Global Warming – cold comfort for trapped trawlers in Sea of Okhotsk

The Sea of Okhotsk is one of the shining lights for the proponents of global warming as being very sensitive to the effects of climate change, and consequently has been studied vigorously by many academics.

Mitoyo Itoh of the Institute of Observational Research for Global Ocean in his paper “Warming of Intermediate Water in the Sea of Okhotsk since the 1950’s”  in 2007 stated:

“Recent examinations of global ocean temperatures have shown substantial warming in the upper 1000 m(Levitus et al., 2000), and this warming is likely due to the increase of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere”

Kay I. Ohshima of the Institute of Low Temperature Science in his paper “Changes in the Sea of Okhotsk due to global warming” stated:

“Over the last three decades since accurate observation by satellite became possible, sea ice extent in the Sea of Okhotsk has decreased by approximately 150,000 km2, corresponding to about 10% of the entire area of the Sea of Okhotsk….Of particular note is that this temperature has risen by approximately 2.0°C over the past 50 years.  This value of 2.0°C far exceeds the rate of average temperature increase worldwide (0.74°C over the past 100 years), thereby clearly indicating that the region is significantly affected by global warming…In a nutshell, the Sea of Okhotsk is highly sensitive to global warming: over the past 50 years, the level of sea ice production has decreased and the amount of dense water sinking has thus declined, thereby weakening the overturning in the North Pacific.  To put it simply, recent global warming has weakened the Sea of Okhotsk’s workings as a pump”

10 research ships/trawlers were launched on December 31st with 600 crew only to get stuck 12 miles out to sea. Massive ice-breakers are now working to free these ships and some have been released, but 2 remain with 400 people on board.

According to the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg in Moscow, he says navigation in the area has been made particularly difficult this winter by the thick ice, strong winds and heavy snowstorms.

One can only speculate as to why all of these vessels went out to sea in the middle of winter on what one could expect to be a treacherous journey. However, given the prevailing assumption and science that the gradual onset of global warming will continue to make this area safe to navigate even during winter, this may have encouraged them to take the risk. A risk, which at this stage is not life threatening, but it does add to the list of examples where we are making decisions based on a theory which is not as robust and reliable as they would like us to believe.




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