Lord Franklin should have waited

The first I knew of Lord Franklin was when I heard an old song sung by John Renbourn which told his sad story.

In 1845 Franklin sailed to ‘find a passage around the pole ‘ – the so called ‘North-West passage’ to the North of Canada, emerging through the Bering Straits into the Pacific.

But Franklin, along with his two well-stocked ships and 129 men disappeared, and no trace of them was found despite searches in subsequent years.

Recent research has established that his ships became frozen in ice and with his sailors he over-wintered on the ice. And then they slowly perished from cold and hunger.

And now, after all these yearsParks Canada have discovered one of his ships underwater in a state of near perfect preservation.

And they have released a haunting underwater video.

This part of the arctic is still inhospitable in winter, but the winter sea ice is not as thick or extensive as it was in Franklin’s day.

And in summer, it is now possible to take a cruise through the ‘legendary’ North West Passage.

And the sea ice is diminishing in extent and volume year by year. This year the summer melt of Arctic Sea (Charts here) ice is nearly over  and the trend is continuing.

Graph showing the extent of Arctic Sea Ice at its minimum area each September. The datum for 2014 is estimated as being the value on 18th September 2014.

Graph showing the extent of Arctic Sea Ice at its minimum area each September. The datum for 2014 is estimated as being the value on 18th September 2014.

So Franklin should have waited. And if his successor were to sail in  2045 rather than 1845, then they would likely find the North West passage to be more mercenary than ‘legendary’.

 

 

 

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One Response to “Lord Franklin should have waited”

  1. iamamro Says:

    I wonder what this means for the Panama Canal, and the ongoing plan to widen it.

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