[Vision2020] Arctic Should be Cooling by Only Natural Climate Variables... Was: Explorers Navigate Northwest Arctic Passage Open Due to Low Ice

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Sun Sep 12 13:16:28 PDT 2010

I was wondering when the first crossing of the Northwest Arctic Passage
without an ice breaker occurred (2005?), and I found the following
interesting article, that sources climate science information I have
repeatedly read, that indicates natural climate variables should be tending
to cool the Arctic at this point in time.  Oddly, this scientific
information seems to rarely be reported in mainstream media.  The fact the
Arctic is now undergoing such a rapid and profound warming is very powerful
evidence of the climate forcing of human sourced greenhouse gases:


Arctic passage open without ice breakers first time in history
September 6th, 2009

This year's opening marks the fourth time in five years that the Northeast
Passage has opened, and commercial shipping companies are taking note. Two
German ships  recently are the first commercial voyage ever made through the
Northeast Passage without the help of icebreakers. The Northeast Passage
trims 4,500 miles off the 12,500-mile trip through the Suez Canal, yielding
considerable savings in fuel. The voyage was not possible last year, because
Russia had not yet worked out a permitting process. With Arctic sea ice
expected to continue to decline in the coming decades, shipping traffic
through the Northeast Passage will likely become commonplace most summers.
The Northeast Passage has remained closed to navigation, except via assist
by icebreakers, from 1553 to 2005. The results published in the American
Association for the Advancement of *Science* suggest that prior to 2005, the
last previous opening was the period 5,000 - 7,000 years ago, when the
Earth's orbital variations brought more sunlight to the Arctic in summer
than at present. It is possible we'll know better soon. A new technique that
examines organic compounds left behind in Arctic sediments by diatoms that
live in sea ice give hope that a detailed record of sea ice extent extending
back to the end of the Ice Age 12,000 years ago may be possible (Belt et
al., 2007). The researchers are studying sediments along the Northwest
Passage in hopes of being able to determine when the Passage was last open.

The past decade was the warmest decade in the Arctic for the past 2,000
years, according to a study called "Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic
Cooling" published in the journal *Science*.  Four of the five warmest
decades in the past 2,000 years occurred between 1950 - 2000, despite the
fact that summertime solar radiation in the Arctic has been steadily
declining for the past 2,000 years. Previous efforts to reconstruct past
climate in the Arctic extended back only 400 years, so the new study--which
used lake sediments, glacier ice cores, and tree rings to look at past
climate back to the time of Christ, decade by decade-- is a major new
milestone in our understanding of the Arctic climate. The researchers found
that Arctic temperatures steadily declined between 1 A.D. and 1900 A.D., as
would be expected due to a 26,000-year cycle in Earth's orbit that brought
less summer sunshine to the North Pole. Earth is now about 620,000 miles (1
million km) farther from the Sun in the Arctic summer than it was 2000 years
ago. However, temperatures in the Arctic began to rise around the year 1900,
and are now 1.4°C (2.5°F) warmer than they should be, based on the amount of
sunlight that is currently falling in the Arctic in summer. "If it hadn't
been for the increase in human-produced greenhouse gases, summer
temperatures in the Arctic should have cooled gradually over the last
century,” According to Bette Otto-Bliesner, a co-author from the National
Center for Atmospheric Research.

Arctic sea ice suffered another summer of significant melting in 2009, with
August ice extent the third lowest on record, according to the National Snow
and Ice Data Center. August ice extent was 19% below the 1979 - 2000
average, and only 2007 and 2008 saw more melting of Arctic sea ice. We've
now had two straight years in the Arctic without a new record minimum in sea
ice. However, this does not mean that the Arctic sea ice is recovering. The
reduced melting in 2009 compared to 2007 and 2008 primarily resulted from a
different atmospheric circulation pattern this summer. This pattern
generated winds that transported ice toward the Siberian coast and
discouraged export of ice out of the Arctic Ocean. The previous two summers,
the prevailing wind pattern acted to transport more ice out of the Arctic
through Fram Strait, along the east side of Greenland. At last December's
meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the world's largest scientific
conference on climate change, J.E. Kay of the National Center for
Atmospheric Research showed that Arctic surface pressure in the summer of
2007 was the fourth highest since 1948, and cloud cover at Barrow, Alaska
was the sixth lowest. This suggests that once every 10 - 20 years a "perfect
storm" of weather conditions highly favorable for ice loss invades the
Arctic. The last two times such conditions existed was 1977 and 1987, and it
may be another ten or so years before weather conditions align properly to
set a new record minimum.

As a result of this summer's melting, the Northeast Passage, a notoriously
ice-choked sea route along the northern Russia, is now clear of ice and open
for navigation. Satellite analyses by the University of Illinois Polar
Research Group and the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that the last
remaining ice blockage along the north coast of Russia melted in late
August, allowing navigation from Europe to Alaska in ice-free waters.
Mariners have been attempting to sail the Northeast Passage since 1553, and
it wasn't until the record-breaking Arctic sea-ice melt year of 2005 that
the Northeast Passage opened for ice-free navigation for the first time in
recorded history. The fabled Northwest Passage through the Arctic waters of
Canada has remained closed this summer, however. An atmospheric pressure
pattern set up in late July that created winds that pushed old, thick ice
into several of the channels of the Northwest Passage. Recent research by
Stephen Howell at the University of Waterloo in Canada shows that whether
the Northwest Passage clears depends less on how much melt occurs, and more
on whether multi-year sea ice is pushed into the channels.
Counter-intuitively, as the ice cover thins, ice may flow more easily into
the channels, preventing the Northwest Passage from regularly opening in
coming decades, if the prevailing winds set up to blow ice into the channels
of the Passage. The Northwest Passage opened for the first time in recorded
history in 2007, and again in 2008. Mariners have been attempting to find a
route through the Northwest Passage since 1497.

WASHINGTON, Sept  (Reuters) - Climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions
pushed Arctic temperatures in the last decade to the highest levels in at
least 2,000 years, reversing a natural cooling trend that should have lasted
four more millennia.

Carbon dioxide and other gases generated by human activities overwhelmed a
21,000-year cycle linked to gradual changes in Earth's orbit around the Sun,
an international team of researchers reported on Thursday in the journal

"I think it really underscores how sensitive the Arctic is to climate change
... and it's really the place where you can see first what's happening to
the (climate) system and how the rest of the Earth will or might follow,"
David Schneider, a co-author and a scientist with the U.S. National Center
for Atmospheric Research said in a telephone interview.

The big cool-down started about 7,000 years ago, and Arctic temperatures
bottomed out during the so-called "Little Ice Age" that lasted from the 16th
to the mid-19th centuries, dove-tailing with the start of the Industrial

This cooling trend was caused by a characteristic wobble in Earth's orbit
that very gradually pushed the Arctic away from the Sun during the northern
summer. Earth is now about 620,000 miles (1 million km) farther from the Sun
in the Arctic summer than it was 2000 years ago, said Darrell Kaufmann of
Northern Arizona University.

This cooling should have continued through the 20th and 21st centuries and
beyond as the 21,000-year cycle played out. This latest research confirms
that it hasn't.

"If it hadn't been for the increase in human-produced greenhouse gases,
summer temperatures in the Arctic should have cooled gradually over the last
century," Bette Otto-Bliesner, a co-author from the National Center for
Atmospheric Research, said in a statement.

What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay there, since it is among the world's
biggest weather makers, sometimes called Earth's air-conditioner. As Arctic
sea ice melts in summer, it exposes the darker-colored ocean water, which
absorbs sunlight instead of reflecting it, accelerating the warming effect.

Arctic warming also affects land-based glaciers; if these melt, they would
contribute to a global rise in sea levels.

Warming in this area could also thaw frozen ground called permafrost,
sending methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

Climate scientists have long known that Earth wobbles in its orbit, which
affects how much sunlight reaches the Arctic in the summer. This is the
first time a large-scale study has tracked decade-by-decade changes in
Arctic summer temperatures this far back in time.

To figure this out, researchers looked at natural archives of temperature --
tree rings, ice cores and lake sediments -- along with computer models,
which tallied closely with the natural record.

Average summer temperatures in the Arctic have increased by about 3 degrees
F (1.66 degrees C) from what they would have been had the long-term cooling
trend remained intact.


Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
On 9/9/10, Ron Force <rforce2003 at yahoo.com> wrote:
>  Ted, yacht voyages in one season through the Northwest passage are
> becoming relatively common, if still somewhat difficult. Nine private yachts
> did the passage in 09. Paul Allen's Octopus, a 413 foot yacht, is on the
> passage now. It's by far the largest private yacht to make the trip-- most
> are 40-70 feet long.
> Ron Force
> Moscow ID USA
>  ------------------------------
> *From:* Ted Moffett <starbliss at gmail.com>
> *To:* Moscow Vision 2020 <vision2020 at moscow.com>
> *Sent:* Wed, September 8, 2010 3:23:11 PM
> *Subject:* [Vision2020] Explorers Navigate Northwest Arctic Passage Open
> Due to Low Ice
> http://en.rian.ru/russia/20100415/158596783.html
> Russia's Peter I yacht aims for record with Arctic voyage
> <http://en.rian.ru/russia/20100415/158596783.html>
> The Russian yacht Peter I will try to set a new record in 2010 by
> attempting a round-the-world voyage through the Arctic Ocean during the
> summer-fall season, the captain said on Thursday.
> The icy route will take the vessel through the northern seas of Russia, the
> United States and Canada without the help of ice breakers. Eight crew
> members, including one woman, have been modifying the 18-meter long steel
> hull since last fall.
> -----------------
> http://hornorkesteret.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/yacht-accomplishes-arctic-sea-route-sails-on-to-circumnavigate-the-north-pole/
> Yacht accomplishes Arctic Sea Route, sails on to circumnavigate the
> North Pole
> -----------------------------
> http://www.ousland.no/blog/
> September 8th, 2010 Sailing toward the Passage<http://www.ousland.no/2010/09/sailing-toward-the-passage/>
> ------------------------------------------
> Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
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