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Re: Sailing round Greenland?

Subject: Re: Sailing round Greenland?
From: "D. Patterson"
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 04:40:31 -0800
Newsgroups: sci.archaeology
"Erik Hammerstad" <[email protected]> wrote in message 
news:[email protected]
> D. Patterson wrote:
>> "Erik Hammerstad" <[email protected]> wrote in message 
>> news:[email protected]
>>> D. Patterson wrote:
>>>> "Erik Hammerstad" <[email protected]> wrote in message 
>>>> news:[email protected]
>>>>> Daryl Krupa wrote:
>>>>>> D. Patterson wrote:
>>>>>> <snip>
>>>>>>> In any case, the ice depicted in the BBC chart fails to reveal the 
>>>>>>> existence
>>>>>>> of large areas of open water, polynyas, which occur even in the 
>>>>>>> recent past
>>>>>>> in areas as large as 2,000 square miles of the Arctic pack ice. 
>>>>>>> Given the
>>>>>>> past melts and future melts,
>>>>>>> the northern coastline of greenland must have
>>>>>>> occassionally experienced extensive areas of open water
>>>>>>> larger and more frequent than we have seen
>>>>>>> in our own recent past century of recordkeeping.
>>>>>> <snip>
>>>>>>   Not so.
>>>>>>   Polynyas are the result of rare combinations of currents, winds,
>>>>>> and restrictions of current flow.
>>>>>>   The confined conditions of Baffin Bay, combining the currents
>>>>>> filtering through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago from the
>>>>>> Beaufort Sea, from the polar Arctic Ocean through Nares Strait,
>>>>>> and deep water from the North Atlantic Ocean, and the counter-
>>>>>> clockwise rotation created by the interaction of the northward
>>>>>> current on the east side with the southward current on the west
>>>>>> side (similar to at atmospheric low-pressure cell),
>>>>>> do not exist on the north coast of Greenland.
>>>>>>   There is no physical reason to expect that
>>>>>> "the northern coastline of greenland must have
>>>>>> occassionally experienced extensive areas of open water
>>>>>> larger and more frequent than we have seen
>>>>>> in our own recent past century of recordkeeping."
>>>>> Agreed, except for a possibility during the Holocene climate optimum 
>>>>> some 4-5 kya. But at that time there were no Norse trying to sail 
>>>>> around Greenland :-)
>>>>> Let me add that the UCAR simulations seem to show a continuous ice 
>>>>> blockage at the north end of the Kane Basin for the next 40 years, 
>>>>> while from about 2020 the ice coverage north of Greenland is less than 
>>>>> 100% and also among the Canadian Arctic islands. Detailed images: 
>>>> So, you choose to promote the idea that contemporary statistical 
>>>> computer simulations known to be less than 100 percent accurate are 
>>>> somehow supposed to constitute a superior substitute for the reality of 
>>>> artifacts and contemporaneous historical records?
>>> You have obviously not read the text of the link you provided.
>> In view of the fact that I did read ALL of the text, you are making a 
>> totally unfounded and deliberately false statement. Since you fail to say 
>> why the text is pertinent to your objection, your objection is devoid of 
>> content and consequently baseless.
> It would be expected that a link is posted to support one's claims. The 
> NASA link does not provide any support for polynya expansion to give open 
> waters around north Greenland which is what you are seemingly arguing for. 
> So why did you post it?

So, why did I post it? I posted the link to give you an opportunity to show 
the readers the choice you would make between honestly acknowledging or 
dishonestly denying the fact that polynya exist in the open waters of the 
Arctic Ocean and not just "The confined conditions of Baffin Bay" you have 
claimed "do not exist on the north coast of Greenland." You have attempted 
to deceive the readers into believing polynyas cannot and do not exist and 
have likely not existed "on the north coast of Greenland." You went even 
further in your dishonesty by saying, "There is no physical reason to expect 
that the northern coastline of greenland must have occassionally experienced 
extensive areas of open water larger and more frequent than we have seen in 
our own recent past century of recordkeeping." Readers can see for 
themselves just how dishonest your statements have been by looking first at 
the NASA link I already provided, and subsequently by looking further at the 
many other such NASA photographs of Greenland and Ellesmere Island to be 
found on the very same Website. Those of us who have directly observed the 
open waters along the northern coastline of Greenland know in an instant 
your statements were false and lies insofar as you should either have known 
they were false or known you lacked personal knowledge of their truth or 
falsity. Given the following photographic and other proofs, the readers who 
have never been there to directly observe the open waters can now see for 
themselves the actual truth and the dishonesty of your statements.

First, the original link to the NASA Website demonstrates that polynya can 
and do exist in the unconfined conditions of the Arctic Ocean and not just 
"The confined conditions of Baffin Bay" you tried to deceive readers were 
the only places where the special confined conditions for a polynya could 
exist. Also, the accompanying article was explicit in noting that "Polynyas 
are not unusual", whereas you tried to deceive readers into falsely 
believing your statement that "Polynyas are the result of rare combinations 
of currents, winds, and restrictions of current flow." Simple logic tells us 
that a polynya cannot be both rare and not unusual. You attempted to take 
the article's comment about the 2006 Beuafort Sea polynya being "unusual" in 
that region and proceeded to misrepresent its unusual size and location to 
falely represent that all polynyas in the Arctic Ocean as being "unusual," 
which is certainly not the realtiy. In the real world, direct observation 
demonstrates to us that polynya are quite common, quite common in the Arctic 
Ocean, and present every year along and nearby the northern coastline of 
Greenland. Furthermore, polynya, leads, meltponds, and ice retreats left 
major and minor bodies of melt water and open water accessible along the 
northern coastline of Greenland in every year of the past century.

Secondly, readers can see for themselves that polynyas, leads, meltponds, 
and other areas of water and open water do in fact exist along the northern 
coastline of Greenland by simply viewing the following photographs.

This true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image 
from May 20, 2001, shows Peary Land in northern Greenland.the northernmost 
point (of land) on the Earth. The rugged mountainous coastline gives way to 
the vast ice and snow fields of the island.s interior. The coastlines will 
become uncovered briefly over the course of the summer.


Even in the extreme depths of winter seen in this May photograph, some 
minimal areas of open water exist in the leads outlining Greenland's 
coastline and the edges of the Arctic Ocean along the Lincoln Sea, Nares 
Strait, and Hall Land. As the season changes and the temperatures warm, 
we'll see some dramatic changes in the later photographs.


NASA-s Moderate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) captured this 
series of true-color images of eastern and northeastern Greenland in June 
and July 2002. Summer is well underway in this frigid place, and snow and 
sea ice are retreating form the rugged coastlines. Off shore, fine white 
swirls are made by finely crushed ice.


The above photograph demonstrates how polynyas and other open waters are 
beginning to free significant stretches of the northern coastline of 
Greenland from the ice packs. Also note the innumerable small polynya and 
melt ponds within the remaining Arctic icepack.

Summer in Greenland provided this cloud-free view of the island's craggy 
northern shores. Though ice was still present in the Arctic Sea on July 26, 
2004, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's 
Terra satellite captured this image, the ice appears to be breaking up, and 
a dark finger of clear water is creeping around the east of the island, 
right. It is in these icy waters that the northernmost point of land in the 
world is located. The tiny island that bears this designation is too small 
to be seen in this image, but it is located north of Peary Land, the 
tan-colored arch of mainland Greenland extends north of the rest of the 


The above photograph shows readers how large areas of open water, including 
polynyas, do exist along even the northernmost coastlines of Greenland, 
despite anyone's false claims denying their possibility and existence. It 
should also be noted these stretches of open water along the northernmost 
coastline of Greenland are large enough to float entire fleets of the 
largest Viking ships ever built.

This Terra MODIS image from August 23rd, 2002, shows the summer thaw around 
northwest Greenland. As summer progressed, snow retreated from the 
coastlines, exposing bare, rocky ground, and seasonal sea ice melted in 
fjords and inlets. Some sea ice remnants are visible just off the coast at 
the top of the image. Meanwhile, all along the coast, sunlight reflects off 
sediments in the melting sea ice to create bright turquoise-blue highlights 
in the waters of the fjords and inlets.

To the east, layers of snow still cover the ground, obscuring the inland 
features of Greenland. To the west, the Davis Strait is a dark, blue-black 
color covered by a streak of clouds down its middle. Beyond the Davis 
Strait, just visible at the lower left corner of the image, is the edge of 
the Cumberland Peninsula on the southern end of Baffin Island (Canada).


In the above photograph, the readers can now see the dramtaic changes along 
the northern coastline of Greenland with a multitude of large and small 
polynyas, leads, and other open waters from Kane Basin, Kennedy Channel, 
Robeson Channel, Hall Land, the northern Arctic Ocean coastlines of 
Ellesmere Island, Hall Land, Peary Land, Northeast Greenland, and beyond. 
Even in the areas where pack ice is still piled against the coastline, we 
can still find innumerable small polynyas and large meltponds. Many of the 
fjords and inland waters are unfrozen and open.

For those who are too cynical to acknowledge the ability to navigate or 
otherwise negotiate passage through the smaller polynya, leads, and even 
meltwater ponds, the readers may wish to note the conditions found at the 
world's northernmost land, Oodaaq Island.

It is a fact that polynyas, persistent and non-persistent, exist today in 
the Arctic Ocean along the northern coastline of Greenland and Ellesmere 
Island. Proof of their existence is readily observed by readers in the NASA 
photographs made in recent years.

>>> Apart from that, please show where the historical records are which 
>>> describe the polynyas a millenium ago.
>> You are the person who made the rather logically ludicrous claim that it 
>> was "impossible" for the Norse to have attempted or accomplished a 
>> journey around the northern coastline of Greenland. Consequently, you 
>> have assumed
>> the burden of proof to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was also 
>> impossible for polynyas to have existed in the Arctic seas along and/or 
>> near the northern coastline of Greenland. your failure to prove it was 
>> impossible for such polynyas to have existed during the Norse period must 
>> result also in your failure to prove the Norse could not have used such 
>> polynyas as avenues for such a journey along the northern coastlines of 
>> Greenland. Given the fact we can all see with our own eyes that such 
>> polynyas exist in today's climactic conditions, it seems rather hopeless 
>> for you to attempt to prove their existence was impossible during the 
>> Norse period in Greenland.
> You seem to lack a basic course in logic. I have not made an "impossible" 
> claim, only argued for its large probability based on what we know. A 
> negative cannot be proven, but it can be refuted by just one positive 
> example, so why can't you provide it?

The readers no doubt find it hilarious for you to falsely accuse me of 
needing "a basic course in logic" when it is yourself who falsely denies "it 
could have been possible to sail around Greenland", as you wrote, or 
otherwise traveled around the northern coastline of Greenland as I have 
said. Here is a quotation of exactly what you wrote and how your statements 
equate to saying such a feat was impossible.

"Erik Hammerstad" <[email protected]> wrote in message 
news:[email protected]
For those who have claimed that it could have been possible to
sail round Greenland a millenium ago, please look at the map here showing the
 expected minimum ice cover in 2040 if global warming continues.
 Still ice around the North of Greenland unfortunately for them,
 and probably much warmer than it has been for some thousands of years.
When you deny something is possible, as you have clearly done above, you are 
thereby arguing for its converse condition of being impossible. If you 
refuse to acknowledge this basic truth, you cannot be trusted to mean 
anything you say in any discussion.

> As for polynyas, which are _restricted_ areas of open waters surrounded by 
> ice, see to upgrade your 
> knowledge, and for the polynya allowing probable Norse incursion into the 
> Kane Basin, see and the maps 
> available there.

Given the direct photographic proof of such polynyas and other open waters 
around the northern coastline of Greenland, you are only going to further 
embarass yourself by flagrantly continuing your pompous contempt, willfully 
gross ignorance, and monumental dishonesty. You would be wise to end your 
efforts to mislead the readers by misrepresenting the information appearing 
on the Websites you have cited. Such dishonest attempts to misrepresent and 
mischaracterize their content can only backfire on you when the readers come 
to realize how you attempted to deceive them. In particular, your use of the 
NOW Study map to mislead readers into believing there are no polynyas of any 
size along the northern coast of Greenland because the map was devoted only 
to depicting the seasonally recurrent and inter-seasonal polynya "in the 
Canadian Arctic" is exceptionally reprehensible. See:

The North Water Polynya (NOW) and NorthEast Greenland Polynya (NEW) are 
exceptional forms of polynyas, to the extent of which researchers remain 
undecided as to whether or not they can be properly classified as a 
"latent-heat polynya", which is also known as a coastal polynya.

Readers may find and enjoy the description and explanation of different 
types of polynyas found at the National Sea and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) 

Readers may see for themselves that sensible-heat polynyas are described by 
the NSIDC as "open-ocean" polynyas, and latent-heat polynyas are described 
as "coastal polynyas." As can be seen from the NSIDC, NASA, and other 
Websites, polynyas can be found nearby coastal areas, between island 
archipelagos, and out in the open-ocean areas as well. As can be seen by so 
much evidence, large and small polynyas can and do exist along all of the 
northern coastlines of Greenland in recent years.

Readers may also enjoy seeing how the smaller polynyas and meltponds of 
extensive sizes exist in the open-ocean pack ice, by zooming in and out of 
the image/s at the following Website:

>>> Or if you can't, what about any evidence showing that the Greenland 
>>> Norse went past the Kane Basin?
>> I have never made a claim the Greenland Norse journeyed farther along the 
>> northern coastline than the Kane Basin. I have no idea at present whether 
>> they actually did or did not do so. I have already explained why it is 
>> reasonable to suspect the actual accomplishment of such journeys by the 
>> may have been improbable, unless one or more of the maps or legendary 
>> tales can be proven as a fact. It is yourself who is making the claim 
>> that it was absolutely IMPOSSIBLE for the Norse to have made such a 
>> journey. Given the existence of maps and legendary tales about Norse 
>> explorations of the region, it seems rather foolhardy and bigoted of you 
>> to claim such feats were "impossible." Nonetheless, my subjective opinion 
>> of your claim of impossibility is moot if and when you can ever produce 
>> proof beyond a reasonable doubt such Norse journeys were "impossible." 
>> What seems to be lacking, however, is any honest effort on your part to 
>> actually produce such proof. Instead, you seem to keep creating strawmen 
>> arguments and misrepresenting and disparaging everyone else's comments on 
>> the subject. You and your argument of impossibility might have some 
>> barest hint of credibility if you could have proven the Norse were never 
>> present in the continent of Greenland, but we all know that is not going 
>> to happen.
> You have explained nothing, and you have provided nothing to show any 
> probability of the Greenland Norse having sailed round Greenland.

No doubt you wish that I had explained nothing, but the readers can see for 
themselves that I did explain how sensible-heat polynyas or open-ocean 
polynyas actually do exist in the Beuafort Sea. The readers can see how you 
attempted to deceive them into believing there were and could be no polynyas 
along the northern coast of Greenland, because you misleadingly used a map 
depicting only a limited set of special polynyas in the Canadian Arctic to 
support your denial of the existence of polynyas along the northern 
coastline of Greenland. Your denial of my explanations are as bankrupt of 
veracity as the rest of your disproven denials.

Worse still, you persist in dishonestly using the strawman argument about 
"the Greenland Norse having sailed round Greenland" long after I have 
repeatedly advised and warned you that the discussion was not necessarily 
about anyone "having sailed round Greenland." It appears as though you have 
deliberately deleted my prior comments chastising you for making such a 
false strawman argument. So, I'll quote waht I said before so you cannot 
continue your false and misleading argument.

"First, the claims were not limited only to the possibility of a 'sail 
Greenland.' Instead, the claims were that any proposition that it was simply
impossible or inconceivable for the Vikings or others to travel or trek
around the northern coast of Greenland at anytime in the past is

In other words, the proper and honest discussion is about whether or not the 
Norse colonists of Greenland could or could not possibly have JOURNEYED 
between the Western Settlements and Eastern Greenland by using a route or 
routes around the northern coastline of Greenland. The method or methods 
used to accomplish such journeys is simply a part of such a discussion, in 
which the question of accomplishing the journey in whole or part by sailing 
is just one of several possibilities to be considered. Your efforts to 
disregard any and all consideration of methods of travel other than sailing 
around the northern shores is clearly an effort to dishonestly prejudice and 
sandbag the discussion by misleading readers into wrongly assuming that a 
continuous sail voyage was not possible and therefore all thoughts of Norse 
journeys could be ridiculed and disregarded. Such efforts by you are doomed 
to failure, because we already know that journeys across the northern 
coastline of Greenland were not only possible in the past, such journeys 
have commonly taken place for nearly four thousand years by various past 
human cultures. Knowing such journeys have been commonplace by more 
primitive cultures for nearly some four millenia, I and the readers are 
going to regard any allegations by you that such journeys by the Norse in 
Greenland were not possible or impossible as being too devoid of rational 
thought and fact to have any shred of credibility.

>>> As for the claim that th Norse period in Greenland was warmer than 
>>> today, please see figure 2 in, it wasn't. The 
>>> whole MOG 31 report can be downloaded from
>> As is so often the case, the tinyurl and pdf you provided as citations 
>> fail to load. Since you have failed to provide the name of the series for 
>> the volume and failed to indicate the particular text and/or images and 
>> their relevance to the discussion even if the volume could be found, your 
>> citations are meaningless and valueless to the discussion. They 
>> certaintly contribute nothing whatsoever to any claim by you in regard to 
>> such Norse journeys being "impossible" to accomplish.
> The pdf loads from the tinyurl here, and the referenced figure is on page 
> 12 which comes up on my PC within a minute. The site of the Danish Polar 
> Center also is alive as I write, and the report containing the figure is 
> the 50 MB pdf file on the link provided. That you do not seem to 
> understand the relevance of MOG in the context of Greenland is revealing 
> with respect to your knowledge, and just underscores the impression of you 
> being a blower of hot air.

It is very revealing of your character to see how you arrogantly presume to 
characterize someone who catches you making dishonest statements and 
allegations as "being a blower of hot air." I can see how you wish that such 
innuendo could somehow relieve you of the consequences resulting from being 
caught making false statements and attempting to deceive readers by 
misrepresenting statements, photographs, polynya maps, data, and other 
people's comments and arguments. Such a wish on your part is certain to 
prove counterproductive for you, but I see little reason to suspect you will 
change your misconduct. You may wish to attempt to belittle me and my 
comments by trying to falsely portray me as lacking knowledge of the Danish 
Polar Center and the MOG reports, but such an attempt is going to backfire 
on you just like the rest of your innuendo and dishonest comments.

You also like to ridicule me and others for not being able to see your 
citations when you link them by a tinyurl. I suspect you must or should 
already know we may not be able to access the tinyurl links, because the 
ISPs have likely put the IP block/s used by the tinyurl server/s on a 
blackhole list after receiving too much spam traffic and/or malware traffic 
from that IP block.  As I noted, and you disregarded, we would have been 
able to directly access the MOG Report, if you had accurately identified it. 
Since there are more than one series of MOG reports having the same volume 
number, we cannot know which series your referenced volume was in until and 
unless you deign to disclose such information, which you have so far refused 
to do. Also, as I noted in my previous comments, we have no way whatsoever 
of knowing what content you were citing as a reference in support of your 
comments, until you disclose the relevant quotation, illustration, or other 
content along with the annotation needed to know why you believe it is 
relevant to your comments. This too you have been obstinately refusing to 
provide while hiding behind insults against the understanding and knowledge 
of anyone who has the temerity to ask you for it. Given the obvious fact you 
could and did not provide such usable references, the only reasonable 
conclusion to follow is that your failure to provide them was willful and 

The readers, however, my find the following MOG report very interesting with 
respect to the possibilities of humans journeying across the northern 
coastline of Greenland between Western Greenland and Eastern Greenland.

Danish Polar Center -- English

DPC Publications

Meddelelser om Grrnland (MoG)

Meddelelser om Grrnland, serie:

Man and Society

Bjarne Grrnnow and Jens Fog Jensen

The Northernmost Ruins of the Globe. Eigil Knuth's Archaeological 
Investigations in Peary Land and Adjacent Areas of High Arctic Greenland

MoG Man & Society vol. 29, 2003. 404 pp. 398 DKK. Item 329

The report may be downloaded as three .pdf files. Among the wide assortment 
of interesting details about human cultures inhabiting and journeying across 
Northern Greenland, readers can see photographs of the terrain, lakes, and 
coastal seas which reveal how it is indeed possible to journey in this 
northernmost High Arctic environment by boat and/or overland. One of the 
intriguing finds is an umiaq (Thule women's boat) in Northeast Greenland, 
which was radiocarbon dated to the 15th Century and built in part with oak 
predating the 15th Century and iron nails. The oak wood and iron nails are 
presumed to have been acquired from European and perhaps Norse sources in 
East Greenland or farther to the East or Southeast [MS29-2, 211--215.] As 
this report and other sources reveal, humans have been traveling back and 
forth between Ellesmere Island, East Greenland, and West Greenland for 
thousands of years. It remains to be explained why anyone would attempt to 
argue that is NOT POSSIBLE for the Norse settlers of Greenland to have 
accomplished the same journey accomplished by more primitive human cultures 
before and after the Norse colonies in Greenland existed.

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