Which causing mechanism should be discussed?

Starting Point

pozaN1S[1]It is easy to say “that the warming in the early part of the 20 th century was probably mostly natural”[1]. The fact that nature is involved is obvious. However what does it mean saying: the cause was probably mostly natural? The statement ignores the fact that ‘natural’ weather temperatures are based on physical dynamics and meteorological science is in charge to explain it on this basis. In so far, using the term ‘natural’ explains nothing.

It is furthermore evident that the Spitsbergen event was, in the common sense of the word, ‘unnatural’. Science has never recorded a similar situation. To quote Birkeland[2] once again, this rise at Spitsbergen in winter 1918/19 and until ca 1922 is probably the greatest yet known on earth. At that time, weather records had been taken for about 200 years. Meanwhile, another 75 years have passed, but the repetition of such a phenomenon was not observed again. While a significant cooling can happen very suddenly, due to the fact that the average ocean temperature is 3.5 degrees C, warming is a very slow process.

Having clearly shown, that the warming has not been sufficiently explained by recent research papers, it is now up to ‘arctic-warming.com’ to do better. And it will be done much more convincingly. Before starting this undertaking it shall be stressed once again, that the sudden Arctic warming at Spitsbergen in and since winter 1918/19 is not an atmospheric issue, but an oceanic one. This aspect had been thoroughly highlighted, elaborated, and discussed in previous chapters. From hereafter only the oceanic aspect for generating and sustaining the Arctic warming will be in focus.

pozaN1[1]Before continuing on elaborating the causation by the sea, it shall also be stressed that various causation aspects are discussed, but at no stage should any assertion be regarded as a claim for a 100% prove. The reason is simple. This paper is not able and willing to provide a ‘solution’ on oceanic behaviour, in the Northern North Atlantic and the West-Spitsbergen Current, to which science paid –with regard to the early Arctic warming – practically no attention until now. On the other hand ‘arctic-warming.com’ will show that the ‘climatic revolution’[3] in winter 1918/19 can be so closely linked to the war activities in Northern Europe, that this establishes a “prima-facie-evidence”. Not ‘arctic-warming-com’ needs to prove that World War One is responsible for the dramatic temperature shift, but science has to demonstrate that this assertion is wrong by providing a more convincing explanation and prove. After all it is simply not enough to say merely: that it was probably a natural phenomenon[4]. The subsequent discussion should be regarded as an offer to do further investigation. Important is not what this site offers as explanation, but that ocean science shows that it is able to explain a ‘climatic revolution’ which took place 90 years ago.

Probable time period of causation

pozaN1T[1]During the early 20 th Century nature run its normal course. The volcanic eruptions in 1902[5] and of Katmai (Alaska) in 1912, remained without any registered significant effect in the Northern North Atlantic realm[6]. Since the year 1900 no ‘natural’ event, which could have affected the natural commons around Spitsbergen, has been observed. There was no significant earthquake, no eruption of a forceful volcano, no tsunami, no sunspots, and no big meteorite fell on the continent or in the sea. As the previous analysis showed, there was no hot spot in the atmosphere, from which warm air could have been transferred to Spitsbergen, causing a very pronounced warming and sustaining the phenomenon for such a long time. In so far, the only conclusion is that physical dynamics must have undergone dramatic changes in the marine environment around Spitsbergen.

As there had been no extraordinary event space, in the atmosphere or in the common ocean behaviour which might have caused this special phenomenon, it is reasonable to think about a causational force never experienced before: the First World War (WWI). Highly destructive forces had been fighting in the air, on land and at sea, in Northern Europe from August 1914 until November 1918, when the big warming at Spitsbergen began to manifest itself.

Probable lines of causation

Looking for a probable line of causation actual means looking for a oceanic mechanism, which not only can tigers such a pronounced temperature rise during a full winter period, but is also capable to kept this event going over many years; in this case sustaining the warming for two decades. As already discussed in the previous chapter, something must have happened within the water body of the Norwegian Sea, and with the West Spitsbergen Current, either by more warm water supply from the South, or by diminishing the thickness of the cold surface layer above the warm water current. As no unusual warming in the southern Norwegian Sea had been observed during the time period in question. This investigation considers as the most likely reason the up-wards trend of the warm-water current towards the sea surface. The thinner a cold sea surface layer, the more latent heat from the sea will be released to the atmosphere, particularly during the sunless winter season. This assertion is supported by the observation Schokalsky published in the 1930s[7] , namely that the cover layer of cold water, which was measuring 200 metres in the 1890s, was reduced to less than 100 metres in the 1920s. Although there might have been other ‘mechanism’ in play, the following analysis will focus on the question what caused the West-Spitsbergen Current to rise, respectively the thinning of the cold sea water level. For this purpose we will pursue two options. They shall be presented separately, although they certainly have worked cumulatively and in combination:

  • Due the most extensive sea ice during the last century in winter 1916/17, the huge extra melt water above the Spitsbergen Current could have initiated a thinning of the cold surface layer over the next ca 12 to 18 months, so that it came to the extreme temperature jump at Spitsbergen in winter 1918/19. See below: The first causation feature
  • The culmination of sea war activities during 1917 and 1918 changed the water structure at Spitsbergen to such extent, that this alone, or in combination with the extensive sea ice in winter 1916/17 had caused the big Spitsbergen warming since winter 1918/19. See below: The second causation feature

The first causation feature

- Did WWI caused the extreme winter 1916/17 and an extreme sea icing?

pozaN2[1]Presenting the first causation feature would be the ‘easiest in the world’ if meteorological science would have offered a convincing explanation at hand, why with the start of world War II in late 1939 Northern Europe suddenly had been dragged into the coldest winter for 100 years. The most convincing explanation yet is the enormous impact a naval war has on the affected sea areas, which usually ensure a modest winter climate in Northern Europe. The interested reader should take note of the thoroughly presented material, analysis, and discussion, as it is evident that a similar ‘mechanism’ had taken place during World War I. In the following only main aspects will be presented, to avoid lengthy repetition, while some further text are made accessible in


Extreme winter 1916/17 in England and Northern Europe

The first fact is that in Northern Europe, but particularly in the United Kingdom, the war winter 1916/1917 was extreme cold. As it took the warring nations almost two years to start a devastating naval war, the war torn sea areas came under serious constrain only since autumn 1916. This might have caused a very rapid release of summer-stored heat from the sea, which in turn became subsequently to ‘weak’ to prevent the flowing in of polar air to England and the Alps.

The second fact is that this winter saw the highest sea ice extend in the Spitsbergen region. Actually, the sea ice reached the line between Bear Island and Jan Mayen covering the warm West-Spitsbergen Current completely several hundred kilometres further south than usually. Usually an ice-free sea area in the shape of a tongue stretches far to the North, due to the warm Atlantic water of the West Spitsbergen Current that prevents the freezing of the sea surface. And from 107 years on record (1900 –2007), only in winter 1916/17 the ice-free ‘tongue’ disappeared. Why? Why not in winter 1902 which had been much colder? Why was it only winter 1916/17 that produced this extreme deviation in sea ice cover south of Spitsbergen?

As explanations reasonable to be considered could be the following:

  • The impact of greatly increased naval war activities since autumn 1916 (see above, respectively Annex C) attracted cold polar air to travel south in great quantity, which caused extreme sea icing down to the Bear Is – Jan Mayen line.
  • Considerable proportions of the war torn water masses around the British Isles had turned up at Spitsbergen a short period of time later. Any sea level churning could have changed its structure in a way, (e.g. colder, or less saline) which made it easier to reach the freezing point.

Two further much less likely aspects of contributing to the exceptional extensive freezing should as least be named:

  • The pollution of the sea surface with cargo, store and ship equipment by up to 10 ships per day, with could mean more than 100’000 tons floating northwards.
  • Naval activities took place on the route around the North Cape to Murmansk and Archangels[8].

In conclusion the central point of the first line of causation is: Did the only complete sea icing between Bear Island and Jan Mayen during the last Century in winter 1916/17, and its subsequent melting in summer 1917, contributed to a ‘restructuring’ of the flow of the Spitsbergen Current in the Northern North Atlantic.

The second causation feature

- Could a longer naval war cause a shift in the sea surface layer at Spitsbergen? 

pozaN2S[1]When is enough, enough? Fact is that simultaneously to the end of WWI a ‘climatic revolution’ took place. To be more precise, the revolution took place within an extreme short period of time of few months before January/February 1919. As prior to this event a devastating naval war had taken place for some time, and no other big event in the global common had been observed, it is not only ‘natural’ to ask whether there is a link between the two events, but it is inevitable that this question must be asked and must be answered.

In the following ‘arctic-warming’ will show what the naval war could cause 90 years ago, and what forces it unlashed to affect men and seas alike.


[1] Johannessen, O.M., et al.; “Arctic climate change – Observed and modelled temperature and sea ice variability”; Tellus 56A (2004), p. 328 –341.

[2] Birkeland, B.J.; ‘Temperaturvariationen auf Spitzbergen’, Meteorologische Zeitschrift, Juni 1930, p. 234-236

[3] H.W. Ahlmann; “Research on Snow and Ice, 1918-1940”, The Geographical Journal, 1946, p.11-25.

[4] Johannessen, O.M., et al.; “Arctic climate change – Observed and modelled temperature and sea ice variability”; Tellus 56A (2004), p. 328 –341.

[5] Mount Pele, Soufriere (Caribic), and Santa Maria (Guatemala).

[6] According http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~niemi/katmai/katmai.html as a result of the June 6, 1912 eruption : The summer of 1912 was the coolest of the last hundred years as a result of Novarupta’s stratospheric loading. See also: NASA at;http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/03oct_novarupta.htm

[7] Schokalsky, J.; ‚Recent Russian researches in the Arctic Sea and the in mountains of Central Asia’, in: The Scottish Geographical Magazine, Vol. 52, No.2, March 1936, p. 73-84.

[8] For example: In late 1916 six German submarines sank 25 cargo ships; Potter et.al., 1986, Seemacht, p.418.