Newspaper Article from 1922 Discusses Arctic Ocean Climate Change-Truth!

Summary of eRumor: 

A newspaper article that appeared in November of 1922 said the Arctic Ocean was getting warmer due to climate change.

The Truth:

It’s true that newspapers across the country published a story about climate change in the Arctic Ocean in 1922.

The article appeared on page 2 of the Washington Post on November 2, 1922, under the headline, “Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt.” The text of the article reads:

“The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen, Norway.

“Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm.

“Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.”

The article, which was written by the Associated Press, appeared in scores of newspapers around the country in November of 1922. A researcher named John Lockwood found the article archived at the Library of Congress in 2007.

The article was based on a report that appeared in the November 1922 edition of the Monthly Weather Review. The original report says an expedition was sent by the Norwegian Department of Commerce to the Arctic Circle to survey land and to make “oceanographic investigations.” According to excerpts from the report:

“Ice conditions were exceptional. In fact, so little ice has never before been noted … This is the farthest north ever reached with modern oceanographic apparatus.”

“…It is of interest to note the unusually warm summer in Arctic Norway and the observations of Capt. MartinIngebrigstaen, who has sailed the eastern Arctic for 54 years past. He says that he first noted warmer conditions in 1918, that since that time it has steadily gotten warmer, and that to-day the Arctic of that region is not recognizable as the same region of 1868 to 1917.”

But does this prove that climate change is a hoax? Not necessarily.

People on the other side of the climate change debate argue that the 1922 climate change report is an example of local climate fluctuations that we still see today.

report published by the Global Coral Reef Society said that year-to-year temperature swings can lead to fluctuations of about 1 million square kilometers in ice cover:

“These spatial variations have been used by deniers who simply look at changes since 2007, an exceptionally warm year in the Arctic, to suggest that the Arctic is cooling down! In other words they are simply picking ONE point that falls a bit off the trend of ALL the data to deny the long-term trend.

“Another good example of this is a recent posting of the newspaper version of a report made in 1922, that there was much less sea ice than normal at a few places in that year. This set of observations from a limited area (Spitzbergen) in one year has been used by deniers to suggest that there are huge natural fluctuations, and to imply that there is no global warming.”

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 04/21/2015

A Washington Post story from 1922 said that the Arctic was getting warmer and ice was melting.

article_climate_getting_warmer

(This example of the article was taken from the Nov. 2, 1922, edition of the Charlotte News)