Subject: Joining the discussion on Arctic Warming by Andrew C. Revkin, 2 Oct. 2007, NYT and by the Climate-Weblog, World Climate Report (WCR), 18 Oct. 2007. 

26 October 2007


Recently the NYT journalist Andrew C. Revkin elaborated the rapid decline of Arctic sea ice and found that the “Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts”[1]. That needn’t to be if more attention had been given to the extreme Arctic warming phase for two decades during the first half of the last Century as has already been explained in our last July letter (see: Archive).  The reproduced Spitsbergen graphic illustrates the sudden temperature increase in the late 1910s.

Only few days ago WCR discussed the “Greenland Climate: Now vs. Then, Part I. Temperatures”, before World War II because the island had been warm, presumably even warmer, than it is presently, wondering “that this fact seems largely ignored by alarmist scientists” [2]. The article demonstrates that within a few years in the early 1920s, the typical average temperature rose by about 2ºC. This is an important finding, but ‘peanuts’ in comparison to the warming of Spitsbergen.

Possibly even more important is the question in which region the warming actually started and when. Those questions have been answered by . One needs on one hand warm water that the Golf Currents supplies to the West coast of Spitsbergen, on the other hand one needs to take into account the prevailing sea-ice conditions from December to April, as shown in a graphic. Actually, the East coast of Greenland is largely cut off from the open sea during the winter season, while in the West of Spitsbergen the sea remains ice free high into the North. The information provided in the paper “Greenland Climate” (Fn 2) show that the brisk warming trend only started after the year 1920, while the investigation at  (Part C) dates the warming at Spitsbergen to the year 1918, latest to Januarys 1919.

By now one can only hope that the early Arctic warming receives further attention, as the climate debate should be based on understanding why the Arctic climate changed suddenly only 90 years ago. It is not enough just to claim that it happened in due natural course, as WCR did on October 22, 2007[3] when discussing Andrew C. Revkin article (see above).

Best regards
Arnd Bernaerts