Arctic Explorers or Buccaneers?
Written by Dr Klaus L.E. Kaiser
A couple of Arctic explorers, actually adventurers, have gone missing and are presumed to have drowned. Just a few weeks ago, Marc Cornelissen and his companion kept armchair explorers enthralled with tweets and soundtracks like “Skiing in shorts: Tropical day in the Arctic.”
Are people like Cornelissen real explorers or just out to garner attention for stunt-like actions and publicity for their Arctic adventures?
What’s the Arctic?
The Arctic is a vast expanse, covering land in Siberia, Greenland and Canada’s Arctic Archipelago as well as a large tract of ocean. In fact, most of the Arctic (defined here as the area north of the 67th parallel of latitude) is not land but sea.
Some people think that any area with saltwater in northern hemisphere is part of the Arctic. For example, the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSDIC) daily measurements of “Arctic sea-ice” include sea-ice in areas well south of the polar circle (67 N), in fact even south of mid-latitude (45 N). No wonder people get confused as to what constitutes “the Arctic.” That kind of misleading definition of “Arctic” is also the cause of some people looking for adventure and publicity by “exploring” the Arctic.
For a few weeks each summer, you may get daytime temperatures above freezing. Also, the 24-hour sunshine may give you a false sense of security and warmth but it does not last long and often ends in tragedy. Numerous private yachts and adventurers had to be rescued in recent years from becoming stranded in Arctic sea-ice when trying to traverse the North-West-Passage or “skiing to the North Pole.”
Of course, all these adventurers (they are not “explorers”) are relying on Canada to rescue them from the inclement conditions and unforeseen problems. Even with the best available technologies that is not always possible—when fog or blinding “whiteout” snowstorms obscure anything beyond a few feet away nobody can come to these souls’ rescue.
At the heart of the problem is the definition of “Arctic sea-ice.”
What’s Arctic Sea-Ice?
Unfortunately, many adventurers are lulled into the belief of a “melting Arctic” by entirely misleading definitions of Arctic sea-ice by institutes like the NSDIC in Boulder, Colorado. Unlike other agencies that are recording temperature or ice data in the true Arctic region, the NSIDC considers as Arctic sea-ice all ocean ice at latitudes south of the North Pole. For example, if there were sea-ice just an inch north of the equator, they surely would call it Arctic as well.
Because of earth’s axis tilt of 23 arc degrees relative to the ecliptic (the plane of its path around the sun), we have winter and summer seasons in all regions away from the equator. That angle also defines the polar circles as the latitude (90-23) = 67 arc degrees to the south (in the southern hemisphere) and north (in the northern hemisphere) of the equator. By most definitions, the areas south of the southern polar circle are considered to be in the Antarctic and those areas north of 67 N in the Arctic.
Using such a definition, the annual maximum extent of “Arctic sea-ice” would be much smaller than that compiled by NSDIC and other agencies using the same or similar definitions. However, also the annual seasonal variations, especially the decline of the sea-ice extent in the hemispheric summer would be much smaller than currently reported.
In fact, measuring any polar sea-ice only at latitudes above the polar circles would quickly expose the “melting Arctic” claim as a falsehood. Except for small annual variations, both Arctic sea-ice extent and thickness have not changed in any significant way over several decades. That can also be corroborated from 67 years of daily data records of air temperatures at latitudes above 80 N by the Danish Meteorological Institute and other field observations. In particular, I’d like to mention here the observations by Cpt. James Calvert, Commander of the USS Skate, recorded in 1958. Low and behold, there were stretches of open water close to the North Pole then—long before “climate change” became a hot topic and at a time when the carbon dioxide (CO2) level in the atmosphere was significantly lower than today (Wattsupwiththat.com ).
(pictured: Cmdr. James Calvert, USN; source: LIFE magazine)
Commander James Calvert wrote about that expedition in the LIFE magazine (issue of May 4, 1959): “In August  the Arctic was as its bland best with continual daylight and air temperatures above freezing. Cruising under the 10-foot thick icepack we repeatedly had found open water where we could surface.”
The Arctic is no Place for Publicity Seekers
In the brief Arctic summer, when the air is warm and the sea-ice is melting, adventurers and publicity seekers come to visit the far north to proclaim “climate change” and expound on the Arctic melting myth. However, if they get stuck in pack ice or run into other obstacles they surely expect to be rescued promptly by Canada’s naval and air forces.
Perhaps a requirement to deposit a sizable “rescue-bond” would deter such wanton activities by wannabe stuntmen, buccaneers and publicity seekers.