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Today’s Arctic Compares with 150 years ago

November 29, 2016

By Paul Homewood 


h/t Tom0mason  




Repost from Ron Clutz:


Researchers found that ice conditions in the 19th century were remarkably similar to today’s, observations falling within normal variability. The study is Accounts from 19th-century Canadian Arctic Explorers’ Logs Reflect Present Climate Conditions (here) by James E. Overland, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory/NOAA, Seattle,Wash., and Kevin Wood, Arctic Research Office/NOAA, Silver Spring, Md. 



This article demonstrates the use of historical instrument and descriptive records to assess the hypothesis that environmental conditions observed by 19th-century explorers in the Canadian archipelago were consistent with a Little Ice Age as evident in proxy records.  We find little evidence for extreme cold conditions.

It is clear that the first-hand observations of 19th-century explorers are not consistent with the hypothesized severe conditions of a multi-decadal Little Ice Age. Explorers encountered both warm and cool seasons, and generally typical ice conditions, in comparison to 20th-century norms. ………………



 Fig.2. The ship tracks and winter-over locations of Arctic discovery expeditions from 1818 to 1859 are surprisingly consistent with present sea ice climatology (contours represented by shades of blue). The climatology shown reflects percent frequency of sea ice presence on 10 September which is the usual date of annual ice minimum for the reference period 1971–2000 (Canadian Ice Service,2002). On a number of occasions,expeditions came within 150 km of completing the Northwest Passage, but even in years with unfavorable ice conditions, most ships were still able to reach comparatively advanced positions within the Canadian archipelago. By 1859, all possible routes comprising the Northwest Passage had been discovered.




The full article is here.

  1. Adrian permalink
    November 29, 2016 11:33 am

    Oh, so these so-called explorers, just cos they were there and could see stuff, are supposed to ‘know’ better than our experts are they??

    Where are their models Paul, where are their models.

  2. November 29, 2016 11:44 am

    Very good post. Thank you. I would like to add this. Why is the question limited to what sea ice is doing? If they want to blame agw for it don’t they have to show a causal relationship between warming and sea ice extent? Here I show that there is no evidence for the assumed relationship between air temp (the thing that they relate to agw) and sea ice extent in september.

    • nigel permalink
      November 29, 2016 6:24 pm


      I have read your paper, which is interesting.

      Intuitively, certain points are obvious. For example, an area such as Hudson Bay which is entirely ice-free for some of the year and entirely ice-covered for some of the year can – at best – only show a (modest) anomaly during the annual transitions, and its contribution to changes in maximum and minimum extents can only be zero (unless large changes in climate are involved).

      You are right to detrend. And this is not generally realized – that time is an explanatory variable and not a causal one. ANY random walk will USUALLY show statistically significant trends. All this means is that a start point and and end point actually differ! All the triumphalism about significant trends is so much nonsense!

      The Albedo feedback has always been nonsense for ice near the Poles. The angle at which the Sun’s rays hit the water precludes absorption for most of the time, the open water radiates more than ice-covered water, and any effect on the heat budget of the World Ocean from a little sunlight falling into a cold patch is negligible on human time scales.

  3. tom0mason permalink
    November 29, 2016 11:48 am

    In past year we had this —

    The seasonal loss of all “Arctic sea ice is one of those tipping points and unfortunately we’re going to pass that tipping point,” said climate scientist James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, at the same Greenpeace event. “I think we’re going to lose that sea ice. The good news is: this tipping point is reversible.” Should local conditions change, for whatever reason, however, it is possible the ice could regrow.

    James Hansen as recently as a year and a half ago published a study (HERE)predicting that catastrophic polar ice melt, raising sea level 15-27 feet, and could be as little as 10 years away. Hansen completely by-passed the normal journal peer-review process to sound the alarm.
    As I’ve pointed out on so many occasions since Hansen made his first assertion that the Polar Arctic ice indicates climate trends — he is wrong, wrong, wrong!

    The Arctic ice shows variation in temperature and appears mostly, if not entirely, as a lagging indicator mostly of the sea and ocean cycles but also its very affected by the local wind effects.
    As an indicator of climate trends, monitoring Arctic ice woeful. The ‘climate signal’ is buried by the local weather effects!

    Indeed some studies and their reconstructions of Arctic sea ice indicates that there was minimums of ice just before the great freezes of recent centuries ( Wolf, Spoerer, Maunder and Dalton). See NoTricksZone (HERE) for some of these reconstructions.
    I have always contended that a better indicator of trend is the total accumulation and lost of the Arctic circle snow and ice ON THE LAND!

    • Broadlands permalink
      November 29, 2016 3:31 pm

      The “tipping point” was at the end of the last century when we were told that temperatures would continue their rise since ~1975. Not exactly…it was a “change point” but temperatures since then have not gone up. It was passed off as a “pause”. When the “pause” became a “plateau” this “hiatus” was simply deemed an artifact by those with a reputation on the line and funding to protect?

      Mr. Homewood has posted this before…

      Drinkwater, 2006 wrote: “Ecosystem changes associated with the warm period included a general northward movement of fish. Boreal species of fish such as cod, haddock and herring expanded farther north while colder-water species such as capelin and polar cod retreated northward.  The warming in the 1920s and 1930s is considered to constitute the most significant regime shift experienced in the North Atlantic in the 20th century.” 
       October, 1922: “The Arctic seems to be warming up. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers who sail the seas about Spitzbergen and the eastern Arctic, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, and hitherto un-heard-of high temperatures in that part of the earth’s surface.” …”With the disappearance of white fish and seal has come other life in these waters. This year herring in great shoals were found along the west coast of Spitzbergen, all the way from the fry to the veritable great herring. Shoals of smelt were also met with.”

      But, of course, that’s “word of mouth” testimony…there were no satellites to guide us to the real truth?

  4. David Richardson permalink
    November 29, 2016 6:16 pm

    How about this from 2009 at WUWT, courtesy of Tony B of The Air Vent fame.

    There are a number of other historical perspectives of Arctic Sea Ice published at WUWT, just do a search.

    I wish the current President of The RS was as keen to find the scientific truth about the Arctic as was Joseph Banks 200 years ago.

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