From: Tim Radford, The Ecologist, More from this Affiliate
Published July 11, 2014 10:14 AM

Arctic sea ice trends confirmed by Whalers' logs

Log books from British whaling ships more than 200 years ago have given new insights into the history of the Arctic sea ice, reports Tim Radford. A new study reveals that the scale of ice melt in the Arctic over the last few decades is new and unprecedented. The retreat of the ice in the last 30 years is part of a more recent and new pattern of climate change.

British whaling ships from Tyneside in the north-east of England made 458 trips to the edge of the Arctic ice between 1750 and 1850.

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Their log books contained detailed records of perilous journeys, whales caught, and the tons of blubber and barrels of oil they brought home.

For Matthew Ayre, a PhD student at the University of Sunderland, UK, and Dennis Wheeler, the university's Emeritus Professor of Climatology, these log books and other records by merchant ships and Arctic explorers such as Sir John Franklin - who tried in 1845 to navigate the icy North-West Passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific - represent an extraordinary resource.

They give an account of the southern edge of the ice sheet, the prevailing weather, the spring and summer extremes, the storms, and the condition of the Arctic ice shelf.

Image credit WhalingMuseum.org

Read more at ENN Affiliate, The Ecologist.

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