Sunday, June 9, 2013

Flashback to 1947 - Arctic Climate's Alarming Change

Sou | 8:37 PM Feel free to comment!
This is related to the previous flashback about the then young Australian, Gordon de Quetteville Robin.

From the Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), Saturday 31 May 1947, page 2


LOS ANGELES. May 30.— A mysterious warming of the climate is slowly manifesting itself in the Arctic, and if the Antarctic ice regions and the major Greenland ice cap should reduce at the same rate as the present melting, oceanic surfaces would rise to catastrophic proportions, and people living in lowlands along the shores would be inundated, said Dr. Hans Ahlmann, noted Swedish geophysicist to-day, at the University of California's Geophysical Institute.

Dr. Ahlmann added that temperatures in the Arctic have increased by 10 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900. An 'enormous' rise from the scientific standpoint.

Waters in the Spitsbergen area, in the same period, have risen from three to five degrees in temperature, and one to one and a half millimetres yearly in level.

'The Arctic change is so serious that I hope an international agency can speedily be formed to study conditions on a global basis.' said Dr. Ahlmann. He pointed out that in 1910 the navigable season along the western Spitsbergen lasted three months. Now it lasts eight months.

Hans W:son Ahlmann

Hans Ahlman and Carl Mannerfelt with Bonzo,
Photo: Sigurdur Thorarinsson

Excerpts from an obituary in the Journal of Glaciology Vol. 13, No. 69.1974

Hans W:son Ahlmann (W:son or Wilhelmsson after his father Wilhelm Ahlmann) was born at Karlsborg, Sweden, in' 1889, received his doctor's degree (in geology) from Stockholm University in 1915 and became "docent" the same year. Ahlmann was a student of Professor Gerard De Geer, the father of varved clay chronology, whom he accompanied to Spitsbergen in 1910. This journey, in the company of an outstanding Quaternary geologist, made Ahlmann a devoted student of ice, snow, climate and landforms. He started his systematic glaciological research in Norway, which gradually became his second home country, and, after his main interest had been focused more on the climatological than, as previously, on the geomorphological aspects, he extended his studies to Svalbard, Iceland, and Greenland.  His reports from these expeditions were published within a year or two in Geografiska Annaler, and Hans Ahlmann made the 1930's a decade of intense glaciological and polar activity in Scandinavia. That was when Ahlmann, partly together with Harald Ulrik Sverdrup, developed the study of glacier mass balance and used the results for a world-wide study of climatic fluctuations.  Two publications, Glaciological research on the North Atlantic coasts published by the Royal Geographical Society in London and Glacier variations and climatic fluctuations published by the American Geographical Society in New York, summarized more than 20 years of work and, at the same time, marked the end of a long period of active field research.

During the last 25 years Hans Ahlmann continued to serve science, but in other capacities. His interest in polar ice sheets and his desire to establish close scientific collaboration with Norway and Great Britain as soon as possible after the war, inspired him to take the initiative for the Norwegian-British-Swedish Antarctic Expedition, 1949-52, an expedition which in many respects set the pattern for research during the I.G.Y....

...To glaciologists Hans Ahlmann was mainly known for his pioneering studies of the relationship between glaciers and climate; it was, however, his human qualities that made him great. He had more real friends around the world than anyone I know, and a great number of letters arrived at his former department after his death expressing the deep sorrow felt by the world's geographers and glaciologists.

More here.

Related article here on the Norwegian-British-Swedish Antarctic Expedition, 1949-52.

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