Subject: ‘Big warming’ at Spitsbergen in winter 1918/19

Ref.: Previous letter of 1st March, see Archive 

 April 09, 2007

Dear Visitor,

The warming matter of Spitsbergen will remain on the agenda. It is a too important issue for being dealt with so superficially as IPCC is doing it.. As far as Johannessen (FN 1) explain that the warming in the early part of the 20th century was probably mostly natural, and Bengtsson (FN 1) assert that this was probably a result of the influx of warmer water into the Barents Sea, resulting from a short-lived change in wind patterns, it seems to be questionable, whether this is already a big advance in understanding the colossal warming at Spitsbergen since winter 1918/19.

 After Birkeland concluded his findings in 1930 (FN 1) with the statement: “Finally I would like to stress that the mean deviation results in very high figures, probably the greatest yet known on earth”. Only few year 
later R.Scherhag, 1936
(FN 2) published global temperature
 deviation for the decade from 1920-1931 (see top graph: green < -1º), which shows that the global temperatures were far away from warming, except in the Arctic. Actually he indicated a strong warming for a small spot east of Greenland, but very pronounced around Spitsbergen. That the annual temperatures at Spitsbergen had been much higher is well indicated in a graphic layout from Gordon Manley in 1944 (FN3) showing a rise of more than 6º degrees between the two World wars.

However the pronounced significance of what happened at the Spitsbergen Archipelagos becomes fully clear, when seeing the mean winter temperature deviation as made public in 1958 by Hesselberg and Johannessen (FN 3). That was so extraordinary that one should have afraid of. But one had heard little of any interest is this meanwhile ‘old’ event, although four decades had already passed then. The data from Uni Svalbard confirm the rise of winter temperatures by ten degree in two decades. 

Fact is that reasonable data and information have been available since long.  The concern was nil. The hype over the current very modest warning of the Arctic compared to the Spitsbergen event seems almost negligible to that. Under such circumstance and such long time the conclusion by  Johannessen, and Bengtsson (above) are not enough. Already Scherhag asserted as a reason for Spitsbergen warming in 1936 (FN 3) an increase of atmospheric circulation, to which C.E.P. Brooks (1938) (FN 3) made the correct diagnosis, that this pushes the problem one stage further back, for one should still have to account for the change in circulation. 

  What surprises most, that rarely any very clear distinction has been made between winter, summer, and annual temperature data. At Spitsbergen these data are so different as day and night, and for research a core issue to start with.  The material this site represents is doing it, and has answered Brooks’ question (see previous paragraph), that only the sea around Spitsbergen could have set in motion the extreme warming so suddenly, and sustain it over two decades. The causation should have been explained since long.   Best regards, Arnd Bernaerts

(FN 1) March-letter in Archive; (FN 2) R. Scherhag, Ann.d.Hydro, 1936, p.397ff.; (FN 3): see Reference List of book „Climate Change and Naval War, Trafford 2005, or web-site: (details below).