Is the North Pole Going to Melt entirely? asks Newspaper in 1923

Posted: April 12, 2013 by tallbloke in Cycles, general circulation, Ice ages, media, Natural Variation, Ocean dynamics, sea ice, weather

As the northern melt and polar bear worrying season gets underway, a timely reminder of the repetitive nature of ‘unprecedented’ climate happenings. H/T ‘IluvCO2’

Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954) Thursday 5 April 1923


Is the North Pole going to melt entirely? Are the Arctic regions warming up with prospect of a great climatic change in that part of the world? Science is asking these questions (says “Popular Science Siftings”). Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers who sail the seas around Spitsbergen and the Eastern Arctic all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, with hitherto unheard-of high temperatures on that part of the earth’s surface. Observations to that effect have covered the last five years during which the warmth has been steadily increasing. In August the Norwegian Department of Commerce sent an expedition to Spitsbergen and Bear Island under the leadership of Dr. Adolf Hoel, professor of geology in the University of Christiania, the object in view being to survey and chart areas productive of coal and other minerals.

The expedition sailed as far north as 81 deg. 29 min. N. latitude in ice free water. Such a thing, hitherto, would have been deemed impossible. The United States Consul at Bergen, Norway, Mr. Ifft, also reports the recent extra-ordinary warmth in the Arctic. He quotes incidentally the statements of Captain Martin Ingebrigstsen, a mariner who has sailed those seas for fifty-four years. The captain says that he first noted an unusual warmth in 1918; and since then temperatures have risen steadily higher. Today the eastern Arctic is “hardly recognisable as the same region of 1868 to 1917.

Many of the old landmarks are greatly altered, or no longer exist. Where formerly there were great masses of ice, these have melted away, leaving behind them accumulations of earth and stones such as geologists call “moraines.” At many points where glaciers extended far into the sea half a dozen years ago they have now entirely disappeared. The change in temperature has brought great changes in the plant and animal life of the Arctic. Formerly vast shoals of whitefish were found in the waters round Spitzbergen, but last summer the fishermen sought them in vain.

Seals, which used to be plentiful in those seas, have almost entirely disappeared. Itwould seem as if the ocean must have become uncomfortably warm for some of its denizens which formerly frequented those latitudes, causing them to flock northward towards the Pole. On the other hand other kinds of fishes hitherto unknown so far north have made their appearance. Shoals of smelt have arrived, and immense schools of herring are reported by fishermen along the west coast of Spitzbergen. Formerly the waters about Spitzbergen have held an even summer temperature in the neighbourhood of 5 degrees above freezing. This year it rose as high as 28 degrees. Last winter the ocean did not freeze over even on the north coast of Spitzbergen. This is on the authority of Dr. Hoel

This state of affairs is a cause of much surprise and even astonishment to scientists, who wonder whether the change is merely temporary or the beginning of a great alteration of climatic conditions in the Arctic, with consequent melting of the polar ice sheet. How great the change is that has come over the climate in the Arctic regions maybe best understood by the struggles of the early explorers to discover the north-west passage, or the open body of water existing round North America, leading eventually to India. The passage was first undertaken by way of Spitzbergen, but the thick ice repeatedly beat back the ships of the explorers. From exploits to discover the north-west passage many of the trips for the conquest of the North Pole were eventually undertaken.

Parry, the great British explorer, was first to negotiate the open passage between Greenland and Behring Sea, reaching half-way across the top of North America before he was hedged in by the ice, and with supplies becoming low, dared go no further. He was first to discover the north magnetic pole and to report the astonishing fact that the needle of his compass turned and pointed directly south. Unquestionably his conquests in the frozen Arctic led to the actual penetrating of the north-west passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific by McClure, Collinson, and Amundsen later on. From the difficulties besetting these great Arctic adventures some idea of the tremendous thickness of the ice may be had. Even at the very spot north of Spitzbergen where open water was seen this summer, such well- known explorers as Hudson and Phipps had great difficulties in penetrating on account of the thickness of the ice, and, in spite of their equipment, one of them could not go even as far over the ice at the spot where the open water showed a few months ago.

Not only are the seals and polar bears finding the climate unpleasantly warm for them, but it is said that the Eskimos in some localities are complaining and are finding their fur clothes too warm for them. The region about the North Pole is covered by an ice cap which, toward the east, extends over nearly the whole of Greenland to what is practically a single enormous glacier. To cross this great glacier has been the quest of many adventurous spirits. On account of the severity of the winds that sweep over the immense slowly moving cake of ice, it was never successfully accomplished until Nansen managed to go from the east coast of Greenland across the top of the ice barrier to the west coast at about the sixty-fourth parallel of latitude. Nansen and his five companions reached a height of 8922 feet at the top of the barrier, showing how thick the ice had become through ages of freezing.

Later on Peary and Astrup crossed the island much further north and had to climb a solid hill of ice about 3000 feet high. But there was not always an ice cap. In time long gone by the region about the North Pole had a warm climate and all of Greenland was covered with a luxuriant tropical vegetation. This is positively known because fossil remains of palms,breadfruit trees, and other plants properly belonging to warm latitudes have been dug up there in quantities. It seems at least possible that the extra-ordinary warmth in the Arctic during the last few years marks a step in return to this condition. Such a change as that suggested cannot be suddenly or even rapidly accomplished; but if there shall come a time when the North Pole ice cap is entirely melted, and Greenland incidentally freed of the ice sheet which covers it, other latitudes will also experience a wonderful climatic alteration, and climates all over the world may become steadily and gradually warmer.

  1. Bloke down the pub says:

    It’s truly amazing how frequently, ‘unprecedented climatic events’ keep on recurring. Weathermen are presumably unaware of how stupid they sound, when they call conditions unprecedented, and promptly give the last time it happened.

  2. Richard111 says:

    “other latitudes will also experience a wonderful climatic alteration, and climates all over the world may become steadily and gradually warmer.”

    Now that’s the attitude! Look on the bright side. 🙂

  3. grumpydenier says:

    Reblogged this on grumpydenier and commented:
    Aah, but. . . was he a peer-reviewed mariner? You should know by now that data from humans do not count. Now if they’d had computers back in 1918 they would have known they had the wrong end of the stick (hockey).

  4. Curious George says:

    Some scientists never change.

  5. tchannon says:

    “This is on the authority of Dr. Hoel”

    “Popular Science Siftings”

  6. ArndB says:

    Good old times:
    “The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot”, reported the The Washington Post, on November 2nd , 1922. B.J. Birkeland (1930) saw the temperature rise, as “probably be the greatest yet known on earth”, and few years later A. W. Ahlmann (1946) called the event a ‘climatic revolution’ “ More at
    There was a big temperature shift at about 1920, which is for example also well demonstrated in the temperature data from Vardo/Norway (70,4°N)
    See about “Vardo” at John-Daly-com, “Station of the Week – Northern Norway (3 Oct 03”: Willis Eschenbach did a closer examination of Vardø and also found the same discontinuity around 1920, amounting to 0.73°C. When that artificial discontinuity is discounted, the temperature rise is only +0.12°C per century, a tiny result for a region that according to the models should have undergone rampant warming in the last century.” .

  7. […] Newspaper Article on Unprecedented Arctic Ice Melt Is the North Pole Going to Melt entirely? asks Newspaper in 1923 | Tallbloke's Talkshop Quote: NORTH POLE MELTING. CHANGE OF CLIMATE. MANY GLACIERS VANISHED. Northern Star (Lismore, […]

  8. macca says:

    Just looking at a graph comparison to the observation of warming since 1918


  9. Tenuc says:

    “In August the Norwegian Department of Commerce sent an expedition to Spitsbergen and Bear Island under the leadership of Dr. Adolf Hoel, professor of geology in the University of Christiania, the object in view being to survey and chart areas productive of coal and other minerals.

    Great article which supports the truism ‘What was in the past is what is now, unless there is extraordinary proof to the contrary.’

    This is the current dream of all countries fringing the Arctic ocean – coal, oil, gold and other minerals providing wealth beyond imagination – if and when the Arctic sea ice vanishes.

    Could be a long wait I think. It’s beggars belief that so many supposedly intelligent people can be fooled by the chaos inherent in quasi-cyclic non-linear systems.

  10. hunter says:

    What this tells us is that the AGW story about centuries old ice melting int he North is just so much hype.
    By the way, how is CG3 coming along? Any reports, any previews? Certainly some of this is now clean enough to avoid serious complaints?
    Occasional updates are frankly the least we should expect.

  11. tallbloke says:

    Hi Hunter. I’m leaving CG3 publication to people beyond UK jurisdiction, for obvious reasons, and they haven’t told me when it going to be ready.

  12. mikef2 says:

    Hello Mr Tallbloke. Hope you don’t mind but I sent an email to ITN suggesting they might like to put some context to thier present Arctic stories, linking your article. Am sure the editors know, and with context thier present stuff becomes a non-story…but maybe if enough people point at the Emperor the media might have to admit he has no clothes on.

  13. tallbloke says:

    Mikef2: Good on you, that’s what I provide the info for.

  14. Spitsbergen is permanently ice free come winter or summer now, a little research reveals that there was noticeable warming for a few decades after the solar minimums of the little ice age, the cooling returned and reached a height in the 1940s and has receded / warmed since. The ice retreat is unprecedented now.

    Sceptics are sceptical of everything – fake sceptics want to peddle mis truths for an agenda.

  15. Simsy says:

    Why were they so puzzled by the lack of sea ice, seals, fish etc? Why didn’t they watch Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” All would have been explained.

    Silly people

  16. Richard111 says:

    Going to be an interesting year. 🙂 Currently Arctic Sea Ice Area is bang on the 1979-2006 monthly average and Arctic Sea Ice Extent is about 0.4 million square kilometres down on the monthly extent. I make that much less than 3% down with my eyeball technique. If there are no bad storms this year I predict an unprecedented ice recovery in the Arctic.

  17. marchesarosa says:

    Julesbollocks says “Spitsbergen is permanently ice free come winter or summer now”

    Not according to these ice-maps, pal. You do know that Spitzbergen is now called the Svalbard Archipelago, don’t you?

  18. hunter says:

    Thank you for your update. Do you have any idea who else is working on CG3?
    We also know that true believers, as you demonstrate, look for any shred or tattered thread with which they can continue to grasp their faith. The non-arrival of the predicted climate apocalypse should sort of give you some hints. Watching AGW fanatics is like watching “Waiting for Godot”.

  19. […] and the cakes or they'll turn you pink But seeing as you want to persue it, how about some more Inconvenient "Data" ? […]

  20. tckev says:

    I note that nobody was shouting alarm about the hardship that polar bears would have suffered during that period. That says a lot about our change in values over the years.

  21. […] Is the North Pole Going to Melt entirely? asks Newspaper in 1923 ( […]