Since we have been on the subject of Arctic expeditions this week, I thought I’d share this short essay sent to me by WUWT reader “thoughtful”. It has some interesting perspectives from a NAVY expedition called “Operation Nanook” which is supported by the newspaper clipping from the Berkshire County Eagle (Pittsfield, MA) of October 16th, 1946. It was one of those rare times when a Northwest Passage appears to have been possible – Anthony
Looking at timelines of arctic exploration, we find that virtually nobody went there during the 30s and early 40s, despite that correlating with the warmest temperatures on record (great Depression, WW II, go figure). Attached is an account of an arctic naval expedition (Operation Nanook) that took place the summer of 1946, just after WWII. Vinther, et al (1) reports the merged JJA monthly temps were in the 7.3 to 7.4 deg C range in Greenland between 1931 and 1950. In the 1990s, it was a full degree C lower. The “norm” for Thule in JJA runs somewhere around 4 – 5 deg C (1961 to current data).
Here’s another account from the same expedition: “On 4 July 1946, Atule headed for the frozen north as a member of Operation “Nanook.” The purpose of this mission was to assist in the establishment of advanced weather stations in the Arctic regions and to aid in the planning and execution of more extensive naval operations in polar and sub-polar regions. In company with USS Norton Sound (AV-11), USCGC Northwind (WAG-282), USS Alcona (AK-157), USS Beltrami (AK-162), and USS Whitewood (AN-63), Atule was to transport supplies and passengers, conduct reconnaissance of proposed weather station sites, train personnel, and collect data on Arctic conditions.
Atule rendezvoused with Northwind and Whitewood off the southwestern coast of Greenland on 11 July 1946 and put into Melville Bight, Baffin Bay, on 20 July, while a PBM reconnoitered Thule Harbor and the approaches to the harbor. Following engine trouble the PBM had made an emergency landing; and Atule was dispatched to recover the plane, becoming the first ship of the operation to enter the harbor. Atule then conducted tests and exercises in Smith South-Kane Basin with Whitewood. During one such exercise, she reached latitude 79 degrees 11 minutes north in the Kane Basin, setting a record for the United States Navy. On 29 July, Atule departed Thule, having completed all of her scheduled projects, stopped at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and reached New London late in August to resume her former duties.”
It would be fascinating to visit the naval archives and see ships logs from this expedition. One wonders what the sea ice extent was then. I do note that the Kane Basin was at least partially iced over on August 10, 2007 — the nearest data I’ve got to July for the recent 2007 minimum (and probably represents less ice than July).
(1) Extending Greenland temperature records into the late eighteenth
century B. M. Vinther,1 K. K. Andersen,1 P. D. Jones,2 K. R. Briffa,2 and J. Cappelen3
Received 24 October 2005; revised 11 January 2006; accepted 28 February 2006; published 6 June 2006.
JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 111, D11105, doi: 10.1029/2005JD006810, 2006 )