Story Submitted by Geir Hasnes
While we were going through the heaps of papers after a deceased family member some days ago, I noticed a newspaper clipping from the Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidende, August 31, 1974, where glaciologists stated that we were at the entrance of a colder period in Northern Europe which would last at least until 2010. The evidence of it would come from ice core drillings from the Greenland inland glaciers. I am sorry to say the story’s
beginning at the front page had not been kept, but it seems that it has been a news item that was shocking for many people. A scan and translation is given below.
It is interesting that this prediction came from the late Danish professor Willi Dansgaard, who has had his name forever connected to climate variations. To quote the English Wikipedia:
“Dansgaard was the first paleoclimatologist to demonstrate that measurements of the trace isotopes oxygen-18 and deuterium in accumulated glacier ice could be used as an indicator of past climate. Dansgaard was the first to note deuterium excess, or a water sample’s deviation from the global meteoric water line (GMWL) in ice cores. He found that the kinetic differences between hydrogen-1 and deuterium related to the temperature of source water, and the absolute humidity.
He was the first scientist to extract palaeoclimatic information from the American Camp Century ice core from Greenland drilled by the US army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL). Dansgaard also took a leading role in the drilling of the first ice core to bedrock for scientific reasons, the DYE-3 core from South Greenland, 1400 km away from the Camp Century. Confirming findings from the analysis of the Camp Century ice core, the DYE-3 climate profile documented the existence of rapid climate change, during and at the end of the last glacial. The repeated events of abrupt climate change during the glacial are named after Willi Dansgaard and his Swiss colleague, Hans Oeschger, and are known as Dansgaard-Oeschger events.”
It was even more interesting to see the young Olav Orheim stand behind this prediction. Orheim was director of the Norwegian Polar Institute from 1993 to 2005 and led the Norwegian part of the International Polar Year from 2007 to 2009, during which many funny predictions appeared. He was interviewed during the Arctic Frontier Conference in Tromsø in January 2008 by the Norwegian Teknisk Ukeblad (Technological Weekly), where he could tell that the Arctic ocean could be ice-free already during the summer, and not in 2040, as the other experts at the conference had opinionated. He had bet a bottle of red wine on it, but said that, of course, it depends on … (you guessed it) … the weather. See www.tu.no/miljo/article132039.ece .
To be honest, from the way the interview was written, it is possible that he didn’t mean that it should be completely ice free in the whole of Arctic, as the title of the interview tells, but he definitely meant that it would be possible to sail above Siberia without the aid of an icebreaker.
As a wise man once said: It is hard to predict, especially about the future.
Some facts regarding the article from 1974:
Bergens Tidende (The Bergen Times) is the largest daily newspaper in Bergen.
Sogn is the southern half of the county Sogn og Fjordane [Sogn and the Fjords], in the western part of Norway.
The Jostedal glacier is the largest glacier in Norway. In 1970 it covered 545 sq. km. and the most recent value I have found is 487 sq. km. With adjacent glaciers it covered 815 sq. km. in 1970.
Jotunheimen is a large mountainous area in southern Norway containing Norway?s
Newspaper Article Translation:
Nordic glaciologists in Sogn predict colder times in Norway.
Cont. from p. 1.
…The glaciologists quite simply state that the glaciers in Jotunheimen now have begun a new advance. The Ber[g]set glacier in Jostedalen has advanced the last year, and also the Nigard glacier accumulates and will in a few years time advance on the glacier front. The cause: We are at the entrance of a cooler period with lower middle temperatures in the summer. For those wishing for hot summer months, the outlook is not bright, quite the
contrary, the Danish professor Wiili Dansgaard tells Bergens Tidende. Dansgaard states quite coldly that Northern Europe will have a cold, probably even somewhat colder than the last summers climate period all until the year 2010.
The Danish professor builds his predictions upon a scientific basis from the Greenland inland glaciers. By drilling in the eternal ice on Greenland, one has been able to register the regular climate periods during the ages. By taking these periods and extrapolating them into the future, one can only ascertain that we now stand at the entrance of a cold period in Nothern Europe, professor Dansgaard says, who has his daily residence at the
University of Copenhagen.
This week, together with approximately 50 colleagues from all the 5 Nordic countries, he has been stationed in Jostedalen, in Veltestrand and in Fjærland.
The tendency of the glaciers in Sogn supports Dansgaard?s theory about the beginning of a cooler period. From about 1750 onwards until now the glaciers in Norway have mainly declined after having advanced forcibly for a longer period until 1750.
Now the decline have stopped., the glaciers in the Jotunheim are on the advance ? and if we are to believe the Danish glacier expert, they will continue to advance and be on the offensive for some decades to come.
The Nordic group of glaciologists was founded three years ago. In the group, from Norway, glaciologists from the universities of Bergen and Oslo, the Norwegian Waterways and Electricity Administration and from the Norwegian Polar Institute participate. This year, the board is Norwegian and consists of researcher Olav Orheim, state hydrologist Randi Pytte Aswald and glaciologist Olav Liestøl.
Last year, the annual gathering was situated at southern parts of Greenland. This year, it is the Jostedal glacier and its many glacier arms that is the gathering place for the glaciologists.
This week, the glaciologists have been at the Nigard glacier and the Bergset glacier in Jostedal, the Austerdal glacier at Veltestrand, and in Fjærland they have been on top of the Jostedal glacier itself in addition to the Bøya glacier and the Suphelle glacier.
When they conclude in Fjærland tomorrow, they will also have been through 20-some lectures on the theme of glaciological research at glacier of practically the whole world.?