The Arctic Joule, One Year Ago

Hmm. This was scheduled to post in August, and never did.

A bit over a year ago, the Arctic Joule full of four tense young rowers was crossing the strait from the Lady Franklin Point — and was bailing out, at the not-quite-halfway mark. By the 28th of August, they were out of the water and done.

My charts and commentary are still up. And so is their Facebook page, with links to their presentation of November last year. They managed to make the high volume of ice sound like it was caused by global warming:

Our ice router Victor has been very clear in what lies ahead. He writes, “Just to give you the danger of ice situation at the eastern Arctic, Eef Willems of “Tooluka” (NED) pulled out of the game and returning to Greenland. At many Eastern places of NWP locals have not seen this type ice conditions. Residents of Resolute say 20 years have not seen anything like. Its, ice, ice and more ice. Larsen, Peel, Bellot, Regent and Barrow Strait are all choked. That is the only route to East. Already West Lancaster received -2C temperature expecting -7C on Tuesday with the snow.”

Richard Weber, my teammate to the South Pole in 2009 and without doubt the most accomplished polar skier alive today, is owner and operator of Arctic Watch on Cunningham Inlet at the northern end of Somerset Island. Arctic Watch faces out onto our proposed eastern route. Richard dropped me a note the other day advising: “This has been the coldest season with the most ice since we started Arctic Watch in 2000. Almost no whales. The NWPassage is still blocked with ice. Some of the bays still have not melted!”

I bolded the reference to the experience of “locals”—which the boys considered to be of paramount importance:

Floyd Roland, the former premiere of the North West Territories and the current mayor of Inuvik speaks of winters that now begin a month later than when he was a kid, of strange and inconsistent weather patterns that were once far more predictable. Elders Billy and Eileen Jacobson of Tuktoyaktuk speak of winters shortened by a fortnight at either end, of grasshoppers in the arctic, of grizzly bears and wolverine further north than ever seen before. Daryl Nasagaluk of Tuktoyaktuk speaks of beavers now appearing in arctic waters, damming the rivers and destroying the run of white fish. Hank Wolki in Paulatuk speaks of the thinning sea ice that surrounds his community, of the dangers of winter travel within a warming arctic. Marlene Wolki of Paulatuk speaks of a shifting winter season, of picking blueberries in late September during a time when the land was once frozen, of an ice-free Darnely Bay in October, something unheard of when she was young. Brothers Joe and Steve Illisiak in Brown’s Camp tell us of grizzly and polar bears interacting now, of the new hybrid bear on the scene – the pizzly and the grolar, of rarely seen pods of killer whales prowling their waters. Joe Ohokannoak tells us of grizzly bears on Victoria Island now, of ravens being common place where once they never ventured. The arctic is changing and it’s changing dramatically. We know this because the people that live here tell us so.

Others, however, may take note of the fact that the science undercuts most of these stories by locals. And the current level of Arctic sea-ice is now matching that of forty years ago (even more than the above descriptions of last year), while the southern sea ice is at the largest extent ever recorded.

But somehow, more ice is also evidenecc of Global Warming. I’ll bet you didn’t know that prior to Global Warming, the Arctic was like San Diego: Completely predictable weather.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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