The result of scientific research recently and before WWII


Scientific position when it comes to explaining the phenomenon arctic warming
90 years ago has already been highlighted in the Introduction above. It might
therefore be of interest to see to what extent the phenomenon was discussed
before WWII.

One of the first scientists who highlighted the extraordinary temperature
development at the ‘Green Harbour’ Spitsbergen station was the
Norwegian scientist B.J.Birkeland, in 1930 (op. cit). He was very surprised
of what he discovered. He finishes his brief essay with this statement: “In
conclusion I would like to stress that the mean deviation results in very high
figures, probably the greatest yet known on earth”.  A couple of
years later, in 1936, a number of authors put Birkeland’s findings into
a wider context.

(A) Johansson (op. cit., 1936) focused his investigation
on the relevance of sunspots. Yet, some analytical consideration is nevertheless
interesting. For example: (a) In 1919, the statistical means crosses zero-value;
or, in other words, all previous years are colder; all later years are warmer;
(b) Between 1917 and 1928, the increase during the summer season is of +0.9°C
per 10 years, and in winter, of +8.3°C, in February, of +11.0°C; (c)
It seems that the changes are coming from the North. (d) Johannsson’s
main conclusion is that the increased air circulation (15 % higher) between
1896 and 1915 had gradually changed the current and ice conditions, thus altering
the borders between the Arctic gulf current climate and the true Arctic climate
further north.

(B)
Scherhag (op. cit., 1936/8)
refers to Birkeland’s work
from 1930, assuming that all warming analyses have to begin with the observation
of the Spitsbergen phenomenon, because only here the temperature increase
was measured in the winter of 1918/19 for the first time (Scherhag, 1939);
(a) There were increased Gulf Current temperatures, particularly significant
in the Barents- and East Greenland Sea. (b) The extraordinary increase
of the winter temperatures in Greenland (Scherhag, Nordeuropa, 1936) ,
was caused by a considerable retreat of the ice border and the prominent
increase of the atmospheric circulation (Scherhag, ditto).
(c) Scherhag (op.cit., 1937) states that a thorough research of the temperature
changes over the whole northern half of the globe during the period 1921-1930
confirmed that the largest part of the investigated region had been, indeed,
considerably warmer during the decade 1921-1930. (d) Scherhag stressed: “such
kind of climate changes as could now be observed in Spitsbergen and along the
western coast of Greenland were certainly not restricted to a small region
but must be global” (Scherhag, 1937).  (e) In his subsequent research
work, Scherhag pays little attention to the natural circumstances from Spitsbergen
in the late 1910s, merely acknowledging that the extent of the temperature
increase would be, without any doubt, the greatest in the Arctic (Scherhag,
1939).


(C)
Brooks (op.cit.,1938):
 (a) The Spitsbergen branch of
the North Atlantic Current has greatly increased in strength and the surface
layer of cold water in the Arctic Ocean has decreased in thickness from 200
to 100 metres. (b) Attributing the recent period of warm winters to an increase
in strength of atmospheric circulation (in reference to Scherhag) only pushes
the problem one stage back, because one should still have to account for
the change in circulation. (c) It may also be objected that the atmospheric
circulation depends on the difference of temperature between low and high
latitudes and, hence, should be weakened instead of strengthened by a warming
in the arctic. (d) Regardless the mechanism, the rise of temperature did
begin prematurely and had a cause, though it is conceivable that it arose
spontaneously in the incessant kaleidoscope of temporary pressure distributions.

(D) Manley (op. cit., 1944): (a) Temperature in
Norway, especially in the North, has certainly risen far more in recent years
than at any other time in the last two centuries. (b) A more vigorous atmospheric
circulation in the region of the Norwegian Sea would explain the observed facts,
namely the recession of the ice-limit, the increased frequency of south-westerly
winds, rather than south-easterly, in North Norway, and the consequent marked
rise in winter temperatures which has attained its greatest magnitude in the
north of the Scandinavian Peninsula.

All pre-WWII papers acknowledge the suddenness of the rise in temperatures
in the North Atlantic region since the early 1920s, but pay too little attention
to the location of Spitsbergen, an island in the mid of a huge sea area, with
sea-ice in the north and at the edge of the Norwegian Sea in the South. However,
the great-grandfathers of today’s climatologists discussed this matter
very seriously and in a way, which is not very different from today.

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