Thursday, July 19, 2007

A brisk swim at 90 North

As many of you know, a British adventurer, global warming advocate, etc., Lewis Gordon Pugh went swimming at the North Pole to bring to the worlds attention the open water at the pole. Sadly, for him, open water at the pole is called summer. It will freeze harder than a brick in a few months. A little pictorial evidence, (note the date):

open-water-np-1987.jpg

Open water at the pole is a regular occurance, so much so that it even has a name, polynya. Polynyas occur because of thermal upwelling or wind and can appear in any month, though they are more common in summer. The US Navy submariners have been taking advantage of polynyas for decades as places to surface. Bears, seals, walruses, and whales all take advantage of polynyas for air and hual-out to rest (not the whales, that would be news.)

CAPT Alfred S. McLaren, USN (Ret.), said, "On the 25th of August 1960, the nuclear attack submarine, USS Seadragon (SSN-584) surfaced in an open lake of water or "polynya" very near the North Pole. We were the fourth submarine in history to have reached the top of the world!"

So Puge swan at the north pole, does it prove anything, other than he is really desperate to get into the news? Is this a sign of global warming? Well, considering that the water was -1.8 degrees C and the air temperature was below freezing, I think you would be hard pressed to prove that point. Water at the North Pole, and in the Arctic in general, is called summer. Remember, the Inuit invented the kayak, a particularly useless tool for snow travel.

Thanks to Bishop Hill for the picture.

Note: A friend of mine who has spent time in the Arctic said that the picture of the subs was more likely taken in July or August, he's probably right, but the picture has to stand on its own. Regardless of the month, the subs are there, at 90 North, but where's the barber's pole we saw in the cartoons?

5 comments:

Elaine said...

I was out this morning...real early 5:oo am, and guess what? It was cold, very cold, and it hasn't warmed up that much since.

It is the middle of July in central Canada, shouldn't we be sweating our parts off?

I wonder what strange feat the glowtardians will preform next week to make themselves look like total idiots. I read something about green peace glowtardians trying to recruit other glowtardians to take a boat ride to somewhere cold, all naked like, to show the world how truly stupid they are.

The fog should do a glowtardian nut watch calendar.Just so we can keep track of just how fucking nuts, they really are.

eng said...

Nice shot of the tree, glad to see it still standing, but the "forest" has been decreasing 3 percent a decade for over 40 years now.

Just to be clear, those were submarines, not surface ships. You're not going to claim it was all open water are you? There are legends of the Chinese sailing all through the Arctic a thousand years ago.

John Nicklin said...

eng, yes they are submarines and no I didn't claim that there was lots of open water. The point is that open water exists and has existed for millenia, its not new. Approximately 15% of the Arctic ice melts every summer and refreezes every winter. Some years a little more, some less. When there is 15% less ice in January, then we can worry.

Our records of polar ice are woefully inadequate to make any solid statements either way.

eng said...

Where do they get the "3% decline per decade"? I have seen the satellite pictures though can't seem to find them at the moment.

But if you look at the summer vs winter pictures, it is also very dramatic. In summer, the ice ends up as a giant ice berg, apparently unanchored from the coasts (explaining why the Inuit would have kayaks and umiaks), while in the winter it reaches onto all coasts of the Arctic ocean.

John Nicklin said...

eng, I don't know where the 3%/decade comes from or how they estmated that number. Considering that we only have pictures of the Arctic in summer and winter covering the last 30 years or so, it would be very difficult to prove anything one way or another. Natural cycles, El Nino and El Nina Pacific and Atlantic Oscillations, etc, could account for much of the differences.

One thing I learned in science early on is that any time you use a number, you always have to say plus or minus 10% to be honest. So if the normal variation summer to winter is 15%, that would give a 1.5% plus or minus margin of error. For what its worth.