« Why Arctic sea ice shouldn't leave anyone cold | Main | Record dominoes 9: PIOMAS sea ice volume »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


He wasn't lying!! Everybody knows that the Germans, Brits, Norwegians, Canadians and Russians sent warships sailing throughout the Arctic constantly during WW2. History books don't lie.

Oh, wait. They didn't.


Ayles, Ward Hunt and other ice shelves that had radio carbon dated driftwood behind the ice have been in place for over 3k yrs, and recently melted out. If a melt similar to what we experienced as far back as 2002 had happened in the intervening years, the driftwood would have been washed away.

Proof positive that in the last 3k yrs we've never seen anything like this.


Matt Arkell

Sounds like cognitive dissonance is playing hell with their minds at the moment. The brain, when faced with evidence that contradicts a dearly held belief can either accept the new evidence or drown out the evidence by shouting the belief even louder.

I'm guessing they're going to keep on choosing the second option for quite a while yet...

Espen Olsen


I believe they told Healy to hurry up, because she is now at 81, and they did not see much ice from Barrow and where they are now:



Artful Dodger

Thanks, Espen

Notice that the Sun has not set on Healy for the past 45 hours? Not since the crossed 74 N. Now at 81 N, it's still 24 hrs per day sunshine. All that rain must be doing some fierce top melt... oh wait, no sea ice.


Espen Olsen

IJI: 3863906 km2 yesterday 3996406 km2

Espen Olsen

Eyeballing Bremen, there is hardly no sea ice south of 80, except from Fram and CA, and I believe all the remaining sea ice could be contained within the 80 area, if is was compacted!

Espen Olsen

This web cam encountered some steel ice :


Seke Rob

LoL... one way to cover over the inconvenient truth.

k eotw

People have Leake pinned wrong. He isn't deliberately putting out misinformation, he's just reporting what christy, etc tell him when he looks for alternative opinions.

I know there's the issue of verifying information, but attacking him may be counter-productive rather than leading him to realize certain sources are not reliable.


Just a couple of notes:

The "Kinnard graphic" referred to is the graph on the http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2012/08/wasislac.html>Why Arctic sea ice shouldn't leave anyone cold thread(fourth illustration).

Christy's claim is not fully testable through the DMI graphs because there were no reports for 1940 - 1945 (obviously). So we can't use those to rule out the possibility that ice plunged in that period to the levels we see now. But the 1930's, where we do have good information, do not support Christy's position.

As Lodger might say, this is NOT your grandfather's Arctic.


Ooops, sorry for the tag fail. Should be:
Why Arctic sea ice shouldn't leave anyone cold thread.

Al Rodger

This quoting of Christy suggest that here is a man employed as an academic scientist who is up for denying the significance of the 2012 melt. He says there is evidence. This begs the question "Where is this evidence Professor John Christy? Show us this anecdotal evidence, and the 'other' evidence, both from 1938-43 and the other occasions? Or is your science and your professional judgement plain worthless?"

While we await his non-reply it is worth considering that the period 1938-43 does include the first passage made by the St Roch 1940-42. Compared with 2012, this was a time of "similar melt" according to Christy.
So let's hear some of this 'anecdotal and other evidence' from eye witness Henry Asbjorn Larsen.

Having set off from Vancouver in June 1940 Larsen got no further than the southern end of Price of Wales Sound, wintering on the West coast of Victoria Island. "Sometimes there was not a drop of water in sight as the ice packed itself tightly together round us," said Larsen of his voyage getting there. "At other times we were free to move around in little pools from which there was no outlet or leads."
The St Roch was not freed until late July 1941 allowing Larsen to carry out his police duties.
Coutinuing eastward after completing these duties, by late August 1941 they encountered "...great ice floes crashing down on us..." and they were forced to winter on the West coast of the Boothia pennisula (close to where Franklin met his end).
The following August they resumed their voyage and attempted to navigate through the ice. With great difficulty they managed to round the northern end of Boothia through Bellot Strait. "This strait is only half a mile wide and there is a terrific current. As the ice came pouring in behind us, there was nothing else to do but to crash into it and attempt to drift through. This we did: the strong current causing large whirlpools in which large cakes of ice span and gyrated. Many times we thought the ship would crack like a nut under the pressure."

Of course, it is not impossible that the melt seasons of 1938, 39 & 43 were similar to 2012 but with no evidence to support him, Christy's comment is really naught but childish invective.

Espen Olsen

CT: 2.570 m2 anomaly -2.361 km2 new low

Kevin McKinney

Al Rodger--Yes, it is almost incomprehensible how distorted comments such as Dr. Christy's are. The information we have from the pre-satellite era is far from complete, but it is quite sufficient to be clear that the present melt is, indeed, unprecedented in recent centuries.

Artful Dodger

There were lots of Inuit people living on the land between 1938 and 1942. None of them spoke about low sea ice.

Mary A Bein

Pretty sucky, Neven, to see such drivel about the arctic sea ice. These people are not going to go anywhere soon. Take your well deserved holiday and come back recharged.

Al Rodger

The Larsen quotes above were from Glyn William's Arctic Labyrinth. The quote I thought was there wasn't. Skeptical Science had it. Now bear in mind Larsen had sailed the western Arctic since 1928 including wintering up there so he speaks with some authority.
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. I also believe that had we missed the single opportunity we had to get out of Pasley Bay, we most certainly would still be there, in small bits and pieces.
So of Christy's best years 1938-43, Larsen says 1940-2 were the worst. Sort of makes Christy's 1938-43 sound like a bad choice.

Espen Olsen

When comparing the latest images from Healys web cam and the latest Bremen Map, to me at least it proves the reliability of the Bremen info.




1938 map (monthly mean?): "No colour indicates ice supposed but no information at hand": half Chukchi sea, Beaufort, CAA... no data.

No possible comparison with the satellite era maps.

But the arctic warming of 1920-1945 was strong (and it is not well understood). One can wait some effects in the sea ice.


Espen Olsen stated:

to me at least it proves the reliability of the Bremen info.

I beg to differ. Addirittura, I dare to say that isn't correct at all.

Suffice to campare with the 28th august 2012 AMSR2 IARC-JAXA image.

It's obvious Bremen's image quality is reduced by lot's of gray. (M Clure strait, Laptev sea - East Siberian sea etc...) Gray due to the much lower resolution and consequent interpolations necessary to keep "compability".

And as it is stated by UNI-Bremen itself,
full quality only will come back when AMSR2 data will be available to UNI-Bremen too.

Why is it AMSR2 data are available now to IARC-JAXA and not yet to UNI-Bremen?

Well, Idunno!



"No possible comparison with the satellite era maps", is completely incorrect.

Certainly, one must be careful about comparisons. Based on recent experience, where the DMI shows no data north of Alaska and NW Canada, we can surmise that there was probably a fair bit of open water along the coast. The ice margin is unknown, but it is unlikely that the coastline was icebound. So it is not a simple comparison.

But to say "no possible comparison" is to avoid the issue by invoking the "uncertainty monster". You can't use absence of evidence either way. What we can say from the DMI data is that where we do have evidence of the location of the ice margin that it was much further south than is currently the case in many areas.

We don't have a complete picture, but what we have casts serious doubt over Christy's remarks. Perhaps others can enlighten us as to what anecdotal evidence he is referring to. But to simply dismiss this data because it is limited is, frankly, BS.

I came to this site ultimately via an interest in naval history, and it is to that I'm returning - I'm currently pursuing what can be gleaned from shipping reports of lend-lease convoys to the USSR. That should nicely supplement Al Rodgers St Roch remarks (whether the picture on the Russian side was the same as the CAA will be interesting).

My question to Dr. Christy: Why do you lie?

Umm...it is what they do? (c.f., Aesop: The Scorpion and the Frog) About the time that the North Pole goes ice free in August, you can expect the deniers to find the lost diaries of Captain Cook describing his observation of palm trees in Nome and an 'independent discovery' of a petrified catamaran used by Santa Claus in 1724.


Correction: The Scorpion and the Frog may not have originated with Aesop!

Janne Tuukkanen

One anecdotal evidence is German cruiser Komet's passage of NSR in August 1940. It was done with strong help from Soviet icebreakers.

There was also some traffic there during the war onwards, but AFAIK it was never such a continuous support route, as those infamous convoys over Barents to Murmansk. If feasible, it could had been practically enemy free route from Western US to the Eastern Front,

I'm sure there would be plenty of information about ice conditions up there during 1850-1990 in Imperial Russian/Soviet naval archives.

Janne Tuukkanen

I stumbled into this pearl! Let I introduce to you, The Great Northern Sea Route (1947):



"Arctic Warming" During 1920-40:
A Brief Review of Old Russian Publications



More about the historical data: http://www.aari.ru/resources/m0001/sea_ice/CD1/VISUAL_ATLAS/Introduction/geo_distribution_of_sea_ice/arctic_data.htm

"The problems of historical data are illustrated by the work of Hunt and Naske (1979) for the Alaskan coasts. They used the log reports of whaling and trading ships operating in the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas from the late nineteenth century. Charts of the average ice edge are shown for the summer months for 1860-79, 1800-1919, 1920-70, but no details are given as to the procedures used or number of data points available. These charts show lighter ice conditions after 1940 and a tabulation of ice data from 1900 at Point Barrow by Swithinbank (1960) gives the same result. This is in apparent conflict with the ice retreat estimated from climatic records for Barrow since 1926 (Barry, 1979), and it is unclear how far this represents differences in definition of the ice edge seen from small whaling ships and from modern vessels and aircraft/satellite imagery, or whether there are ice-climate relationships that have been inadequately interpreted using only recent data. An analysis of inferred ice conditions from weather records at Barrow for 1882, 1883, 1902, 1911 and 1916, compared with the ice conditions reprted by Hunt and Naske (1979), indicates agreement in 1902 and 1911 (light ice), some disagreement in 1882 and 1903, and insufficient data for comparison in the other two years.

The most complete ocean-wide historical information is that available for the Arctic in the monthly ice charts for April to August or September published by the Danish Meteorological Institute (1901-39 and 1946-50). The data coverage is moderately good in the North Atlantic sector where charts are available from 1877 (Ryder, 1896). For the Barents Sea, Norwegian records are available from 1853-1900s; Vinje (1998) is developing an ice index for the sector 20є-45єE. There is also discontinuous information for April for the intervals 1580-1600s and some years in the 12th century. There are also extensive archives of 18-19th century ice information for the Russian Arctic at the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg (Abramov and Smolianitksi, 1997). This is discussed further below. For more recent years, aircraft reconnaissance and satellite data provide a fuller picture of both polar regions. Early Soviet work with aircraft in the Arctic is reported by Armstrong (1950). Regular Soviet reconnaissance flights began in 1924 with extensive routine summer operations from 1933 (250 hours/year, increasing to over 500/year from 1950, and a maximum of 900/year from 1970 to the early 1990s). Regular United States aerial reconnaissance flights in the Arctic date from 1952."

Kelly, 1979: An Arctic sea ice data set 1901-1956, Glaciological Data 5, p. 101-106:


Climate Changes

@Janne Tuukkanen

Loved the video :). The Ice has changed but people's attitudes don't seem to. Back then it was the ice removed to have an open sea passage and now they want the ice removed to get to hydrocarbons and other resources... Well, they can now all well congratulate themselves.


CBC had an interseting piece this morning.
Lawrence Amos, a hunter in N.W.T., said that there used to be sea ice year-round surrounding Banks Island, on the cusp of the Arctic Ocean. But lately, once the ice melts in June, it doesn’t return until the fall.
Actually the fall the written report has, in the interview Lawrence said Oct./Nov.
The way the Inuit make sure that their history is remembered, a melt like that would have been remembered. After all they still tell stories about Franklin.


I'm working on a very detailed rebuttal to Christy's comments for Skeptical Science. Christy actually provided us the email he sent to Leake for the article, so we were able to see the sources of his claims and evaluate them accordingly.

Look for the post on SkS next week.

Account Deleted

Important grafik

Area covered by sea ice in the Siberian Arctic seas in September (1924-2011)


Ghoti Of Lod

Meanwhile Belzebub II has made it through the McClure Strait to complete the passage east to west taking the most northern route ever by a sailboat.


Glenn Tamblyn

Don't ever forget, Christy (and Roy Spencer) are signatories to the Cornwall Declaration. After one christian evangelical group came out declaring for AGW, this declaration was another group opposing it. Essentially they state that AGW cannot be true. God wouldn't allow it.

He has the right to his religious beliefs. However, as a consequence he should recuse himself from all involvement in science. At the very least he should preface just about everything he says with "Of course, these aren't my scientific views. I am expressing my personal religious beliefs here..."


Many of the craft attempting the NW passage this year have blog entries duplicated or location updates recorded on

MV Polar Bound (Diesel powered and captained solo by David Cowper) made it through McClure just ahead of Belzebub and is the first solo navigation of the Mclure strait route since its discovery.

It seems from other posts that other boats have made it through (or most of the way through) the southern route in both directions.


This person is either a political hack, an imbecile, or a shill. He will never learn from facts or experience and will simply continue to distort truth and evidence in a blatant play to the court of public opinion. People like him will never fight fair. So we should use every tool available to expose their rank distortions.

Espen Olsen

Mail-Report from Oden:

We are at 88.5N 65E.
The ice is about 1m thick.
There is approximately 10cm old snow + 2cm new
Meltwater lakes are frozen on the surface.


Given the time period, Arctic Sea Ice Downfall is obviously called for :- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARJK0MWAITM

Espen Olsen

Newman Bugt Glacier,

It looks ike we have a small calving in this narrow glacier 2-3 km wide all together +/- 2 km2: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/imagery/single.cgi?image=crefl2_143.A2012243131000-2012243131500.250m.jpg

Glenn Tamblyn

Just a heads up for those who haven't spotted it yet. PIOMas have released early; data up to just Aug 25th.


Thanks Glenn, I'm shocked at what has happened to the Cornwell Alliance, thank you for raising the issue. The Cornwell Declaration is an aberation and does not represent the concepts of stewardship in conservative religion. This is really weird shit!


Most Grateful for Neven's work. Being of the Arctic, with the peoples of the North we can say emphatically that Mr Christy doesn't know what he is talking about., or if he does he misleads. The evidence about Arctic shipping is simple, there were few until the advent of icebreakers. You know, the ships designed to open ice channels to allow shipping. These were more common after WWII.

Before then small sail or steamships travelled and whisked by swiftly at August end to avoid the onslaught of early refreeze (September) caused by huge nearly permanent wind driven multi-year ice packs. Now the pack ice is scarce nearly non-existent, in most Canadian Greenlandic US and Russian channels.

Icebreakers are still useful but at much earlier and later shipping season dates, as you can imagine they are kind of heavy and bulky when there is no ice to worry about. Prior to WWII the small ships never found a period of time when it was great sailing, they did there business quickly , without hesitation having great fear and respect for sea ice. Now a days pleasure boats travel about the channels at a leisurely pace, while ice breakers stand idle having no ice business. This fear of ice still lingers but is more like a memory hard wired in all knowledgeable sea captains.


To see, what utter nonsense the claims by John Christy are, one has only to compare the ice charts from e.g. 1938 and 1946 to the current situation. That is, what a real skeptic would do.

And when he does, he would see this:

August 1938 vs 28th August 2012

August 1946 vs 28th August 2012

While the 1938 extent shows notably less ice, than the 1946 chart, it is absolutely clear, that none of those years had ice conditions that where anything like the current situation. We have by far less ice now than back then. A real skeptic would have easily checked this and seen, that those claims are wrong. But most people calling themselves "skeptic" nowadays are plain and simple deniers and anything but a skeptic.

Second of all, a time period of 1938-1943 are a mere 5 years, that can easily be due to rare atmospheric patterns and lots of ice drift through Fram strait or strong ice compaction. The current situation however is a steady and even accelerating decline since 30 years. And not just in extent. The ice is getting thiner and thiner, multi-year ice is disappearing, volume is shrinking, ... This no fluke, it's real and it is long-term.

To imply, that the current situation is anything like that what we have seen in 1930s oder 1940s is plainly false, misleading and can only be done by completely ignoring reality and everything we know about historic sea ice extent.


I don´t agree with Christy, and I´m sure that in 1938 the total extent of the arctic sea ice was much larger than today. But I think we should be careful when comparing maps.

First, we are comparing what likely is a monthly mean (1938) with a snapshot of a day at the end of the month (2012).

Second, the DMI chart hasn´t data for the american side: no data for half Chukchi sea, whole Beaufort and almost whole CAA (ice supposed, but without data at hand).

Third, the metodology of both maps is very different.

The arctic warmed very fast from 1920 to 1945 (see http://images.meteociel.fr/im/9890/image001_uul3.png ) so we can expect an effect on sea ice. However, in 1920 the Arctic was coming from the LIA and it had a lot of very thick MYI, what could have mitigated the response of sea ice cover. The oceans were cooler too.

The arctic warming of 1920-1945 is not well understood, and it is often explained as caused by "unforced variability" (AMO?, thermohaline circulation?)

I think that the arctic warming of 1989-2012 is likely caused by AGW/GHGs + "unforced variability". If the "unforced variability" turns the corner towards cooling, maybe the melting could slow down in coming years. Or not, if the anthropogenic forcings and their feedbacks can neutralise it.

Only my opinions, and excuse my awful english.

Artful Dodger

deconstruct | "you are a mean man with a map". Danke!



deconstruct - very useful comparison!



Of course you should be careful when comparing those maps. But that doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't compare them.

The data of the DMI 1938 chart are certainly *not* a monthly mean. Back then there wasn't daily data to calculate a monthly mean to begin with. The 1938 ice map is just a compilation of different ice reports (the red dots on which the image is based) taken on different dates within August 1938. Some may be from the end of August, some may be from early August.

But the map gives an idea on where the ice edge roughly was. And if you compare that to different dates in August 2012 you see, that the extent in 2012 was always smaller than the one in 1938.

August 01, 2012:

August 15, 2012:

In fact, even the ice extent on Aug 1st, 2012, is roughly 30% less than the one on the DMI 1938 chart. And on August 15th we had already 50% less ice and at the end of August we now have roughly 40%.

So, those maps from the DMI (even if we acknowledge that they are not easily comparable) would have to be plain wrong in order to believe, that the August 1938 extent would be similar to the ice extent we see today. It is not, not even in the same ballpark.


Bonjour Diablobanquisa:

If Giss graph is OK, the graph is based on European stations as there was very few North American Arctic weather stations during that period. Thus there seems to be a warming of sorts on the European side.

"Second, the DMI chart hasn´t data for the american side: no data for half Chukchi sea, whole Beaufort and almost whole CAA (ice supposed, but without data at hand)."

Non.... There was data from the US Canadian side, all taken from small resupply or whaling ships as written on DMI. Besides ridging is a constant over the NW archipelago. So Russian side observations are of prime importance.

Espen Olsen

I spoke to some people from DMI, about this issue, they told me there were lots of unofficial and official information of sea conditions in the area, simply because it was of mutual interest of all the the countries involved.

Espen Olsen

A little like in Sweden during WW II , you could buy bananas and coffee, because it was in the interest of both the Allies and the Germans, yes sometimes it is more pragmatic and what you think!


Espen Olsen , you can readily see the data points taken on the American side of the Arctic.

Du kan fortælle DMI personale .... godt klaret ....


Hi deconstruct. As I said, I´m sure that the extent in 1938 was much larger than today.
My "monthly mean" means what you have said: different observations, in different points and in different days. So, if we want to compare it with a modern map, I think we should use NSIDC monthly mean rather than a daily map. Thank you for comparing it with Aug 1st and Aug 15, it has more sense than comparing only with the end of the month.

Hi Espen, thank you for the information from DMI ;-) But I`m not saying DMI never had data of the american side, I´m only reading a concrete map. In the legend on the map: "no colour indicates ice supposed but no data at hand". Half Chukhi, whole Beaufort, almost whole CAA: no colour, no line of ice edge, no data. For this map, of course. (and except some data surrounding Baffin Island).

Bon soir, wayne. The GISS data is what we have... Well, we also have the data of Polyakov et al. (the blue line of the graph: http://images.meteociel.fr/im/9890/image001_uul3.png ) and the most complete Arctic instrumental temperature dataset for the XX century. This is the link: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0442%282003%29016%3C2067:VATOAT%3E2.0.CO%3B2 In pag. 3 you can see a map with the station and buoys used for the data.
So, the available data show strong arctic warming for the period 1918-1945.

Espen Olsen

Those missing information you see on those maps, includes both the US and Canada, I believe their priorities at that time were different, they both never had a history of too much public investment/expenses?


Rebonjour Diablobanquisa

The standard saying is that temperatures were beginning to rise in the 1900's till aerosols had a net cooling effect between1945-1980.


Usually the Arctic is in line with world wide trends. But there are no strong evidence of a great warming on the Canadian Arctic side during 1930-1940.

I enjoyed the paper link you gave, the North American Arctic side had very few stations. With a great area where its coldest not included. Is more like Hadley center representation.


Bonjour, wayne.
James Hansen et al., 2007: "It may be fruitless to search for an external forcing to
produce peak warmth around 1940. It is shown below that the observed maximum is due almost entirely to temporary warmth in the Arctic. Such Arctic warmth could be a natural oscillation (Johannessen et al. 2004), possibly unforced. Indeed, there are few forcings that would yield warmth largely confined to the Arctic. Candidates might be soot blown to the Arctic from industrial activity at the
outset of World War II, or solar forcing of the Arctic Oscillation (Shindell et al. 1999; Tourpali et al. 2005) that is not captured by our present model. Perhaps a more likely
scenario is an unforced ocean dynamical fluctuation with heat transport to the Arctic and positive feedbacks from reduced sea ice"


GISS maps also show warming in the canadian side for the period 1920-1940.
Few stations? OK, but the available data are the available data.

Espen Olsen

Kangertittivaq / Scoresbysund East Greenland:

Calving activities: Døde (Death) Bræ is calving big way with her bigger brother Vestfjord Gletscher and further inside the fjord system Daugaard-Jensen Gletscher is on move as well.

Further up north Tobias is spewing ice and Newman Bugt calved at piece relatively in size as big as Pertmann II.


Bit late to the thread, but I was looking for confirmation of Glenn Tamblyn's advice that J Christy and R Spencer signed the Cornwall Alliance Declaration on Environmental Stewardship. All I could find at the website was a sample of signers, and neither name appeared. Anyone know where I can find this information on the net?




Matt Molina

you see, the deniers are religious to the core, and their religion is obsessed with armageddon. they want the conveyor to stop. it's a wet dream to them. this is because their religion tells them that to be human is to be sinful. so, frankly, they hate themselves. and if you've ever lived with someone who really hates themselves, then you know that their self-hates gets projected onto you. just as they project their own self-hate onto the modern-day world by ushering in climate change.

The comments to this entry are closed.