Northwest Passage Conditions Similar To 1845

The 1845 Franklin expedition through the Northwest Passage ended with everybody dead, after getting trapped by ice at several locations.

NOVA | Arctic Passage | Tracing the Routes (printable) | PBS

The ice at 3, 4, 5 on Franklin’s Route is 1.5 to 2.5 meters thick.  They would have been trapped by the ice again this year.

FullSize_CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20180801.png (1337×1113)

Satellite Image

And temperatures are below freezing.


However, the Northwest Passage was open in 1904.

TimesMachine: March 9, 1907 

And by 1958, there was even less ice.

The Changing Face of the Arctic; The Changing Face of the Arctic – The New York Times

Yet the climate lies continue endlessly …..

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19 Responses to Northwest Passage Conditions Similar To 1845

  1. Mark Breckenridge says:

    I wonder how these folks are doing?

    • Mr Grimnasty says:

      It says ice class 1A, various posts describe it as an icebreaker, 1A Super is a full blown icebreaker apparently. Either way I don’t expect they’ll have much trouble pushing a way though or shadowing something more powerful, if need-be, to save face.

    • Steven Fraser says:

      Lets see how they fare the next few days. Right now, they are not underway. Later today, the wind shifts to the NE, and rises to 20kn. That’s pretty peppy for sailing, even if they are headed along the coast.

      Temp won’t be so bad, in the high 40’s F right now, but as they sail up the Alaskan coast against the headwind, it drops to freezing the farther they go past Wainwright.

      You really gotta love sailing.

    • Anon says:

      These guys are ahead of them:

      In 2013 they got trapped and rescued by a Russian ice breaker.

    • Steven Fraser says:

      Not under way today. Still moored just East of Point Hope, along the lagoon.

      Wind from 20 degrees (NNE) at 21kn, Temp 45.9F.

      • Steven Fraser says:

        They are now about 21 km NNE of Kokruagarok, AK, making progress on a ESE course at nearly 8 knots.

        • Phil. says:

          Yes the next couple of days will be worst for ice, after that they should be able to make Gjoahavn if they have favorable winds without too much trouble.

    • Steven Fraser says:

      They have made progress since I last checked. They are now anchored offshore of Utqiaġvik, AK, where the Barrow Environmental station is. Its 34F this morning , approaching 10:00 am there. That is forecast as the high for the day.

      Just so happens that the Utqiaġvik Sea Ice Webcam is pointed at where they are anchored. Looking at the hourly pix from it, they arrived between 10 and 11 hours ago. Here is the current pic of where they have been anchored since then.

    • Steven Fraser says:

      Update: The sailboat is making progress north of Alaska, and appear headed toward Prudhoe Bay. Temp is 34 today, but colder weather is coming. Tomorrow’s high is 34 early morning, but declines to 30 after the late-morning windshift. Later in the afternoon, it returns to 34. Tomorrow’s high is 37F … heat wave.

  2. Steven Fraser says:

    DMI Sea Ice Volume stats for August 1st:

    With its low melt rate, 2005 is now in #4 position, exceeding this year by 25 cu km, and making 2018 #5. Even so, 2018 was 116.84% of the 16-year average, and 118.37% of the 10 year DMI-graphed 2004-2013 group. Both %s rose a little since yesterday’s report.

    The 16-year 1-sigma rose a little since yesterday, enough for the current ice volume to be just inside the 1st std deviation group. Compared to the 10-year 1-sigma, 2018 remains in the 2nd std deviation group. The 2018 melt for the day was -113 cu km, just 3 cu km less than the average. The change which caused the 16-year 1-sigma to increase is the spread of the sea ice volume levels for the 16-year set. Those values have been becoming progressively ‘spread out’ in the last 3 days.

    Looking forward a bit, this time of year the relative melt and recovery rates start to show in the rankings. Here are the lowstand dates for all the previous years, sorted by month/day of lowstand:

    2006 0813
    2004 0816
    2015 0817
    2005 0818
    2009 0818
    2012 0821
    2007 0823
    2011 0824
    2013 0825
    2008 0828
    2003 0901
    2017 0901
    2010 0906
    2016 0909
    2014 0910

    Stay tuned!

  3. richard verney says:

    Some years back, I saw a documentary (screened on British TV) on the search for the Franklin vessels. the search vessel kept on getting stuck in ice, and one of the Experts commented that he thought that the conditions in the Arctic were similar to those experienced by Franklin.

    I was surprised to hear an Expert acknowledge that conditions in the Arctic some 170 years later were much the same as they were in around 1845!

    So much for the decline in Arctic Ice.

  4. Steven Fraser says:

    DMI has not posted a file yet with Aug 2 Sea Ice Volume.

  5. Caleb Shaw says:

    One way the unethical climate scientist tend to fudge old graphs is to automatically infill 100% sea-ice in places there likely was patches of open water. A way to expose this bias is to read the journals of the old explorers.

    When Nansen attempted to reach the Pole in 1896 he brought along two sledges, and also two kayaks. They needed the kayaks on the way back. They tied the sledges between them and created a sort of catamaran. They were doing this well north of Franz Josef Land. The recreations of past situations tend to show that area as solid ice.

    Nansen was incredible. He really planned well, but did make one mistake. He and his companion pulled there catamaran-thingy onto a flat iceberg to camp for the night. They didn’t pull their boat far enough into the ice and a gust of wind blew it away. Nansen had no choice. He dove in and swam after it in twenty-nine degree water that can kill a man in five minutes. He did save the boat. What a story!

    • Steven Fraser says:

      That would be _brisk_!

      • RAH says:

        It is instantly painful. Like pins and needles on ones scalp and a sort of burning sensation elsewhere. The pins and needles on the scalp was the worse though. Almost enough to bring tears to ones eyes. At least that is the way it felt to me the couple of different times I’ve been immersed in sub freezing or near freezing water.

        That being said, a short exposure in super cold water is much better than a longer exposure in somewhat warmer water when one feels the insidious progression of hypothermia creeping up on them and their joints locking up.

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