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Times Herald from Washington, District of Columbia • Page 63

Times Heraldi
Washington, District of Columbia
Issue Date:
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in therrozen Arctic Leave Their Old Feeding Grounds Science Puzzled by Surprising Because the Too ALASKA Science Puzzled, by Surprising News from the Far North Which Indicates That the Polar Sea Is Warming Up and the Great Ice Cap Is Slowly Melting Away Which May Soon Reveal the Hidden Secrets of the Unknown Polar Continent KULT. DU JI bay ARCTIC OCEAN lVvA VN' Seals Leave Their Old Feeding Grounds Because the Water Is Too Warm and Vast Schools of Smelts Arrive Further North Than Ever While Land Begins to Appear Which Has Always Been Covered by Ice ilnwan I asiil I Sera Risa ef Irr.IlM? l.r I at hi the Kn.i.rn Arile Oramai. I of (be lee Preaeat ries? Ibe Arn Ir. IS the North Pole going to melt? Are the Arctic regions warming up, with prospect of a great climatic change in that part of the world? Science is asking these questions. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers who sail the seas about Spitzbergen and the eastern Arctic all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, with hitherto unheard-of high temperatures on that part of the earth's surface.

Observations to that effect have covered the hist five years during which warmth has been steadily increasing. In August of this year the Norwegian Department of Commerce sent an expedition to Spitzbergen and Bear Island under the leadership of Dr. Adolf Hoel, professor of geology in the University of Christiania, the object in view being to survey and chart areas productive of coal and other minerals. The expedition sailed aA far north as 81 deg. 29 min.

latitude in ice free water. Such a thing, hitherto, would have been deemed impossible. The United Consul at Bergen. Norway, Mr. hai sent report to our own Department of Commerce which of the recent extraordinary warmth in the Arctic.

He quotes incidentally the statements of Martin Injrehrigteen, a mariner who 1 us sailed those Th? he first noted an unusual warmth in 1018; and since then temperatures have risen steadily higher. To-day the eastern Arctic is "hardly recognizable as the same region of to 7." Many of the old landmarks are greatly altered, or no longer exist. Where formerly there were great masses of Ice, these have melted away, leaving behind them accumulations of earth and, stones such as geologists call "moraines." At many points where glaciers extended far into the sea half a dozen years ago they have now entirely.disappeared. The change in temperature has brought great changes in the plant life and animal li.e of the Arctic. Formerly vast shoals of whitefish were fourni in the waters about Spitzbergen, but last Summer the fishermen sought them in Seals, which used to he plentiful in those seas, liHvn almost entirely disappeared.

II woeld seem as if the ocean must have Income uncomfortably warm for some of it? denizen? which formerly frequented those latitudes, causing them to flock northward toward the Pole. On th? other hand, other kinds of fishea, hitherto unknown so fat-north, have made their appearance. Shoals of smelt have arrived, and immense schools of herring are reported by fishermen along the west coast of Spitzbergen Formerly the waters about Spitsbergen have held an even Summer temperature in the neighborhood of 6 degrees above freezing. This year it roee aa high aa 28 degrees. Ijurt.

winter the ocean did not freeze over even on the north Const of Spitzbergen. This is on the of Dr. This of affairs is a reuse of much surprise and even astonishment to scientists, who wonder whether the change is merely temporary or the beginning of a great alteration of climatic conditions In the Arctic, with consequent melting of the polar ice sheet. An evidence of how great the change la that haa come over the climate In the Arctic regions may be best understood by the struggle? of the early explorer? to discover the northwoat passage, or the open body of water existing around North America, leading eventually to India. This passage was first undi rtakrn by way of Spitzbergen, but the thick ice repeatedly neat back the of the explorers.

From exploit? to discover the northwest passane many of the trips for a rompiest of North Pole were -eventual? undertaken. Parry, the great British explorer, wu first to negotiate the open passage between Greenland and Bering Sea, reaching half-way aerees the top of North A before he was hedged In by the ice, and with supplies becoming low, dared go no further. He mm first to discover the north magnetic pole and to report the astonishing fact the needle of his compass turned and pointeii directly south. For these discoveries Parry was awarded about by the Briti: Government and unquestionably his conquest? in the Arctic led to actual penetrating of the northwest passage from th? Atlantic to the Pacific by McClure, Cellineon and aro'indsen later on. Interesting i' of Fern Dug Up in Greenland, Showing That There Was One? a Warm Climate and Tropical Vegetation Where the Glaciers Are Now Melting Away.

From the difficulties besotting groat Arctic some of the thickness of the Its may lie hail. Even at the very north of Spitzbergen where open water was seen this Summer, surh wellknown explorer? as Hudson and Phipps limi great difficulties in penetrating on account of the thickness of the ice and, In spite of their equipment, one of tli? could not go even far over the as the spot where the open water showed a few ago. Not only are and iiolar hears the climate unplfiiKiinlly warm for them, bul it Maid thai the in leralith? air? complaining and are finding their fur clothes too for tlll'lll. The Togion about the North l'ole is covered by mi lee cap which, toward HM east, extends ncailv the wneM of Greenlnnd in what Is practically single enormous glacier, Greenlnnd is ten times the six? of the State of Pennsylvania, and from its vast Ice are derived the which linai down from Ha and Pa vi? Strait Into the North threatening destruction to ships in the Spring of every year. To this great Greenland giaci? hit? been the went of many adventurous spirits.

On account of the it-verity of the winds that over immenne slowly moiling rake of ice. it wan never accomplished until Nansen to go from the east coast of Greenland across the top of the ice harrier to the coast At about the sixty-fourth parallel af latitude. Nansen and his five companion? reached height of iLtSf feet nt the top of the barrier, showing how thick the Ice had nerume through of freezing. Later on Penry and Astrup crossed the island? nuirK further north and nrvl to climb a loiid lull of ice about feel high. The reason why we have sloughing off from the southeastern tTii of Greenland it evidently due to the north polar eurrent carrying the Ice mass front a Photograph of Land Which Haa Appeared for the Tima in Greenland, and Which Ha? Al way? Heretofore Been Buried Under the Glacier? Which Are Now Melting Away.

the north polar region along the land and keeping it at a very low degree of temperature down to Cape Farewell, the southernmost tip of Greenland. Here, during the Summer, the oncoming of the warm weather disintegrate? some of the Ice, particularly between the fisnures, which are characteristic of each year's ice growth. Here they are spilt and carried away hy the polar current? into the North Atlantic where sometime? they become very dangerous to ocean shipping. It le a Mfigular fact, and true of only this apnt in the world, that the cold polar current that sweeps down the Kastern coast of Greenland is paralleled not very far outside by a warmer current, which largely responsible for a considerable amount of precipitation that in turn has It effect ift wearing down some of the glncHil ir? bringing about the eventual orrriiitioi, of Iri'berirs. But there was not always nn ice cap.

In time long gon? hy the region about the Norih> bad a wann chinate and nil of CreenlWnd was covered with a luxuriant tropical vegetation. This is positively known fossil remains of palms, and other plants properly belonging wsrm latitudes have been dug up there in quantities. ICI IMI. tw The present Polar ice cap is hut a remnant of what it formerly waa. Thirty thousand year? ago it extended over all of the northern half of the United in places thousand? of feet thick and reaching a a far south aa Philadelphia and St.

l.ouis. It was a product of the Glacial Kpoch age of cold, during which polar bears and reindeer were numerous in New York State, and a 1 and herds of the dwarf Arctic cattle called musk frequented the coast of New I'lnglaiul. Since that time the great ice sheet has been slowly melting at the edges, so to speak, and withdrawing northward toward the Pole. It retreated nast Stockholm Isa the geologist?) not more than 9,000 years ago. If the process continues, the day may be expected to arrive when all the Ice will be gone from about the Pole, and the Arctic regions will then become fruitful and habitable by man.

It seems at least possible that the extraordinary warmth in the Arctic during die last few years marks a step in this direction. Such a change as that suggested cannot be suddenly or Iren rapidly accomplished; but. If Ihm shall come a time when the North Polar ice can is entirely melted, and Greenland Incidentally freed of the ice sheet which covers it, the latitude? in which we now dwell will experience a wonderful climatic alteration. The northern part of the United State? will become sub-tropical. From what has been said it will be understood that we aiv really still living in the (linciai Kpoch.

It seems, however, to be drawing gradually toward a close; and it is easily possible to imagine that eventually all parts of the earth will becum? warm again, just as Was the case at period above referred to, BBea Greenland covered wtih a luxuriant vegetation Nobody knows what causes produced the age of ice. It must have been that amain Hi.hi Remarkable Photograph of an Ice-Capped Island, Showing How th? Warmer Polar Sea Malting the lea. the sun, for eome reason, delivered leea heat upon the earth. Though hard for ua to realize, it ia a fact that if the average temperature of the northern half of United States were lowered only ten the ice sheet would creep southward again and cover all that part of the country, sweeping it? citie? off the map and giving it a likeness to the Greenland of to-day. This would happen because the difference of ten degree? would make the Winters much longer that the snow? would not have time to melt in Summer, and so the ice sheet would thicken year by year until it became one vast glacier.

So it is juat as well that we find ourselves approaching the end of an age of ice, instead of being menaced by its oncoming. It is fairly to be expected that from thie time from observations of the retreat of the great ice sheet all over the world will become steadily and gradually warmer. No longer iiKo than yenrs the climate ol Greenland was still temperate, and Alaska had temperatures like those of Alabama nowadays. Not long ago two government geologists, David White and Charles Schuchert, a visit of exploration to west Grecnand, where, far north of the Arctic Circle, they studied a fossil flora of palms, tree ferns, breadfruit trees, cinnamon trees, belonging properly to the neighborhood of the Equator. Where now an ico sheet over a mile thick covers mountain valley and mighty glaciers make their way to the eea and hatch icebergs, there waa anciently a wilderness of tropical verdure.

There were trees related to the giant sequoias of our own wert coast. Climbing vines festooned the trunks of moiiarchs of an ancient forest with drapVrles of foliage, while close to the ground grew curious dwarf trees called "cycads" resembling palms in miniature, in the midst of a tangled undergrowth. Of stich a character was the vegetation of Greenland 5,000,000 year? or so ago. White and Schuchert found the tropical plant beds overlaid bv later deposits in which were masse? of fossil remain? of trees, including poplars, willows, eucalyptus and magnolias. Much of thie material had been converted into "brown coal," or This latter formation was relatively recent, doting hack only to the Tertiary F.poch when the climate of Greenland was much like that of our Gulf to-day.

At the far more ancient period when Greenland wa? a tropical country the climate seems to have "been much the same all over the world, and the same plants grew contemporaneously In Greenland and California, In Spitsbergen and Virginia. Nobody can say with certainty why this was. One theory is that in that epoch the atmosphere was so heavily charged with water-vapor that warmth was readily distributed through it, and the sun's rays did not have a chance to strike the earth uninterrupted, making differences in climate by the degree of their slant. As time went on, the atmosphere thinned gradually, and so there came to be climatic variations marking a series of sones around the world. Of the fact that the Polar regions were anciently warm and verdure-clad an interesting proof was afforded by a discovery which Greely, the explorer, chanced to make.

Within eight degrees (latitude) of the North Pole he found a fossil forest with stomps of trees still standing. Greenland is the largest island in the world. It is mainly a granite formation, hut nome of the leap elevated of it weic evidently at one time below the level of the is proved by sedimentary deposits. In these deposits White anil Schuchert found plentiful remains of marine animals, including fishes and extinct species of crustaceans. At the period when Greenland was a tropical country there grew in waters along the New England coast species of corals which to-day are found only in latitudes not far from the Equator.

They afford another proof that anciently climatic conditions were altogether different from what they are at the present time. It is worth mentioning, by the way, that Dr. Adolf Hoel reports, as one profitable result of the recent Norwegian expedition, the discovery of hitherto unknown coal deposits, of great extent and superior quality, near the eastern shore of Advent Bay, in Greenland. Theee deposits, of course, represent a profuse life which existed through a great ength of time in a former epoch. Scientists declare that there have been in the past several glacial epochs.

Apfiarently, owing to causes unexplained, ong periods of cold have alternated with long periods of warmth. The prospect seems to be that one of these periods of warmth, which may last tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years, in approaching; and in the phenomena now exciting ao much attention in the Arctic may perhaps he seen a promise of changes that will beneficially affect the entire population of the world, incidentally rendering available for human occupation vast land areas which are now uninhabitable..

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