Cold Irony: Arctic Sea Ice Traps Climate Tour Icebreaker

Stuck in the arctic ice that doesn’t exist. (file photo: EcoPhotoExplorers)

Last year as arctic sea ice melted to record levels, panic set in for many. But then, as the sea ice rebounded and froze again quickly in the 2007/2008 winter, making up for that record loss and reaching heights not seen for several years, many exclaimed that even though the ice areal extent had recovered, this new ice was “thin” and would likely melt again quickly. There were also many news stories about how the Northwest Passage was ice free for the first time “ever”. For example, Backpacker Magazine ran a story saying “The ice is so low that the photos clearly show a viable northwest passage sea route along the coasts of  Greenland, Canada, and Alaska.”

Cashing in on the panic that has set in with the help of some climate alarmists, tour operators like Quark Expeditions of Norwalk Connecticut are offering polar expeditions catering to that “see it before it’s gone” travel worry. One of them is in fact a trip though the Northwest Passage on a former Soviet Icebreaker called the Kapitan Khlebnikov which is a massive 24,000 horsepower Polar Class icebreaker capable of carrying 108 passengers in relative luxury through the arctic wilderness. Here is some background on this icebreaker:

Kapitan Khlebnikov – The Kapitan Khlebnikov was built in Finland in 1981 and is one of three vessels of this class. Not simply an ice-reinforced ship, the Kapitan Khlebnikov is a powerful polar class icebreaker, which has sailed to extremely remote corners of the globe with adventurous travelers since 1992. It was the first ship ever to circumnavigate Antarctica with passengers in 1996-97. See more on this vessel at Wikipedia

According to Quark Expeditions, they’ve even fitted this icebreaker with a heated indoor swimming pool, exercise room and sauna, and a theater-style auditorium for “Expedition Team presentations” ( presumably so you can watch Gore’s AIT polar bear tears while in situ ). It is quite a difference from the travel conditions that Robert Peary experienced just 99 years ago when he reached the North Pole.

One of my alert readers, Walt from Canada,  pointed out this story in the Globe and Mail on may 24th in the travel section. It seems the irony of a polar expedition to see such things as record sea ice loss being stopped cold by the very ice that doesn’t exist was not lost on the editors.

From the Globe and Mail article:

I am on the bridge of the massive Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, and the tension is palpable. We have hit ice – thick ice.

The ice master studies the mountains of white packed around the ship while the 24,000-horsepower diesel engines work at full throttle to open a path. The ship rises slowly onto the barrier of ice, crushes it and tosses aside blocks the size of small cars as if they were ice cubes in a glass. It creeps ahead a few metres, then comes to a halt, its bow firmly wedged in the ice. After doing this for two days, the ship can go no farther.

The ice master confers with the captain, who makes a call to the engine room. The engines are shut down. He turns to those of us watching the drama unfold, and we are shocked by his words: “Now, only nature can help this ship.” We are doomed to drift.

What irony. I am a passenger on one of the most powerful icebreakers in the world, travelling through the Northwest Passage – which is supposed to become almost ice-free in a time of global warming, the next shipping route across the top of the world – and here we are, stuck in the ice, engines shut down, bridge deserted. Only time and tide can free us.

What irony indeed.

They eventually had nature on their side, and on the seventh day of being trapped in the ice, winds and tide moved the ice pack enough that they could continue. But, I have to wonder, will the pampered eco-tourists on this trip see the irony that we do?


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AHH! They should have used the non CO2 spewing nuclear icebreakers….


The “Greenie’s and “Enviromentalists” are a greater threat to this country and our way of life than the “Islamic” terrorists. We now have “two loony enemies” bent on destroying us. “God Help Us”. May sanity “PREVAIL”.

buwahhhhaaaahahahahah!!! It’s like I keep saying (to my friends)… the problem with this global warming is that it’s just so darn cold all the time! And it really has been cold down here in Southern California. Noticeably. I just hope all that ice stays up there… in the Northwest “Passage” where it belongs!


May we beat both the demons!


from this data it appears that at 400mb EVERY DAY of 2008 has been record cold since measurement began 1998 (LOL) if this did not work
you may have to go to main page first
go to 400mb troposphere
and fill in every year to compare with 2008
It IS getting colder

Is there any chance of this story on the BBC? Nope.

The Alarmist’s view of Arctic Temperatures:
The Skeptic’s view:
The Realist’s view:

Pierre Gosselin

Ironic story but gee, some important details are missing:
1. When did the ship begin its voyage?
2. Exactly when and where did it get stranded?
If it was in the middle of winter, then it just means the crew and passengers were completely stupid and should have known better.
But if this occurred in the summertime, then I’d say this story is an interesting anecdote indicating that GW may be a little hyped up.
Could some one give us dates and locations?

Pierre Gosselin

Shouldn’t such cruises be banned if CO2 causes the warming that is melting the arctic cap? I mean this boat has got to consume massive amounts of diesel fuel, or food that could be used to feed the hungry.

Pierre Gosselin

Another catastrophic tipping point to worry about:
I guess this is the back-up catastrophe you need to have in case the AGW catastrophe fails to pan out.

old construction worker

I Had To Laugh Out Loud. Now, that’s funny.

By the way Anthony, if you or your readers want to see on what level the AGW hysteria is being taught to children in Australia, see my blog post and click on the first picture.


In the last year, 2 separate cruise ships viewing ‘the melting Antarctic ice’ have struck icebergs. The recent record SH sea ice extent means there is now ice in areas where in previous years there was no ice.

Robert Ray

It appears that green tented glasses provide a strong negative irony feedback, and a strong positive sanctimonious feedback.

Bruce Cobb

I am guessing many, if not most of those eco-tourists believe in AGW, and that the arctic ice is disappearing because of it, endangering Polar Bears, etc. So, how exactly they manage to justify sending tons of C02 into the very region supposedly under threat by the act of traveling there is beyond me. Perhaps they purchase “carbon indulgences”.

Anthony, what a heart-warming story to start my day.
Well, actually, it didn’t, I came across The US Climate Change Science Program’s Final Report of Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.3 which may be worth a review. They do seem wedded to future warming, in the “Synthesis” section where they put everything together and read the tea leaves, the say

Climate change will continue to have significant
effects on these resources over the next few decades and beyond (very likely).
is very likely to continue in the United States during the next 25-50 years, regardless of the efficacy of greenhouse gas emissions reduction efforts, due to greenhouse gas emissions that have already occurred.

This all sounded too IPCCish to continue reading for now. They do seem to be consistent in equating change == warming. The document appears to be a mapping of the IPCC TAR4 report onto the United States and covering the recent past and the next several decades.
It’s a 200 page report featuring a slow download so you won’t have to read it right away. You can download it piecemeal.


I can’t even imagine the “carbon footprint” that a diesel icecbreaker of that size can generate pounding through metres of ice at slow speed and full power.
This is an eco-vacation?


bucko36, you note the fundamental interests of those two forces seeking to destroy us are in opposition? Carbon encumbering opposes the interests even of moderate Islam. We do live in interesting times.

More on USCCSP report –
A much faster download is at It may not be precisely the same, as it may not have USCCSP cover letters and whatnot.

I sent this on to the Fox news Channel. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with it.
By the way, does anyone have any recent stats on the current ice status?
Jack Koenig, Editor
The Mysterious Climate project

Bill in Vigo

Ahhhhh I am still being beat up with “Bill it is still warming!” on another blog. I wonder if it will have to snow up to their chins to convince them that their toes are cold. Weather Chanel tells us that this is one of the warmer May’s in some time but here in Alabama you couldn’t prove that by me, our highest temp thus far this year is 84.0 at my home min/mas device not sanctioned of course. We have had only 10 days of 80f or a bove this May thus far. I am thinking that regionally this might be one of the cooler May in some time. I agree with Crankpuss keep the ice up there where it belongs. The garden is doing well just a little slow due to the cool nights.
Bill Derryberry



You people are not very intelligent, or don’t read.

Heh. Reminds me of when Greenpeace was fined for not filing oil spill prevention documents with the state of Alaska for one of their logging protest voyages.

Bill Illis

The NorthWest Passage, when it does open up, is only passable for a few weeks at the height of the melt season from mid-August to mid-September.
Maybe the world’s best icebreaker can get through at this time of year, but normal icebreakers and normal ships have to park off Baffin Island in mid-August and wait to see if the Passage opens up enough to get through. In addition, there are several routes through and you have to be lucky to pick the right one.
Then, the pack ice has to be open enough so that you can get through to the Pacific and not get stuck in the Beaufort Sea which does not happen every year as well.
The global warmers can fantasize all they want about going through the NorthWest Passage but who is going to park a ship off Baffin Island and wait for a potential three week opening with all the risks and costs that are inherent.
On a side note, the polar ice is unusually open on the entry and exit sides of the Passage this year so it is likely it will be passable this year for the few week period.
The Modis satellites give real-time visible sat images zoomable down to 250M resolution so one can track the actual ice conditions without having to rely on the NSIDC or the Cryosphere Today.


The ice didn’t happen. Hansen and Schmidt made some computer adjustments and it melted from the record.

HA! Great information here! I’ve been wondering if this Global Warming scare is like the apparent computer crash of 2000. Thanks for this info!

Jeff Alberts

And I’m sure those huge probably diesel engines are spewing soot and particulates out onto the ice, and of course adding CO2 which these same eco-morons claim to be a problem. So we must cut back on CO2, except for eco-tourism??


Last summer, at the areal extent minimum, a fact lost on many was that the remaining ice, was piled up (by winds), and greatly compressed (and hence, the “all time” – well, at least since 1979, extent minimum) against the northern shores of Greenland, part of Canada, and, oddly, a sort of “peninsula” of thick ice down to the Siberian shore (recall the guy who was trying to circumnavigate the Arctic in a special sloop but had to stop). Well, that thick ice is even thicker now. There you have it.


RE: rex (00:26:40) :
Similar to the initial stages of the Strieber-Bell scenario but for an entirely different reason. The “Global Superstorm” scenario was meant to be due to a thermohaline disturbance. In our case, it’s due to a sleepy sun.


“By the way, does anyone have any recent stats on the current ice status?”
I like the comment someone made over at Climate Audit yesterday (in reference to adjustments to raw data) about the “scientists” torturing the data until it tells the truth. I am still getting a chuckle over that one.


RE: Bill in Vigo (06:07:04) :
It’s been warm in short stretches only along a portion of the immediate Atlantic coast, and for short stretches, along the immediate Gulf. Elsewhere, in Europe and in Peninsular SE Asia. Everywhere else has been unbelievably cold.


RE: Bill Illis (07:38:05) :
A classic wind and current driven pull away, with subsequent major polayanas. Not due to melting, no way, too cold there right now.

Alex Cull

According to the Zen of Global Warming, the ice could simultaneously be there (i.e. we can see it and the ship was stuck in it) and not there, as it could still be melting but in some strange alternative way that cannot be witnessed or measured. Just like polar bears can be simultaneously be increasing in numbers and dwindling away to extinction. Can you hear the sound of one hand clapping?
I’m sure many will also fall back on the long-term warming-trend explanation. One cold day does not a winter make (although a hot day is yet another ominous sign that GW is on us.) As long as the models still predict long-term climate meltdown, anything can happen in the short term – flourishing Arctic ice, polar bears frolicking in the streets, glaciers doing the hokey-cokey – and it won’t mean a thing. Global Warming will be postponed for a little while longer, they will say, but wait and see. We might not have an ice-free Arctic in 2020, but we assuredly will in 2025. Or in 2030. Or 2050. Or maybe 3050. Depends on how we tweak the models.
Or maybe all that ice is a GW-denial-induced hallucination, and the reality is a steaming expanse of open ocean, littered with floating polar bear corpses and oil-drilling platforms…
Me, facetious? 😛


Hi Rex:
The only trend that’s warmer is the surface (900 mb). 400 mb is the coolest trend. Warmists will point to the cooling stratosphere (90 mb) as reaffirmation of AGW. Wouldn’t that lead to drier air at that altitude?
But don’t let your lying eyes deceive you, the trend is very curious indeed:
– The post-Pinatubo period lowered stratosphere temps. substantially. At first Pinatubo, like el Chicon, caused a great deal of stratospheric warming, but Pinatubo probably caused ozone damage cooling the stratosphere. So the 20-year trend can’t be put on CO2-caused stratospheric cooling.
– The stratosphere temperature trend since Pinatubo is slightly up (’91 – ’92), again, not down as predicted by AGW. This makes sense that as gradual ozone recovery would gradually lead to a re-warming of the stratosphere. But the post-Pinatubo tropospheric trend is also slightly up.
– ’84 – ’91 are textbook tropo- vs. stratosphere inverse trends. ’93 – ’97 have inverse correl. as well, but there’s a problem:
– Post-Pinatubo, the amplitude & frequency of stratospheric temperature cycles appear to have increased. More heat exits through the troposphere more frequently.
– Along with the ’98 el Nino, the stratosphere cooled but then warmed, showing that past a certain threshold the extra heat went out into space.
What I gather from the data charts is that the stratospheric thermostat has unique functions that continue to work in ways that are counterintuitive to what the warmists would tell us.
They have told us that the troposphere is really warming except the cooling stratosphere is masking it & the stratosphere would be cooling except that the troposphere is masking the stratospheric cooling and making it look to be warming.
All this “masking” conjecture is talking right past the obvious but puts the lie to overly-simplistic AGW explanations. Are we to believe that the CO2 effect has been heavily masked by ozone recovery? UV flux from solar cycles warms the trosposphere by +/-0.1 degrC between normal solar max & min. The lower solar activity of the past 15 years has also had an average -0.1 degrC cooling effect on the troposphere. UV flux affects ozone levels, solar max +ozone, solar min -ozone. Cosmic ray flux (correlated to solar cycles) also increases NO2 which destroys ozone (cooling the stratosphere). It can also create additional cloud cover cooling the lower troposphere. So lower solar activity should have a cooling effect on the stratosphere compounded against CO2’s purported stratosphere-cooling effect. The problem is that the stratosphere has been warming in the face of lower ozone production due to lower solar luminance of the past 15 years.
A consistent aspect of vulcanism are vast amounts of aerosols heating the stratosphere, far out of proportion to tropospheric cooling. Human-caused aerosols also heat the mid-troposphere throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans in the Spring and Summer – by a margin of 37%, but also seed huge winter storms in the N. Pacific (causing more mixing into the stratosphere while lofting aerosols higher into the stratosphere & into the Arctic). But at 400 mb the troposphere – in the upper part of the cloud deck – has cooled overall while the stratosphere has warmed slightly, showing a discontinuity between surface and stratospheric temps. The drier, cooler air would result in the drier “rain shadows” that Lindzen(?) noted.
Why not just simply conclude the intervening factor is increasing cloud cover? Studies have recently shown increased cloud cover & rainfall corresponding to a faster hydrological cycle either via increased surface temperatures or some other cloud-seeding factor like cosmic rays (as the sun has dimmed consistently since the mid-1990’s). Likewise the ’98 el Nino is illustrative: A great amount of heat from it went into space, and in the case of the missing ocean heat, ocean surface warmth is likewise suspected of being radiated out into space (Kevin Trenberth, NCAR, March NPR story), with Trenberth speculating the answer lies in increased cloud formation, etc. His statement would follow studies by Spencer, Singer, Christy & Pielke.
Likewise the ’98 el Nino seems to demonstrate how high-threshold surface heat eventually climbs outward into space, eventually heating the stratosphere along the way. So the distinction of surface vs. stratospheric temperatures is far too simplistic to be useful. Warmer surface temperatures aren’t related to cooler stratospheric temperatures unless we’re to claim clouds are masking both effects. In their manifold shading, transpirative & albedo effects clouds lend toward the maintenance of a thermal constant, and as CO2 levels rise there’ll be less and less additive effect.
This makes the paleontological interglacial record look far more anecdotal and less predictive. Whatever ancient influences lent toward temperature increases being contemporaneous with CO2 increases appears more loosely correlated. Ice ages would have been drier, with less total water vapor in the air. At the onset of warmer interglacials, more water vapor would have returned to the climate system, leading to climbing humidity being the biggest greenhouse effect. Biogenic CO2 reuptake of the seas may have fallen as temperatures increased along with the desorption of CO2 by warmer waters, exaggerating the CO2 . Glaciers may have outgassed volumes of CO2 sequestered during the ice ages. The closer trending of temperatures to CO2 levels after interglacial onset only shows that there were contemporaneous trends, and the onset temperature-CO2 lag remains quite illustrative of this possibility. See: . Recent studies show that the air over the Antarctic & in the middle troposphere is far less humid than modeled – again showing both the inadequacy of climate models employing overly saturated cooler air.
Other examples abound of how the hydrological cycle simply may be simploy speeding up, achieving higher heat exchange throughput by working as a heat exchange system, something like an A/C system that’s able to use more refrigerant to keep up with increased heat load. Likewise ice-free areas of the Arctic could be offloading large amounts of heat during a majority of the year during the darker months, since open water – not insulated by ice in the long nights – would lose more heat than it takes in from the sun (a 2:1 emissivity:insolation ratio). Again analogous to something like a de-iced heat exchange system being able to work more efficiently.
It appears to me that somehow in the pursuit of the warmist’s chemistry-driven thermodynamics some basics of water vapor and polar thermodynamics have been overlooked.
What if it was all just a big mistake?


Alex Cull:
Re: Things seen & not seen, there & not there. In programming those are called “Heisenbugs.” You can observe them, but can’t touch them. There, not there.
The biggest Heisen-thingee of all would be Heisen-heat. The case of Zen claps would be “Heisen-claps,” polar bears are Heisen-bears, and, well of course, ice bergs are (ahem….) Heisen-bergs.


Alex Cull: “Just like polar bears can be simultaneously be increasing in numbers and dwindling away to extinction.”
I don’t think anyone has argued that the polar bears are currently threatened. The argument was that *some* models show the *possibility* of a substantial loss of ice *50 years* from now and that *might* threaten the bears. But I have to wonder because the bears obviously survived the last interglacial which was warmer than this one.
So it is all about “maybe it will get warmer and maybe the bears might decline in half a century”. What the people pushing this stuff need to understand is that US policy is having a diminishing impact on the globe relative to Chinese policy. We can legislate until the cows come home but in the end it is going to be Chinese policy that has the greatest impact on our energy, food, and environmental reality going forward.
Last I heard you could take the entire UK, scrape it down to bare rock and eliminate every single person, car, factory … everything … reduce the “carbon footprint” to zero … and China will make up the difference in increased emissions in about 3 to 6 months.
People pushing this stuff have no concept of the scale and there is something quite narcissistic about it. They seem to sincerely believe that the changes they make or their country makes will actually reverse things or they can make the world the way they want it if everyone would simply do as they tell them to do. I have news; if our CO2 emissions never rose again it won’t make any difference and banning incandescent light bulbs isn’t going to make any measurable difference whatsoever. It might make them FEEL better though, and that is all that really matters to them. Narcissists are emotion driven, their feelings are what matters. Our logic can not harm them, their emotions are like a shield of steel (to twist a phrase from Bat Fink).

Gene Mate

Pierre, you should read the Globe article. It appears they started their excursion less than 2 weeks ago. They’re supposed to head up from the Russian side of the Arctic, skirt alongside the Bering Strait, and then into Canadian waters. They’ve yet to get to the Canadian side.
As the ice up there is pretty bad until August, doing it now is rather silly especially as April and May have been extremely cold. Unseasonably cold. Where I am it’s 10c colder than normal!


Yep, we are all a bunch of ignorant, illiterate fools.
YOU, on the other hand, are clearly smarter and better read than all of “us people”.
Perhaps you could see your way clear, in your superiority, to help straighten out “us people”.

Bill P

The ice master confers with the captain, who makes a call to the engine room. The engines are shut down. He turns to those of us watching the drama unfold, and we are shocked by his words: “Now, only nature can help this ship.” We are doomed to drift.
Just great! First they killed the albatross, and now this!

Bruce Cobb

You people are not very intelligent, or don’t read. You are so right, Trex. We’ve been waiting for such an obvious font of knowledge and wisdom on climate such as you to come along and teach us. So, teach away.

Pierre Gosselin

I guess this guy was reporting live from this boat, as one reader here indicates. This means this happened mid-May, which means it’s basically still winter time up there.
That makes these people pretty stupid, and they should have known better.

Wondering Aloud

This was extremely funny, the irony had the whole crew smiling.
In response to above comments, who is claiming this May is warm? It is absolutely frigid here in the upper midwest, First 70 degree high was only about 2 weeks ago, we haven’t topped 74 yet, and some areas had freeze warnings out Monday after a hard freeze on May 18. It is time to get very suspicious of any data set that claims it’s a warm year. We have the latest growing season start since at least the early 70’s.
A little more of this “warming” and I’ll be looking at a spreading ice sheet close up from my front window.

Pierre Gosselin

This reminds me of the Ernest Shackelton Antarctica survival story back in the early 20th century. One of the greatest survival stories ever.


But question is, did anyone eat any albatross yet? Are they that desperate?
(See CA forum to understand the albatross reference …)

Pierre Gosselin

Jack Koenig,
Here are the two sites I like best for ice trends:
Interestingly there is less ice in the arctic compared to a year ago, but far more in the Antarctic. Hope you find these helpful.


> You people are not very intelligent, or don’t read.
One of the most consistent aspects of arguing climatology with many warmists is their inevitable conclusion that they’re right b/c they are smarter, and they are smarter b/c they can cite the authority of people smarter than they.
The religious overtones in global warming fit an old pattern found in religion. The more the ideologically pious are loathe to be found too proximate to the heresy of the back-pew agnostics, the more the pious will crowd themselves ever tighter in the front pews suborning and distinguishing themselves to their clerics. In their vainglory the agnostics, rude and indifferent knaves, have the gall and temerity to dare ask “Why is that?”

Mark Nodine

In response to above comments, who is claiming this May is warm?
FWIW, we’ve been running about 10F warmer than usual in central Texas for the last 1.5-2 weeks, with no end in sight. We’ve already hit 100F, something we did not do all last year at the official Austin weather station (Austin-Bergstrom Airport).
Maybe GISS can increase the central Texas weightings when the put out their May figures, and of course, extrapolate them to the entire Arctic region.

According to the National Agriculture Summary 5/12 – 5/18, planting and emergence of many crops had been delayed by cool weather.


Mark Nodine:
Ah, a fellow Austinite! Yeh, we’ve been having a warm and dry May. As I tell people about the variable weather here, Texas must be a woman because it’s always changing its mind.
I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the winds having been blowing from the South … we’ve been beset by southerlies giving us a Mexican Springtime. At least it’s been a relative dry heat. Texas does this in the springtime, and will cool right back down in a few weeks. The pattern will break eventually and we’ll start getting springtime westerlies with those notorious line storms crossing the state.
It’s late July and August that chases us indoors! How about the August from Hell in ’99 when we had 40 days of straight-running 100+ degrF? I had to hike a mile up a hill to my car downtown. UHE = Urban Heat Exhaustion! I’d wait ’til 6:00 PM before I ventured out from my office building.
The sunflowers are doing OK, but the Bermuda grass is a light pale green.