NYT contradicts itself on Arctic warming

Michael Bastasch at the Daily Caller writes:


The New York Times ran an editorial Sunday about the effect climate change had on discovering the Northwest Passage that appears to contradict claims the Arctic ice is melting at cataclysmic rates.

The editorial: The Northwest Passage That Might Have Been

Global warming would have helped famed fur trader Alexander Mackenzie discover a Northwest Passage connecting North America to China, according to a NYT editorial from author Brian Castner. His piece contains one significant caveat: Mackenzie’s 1789 trip happened during an era of above normal ice packed in the North that occurred before widespread fossil fuel use.

“Mackenzie paddled during the Little Ice Age, a few centuries of below-normal cold,” Castner wrote before noting Mackenzie’s failed attempt probably would have been successful had temperatures been at normal ranges.

“If he had undertaken his trip during average conditions, or at our current global temperatures, he would not have been stopped by ice,” he added. “If the ocean hadn’t been icebound, would the fur trade have followed him down the river to China? Would a summer Deh Cho have been Canada’s own Mississippi River? Would settlers have wagoned in, a northern Oregon Trail?”

The so-called “Little Ice Age,” a period stretching from the 14th century to the mid-19th century, is a controversial topic among scientists.

Some scientists argue low solar activity contributed to cooler temperatures over Europe and North America, while others posit volcanic activity drove temperatures lower since the trend began before solar activity fell. It nevertheless resulted in several layers of ice covering large sections of the Arctic.

All the various straits north of Hudson’s Bay were explored during the mid-1700s, most of which all were found full of packed ice even in summer. Most 18th century officials recognized the Northwest Passage existed but were unable to confirm their suspicions as the Little Ice age gripped previously passable parts of the Arctic ocean.

Cato Institute Atmospheric Scientist Ryan Maue looked at high Arctic temperature data in February going back to 1958 that show warm spikes are normal.

An EKG-like pattern is visible in the data, but there is a warming trend. Data before the satellite-era, 1976, is problematic, so it’s hard to say the current spike is for sure a record.

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Tom Halla
March 12, 2018 7:22 am

There is a “here be dragons” aspect to the missing information about arctic ice cover. Lack of reliable evidence is spun into whatever the writer is trying to demonstrate. So lack of reliable evidence before the satellite era is made to mean that the current melting condition is “unprecedented”. Reports of clear water in the 1920’s for areas covered with ice in the 1950’s or 1960’s are discounted as no one knows about the rest of the icepack.

March 12, 2018 7:22 am

A one to two-degree change in a yearly average tells us almost nothing, other than “some days have been warmish compared to some past days” — and for the Arctic, it is mostly “winters have not been so dangerous cold recently”. The Maue graph is Februrary 30-day means — so the dead of winter has been 2 degrees less horribly cold.
More helpful data would have been average temperature by degrees with 32F or 0C clearly marked or number of days above freezing for the month or some other more significa

March 12, 2018 7:24 am

…significant information — two-meter temperature anomaly is not necessarily biologically or climatically important.

Kurt in Switzerland
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 12, 2018 12:49 pm

Did you mean two meters or two degrees?

Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 12, 2018 1:59 pm

Perhaps he has a really long thermometer?

Reply to  MarkW
March 12, 2018 5:02 pm

which makes it more accurate.

Reply to  MarkW
March 12, 2018 6:48 pm

Except you have to back way, way up, before you can read it.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 12, 2018 6:49 pm

Kurt ==> The graph supplied in the essay is specifically titled “JRA55 2-meter Temperature Anomaly”. This means surface air temperature measured at the officially sanctioned 2-meters above ground level height.
Thus “2-meter temperature anomaly”….It is my opinion that NONE of these averaged temperature anomaly metrics meet the “MCID: Minimal Climatically Important Difference” standard.

Mumbles McGuirck
March 12, 2018 7:27 am

And if Lord Franklin hadn’t been eaten by a Yeti, Canada would be a world power. 😉

March 12, 2018 7:44 am

Mackenzie named the river Disappointment River, but the name was later changed to Mackenzie River.

Reply to  ES
March 12, 2018 5:03 pm

It is where he met Michael Mann.
Hence, he called it Disappointment River.

March 12, 2018 8:00 am

What I “love” is when anyone reports something, ice extent, temperature for a given area, etc that is less or more than “in history” when the record may only go back to 1979. They seldom mention the length of their record when make such pronouncements. Ice extent at both poles is a great example. Until we put satellites up it was impossible to get a synoptic view to the amount of ice at the poles. What is bizarre is the “warmists” want to have it both ways. If anyone suggest there was less ice at some time in the past, say 1920s, they claim there is no way of knowing. Yet based on satellite data the ice extent is lower than it has been in recorded history even though that recorded history only started in 1979 and then of course the Arctic Ocean will be ice free in the summer in a decade.

Bryan A
Reply to  Edwin
March 12, 2018 8:59 am

I thought that it was supposed to be “ice free within a decade” more than 2 and almost 3 decades ago, in fact every decade for the last 3 decades.

Reply to  Bryan A
March 12, 2018 12:50 pm

Kinda like fusion energy

March 12, 2018 8:06 am

NYT is a propaganda outlet wholly owned by Mexico, and affiliated with the DNC, with an interest to influence our elections.

Reply to  nn
March 12, 2018 10:08 am

I thought that it was only the Russians who were interested in influencing our elections.

paul courtney
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
March 12, 2018 11:17 am

Jim: It only SEEMS to be only the Russians. The NYT/progressive press attempts to influence American elections, but it is not detectable, like the influence of a certain magic gas on climate. Evidently the Russians are better at it.
[Found and rescued. -mod]

John Bills
March 12, 2018 8:35 am

Accounts from 19th-century Canadian Arctic Explorers’ Logs Reflect Present Climate Conditions

March 12, 2018 8:49 am

The first rule of musings in the NYT is to ignore context for science-oriented readers in order to tell a story with a slant.

Walter Sobchak
March 12, 2018 9:50 am

I don’t want to quibble too much. But, the linked article is not an official statement of the NYTimes editorial board. Those statements, usually called editorials, do not carry bylines.
Nor is it a column written by one of their regular staff columnists, such as Paul Krugman. Those staffers range politically from the Insane Clown Posse Left, such as Krugman and Charles Blow, to moderate conservative Ross Douthat.
The article is an op-ed by an author who is peddling a new book. The NYTimes gave him a platform, but they do not vouch for his credibility.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
March 12, 2018 5:37 pm

Walter Sobchak, you are correct. Other than saying that climate change is responsible for there being less ice in the Arctic, Castner’s only apparent sin is to assume that the world has warmed since the Little Ice Age. This is not exactly heady stuff.
If we want to rag on the NYT, we can do a lot better than this.

Reply to  scraft1
March 12, 2018 5:39 pm

Tell me again how the NYT is contradicting itself?

March 12, 2018 11:55 am

Using the Danish Met chart of temps N of 80, the spike up started in early January at 247 Kelvin. The high a couple of weeks ago was 264 and now it is at 245. The numbers are “eyeballed” off the chart, but it looks like a new low for the season is being set. Late in the winter.

Eric Stevens
March 12, 2018 12:16 pm

For what it is worth, there is a generally discarded suspicion that the Vikings may have got as far as the west coast of North America before the Little Ice Age. See particularly Maps 2 and 2C of http://www.spirasolaris.ca/sbb4g1cv.html

March 12, 2018 12:51 pm

“Packed ice?” I think the article means pack ice.
[It depends on how the martini is shaken, (or stirred, as the case may be). Below the equator, it is stirred counterclockwise but shaken down and up, ya know. .mod]

Charles Pike
March 12, 2018 1:47 pm

In discussion with any climate alarmist (s), my first question is how many p.p.m. are in our atmosphere? Most are not sure, but raise their voices to make their point. Having sold CO2 for over 30 years for eating & beverage enjoyment welding or plant enrichment, I know without this gas we wouldn’t have much of a planet. I have pointed out that the content in our atmosphere can be understood simply by placing a pencil on a football field. 770 p.p.m. is a variable & about how much there is on this earth presently .I made a good living selling CO2, & I am proud of it.

Reply to  Charles Pike
March 12, 2018 9:26 pm

CO2 is 400 ppm, by volume. Such as microliters per liter. Or milliliters per cubic meter. Or micromols per mol.
A cubic meter of atmosphere at STP weighs about 1220 grams. 1220 x .0004 is 0.49 times the 44/29 mass ratio of CO2 to air equals 0.74 grams CO2 per cubic meter of air.
Another approach is that a cubic meter of air contains 44.6 mols of gas. Times .0004 is 0.0178 mols of CO2 times 44 grams per mol is 0.78 grams.
400 ppm of a sports field of 100 meters length, would be 4 centimeters, or about an inch and a half.
On a meter stick, CO2 would be 400 micrometers, or 0.4 millimeters. Egg shells are about that thickness.

March 12, 2018 1:55 pm

As usual, the article fails to account for the temperatures of the incoming ocean waters which hugely influence arctic ice increase or decrease.

Bill Illis
March 12, 2018 2:04 pm

York Factory, Churchill etc on Hudson Bay since 1769. The ships came every year people. Global warming studies always forget there were people living right where it is far too cold for that in the days of lower CO2.
The Inuit and their whaling boats and the sailing ships of the Europeans did NOT actually use their boats in the Arctic because it was too cold.comment image
No change in temperature to today.

March 12, 2018 3:01 pm

Where can I find the actual numbers, please?

Reply to  robinedwards36
March 12, 2018 5:44 pm

Lotsa luck with that one.

March 13, 2018 2:06 am

The SS Manhattan negotiated the NW passage in the 60’s.
It was supported by Ice Breakers but did not get stuck!
It was 900 feet+ and 100,000+dwt.

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