Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Monday, October 01, 2007

North West Passage Mystery

Ralph Buttigieg

Sydney, NSW

Picture BBC news

Is global warming opening the North West Passage? This article seems to indicate it is:.

Warming 'opens Northwest Passage'

The most direct shipping route from Europe to Asia is fully clear of ice for the first time since records began, the European Space Agency (Esa) says.

Historically, the Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans has been ice-bound through the year.

But the agency says ice cover has been steadily shrinking, and this summer's reduction has made the route navigable.

The findings, based on satellite images, raised concerns about the speed of global warming........

Please read the full article. Lets examine the article with our brains turned on. Firstly when did these records actually begin? Well, the article gives a date 1978. Surely you would want a longer baseline to be sure the melting is unusual.

Theres more, readers of this blog would be aware of the Sebastien Roubinet Alaska Greenland Expedition. This was an successful attempt to transverse the North West Passage in one season using a specially designed sail boat that could travel over ice as well as water. The passage usually does clear during August and September but there was no lack of ice this summer:

There were icebergs and lots of thin ice, (2-3 cm) - not enough to sail on; but just enough to slow the speed when pushing the ice sheets. The stays froze, and so did the crew - shivering through their night watches on a deck turning white.

Now, I'm not sure whats going on here, bad journalism, bad science, a bit of both or maybe I'm completely wrong with my analyses. I'm interested in any comments people have. But if this story was really based on an ESA report wheres the critical thinking and investigative reporting Mr BBC reporter?