Saturday, December 20, 2014

If Arctic Sea Ice Is Recovering, Why Is Everyone Claiming Arctic Ownership?

One of the common false claims being made is that the Arctic sea ice has made a full recovery. The truth is that it is not even close. The 2013 melt season saw a large rebound (approximately 60%) over the 2012 melt season. However, that rebound was from an exceptionally low year. The minimum sea ice extent in 2012 was so low it was shocking. A large rebound from almost nothing is still a small amount overall. Then, the 2014 minimum extent was smaller than the 2013 and approximately 40% below the 1980 level (which was large). The trend line is very clear, the Arctic sea ice extent is decreasing. Still, the claims come in, mostly by people that don't want to bother with the facts.

But, there has been a trend over the last few years that is very difficult for anyone to deny - oil businesses are moving into the Arctic Region. This would not be possible with previous ice extent. The only way it is at all possible to erect drilling rigs in the Arctic is if the ice is melting away. If you set-up on top of the ice, the drifting ice would tear you away from the drill hole. It would not be possible to get a ship through the ice to drill and, even if you did, the drifting ice would push the ship out of position. For the same reason, it would not be possible to erect a drilling platform. The ice would demolish it. The Arctic Ocean, on average, is about 1000 meters deep (about 3200 feet) with a maximum depth of 5500 meters (18,000 feet). The deep parts of the ocean are too deep for a platform, but the shallow areas could accommodate one, but only in the absence of massive, drifting ice flows. If millions of tons of moving ice hit a platform, the ice is going to win.

But, wait. Companies are actually drilling up there and making claims so they can drill in the future. The U.S., Norway, Denmark, Canada and Russia have all made claims to ownership of some part of the Arctic Ocean basin. Denmark and Russia have claimed ownership of the North Pole itself.

So, if it is impossible to drill in the Arctic Ocean with ice present, why are the companies drilling? Clearly, claims the ice extent is fully recovered are all wrong. And, that makes you wonder about the motive for people to make claims that are obviously false.

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