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Historical perspectives on Arctic climate change: early results and work in progress University of Washington Program on Climate Change Summer Institute Leavenworth, Washington 15-17 September 2004 Kevin R. Wood and James E. Overland This work supported by: NOAA Arctic Research Office.

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Historical perspectives on Arctic climate change:

early results and work in progress

University of Washington

Program on Climate Change Summer Institute

Leavenworth, Washington

15-17 September 2004

Kevin R. Wood and James E. Overland

This work supported by: NOAA Arctic Research Office

Thetis in Melville Bay. Schley, Greely Relief Expedition of 1884.


Aims of historical climate research

Devon Island summer air temperature proxy

  • Corroborate proxy-derived climate history with observed surface conditions.

  • Understand how observed surface conditions relate to climate and environmental change over longer timescales.

  • Aid interpretation of historical and traditional knowledge in the modern context of climate and environmental change and variability.

Red indicates +1 SD; Dark Blue indicates -1 SD compared to the reference period (1901-1960) Fisher and Koerner 1990; Overpeck 1998

Ice core record derived from melt layer stratigraphy

Erk-sing-ra: source of local knowledge recorded by Capt. Maguire at Point Barrow in the 1850s. “[We] had worse seasons before the Ship came...”

Journal of Rochefort Maguire. Photo: US National Archives.


Early results and work in progress

  • Arctic climate and the search for the Northwest Passage, 1818-1910.

  • Climate lessons from the First International Polar Year, 1881-1884.

  • Some thoughts on the comparison of historical observations with modern records.

Winter Quarters, 1853

Instrument shelter, 1868

Journal, Pt. Barrow, 1852

IPY meteorological station, 1882

Melt anomaly, 1938


19th c. historical data resources

Arctic America

EXAMPLES of source material:

Parry 1821, Journal of a Voyage for the Discovery of a North-west Passage.

Maguire 1852, unpublished meterological journal of HMS Plover (manuscript courtesy Nat’l Library of Ireland).

Plus: seasonal transition, freshwater ice, biological and social phenologies

● Monthly Mean Temperature

● Onset of Melt/Freeze

● Summer Ice Conditions

● Annual Ice Thickness


Barrow Strait, August 1853

National Archives of Canada

Accession Number 1989-399-3

M’Clure Strait, August 1851

National Archives of Canada

Accession Number 1989-398-4

Barrow Strait, August 1853

National Archives of Canada

Accession Number 1989-399-4

Arctic climate and the search for the Northwest Passage, 1818-1910

We expected to find indications of a large-magnitude climate shift consistent with ‘Little Ice Age’ conditions:

  • Thicker, more widespread and persistent sea ice.

  • Colder air temperatures.

  • Changes in melt season (later onset of melt, earlier freeze).


Discovery Bay, August 1883

Greely, Three Years of Arctic Service

M’Clure Strait, August 1908

Bernier, Cruise of the Arctic

Wellington Channel, August 1853

Savours, The search for the Northwest Passage

Arctic climate and the search for the Northwest Passage, 1818-1910

Instead we found:

  • Scant evidence of an extreme LIA climate.

  • Explorers encountered generally typical conditions compared to present climatology.

  • The Northwest Passage was discovered and effectively mapped by 1859; that it was not navigated was due to technology not climate.


Early 19th century discovery expeditions compared

to sea ice climatology (1971 – 2000)

Arctic Ocean

Greenland

Banks I

Victoria I

Baffin Island

Climatic sea ice distribution based on percent frequency of presence on September 10, 1971-2000

(Canadian Ice Service 2002).

Many ship tracks & other direct observations are not inconsistent with

recent sea ice climatology


First-year sea ice thickness measurements are

within modern variability

18 Ice Thickness Measurements 1820 - 1876

Year & Expedition

Thickness (cm)

1820 Parry

1825 Parry

1830 Ross

1831 Ross

1849 J.C.Ross

1851 Penny

1851 Austin

1851 M’Clure

1852 Collinson

1852 M’Clure

1853 Collinson

1853 M’Clure

1853 Kellet

1854 Collinson

1854 Kellet

1854 Rae

1859 M’Clintock

1876 Nares

201

228

218

205

+213

+218

198

231

Typical Modern Maximum

215

210

188

213

244

228

171

183

250

215

Blue indicates >1 Std. Dev. over reference mean. Cross-hatching indicates an interrupted measurement series. (Reference data: Environment Canada and Canadian Ice Service 2002).


30 melt transition dates (1820-1906) estimated from daily mean SAT

Std Dev

Historical and Modern Stations

Melt Transition Date

19th c. stations shown in red, 20th c. in black Contours = ref. mean onset of melt (5 day int.)

Frequency ± reference mean 1971-2000

(Ref. data: Global Daily Climatology Network)

Onset of melt observed by 19th c. explorers is not inconsistent with modern values.

Evidence of change in the melt season


Examples of an early thaw: mean SATFirst-hand accounts from the HMS Sophia and the USS Polaris

HMS Sophia, June 1851:“About the end of May and the first week of June the weather changed in a remarkable manner. On the 7th…water was observed on the land.”

Sutherland, Journal of a Voyage in Baffin’s Bay and Barrow Straits…

Melt Transition: June 3

-1° C

(+1 Std Dev)

USS Polaris, June 3, 1872:“The plain is full of fine streamlets of water that give moisture to the ground. Saxifragas are blooming, and are distributed all over the plain…”

Buddington journal, quoted in Narrative of the North Polar Expedition

Melt Transition: May 31

-1° C

Transition date estimates are consistent with physical descriptions.

(+2.3 Std Dev)


Evidence of change in the onset of freeze mean SAT

34 freeze transition dates (1819-1905) estimated from daily mean SAT

Std Dev

Freeze Transition Date

Historical and Modern Stations

19th c. stations shown in red, 20th c. in black Contours = ref. mean onset of melt (5 day int.)

Frequency ± reference mean 1971-2000

(Ref. data: Global Daily Climatology Network)

Onset of freeze is frequently consistent with modern values.


An early freeze: HMS mean SATHecla and Fury, August 1824

August, 1824:

“The month of August was remarkable, as much for the quantity of fog, rain and snow which fell, as for the extraordinary low temperature of the atmosphere.”

Parry, Journal of a third voyage…

Freeze Transition: Aug. 11

-1° C

(-3.6 Std Dev)

Mean transition date: Sept. 9

Median freeze-up date: Sept. 24

September 13-16: “For three days we were…sallying from morning to night with all hands, and with the watch at night, two boats constantly under the bows…” Parry, Journal of a third voyage… Image PU6103 courtesy of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich


A late freeze: mean SATHMS Hecla and Griper, September 1819

September 7, 1819:

“The ‘young’ or ‘bay’ ice formed during the night in all the sheltered places about the floe…to the thickness of three-quarters of an inch; and the pools upon the floe were now almost entirely solid…”

Parry, Journal of a Voyage for the Discovery of a North-west Passage

Freeze Transition: Sept. 7

-1° C

SST

SAT

(+1 Std Dev)

Mean transition date: Aug. 30

Median freeze-up date: Sept. 10

September 24-26: “The whole length of this canal was…nearly two miles and one-third, and the average thickness of the ice was seven inches.”Parry, Journal of a Voyage…


Climate lessons from the First International Polar Year, 1881-1884

  • A marked pattern of regional SAT variability is evident and is associated with observed changes in the environment.

  • A longer perspective shows that Arctic environmental change is not a problem unique to the last 30 years, nor to the past century.

  • Environmental changes observed since the 1950s may also be explained by sensitivity to lower amplitude century-scale trends.

Sgt. Jewell recording temperature, Fort Conger (Ca. 1881-1883).

Paleocrystic ice, N. Ellesmere Island. British Arctic Expedition, 1875-76.

Photo: Smithsonian Anthropological Archives


12 Primary Stations 1881-1884

3 Secondary Stations

Related Observations

IPY-1: the first pan-Arctic scientific enterprise, 1881-1884

1. Cape Thordsen

15. Jan Mayen

2. Bossekop

14. Godthaab

6

7

16

5

4

3

2

1

4. Sodankylä

15

11. Kingua Fjord

8

10

14

11

9

5. Maliye Karmakuly

10. Fort Conger

12

13

Note: All but 4 IPY stations were in areas with Native populations

6. Kara Sea

7. Sagastyr

Not Pictured

3. Kautokeino

12. Fort Chimo

13. Nain

16. Arhangl’sk

8. Point Barrow

9. Fort Rae


Melt season arrives early in Finnmark and in Baffin Bay 1881-1884

An early freeze in the Kara Sea, White Sea, and in Spitzbergen. Dutch expedition fails to reach Dikson Island.

But melt is late at the Lena Delta and Jan Mayen

Seasonal transition during IPY-1, 1882-1883

Melt and freeze anomaly

Departure from 1968-1997 Means

Days +/- Mean

15 10 5 0 -5 -10 -15

Days +/- Mean

15 10 5 0 -5 -10 -15

Freeze Anomaly 1882

Melt Anomaly 1883

Regional differences in the onset of melt and freeze are apparent.

† Reference mean series contains only 6 years (1996-2001)


“By the last of June the tundra was nearly free from snow…the few hardy flowers were in bloom…” Report of Pt. Barrow Exp.

“Winter came on rapidly; the lagoon, near the station, was closed entirely on [Sept.] 26th…” Report of Pt. Barrow Exp.

June 4, 1853. “Another beautiful summers day, the thaw is going on in good earnest…we watch its progress [as one] would do in seeing his prison clear away.” Journal of Rochefort Maguire

Phenological calendar: seasonal transition at Point Barrow

Daylight

Sun Angle

+

Indicators

First Birds

Melt Onset

Snow Disappears

Freeze Onset

Lagoons Freeze

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

2000

1995

1990

1985

1980

1975

1970

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

IPY-1

+

1881

1882

1883

(+)

Maguire (HMS Plover)

+

1852

1853

1854

+

(+)

9/16

6/1

6/13

Data sources: US Naval Observatory, Astronomical Applications. NOAA NCDC. R. Stone, NOAA CMDL (Snowmelt). P. Ray, Report of the Point Barrow Exp. R. Maguire, Journal


IPY-1 snow…the few hardy flowers were in bloom…”

"In recent years it has been noticed that the southern permafrost boundary is steadily retreating northward. Thus, in 1837 at the city of Mezen' wells had to be dug through permafrost. In 1933 you had to go 40 miles north to discover traces of permafrost. This retreat of the permafrost is due to a general change in the climate and in particular the general re-warming of the Arctic…” N.N. Zubov, Arctic Ice and the

Warming of the Arctic, from'In the Center of the Arctic, 1948.

Onset of melt based on

air temperature (instrumental)

Rivers ice-free (observed)

(70% explained by onset date)

“We had worse seasons before…” Erk-sing-ra

Date

Discontinuity of observations

IPY-1 in the context of 2 ½ centuries of change

Onset of Melt in Northern Russia, 1734-1998

“[It is] a matter in my judgement of greater importance to the prosperity of this country if, as I conceive it to be the case the frosty springs and chilly summers we have been subject to for many years past, so much so that it is now 16 or 17 years since we had a full crop of apples for cyder, are caused by the increase of Ice which seems to have accumulated for many years past.”J. Banks to W. Scoresby 22 Sept. 1817 (Whitby Museum Archive).

Krakatoa (August 1883)

Dalton

Solar Minimum

Data Sources: E. Wahlén, III Supplementband zum Repertorium für Meteorologie, 1887. M. Rykatschew, II Supplementband zum Repertorium für Meteorologie, 1887. NOAA National Climate Data Center GDCN, 2002. V. Vuglinsky. Russian River Ice Thickness and Duration, NSIDC, 2000.


Patterns in the spring break-up of Russian rivers snow…the few hardy flowers were in bloom…”

Ice-free Date Anomaly

Pattern and long-term trend reinforced by Tornionjoki river record.

Anomaly, 5 year average

(10 day offset)

Angara river appears to have an opposite trend, but does reflect stronger anomalies.

Dalton

Solar Minimum

Year

Data Sources: M. Rykatschew, II Supplementband zum Repertorium für Meteorologie, 1887. V. Vuglinsky. Russian River Ice Thickness and Duration, NSIDC, 2000. B. Benson, B. and J. Magnuson,Global Lake and River Ice Phenology Database, NSIDC, 2000.


Krakatoa effect? snow…the few hardy flowers were in bloom…” “Remarkable” differences in meteorology reported by IPY observersat Sodankylä :

  • Great differences in barometric pressure and air temperature.

  • Much more precipitation; double the number of days with rain or snow.

Monthly Mean Temp (C)

Compared to 1968-97

1882-83

1883-84

“It seems highly probable that 1882-83 was much closer to the normal climate. The inhabitants also noticed these exceptional circumstances.”

Lemström and Biese, Observations fait aux stations de Sodankylä et de Kultala, 1882-83 et 1883-84.

Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug

Difference in Precipitation (mm)

1882-83 and 1883-84

Sodankylä IPY station, 1882-84

Eduard Munch, The Scream


Mapping 20th century climate parameters necessary for historical comparison

The complete seasonal transition histories of 105 Arctic communities

In the context of the 20th century.

Regional and local patterns of variability and change

Change: regime-like, inter-decadal, linear

The IPY in the continuum of time

Movie of 20th century

  • Onset of melt

  • Onset of freeze

  • Summer duration

  • 3 Year trailing averages

  • First differences

Animations

Observed associations

  • Pan-Arctic warmth with +AO

  • Changing regional patterns

  • Correlated with physical environment

1st difference of freeze onset


Persistent melt season anomalies and sea-ice distribution in the 1930s

AO -0.03

AO -0.24

AO 0.45

Diminished sea-ice cover in the Barents and Kara Seas is associated with an increase in the warm melt season anomaly observed in this region. Warm and cold anomalies are also associated with sea ice in Chukotka. Warm anomaly precedes +AO? Atlas der Vereisungsverhältnisse. Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine, 1942


Paleocrystic ice, N. Ellesmere Island. British Arctic Expedition, 1875-76. Photo: Smithsonian Anthropological Archives

[The] warming of the Arctic is not a phenomenon limited to the single area of the Polar regions; it is on a scale affecting the whole terrestrial globe.N. N. Zubov, 1948. From: Arctic Ice and the Warming of the Arctic (translated from The Center of the Arctic).


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