Arctic Ice Conditions : The Same As 200 Years Ago

ScreenHunter_163 Apr. 26 06.32 ScreenHunter_161 Apr. 26 06.31

The extent of summer sea ice during the  19th century, insofar as it is shown in patterns  of navigability inferred from ship tracks, the  direct observations of explorers, and a number  of native accounts, is remarkably similar to  present ice climatology. A chart of northern  Canada (Figure 2) shows the routes followed  by discovery expeditions and their wintering  locations between 1818 and 1859, and also  displays the frequency that sea ice has  occurred during the recent 30-year reference  period 1971–2000. It is perhaps surprising that  most of the Northwest Passage was navigated  during the 19th century, with expedition ships  coming within 150 km of completing the passage on a number of occasions. Most   significant is that even in years that were   recognized as unfavorable at the time, ships  were still able to reach locations that would  be consistent with the worst ice conditions  that have occurred during the modern reference period. Of 33 expedition or supply ships  bound for the western part of Lancaster  Sound between 1819 and 1859, only two  failed due to unfavorable ice conditions.


About stevengoddard

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24 Responses to Arctic Ice Conditions : The Same As 200 Years Ago

  1. Andy DC says:

    You would also think that modern ships are much better constructed and have much more power.

  2. Scott says:

    Modern Navigation! Today, the captain of a ship knows exactly where he is and where every iceburg is via satillite navigation. That is the BIG difference.

  3. rw says:

    Excellent find! So why haven’t we heard more about this 2003 article?? Another nail in the (C)AGW coffin.

    • Brian D says:

      That 1906 map is rather neat that they have depth soundings so far North. Avg ice edges are defined with the faint squiggly lines.

    • Brian D says:

      Found this 1983 map of the Arctic. Shows the avg min extent as it was known then. It was smaller than the avg min extent used today.

      Steve, doesn’t the extent shown in the 1971 map resemble the lower extents you have shown with that old IPCC graph?

      Seems to me ice extents back before 1979 resembled those of the last decade or so. 1971 looks real close to 2005 and other similar years. And to show a 1983 map with avg min extents a little lower than today means the ice wasn’t always as robust as one thinks in recent history.

  4. Jim Locke says:

    It’s not “global warming” anymore, it’s “climate change.” Cheesh.. don’t you guys know anything?!?

  5. NevenA says:

    Any updates on this article, or hasn’t anything changed since 2003? You might perhaps want to contact author James E. Overland, who recently was in the news with his latest paper A sea ice free summer Arctic within 30 years?. Good luck, Steve. 🙂

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