Ice at the North Pole in 1958 and 1959 - not so thick

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What would NSIDC and our media make of a photo like this if released by the NAVY today? Would we see headlines like "NORTH POLE NOW OPEN WATER"? Or maybe "Global warming melts North Pole"? Perhaps we would. sensationalism is all the rage these days. If it melts it makes headlines.

uss-skate-open-water.jpgSkate (SSN-578), surfaced at the North Pole, 17 March 1959. Image from NAVSOURCE

From John Daly:

For example, one crew member aboard the USS Skate which surfaced at the North Pole in 1959 and numerous other locations during Arctic cruises in 1958 and 1959 said:

"the Skate found open water both in the summer and following winter. We surfaced near the North Pole in the winter through thin ice less than 2 feet thick. The ice moves from Alaska to Iceland and the wind and tides causes open water as the ice breaks up. The Ice at the polar ice cap is an average of 6-8 feet thick, but with the wind and tides the ice will crack and open into large polynyas (areas of open water), these areas will refreeze over with thin ice. We had sonar equipment that would find these open or thin areas to come up through, thus limiting any damage to the submarine. The ice would also close in and cover these areas crushing together making large ice ridges both above and below the water. We came up through a very large opening in 1958 that was 1/2 mile long and 200 yards wide. The wind came up and closed the opening within 2 hours. On both trips we were able to find open water. We were not able to surface through ice thicker than 3 feet."

- Hester, James E., Personal email communication, December 2000

Here are some screencaps from the newsreel:

uss-skate-ice2

Note the feet of the deckhand for thickness perspective

uss-skate-ice1

Ice going over the side after chipping

It was that way again in 1962:

Seadragon (SSN-584), foreground, and her sister Skate (SSN-578) during a rendezvous at the North Pole in August 1962

Seadragon (SSN-584), foreground, and her sister Skate (SSN-578) during a rendezvous at the North Pole in August 1962

And of course then there's this famous photo:

3-subs-north-pole-1987

But contrast that to 1999, just 12 years later, lots of ice:

USS Hawkbill at the North Pole, Spring 1999. (US Navy Photo)

USS Hawkbill at the North Pole, Spring 1999. (US Navy Photo)

But in 1993, it's back to thin ice again:

USS Pargo at the North Pole in 1993. (US Navy Photo)

USS Pargo at the North Pole in 1993. (US Navy Photo)

The point illustrated here: the North Pole is not static, ice varies significantly. The Arctic is not static either. Variance is the norm.

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4 Comments

The point illustrated here: the North Pole is not static, ice varies significantly. The Arctic is not static either. Variance is the norm.

The term climate change is annoying, I expect they will soon change it to something else.

The carbon trading industry will be huge. How nice it will be to sell something you do not own, you do not have to produce and you cannot measure or weigh. During the Dark Ages peasants could by absolution and guarantees to go to heaven, it was just a matter how much you could afford to pay and not home much you sinned. The global warming doomsday tunnel visionaries are able to do a similar scheme today. After the Y2000 scam, the "new ice age" scare and now the Global Warming affair, we must ask ourselves have we really advanced since the Dark Ages?
I am all for the conservation of our resources for future generation, I support strong pollution control and environmental habitat protection. I believe these efforts should be for the right reason. Make the world a cleaner and better place to live and give our children a better and more beautiful world, but we should not do it to support a fairy carbon trading industry.

Awesome information. It is too bad that the main media will refuse to listen to reason on this and everything which uses common sense. Of course our world is in seasonal variances- it has for the last 6000 years and will continue to do so until the end of the days.

Thanks for posting this. Would be intrested to read more or possibly please contact me by email thank you!

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