Anonymous asked in EnvironmentGlobal Warming · 1 decade ago

Northwest passage navigable before 1950 - what does this tell us about changes in Arctic ice cover?

You may not know about this, but in the 1930's and 40's the Northwest passage above Canada was successfully navigated a number of times by ships.

As Mark Dickerson of the University of Calgary notes, In 1937 E. J. Gall made the transit in a small (60 foot long) wooden ship. You can see photos of it, and read about the voyage here:

That same year, the same vessel met the SS Nascopie of the Hudson Bay Company at the furthest north outpost of Prince Regent Inlet, such was the low extent of ice at the time: The SS Nascopie even took tourists on board for voyages around the Northwest in the 1930's!

Again, the University of Calgary records how in 1942, and again in 1944, the [quote] "frail and underpowered little ship" the St Roch, a wooden RCMP ship successfully navigated the passage - in 1944 it made the journey with little trouble in only 86 days!

Since then many ships have made the journey.

1969: SS Manhattan collected oil from Prudhoe Bay as part of Northwest passage.

(See: Bern Keating, Tomas Sennett, Through the Northwest Passage for Oil, National Geographic Magazine, Vol 137, no 3, March 1970)

In 1977 Willy de Roos sailed through it in his yacht

(see )

And in 1984 the cruise ship the MS Explorer made the journey as well.

What do you think these successful transits of the Northwest passage tell us about the variability of the Arctic ice before satellite measurements began?




EDIT @ Antarctic -

As we've come to expect, you just will not admit that the facts. The St Roch made the journey in 1944 in just 86 days!

The 1937 journey was made by a tiny wooden ship - of course he took supplies. What the hell do you think he would do?

You just can't accept the truth, can you?

Update 2:


Trevor -

It certainly speaks volumes about you, that's for sure. You made a bald statement that the Northwest passage was now navigable for the first time. I disproved it, politely, and with references.

You then claimed that the ships previously had to be dragged over the ice to make the transit. I showed otherwise.

You made a statement, it was wrong. Get over it. I have quickly and cheerfully admitted to mistakes when someone has been able to point them out to me without cavilling after the fact.

9 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Your very first link is of the standard I've come to expect E. J. Gall talks of going with men prepared to 'winter over' he also talks of piled up ice, luck and 'going for it' and you interpret this as sailing straight through, as has been done recently, by ordinary ships.

    Then there's the St Roch you seem to ignore the first voyage, for obvious reasons it took over a year and they were frozen in over winter, you talk up the 2nd voyage at just 86 days, in an open NWP it would take about 10 days or less.

    And best of all the SS Manhattan, you provide no link at all again for pretty obvious reasons because any link would have detail about the SS Manhattan which was refitted as an icebreaker

    Unfortunately Willy de Roos didn't think this was an easy trip in his specially strengthened yacht

    "the cruise ship the MS Explorer made the journey as well."

    You mean the IC Class ice strengthened cruise ship built specially for traveling in the Arctic and Antarctic waters.

    Lets see if you can actually address the points raised instead of just throwing the usual insults.

    beinghere: As you can see from his reply to me, he has little interest in facts and answers valid points by just repeating himself or with hostility.

    Straight technical points like what type of ships the SS Manhattan & MS Explorer he ignores.

    Meadow : "You just can't accept the truth, can you?"

    If you ever post 'some truth' I will happily accept it! I'm not so good at accepting B/S and it seems I'm not alone.

    Interesting had 2 thumbs up about 5 mins ago just after adding the last paragraph, had another window open looking at another question and suddenly in just a few minutes had 4 thumbs down don't you think that's just a little obvious meadow. Especially as after 4 hours no other denier is even willing to buy into this nonsense.

    How long before All Black shows I wonder!

    All Black(meadow) as it is now becoming pretty clear you are the same person, yes an open NWP would be quicker I thought I made that pretty clear, there was no "wihout meaning to" about it. But as I stated several times and you seem incapable of grasping 86 days is not open it is picking through very slowly to be an open commercial shipping lane you have to be able to sail straight through, and you can twist and squirm all you want, you can't answer that, as Meadow or as All black, can you !

  • 1 decade ago

    The MS Explorer was an ice strengthened ship as the first guy said, such ships are able to break ice up to 3 feet thick, it would have little trouble traversing the north west passage in summer.

    Adding any ice strengthened ship to the theory you are trying to suggest is just silly.

  • Nancy
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

    Please explain how this has happened several times over the course of the Earth's lifetime all of which except this time humans weren't even around. Global Warming/Climate Change my butt. And yes Al Gore is a scam artist or how else do you explain that he bought a multimillion dollar beach front mansion on the same coast he claims will be under water in no time because of the ice caps melting.

  • Trevor
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Good afternoon Meadow,

    Sorry to have to say this but your question says far more about you than it does about changes in Arctic ice cover.

    The Northwest Passage has been navigated on several occasions in the past but in EVERY instance the expedition required a combination of...

    • the use of ice breakers

    • explosives to blast the ice

    • physically dragging the vessels overland

    • the use of multiple vessels with overland treks between them

    • abandoning the voyage and continuing once the ice melted

    • taking anything up to 3 years because the vessel frequently became ice-bound

    The Northwest Passage did not become properly navigable until August 2007. In September 2008 commercial shipping began to use the Passage. By August 2009 it was in regular use by marine vessels. You could have sailed an ocean liner through completely unhindered.

    Below are the areas of sea ice extent for each of the years you mentioned and the three years I mentioned. Here is a graphical representation taken from the Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois

    1937 – 10.8 million km²

    1942 – 10.9 million km²

    1944 – 10.9 million km²

    1969 – 10.4 million km²

    1977 – 9.3 million km²

    1984 – 8.9 million km²

    2007 – 5.4 million km²

    2008 – 6.1 million km²

    2009 – 6.2 million km²

    You may also want to check out the Northern Sea Route (Northeast Passage) – the route around the north of Russia and Siberia is also open for business

    Also check out Lewis Pugh – he went for a swim recently at the North Pole and even the normally sceptical Fox News had to cover the story,2933,289548,00.html

    - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    It speaks volumes about the desperation of climate change skeptics and deniers when they have to resort to lies and deception instead of formulating a well constructed and robust counter argument to the established theory of global warming. It’s insulting and disrespectful to the users of Answers and serves to confirm that, even with passionate intent, they are incapable of undermining the science behind global warming.

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  • 1 decade ago

    haven't bothered much with this site for some time, I see the same old rubbish from deniers is still being posted about the NW Passage I like the way this meadow guy ignores the holes knocked in his arguments sounds a lot like old jello if he is still here, I guess they never learn.

  • 1 decade ago

    It tells us there has always been a great variability in the amount of ice cover.

    Antarcticice actually supports your argument when he says of the first voyage "it took over a year and they were frozen in over winter, you talk up the 2nd voyage at just 86 days" - doesn't that just go to show how variable conditions were?

    The other thing he highlights wihout meaning to, is what a good thing for navigation it would be if the north West Passage was permanently open! Maybe we should be aiming for another degree or so of warming and see if that happens!

    Source(s): This post.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    What’s the deal Meadow?

    You’ve backed yourself into Desperate Anecdotal Hell. What’s next? Will we be forced to relive claims that an atypical 2009 DC snow storm disproves thousands of global empirical data sets and scientific studies?

  • 1 decade ago

    Yeah, and they still believed there was a hidden city in antarctica.

    Being Canadian,, part of our education was the history of the "search for the North-West Passage". It was the Holy Grail for hundreds of years, shortening the time travelled between Asia and Europe. The articles you are referencing here prove nothing. Pretty vague there about "a number of times". And what kind of ships icebreakers leading the way, and what season was it and so on , and so on.

    There are always variations in the amount of ice coverage from year to year...but never like anything we've seen recently.

    Your so called research has more holes in it than O.J.'s story of what really happened.

    Don/t you ever get tired of your own self-deceit must be a lonely, lonely man.

    Why don't you go travel up there and talk to the Inuit people..their oral history confirms much of what scientists are discovering in terms of the effects of global warming..the erosion of coastal lands, the disappearing ice and so on.

    Don't spew this crap at people who know better than you.

    Source(s): I finally figured it out, Why you're so obtuse to proven facts: You're a Tory from Alberta!
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It looks like the "thinning of the arctic ice" mantra they've been chanting has holes in it.

    I've noticed that in spite of a number of trips taken by alarmunists lately to demonstrate how balmy it is in the arctic, none have returned and shouted about their findings. It seems like they usually return as frostbitten baggage, rescued by people who are more aware of reality than they are.

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