. There was some sort of warming since the end of the LIA around 1850, which was compared to the period 1920-1940 only moderate, see the following graphics:
      1900-2010 : http://climate-ocean.com/book%202012/i/image/images/buch/big/i-1.jpg (see in the right corner Jones et al (1880 to 2004)
      1880-2008: http://www.arctic-heats-up.com/img/c4-p1.jpg

      The Bengtsson, et al., 2004 essay -mentioned above in section 2- , states:
      ___”The huge warming of the Arctic, which started in the early 1920s and lasted for almost two decades, is one of the most spectacular climate events of the 20th century. ….. and
      one of the most puzzling climatic anomalies of the 20th century.” More about Bengtsson’s article : http://www.arctic-heats-up.com/pdf/7_2.pdf .
      The system shift at about 1920 is for example also well demonstrated in the temperature data from Vardo/Norway (70,4°N) http://www.arctic-warming.com/annexes/G/Vardo.jpg

      See also about “Vardo” at John-Daly-com, 8.Oct.2003: Willis Eschenbach did a closer examination of Vardø and also found the same discontinuity around 1920, amounting to 0.73°C. When that artificial discontinuity is discounted, the temperature rise is only +0.12°C per century, a tiny result for a region that according to the models should have undergone rampant warming in the last century. http://www.john-daly.com/press/press-03b.htm

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist, etc.

      Aye Captn. D, self-regulation is an important funtion of any semi-stable system, but there comes a time when the system can be pushed to the point of instability and cannot self-regulate through negative feedback processes. Prior to that point you might see a series of black swan events, then at the point of bifurcation, you’ll see a dragon-king event marking a new regime. Likely the Arctic has reached that point or is now past it and we’re seeing new regime and Tony’s research will be useful perhaps for what natural variation in the Arctic “once was” like.

  43. A brilliant work Tony! Thanks indeed.

  44. Tonyb, remember that minor expedition (before Nares) which spent the summer at Jakobshavn in the late 1860s? Didn’t the permanently iced-in locals tell the explorers their grand-parents had been able to enter the inlet in boats for much of the year? It seems that would chime with Banks’ and the Royal Society’s claims re a radically opening Arctic after the Napoleonic wars. This really is just anecdotal – and involves glacier behaviour as well as just temps – but bloody interesting if pieced with other info. For guys like you there’s much to do!

    Can’t say it enough: Arctic Ice seems to have been up and down like Berlusconi’s trousers. The “expert” policy is to look away. If the “experts” would stop averting their gaze from history, we could take those inverted commas away…and they could slowly become proper experts.

  45. Winston Churchill once commented on taking what
    is called in military map making, a cross bearing as
    independent testimony to an observation. A study of
    hiistorical records, as presented by Tony, would seem
    ter offer such a cross bearing to climate scientists.

    Say, do yer remember
    Upside down Tiljander?
    Climate science jest
    ain’t only modellers
    in cloud towers,
    its about things
    experienced by
    peasants and kings,
    bumper harvests
    – or not,
    famine and floods,
    cold times or hot,
    Arctic Ice growing
    – or not.
    North – Sea – Route
    open ter traffic,
    – or closed.

  46. Pingback: Another Newspaper Article on Unprecedented Arctic Ice Melt - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

  47. Lucy Skywalker

    Tony, nice article. My two cents worth: anecdotal evidence (a phrase that has surely earned its place by long and sufficiently intelligent use) is where we all start from, so it is crucial, and courteous to acknowledge. For instance, I know that there is at least one archaeological remains of a farm in Greenland which is still ice-bound. An important piece of evidence that times have been warmer in the Arctic in the middle ages.

    Then we have loads and loads of thermometer records from 1860 on which John Daly collected from all around the Arctic and eyeballing doesn’t reveal even one that shows dramatic recent warming. Daly’s records only go to 1999 but I have a lot more faith in that edition of GISS than in more recent ones. And if there were AGW it should certainly have showed by 1999.

    This becomes more “scientifically” precise when we compare the thermometer records with each other and note the recent intrusion of UHI by the recent anomaly of the winter temperatures.

    Now I don’t buy everything Stephen Wilde says but his comment that it takes 15 years for equatorial anomalies to reach polar regions makes deep sense, qualitatively at least. IIRC, Science currently believes that the great ocean currents take some 700 years to fully complete their circuits, so 15 years for starters, surface currents, seems quite reasonable.

    I support Tony’s approach because it existed in the work of Hubert Lamb and it was its drastic omission by Mann 98 which signalled the start of times in which only recondite paywalled data mysteriously cobbled by unknown statistical processes were taken as gospel – and the accessible,checkable, human dimension got lost in climate science.

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist, etc.

      Lucy said:

      “For instance, I know that there is at least one archaeological remains of a farm in Greenland which is still ice-bound. An important piece of evidence that times have been warmer in the Arctic…”

      _____
      Nope, you could infer that there was a time when this region of Greenland might have been warmer. This kind of over-generalization gets us all into trouble. Just like saying the “Earth” has warmed or cooled or stayed the same when we mean troposphere (or should mean troposphere), and more specifically and accurately, average tropospheric temperatures measured 2m off the ground at some specific region of the planet.

      • Lucy Skywalker

        Hello R Gates, still doing a grand job as devil’s advocate. I accept your correction of wording but only with a further caveat.

        The “null hypothesis” is surely that if one place in the Arctic is clearly warmer for a considerable time, long enough to establish a farmstead, then it is on balance likely that the rest of the Arctic has similar experiences.

        I should have said “an important piece of evidence suggesting that times have been warmer in the Arctic”.

        Your criticism has clarified my statement but has not nullified its essential validity.

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        Lucy,

        Clarity leads to truth…don’t you think so?

        Thanks for attempt at clarifications, but I would not assume that because it is warmer in southern Greenland for some extended period (enough to farm on some level) that it would be warmer in the Siberian Arctic during the same period– quite the opposite might be true. Finally, as a point of further clarity, all of Greenland is not in the Arctic, and in fact the whole part of Southern Greenland that include several ruin sites of former farms are not.

      • Lucy Skywalker

        “clarity leads to truth”… yes, thank you.

    • @ “the work of Hubert Lamb”

      In addition to TonyB’s fine reference (sec.3), Lamb(1982) mentioned (from: http://www.arctic-heats-up.com/chapter_3.html ) :
      The change of prevailing temperatures seems to be the greatest in the regions affected by changes in the balance between the warm northbound Atlantic water and the cold polar current at the ocean surface in the Norwegian – Barents Sea – east of Greenland region. Lamp provides a graphic account of the winter temperature deviation in the decade 1921-30 (minus winter 1911-20) and with the centre east of Spitsbergen (+6 degree C) [ http://www.arctic-heats-up.com/img/c2-p3.jpg ].
      Lamb indicates that this region, together with the Norwegian Sea, seems to be the most sensitive to climatic variations.

    • Thanx Lucy Skywalker fer Daly’s record, so clearly
      displayed. Circling the Arctic, temperature records
      from Fairbanks, USA, from Northern Canada, from
      Greenland, … Bodo, Norway, Haparando and
      Sweden ter the Russian stations, a consistent
      pattern of temperature. Up she goes in the1930’s,
      down she goes in the 1960’s.
      BC

      • Lucy Skywalker

        Daly did tremendous work. The GISS records he used date to a time before Hansen started ratcheting them askew. When I did the Arctic page, the GISS records fitted Daly’s graphs hand-to-glove. I doubt whether they would now. Why, there’s a project for somebody…

    • Lucy Skywalker

      The medieval Greenland farm buried in the permafrost is indeed physical evidence providing confirmation that temperature was warmer “in the Arctic” (since Greenland is “in the Arctic” and it was obviously warmer then than now).

      By itself it may not be evidence that temperature was warmer “across the entire Arctic” (as R. Gates states) or “across the Northern Hemisphere” (as is generally accepted since the analysis by Hubert Lamb).

      But there are other bits of evidence.

      And I agree fully with you that Tony’s approach will give us much more valuable data than relying on paleo proxy reconstructions alone – and using both approaches TOGETHER might even give us a better idea of our past climate.

      But the paleo guys do not like historical evidence, which they write off as “anecdotal”.

      Too bad.

      Max

      • I mentioned before about Tony’s curiosity and serenity of mind. He contrasts so starkly with those who are not just sluggish to look at history, but are in a panic to avert their eyes, as if it were an unsightly thing, a corruptor of faith and dogma. Sea level rise from the late 18th century to the 1870s is one example. Don’t see, don’t discuss. Other such matters: The ups and downs of Arctic ice, the evidence of the MWP which manages to be “localised” in so many localities you’d wonder how it can be local anymore.

        Until “experts” are prepared to turn a steady gaze on all that’s bewildering and contradictory they will be mere educated dogmatists. I, for one, am over leaving temple offerings for a number-mumbling priesthood who will assure me that the Nile will rise this year…unless it doesn’t.

  48. Re St Roch – picture here:

    “Not that the media cares, but this Passage was also conquered several times in the 1940s” : http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2007/09/09/reports-record-arctic-ice-melt-disgracefully-ignore-history

    “Built for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force to serve as a supply ship for isolated, far-flung Arctic RCMP detachments, St. Roch was also designed to serve when frozen in for the winter, as a floating detachment, with its constables mounting dog sled patrols from the ship. Between 1929 and 1939 St. Roch made three voyages to the Arctic. Between 1940 and 1942 St. Roch navigated the Northwest Passage, arriving in Halifax harbor on October 11, 1942. St. Roch was the second ship to make the passage, and the first to travel the passage from west to east. In 1944, St. Roch returned to Vancouver via the more northerly route of the Northwest Passage, making her run in 86 days. The epic voyages of St. Roch demonstrated Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic during the difficult wartime years, and extended Canadian control over its vast northern territories.”

  49. By the beautiful sea (updated)

    By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea
    You and me, you and me, oh how happy we’ll be
    When that high tide comes rollin’ in
    We will go for a spin
    And we’ll float right down 5th Avenue

    Hansen has warned us we’ll all gasp for air
    But we live on the 10th floor, so what do we care?
    I used to travel to go to the sea
    But the sea shore has now come to me.

    (with apologies to Mitch Miller and the Gang)

  50. Chief Hydrologist

    A twisted and wicked problem laid bare.
    Not wanting for a solution but suffering
    from too many theories and too little
    observation of the real and intransigent
    world of hyper complexity – and epistemic
    uncertainty – surrounding the ways of ice
    and of men adventuring in cold realms.
    A Gordian knot awaiting an Alexander.

  51. A twisted and wicked knot like ice and whatever..

  52. Interesting stuff about the Arctic, Tony. But why are you not referring to my paper about it? It came out in 2011 [E&E 22(8):1069-1083] and explains the climate history that many of these references only partly understand. You could probably find it somewhere on Judy’s blog. First, note that the Arctic is the only part of the world today that is still warming. It is doing that despite the fact that according to Pachauri the railroad engineer there has not been any warming for the last 17 years. It’s a cinch that this cannot be because greenhouse warming has chosen the Arctic as its last refuge on earth. The true story of the Arctic can be decoded from the observations of Kaufman et al. who studied the temperature history of the Arctic in 2009. Their data were derived from lake sediments bordering the Arctic and goes back two thousand years. It turned out that for most of this time nothing much was happening – just a slow cooling for almost two thousand years until at the turn of the twentieth century a very sudden warming began. He reports that the warming was interrupted and then resumed in mid-century but his data were not clear. I found that NOAA’s Arctic Report Card for 2010 had a more accurate temperature chart for the whole of twentieth century in the Arctic. That chart clearly showed a two-part warming interrupted by thirty years of cooling in mid-century, from 1940 to 1970. The manifold accounts of this warming in your article should fall into context within this SAT chart. Unfortunately the authors were so brain-washed by their own propaganda that they immediately had to tout their discovery with typical warmist jargon: “…. warming in the Arctic was enhanced relative to global average, likely reflecting a combination of natural variability and positive feedbacks that amplified the radiative forcing.” This is just meaningless babble. They did not check the simplest thing you need to know, namely what happened to carbon dioxide when the warming started. Apparently it did not occur to them that you must put greenhouse gas in the air to get a greenhouse warming started. I saw that nothing happened to carbon dioxide and quickly eliminated the greenhouse effect. It was clear to me that the only possible way to get such a large-scale warming started required a rearrangement of the North Atlantic current system. It is well known that these currents today carry warm water from the Gulf Stream north as far as the Russian Arctic. I even told Kaufman about the currents but was ignored. The question in my mind was not whether but when the currents feeding the Arctic were rearranged. The mid-century cooling on the NOAA SAT chart more than likely is caused by a temporary return of the previous flow pattern of currents. To us its significance is simple: something that has happened in nature can happen again. I see this as a huge question mark in trying to guess what comes next in the Arctic. I found enough references to early century warming as well as to mid-century cooling to put together a coherent story and include it in my book “What Warming?” at the last minute. But darn it, a month after it went to press Spielhagen et al. reported direct measurements of Atlantic water temperature reaching the Arctic that were higher than anything within the last 2000 years. This was too good to miss so I expanded that chapter into a journal article I refer to in the beginning. The title I gave it was “Arctic warming is not greenhouse warming” and that did not go over well with true believers or even with some lukewarmists like Anthony Watts who runs a blog. He refused to post it because it was “emotional and speculative….” and “….contained sentences that end with an exclamation point.” He is not a stupid man so I take this as his true colors showing. I simply cannot fathom a lukewarmist world view because many of them do or write worth while things. Matt Ridley and Bjørn Lomborg whose writings I like are among them. You just have to watch for that moment when their suppressed delusion comes to the fore.

  53. The author would have done well to read the rest of the skeptical science article
    —————
    Clearly the extent of Arctic sea ice during 1938-43 was nowhere near as low as current levels, based on these data. According to this reconstruction, the minimum extent during that timeframe (9.8 million square kilometers in 1940) was higher than it has been at any time since 1979. In other words, Arctic sea ice extent has been lower than it was in 1938-43 during the entire satellite record, and the current average summer extent is approximately 4.3 million square kilometers lower than the 1940 minimum.

    It’s true that according to this dataset, 1940 was a local minimum – the lowest Arctic sea ice extent of the 20th Century up to that point, and a minimum that was not repeated again for another 20 years.
    —————

    Oh yes, and the St. Roch that made it through, once with overwintering, once direct, tough little boat, it’s captain said
    ———————-
    “The three seasons of the short Arctic Summers from 1940-42 had been extremely bad for navigation, the worst consecutive three I had experienced as far as ice and weather conditions were concerned, and in my remaining years in the Arctic I never saw their like. Without hesitation I would say that most ships encountering the conditions we faced would have failed.”
    ——————-
    And the Northern Sea Route, even with icebreakers was no lollipop. In short what we have here is carefully selected anecdote stew.

    • @ „It’s true that according to this dataset, 1940 was a local minimum – the lowest Arctic sea ice extent of the 20th Century up to that point, and a minimum that was not repeated again for another 20 years.”

      TonyB did a great job for setting clearly the dates for the early Arctic warming from 1920 to 1940.
      The year 1940 is special because on 1st September 1939 the Second World Wars started with immense naval activities in the North Atlantic, reflected in the Arctic T°C-anomaly http://www.seaclimate.com/i/image/images/buch/big/i-1.jpg , and since 1943 in the Pacific PDO http://www.seaclimate.com/h/images/buch/big/h-14.jpg ending a strong Arctic warming impulse, which commenced at Spitsbergen in winter 1918/19, after four years war in Europe and naval war activities around Great Britain, respectively in water that all show up at Spitsbergen after a couple of weeks or months. A warming of the Northern Hemisphere commenced,
      ___see Arctic T°C 1880 – ca.2008 : http://www.seaclimate.com/g/g3/images/buch/big/1.jpg
      ___HH Lamb 1921-1930: http://www.seaclimate.com/i/image/images/buch/big/i-17.png ,
      lasting in North America until about 1933, in Europe until winter 1939/40. It is highly unlikely that the two World Wars have absolute nothing to do with the climatic shifts in 1920 and 1940; discussed
      ___ concerning WWI here: http://www.arctic-heats-up.com/
      ___concerning WWII here: http://climate-ocean.com/book%202012/index.html

    • Eli

      If you had read the article properly you would have seen that I used the quote you did about the skipper of the st roch saying those years were hard and that I specifically mentioned elsewhere about the return of the ice during the early war years.

      It’s you that are doing the selecting, I pointed out the cold and warm years in the period you mention
      Tonyb

  54. Pingback: Sunday Evening Jog Through The Park | The Lukewarmer's Way

  55. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

  56. The Canadian military did regular patrols of the arctic by aircraft for decades. I wonder what those logs would contain for information. Anyone ever look into those?

  57. Pingback: Prof Warns Mini Ice Age has Started - Page 8 (politics)

  58. The real variablility of the Arctic ice puts the lie to the assumptions, “fixes”, and “corrections” so cleverly used to manipulate “anomalies” graphs. As for confidence levels:

    Green jelly beans cause acne. xkcd proved it.

  59. tonyb

    Have you seen this new journal?

    http://www.journals.elsevier.com/weather-and-climate-extremes/

    I wonder if you could submit a paper (or more) on your work?

  60. curious

    I don’t think I’ve come across it before. I note the comment by the editor

    “Natural disasters are a consequence of the interactions between the weather and climate extremes and the vulnerability of human and natural ecosystems to such extremes. There is adequate research evidence which shows that the frequency and magnitude of extreme events is on the rise. ”

    So my paper would be to refute his opening paragraph..Wonder how that will go down with the journal?.

    Thanks for the h/t I will have a closer look at its content
    tonyb

    • Don’t worry, tony, there’ll soon be a hundred papers on the subject, and you’ll have no peer to review you.
      ============

    • I’d say your work hits every point here:
      +++++++
      Weather and Climate Extremes

      •Types of extremes
      •Quality and quantity of data and data analysis
      •Frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration, and timing of extreme events
      •Observed and projected changes in weather and climate extremes

      http://www.elsevier.com/journals/weather-and-climate-extremes/2212-0947/guide-for-authors

      ++++++++
      Note that they are saying no submission fee in 2013. Not sure if you’ve done papers before – Judith or other denizens might help if req.?

      Also note it is open access – so your work would not be stuck behind a paywall. IMO it would be a very good way of getting your significant contributions into a more formal public record than blog posts. Having your work referenceable could also help future publications.

      Best wishes
      c

      • curious

        I entirely agree with your comments. It looks a very interesting journal. Yes, Judith tries to knock my material into shape. I try to be entertaining as well as informative which is something that is not really the right format for a genuinely scientific journal. I have several contenders for an article and revisit this subject next week after my return from my sons graduation day.

        Thanks for your interest

        tonyb

    • tonyb

      This paper might be of interest to you:

      Hawkins & Jones, ‘On increasing global temperatures: 75 years after Callendar’,

      Available here in the “in press” section:

      http://www.met.rdg.ac.uk/~ed/home/publications.html

      Apologies if you’ve already seen it.

  61. kim

    Review by a peer? I can ask Lord Monckton to do it then

    tonyb

  62. Say, Tony, but
    yer non-pareil
    in yer field.
    B-t-s

  63. In my opinion, the best – ideally correlated with changes in Arctic sea ice extent is the salinity of the Baltic Sea (and best-known – most precisely defined) consistent with the figure http://klimat.files.wordpress.com/2007/03/salt_rec.jpg.
    There is here a large geographical proximity, a significant “affinities” circulation. Accordance with this variability the sea ice extent of the Arctic would be in the first half of the twentieth century very volatile and very small for the years 1930 to 1940 (similar to today) – surely would not look like this: http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/HistSummerArcticSeaIceExtent.jpg.

  64. Pingback: ‘Noticeable’ climate change | Climate Etc.

  65. Pingback: Anonymous

  66. Pingback: Analysis Shows That Arctic Sea Ice Melt Extent Mostly Occurs In Natural Cycles

  67. Pingback: Onwelgevallige satellietwaarnemingen noordpoolijs voor 1979 weggemoffeld - Climategate.nl

  68. Pingback: 2013 sea ice thread!!! - Page 8 - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

  69. I’m a little late to this discussion and not a climate scientise, but a question by David Springer in response to a Dr. Curry did prompt some thought. Here’s Springer’s question:

    “According to satellite data of temperature and ice extent it appears that Arctic summer ice extent is anti-correlated with global warming. No global average temperature rise in past 15 years yet lots of summer ice loss. Conversly when there was significant warming between 1980 and 1998 there was very little decrease in summer ice extent.

    “What’s up with that?”

    It seems to me that too much emphasis on global average temperature could be a bit misleading. Much more fundamental is heat loss/gain. It takes an immense amount of energy to melt all the ice in the arctic. Perhaps there are some mechanisms by which energy buildup in non-arctic regions is being transported more efficiently to the arctic, where that excess energy is not reflected in temperature gain there due to the cooling effect of the melting process. Could those mechanisms include increased atmospheric mixing also manifest in more extreme weather patterns?

  70. David Springer | April 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm |

    @Joshua

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitpicking_(pastime)

    Nitpicking is the pastime of pointing out minor flaws or mistakes. The term is almost always used in a negative light.

    You knowingly cast your reply to me in negative light. Why bother? Just to keep up the appearance of being an asshat? Good job in that case.

    ===

    So instead of addressing the issue that you do not even know the meaning of anti-correlation, which by politeness Joshua refered to as a nitpick, you
    start nitpicking his use of the word nitpick and start throwing insults.

    Since you seem incapable of accepting a gentle and polite correction and having the good faith and good manners to acknowledge you mistake, let me put it more bluntly:

    I don’t know where you bought your PhD but I should ask for a refund if I were you, it doesn’t seem to work.

  71. Pingback: Arctic sea ice minimum? | Climate Etc.

  72. Pingback: Start of another swing of the media narrative – to global cooling? | Fabius Maximus

  73. Re the Arctic Circle club in Ottawa: The Arctic Circle club still exists.

    http://www.thearcticcircle.ca/

  74. Pingback: Analýza o zalednění Severního ledového oceánu

  75. Can I inquire if you’re alright with payed blog posts?

    All I’d want is for you to put together content and articles for myself
    and a back link or reference to my internet page. I’ll pay you.