Thursday, August 21, 2008

Northwest Passage Opens

For only the second time in recorded history, the fabled Northwest Passage is open and clear of ice - check out the map at Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis.  (I refer, of course, to the deep-water Parry Channel, between the southern part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the Queen Elizabeth Islands to their north.)  

There are some very interesting accounts (here, here and on pages 18-22 here) of the first commercial testing of shipping through the Northwest Passage - back in 1969, when the U.S.S. Manhattan, an icebreaking oiltanker, made the trip, though it had to abandon its summer attack on the McClure Strait at the end of the Parry Channel, since it was fast with ice 100 feet thick where now there is open water!

I tend to accept the evidence for a warming climate, linked to man's activities - though of course, as sensible folk would, I hope that this is wrong, still one mustn't stick one's head in the sand.  

In any case, should Western Australia run out of water, get insupportably hot, and otherwise become uncomfortable, my initial plan is to return to Tasmania, but my long-term plan is to migrate to northern Canada: by my calculations, it should be balmy by the time I get to retirement.  ;-)


Anonymous said...

Which raises the curious question of why the Southern Pole is actually getting more ice? ( It's an interesting development, though I don't think there's anything to panic about. Why the North get's the coverage from the media and the South is quietly left out may suggest that there's more politics than science to this issue.

See the following for the real North pole story (i.e. the one the media does not report):

Joshua said...

I recall reading some time back that more snow at the South Pole &c. is to be expected; after all, the Antarctic is a desert - very low precipitation, even including all forms of snow, ice, etc. - and a warmer globe will have more moisture in the atmosphere, hence greater precipitation in the Antarctic.

Note also that the Southern hemisphere increasing ice anomaly is still within statistical uncertainty levels, and may just be random fluctuation; whereas the Northern decrease in ice is statistically significant.

I dislike conspiracy theories and will let stand the above sly comment alluding to politics more than science as putative cause of media announcments (shades of a vast conspiracy to dupe us into belief), though I am tempted to delete it.

The source referred to seemed a bit odd when I read it, and suggested uninformed criticism with underlying paranoid symptoms - "they" are rigging the data, etc.

I dislike also the tendency among some Traddies to deliberately think contrariwise to everything modern - like the Dominican professor of old who shook his fist at a passing aeroplane, muttering that it was a "product of a false metaphysics"!

Please say who you are - "anonymous" is too widely used. At least adopt a nom de plume!

Thank you at least for deigning to interact...

If only I had stuck to religion rather than politics, LOL - heaven knows what my comments on Georgia versus Russia will elicit!

Joshua said...

I was a bit premature in claiming the Northwest Passage lies open and icefree - it appears not wholly clear, but I expect that it will be within the week...