Centuries-old ships’ logs reveal clues to Arctic warming.
Researchers with ARCdoc, a project based at the University of Sunderland in England, found that annual sea ice between Canada and Greenland blanketed much more territory up to 250 years ago—the result of a colder, wetter, stormier climate. The evidence came from nearly 150 handwritten logbooks of Royal Navy expeditions and Hudson’s Bay Company transports in the North Atlantic between 1750 and 1850. Another 60 volumes from Arctic whalers, who hunted their prey among permanent ice floes, offered rare eyewitness accounts of the far north. While the naval and Hudson’s Bay records had been examined before, “These whaling logbooks had never been used for scientific studies,” says Dennis Wheeler, ARCdoc’s director.