Kategoriarkiv: Circum-Arctic Resources

Arctic sea ice maximum reaches lowest extent on record

nsidc 2015

NSIDC: Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its maximum extent for the year on February 25 at 14.54 million square kilometers (5.61 million square miles). This year’s maximum ice extent is the lowest in the satellite record.

NSIDC will release a full analysis of the winter season in early April, once monthly data are available for March.

To read the current analysis from NSIDC scientists, see http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews.

Deep concerns as climate impacts on Gulf Stream flow

Potsdam PIK: The Atlantic overturning is one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards. Also known as the Gulf Stream system, it is responsible for the mild climate in northwestern Europe. Scientists now found evidence for a slowdown of the overturning – multiple lines of observation suggest that in recent decades, the current system has been weaker than ever before in the last century, or even in the last millennium. The gradual but accelerating melting of the Greenland ice-sheet, caused by man-made global warming, is a possible major contributor to the slowdown. Further weakening could impact marine ecosystems and sea level as well as weather systems in the US and Europe.

More: https://www.pik-potsdam.de/news/press-releases/atlantic-ocean-overturning-found-to-slow-down-already-today

Denmark to claim slice of continental shelf in Arctic Ocean

claim art 76


Reuters: Denmark will claim on Monday ownership of around 900,000 square kilometers of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean by filing documents to United Nations.  More

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DK: Denmark and Greenland will today file a submission regarding the continental shelf north of Greenland

More: http://um.dk/en/news/newsdisplaypage/?newsID=71574E42-6115-4D16-9C8A-4C056F8603F3

1:   Read an executive summary of the submission
2:   Learn more on the website of the Continental Shelf Project
3:   Map of the Continental Shelf


Greenland melting due equally to global warming, natural variations

greenland ice

University of Washington: The rapid melting of Greenland glaciers is captured in the documentary “Chasing Ice.” The retreat of the ice edge from one year to the next sends more water into the sea.

Now University of Washington atmospheric scientists have estimated that up to half of the recent warming in Greenland and surrounding areas may be due to climate variations that originate in the tropical Pacific and are not connected with the overall warming of the planet. Still, at least half the warming remains attributable to global warming caused by rising carbon dioxide emissions. The paper is published May 8 in Nature.

Greenland and parts of neighboring Canada have experienced some of the most extreme warming since 1979, at a rate of about 1 degree Celsius per decade, or several times the global average.

More: http://www.washington.edu/news/2014/05/07/greenland-melting-due-equally-to-global-warming-natural-variations/

Journal Reference:

Qinghua Ding, John M. Wallace, David S. Battisti, Eric J. Steig, Ailie J. E. Gallant, Hyung-Jin Kim, Lei Geng. Tropical forcing of the recent rapid Arctic warming in northeastern Canada and Greenland. Nature, 2014; 509 (7499): 209 DOI: 10.1038/nature13260

Permafrost thawing could accelerate global warming



Florida State University


Researchers have found new evidence that permafrost thawing is releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere via plants, which could accelerate warming trends. Permafrost is soil that is frozen year round and is typically located in polar regions. As the world has gotten slightly warmer, that permafrost is thawing and decomposing, which is producing increased amounts of methane.

More: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140407153939.htm

Journal Reference:

Suzanne B. Hodgkins, Malak M. Tfaily, Carmody K. McCalley, Tyler A. Logan, Patrick M. Crill, Scott R. Saleska, Virginia I. Rich, and Jeffrey P. Chanton.

Changes in peat chemistry associated with permafrost thaw increase greenhouse gas production.

PNAS, April 7, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1314641111

Arctic melt speeding up

climate news network: Ice in the Arctic continues to retreat. The season without ice is getting longer by an average of five days every 10 years, according to a new study in Geophysical Research Letters. And in some regions of the Arctic, the autumn freeze is now up to 11 days later every decade.  This means that a greater proportion of the polar region for a longer timespan no longer reflects sunlight but absorbs it. This change in albedo – the scientist’s term for a planet’s reflectivity – means that open sea absorbs radiation, stays warmer, and freezes again ever later.

More: http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/2014/03/arctic-melt-speeding-up/

Journal paper:

Changes in Arctic melt season and implications for sea ice loss

Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2013GL058951

Video: A Polar Disaster Movie

polar movie science

Science: It’s not a secret that the Arctic Ocean is turning from white to blue as sea ice retreats. But a video compressing 25 years of satellite data into a single minute still drew gasps in a session here yesterday at the annual meeting of AAAS, which publishes Science. The movie, created late last year with data from satellites and buoys, shows how each year’s sea ice cover pulses like an amoeba, expanding and contracting with the seasons—and ending almost every summer a little smaller than the year before.

More: http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/02/video-polar-disaster-movie

Greenland’s fastest glacier reaches record speeds


EGU: Jakobshavn Isbræ (Jakobshavn Glacier) is moving ice from the Greenland ice sheet into the ocean at a speed that appears to be the fastest ever recorded. Researchers from the University of Washington and the German Space Agency (DLR) measured the dramatic speeds of the fast-flowing glacier in 2012 and 2013. The results are published today in The Cryosphere, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

“We are now seeing summer speeds more than 4 times what they were in the 1990s on a glacier which at that time was believed to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, glacier in Greenland,” says Ian Joughin, a researcher at the Polar Science Center, University of Washington and lead-author of the study.

In the summer of 2012 the glacier reached a record speed of more than 17 kilometres per year, or over 46 metres per day. These flow rates are unprecedented: they appear to be the fastest ever recorded for any glacier or ice stream in Greenland or Antarctica, the researchers say.

More: http://www.egu.eu/news/100/greenlands-fastest-glacier-reaches-record-speeds/

New actors in the Arctic ecosystem

alfred wegner

Biologists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have for the first time shown that amphipods from the warmer Atlantic are now reproducing in Arctic waters to the west of Spitsbergen. This surprising discovery indicates a possible shift of the Arctic zooplankton community, scientists report in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. The primary victims of this “Atlantification” are likely to be marine birds, fish and whales. The reason is that the migrating amphipods measure around one centimetre, and so are smaller than the respective Arctic species; this makes them less nutritious prey.

more: http://www.awi.de/en/news/press_releases/detail/item/new_players_in_the_arctic_ecosystem_atlantic_amphipods_reproduce_successfully_in_arctic_waters/?cHash=68999689af4ef7b43671200068eb60f8


Kraft A, Nöthig EM, Bauerfeind E, Wildish DJ and others (2013) First evidence of reproductive success in a southern invader indicates possible community shifts among Arctic zooplankton. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 493:291-296

World first: Russia begins pumping oil from Arctic seabed

gazprom arctic

Gazprom has pioneered the Russian Arctic shelf development

Mongabay: Oil has begun to be pumped from the Arctic seabed, according to Russian oil giant, Gazprom. The company announced on Friday that it has begun exploiting oil reserves at the offshore field of Prirazlomnoye. The project, which is several years behind schedule, is hugely controversial and made international headlines in September after Russian military arrested 28 Greenpeace activists protesting the operation along with a British journalist and Russian videographer.

Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1223-hance-russia-arctic-oil.html#li3jl4FtPZa2ULFj.99


greenpeace arctic


Arctic sea ice up from record low

esa cryosat

Autumn sea-ice thickness from CryoSat 2010–2013

ESA: Measurements from ESA’s CryoSat satellite show that the volume of Arctic sea ice has significantly increased this autumn.  The volume of ice measured this autumn is about 50% higher compared to last year.  In October 2013, CryoSat measured about 9000 cubic km of sea ice – a notable increase compared to 6000 cubic km in October 2012.  Over the last few decades, satellites have shown a downward trend in the area of Arctic Ocean covered by ice. However, the actual volume of sea ice has proven difficult to determine because it moves around and so its thickness can change.

CryoSat was designed to measure sea-ice thickness across the entire Arctic Ocean, and has allowed scientists, for the first time, to monitor the overall change in volume accurately.

More: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/CryoSat/Arctic_sea_ice_up_from_record_low

Dansk/grønlandsk krav på kontinentalsokkel nordøst for Grønland indgivet til FN

grønland_gif dannebrog1

Udenrigsministeriet: Regeringen har sammen med Grønlands Selvstyre den 26. november 2013 til Kommissionen for Kontinentalsoklens Grænser (CLCS) afleveret videnskabelig dokumentation for sit krav på kontinentalsokkel nordøst for Grønland. Det drejer sig om et område på ca. 62.000 km2 uden for 200 sømil fra Grønlands kyst mellem Grønland og Svalbard (Norge).


Mere: Kontinentalsokkelprojektet, a76dk, http://a76.dk/cgi-bin/nyheder-m-m.cgi?id=1385550434|cgifunction=form

kontinentalsokkel projektet 2013

Et sammendrag af submissionen – det såkaldte “Executive Summary”- kan downloades:

DNK2013_EX-SUM_NE-GREENLAND.pdf (pdf-fil ~6,3 mb).

US Arctic Defense Strategy

arctic strategy us defense

American Forces Press Service: Rising temperatures in the Arctic are transforming the region from a frozen desert to “an evolving navigable ocean, giving rise to an unprecedented level of human activity,” Hagel said. “Traffic in the Northern Sea Route is reportedly expected to increase tenfold this year compared to … last year.”

As global warming accelerates, the secretary said, Arctic ice melt will cause a rise in sea levels that could threaten coastal populations around the world — but it could also open a transpolar sea route.

More: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=121220

Arctic Strategy PDF

Unprecedented warmth in Arctic

University Colorado Boulder

Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years and perhaps as long ago as 120,000 years, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.  The study is the first direct evidence the present warmth in the Eastern Canadian Arctic exceeds the peak warmth there in the Early Holocene, when the amount of the sun’s energy reaching the Northern Hemisphere in summer was roughly 9 percent greater than today, said CU-Boulder geological sciences Professor Gifford Miller, study leader. The Holocene is a geological epoch that began after Earth’s last glacial period ended roughly 11,700 years ago and which continues today.

– See more at:http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2013/10/23/cu-boulder-led-study-shows-unprecedented-warmth-arctic

Escaping the warmth: The Atlantic cod conquers the Arctic

polar cod

Alfred Wegener Institute: As a result of climate change the Atlantic cod has moved so far north that it’s juveniles now can even be found in large numbers in the fjords of Spitsbergen. This is the conclusion reached by biologists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), following an expedition to this specific region of the Arctic Ocean, which used to be dominated by the Polar cod. The scientists now plan to investigate whether the two cod species compete with each other and which species can adapt more easily to the altered habitats in the Arctic. more

The deep Greenland Sea is warming faster than the World Ocean

Recent warming of the Greenland Sea Deep Water is about ten times higher than warming rates estimated for the global ocean. Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research recently published these findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. For their study, they analysed temperature data from 1950 to 2010 in the abyssal Greenland Sea, which is an ocean area located just to the south of the Arctic Ocean.

Arctic Sea Ice Minimum in 2013 Is Sixth Lowest On Record

sea ice low 2013 nsidc

NSIDC: On September 13, Arctic sea ice reached its likely minimum extent for 2013. The minimum ice extent was the sixth lowest* in the satellite record, and reinforces the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent. Sea ice extent will now begin its seasonal increase through autumn and winter. Meanwhile, in the Antarctic, sea ice extent reached a record high on September 18, tied with last year’s maximum. More

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Arctic trade route opens

eastday.com: Cosco Shipping Co’s new shortcut route to Europeand North Americavia the Arctic Northeast Passage is expected to change China’s industrial layout in its coastal provinces and reshape the prospects for the global shipping sector, said industry experts.  Cosco Shipping, a listed company within China’s shipping giant Cosco Group, made its maiden journey on the route with a multipurpose vessel on Thursday. It plans to serve the company’s needs in developing the new route and searching for market growth points. The company conducts general and specialized cargo shipping services for Cosco Group.  The ship left Dalianport in Northeast China’s Liaoning province and is scheduled to take 33 days to reach Europe. It is the first time a Chinese merchant ship has traveled to Europe via the Arctic Northeast Passage.

read more: http://english.eastday.com/e/130811/u1a7584572.html

Natural Systems in Changing Climates

science special

Science, Special Issue | 2 August 2013

Anthropogenic climate change is now a part of our reality. Even the most optimistic estimates of the effects of contemporary fossil fuel use suggest that mean global temperature will rise by a minimum of 2°C before the end of this century and that CO2 emissions will affect climate for tens of thousands of years. A key goal of current research is to predict how these changes will affect global ecosystems and the human population that depends on them. This special section of Science focuses on the current state of knowledge about the effects of climate change on natural systems, with particular emphasis on how knowledge of the past is helping us to understand potential biological impacts and improve predictive power.

read more: http://www.sciencemag.org/site/special/climate2013/

Cost of Arctic methane release could be ‘size of global economy’

Erasmus University (RSM).: “The global impact of a warming Arctic is an economic time-bomb”, says Gail Whiteman, Professor of sustainability, management and climate change at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).  In a ground breaking Comment in this week’s authoritative scientific journal Nature, Gail Whiteman, Chris Hope, Reader in Policy Modelling at Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge and Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean physics at the University of Cambridge, address the issue. According to the authors, economic modelling shows that the methane emissions caused by shrinking sea ice from just one area of the Arctic could come with a global price tag of 60 trillion dollars – the size of the world economy in 2012. The story can be found here.

“The imminent disappearance of the summer sea ice in the Arctic will have enormous implications for both the acceleration of climate change, and the release of methane from off-shore waters which are now able to warm up in the summer. This massive methane boost will have major implications for global economies and societies”, says Peter Wadhams.

Yet most discussions about the economic implications of a warming Arctic focus on benefits to the region, with increased oil-and-gas drilling and the opening up of new shipping routes that could attract investments of hundreds of billions of dollars. However, the effects of melting permafrost on the climate and oceans will be felt globally, the authors argue.

– See more at: http://www.rsm.nl/about-rsm/news/detail/2992-cost-of-arctic-methane-release-could-be-size-of-global-economy-warn-experts/#sthash.0QjaisKB.dpuf

ClimateCentral: The worldwide impacts of a rapidly warming Arctic could cost the global economy an estimated $60 trillion, nearly equal to the entire global economy in 2012, according to a new study. That report, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, is the first to analyze the potential economic costs of rapid Arctic warming.  The study bluntly warns that the tendency for policymakers to focus solely on the benefits of an increasingly open Arctic Ocean — like increased mining, oil and gas drilling, and maritime shipping — misses the longer-term “economic time bomb.” The Arctic region, the study said, is “pivotal” to the functioning of the global climate system, and disrupting it will not come cheaply. read more

Guardian: Rapid Arctic thawing could be economic timebomb, scientists say read more

NASA experiment uncovers Arctic climate time bomb

RTCC: The Arctic could prove to be a climate time bomb according to early results from a NASA experiment to monitor the release of greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost.

With previous data on CO2 and methane released from the carbon rich soils imprecise, the Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE) has been able to fill in the blanks with initial indications creating cause for concern.  While it was known that the release of gases that had previously been trapped in solid ground were now able to escape in larger volumes, CARVE is allowing scientists to estimate the extent of the problem with more accuracy.  “We are definitely looking at a sleeping climate giant. From a scientific perspective the thing I find the most amazing about this is potential for large scale carbon release in the high latitudes,” Charles Miller, principal investigator on CARVE told RTCC.

– See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/nasa-experiment-uncovers-arctic-climate-time-bomb/#sthash.CypiJLPS.dpuf

Arctic Biodiversity Assessment

arctic biodiversity

The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council has released the “Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA),” a report containing the best available science informed by traditional ecological knowledge on the status and trends of Arctic biodiversity and accompanying policy recommendations for biodiversity conservation.

“The Arctic Biodiversity Assessment is a tremendous achievement,” says Gustaf Lind, chair of the Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council. “The recommendations will help shape Arctic conservation in the years to come and will prove itself an invaluable tool to the Arctic Council. The ABA articulates exactly how the environment is changing and signals to policymakers what needs to be done to secure the ecosystems and species that people rely on for life and livelihood. This is the information we need right now to help us achieve a sustainable future.”

Key finding 1: Arctic biodiversity is being degraded, but decisive action taken now can help sustain vast, relatively undisturbed ecosystems of tundra, mountains, fresh water and seas and the valuable services they provide

Key finding 2: Climate change is by far the most serious threat to Arctic biodiversity and exacerbates all other threats.

Key finding 3: Many Arctic migratory species are threatened by overharvest and habitat alteration outside the Arctic, especially birds along the East Asian flyway.

Key finding 4: Disturbance and habitat degradation can diminish Arctic biodiversity and the opportunities for Arctic residents and visitors to enjoy the benefits of ecosystem services.

Key finding 5: Pollution from both long-range transport and local sources threatens the health of Arctic species and ecosystems.

Key finding 6: There are currently few invasive alien species in the Arctic, but more are expected with climate change and increased human activity.

Key finding 7: Overharvest was historically the primary human impact on many Arctic species, but sound management has successfully addressed this problem in most, but not all, cases.

Key finding 8: Current knowledge of many Arctic species, ecosystems and their stressors is fragmentary, making detection and assessment of trends and their implications difficult for many aspects of Arctic biodiversity.

Key finding 9: The challenges facing Arctic biodiversity are interconnected, requiring comprehensive solutions and international cooperation.


White House warned on imminent Arctic ice death spiral

guardian: Senior US government officials are to be briefed at the White House this week on the danger of an ice-free Arctic in the summer within two years.  The meeting is bringing together Nasa’s acting chief scientist, Gale Allen, the director of the US National Science Foundation, Cora Marett, as well as representatives from the US Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon.  This is the latest indication that US officials are increasingly concerned about the international and domestic security implications of climate change.


Arctic Sea Ice minimum, sept 1979 -sept 2012.

arctic sea ice


Arctic News: Above a tilted screenshot from the animation below, by Andy Lee Robinson, of Arctic Sea Ice minimum volumes reached every September since 1979, based on data from the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS, Zhang and Rothrock, 2003) at the University of Washington.


Interactive Map of the Arctic

greenpeace north pole


Greenpeace: Into the Arctic is a digital, interactive map we just launched today with the North Pole at its centre. The map features a number of static and dynamic layers that visualise the beauty of the Arctic, the threats it faces and our struggle to protect it.

The Arctic is under pressure from oil companies seeking to exploit its resources. They see the melting of the sea ice not as a warning, but as a business opportunity. Take a journey into the Arctic and explore for yourself its natural wonders, the threat of the encroaching oil industry, and follow the struggle to Save the Arctic.

Join the North Pole Expedition and follow the team as they make their way to the pole, with frequent, near-live, updates of their position and a geoblog of all the tweets, blogs, pictures and videos. Take a look…

The ten lowest maximums in arctic sea ice have occurred in the last ten years .

arctic sea ice 2013 march


NSIDC: Arctic sea ice reached its maximum extent for the year on March 15 at 15.13 million square kilometers (5.84 million square miles). This year’s maximum ice extent was the sixth lowest in the satellite record (the lowest maximum extent occurred in 2011). The ten lowest maximums in the satellite record have occurred in the last ten years (2004 to 2013).


Guardian: Scientists link frozen spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss

Climate scientists have linked the massive snowstorms and bitter spring weather now being experienced across Britain and large parts of Europe and North America to the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice.  Both the extent and the volume of the sea ice that forms and melts each year in the Arctic Ocean fell to an historic low last autumn, and satellite records published on Monday by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, show the ice extent is close to the minimum recorded for this time of year.


Opening the Northern Sea Route administration

north sea route

BarentsObs: From an office in downtown Moscow, 15 people will regulate traffic along Russia’s Northern Sea Route.

A decree signed this week by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev marks the formal establishment of the new Northern Sea Route administration. The office, to be part of the federal Agency of Sea and River Transport, will be manned by a maximum of 15 people, the decree reads.  By mid-May, the new structure is to be fully operational.


CryoSat reveals major loss of arctic ice

cryosat 2013 esa

ESA: An international team of scientists using new measurements from ESA’s ice mission has discovered that the volume of Arctic sea ice has declined by 36% during autumn and 9% during winter between 2003 and 2012.

Satellite records show a constant downward trend in the area covered by Arctic sea ice during all seasons, but in particular in summer. The past six years have seen the lowest summer ice extent in three decades, reaching the lowest last September at about 3.61 million sq km. More

The study ‘CryoSat-2 estimates of Arctic sea ice thickness and volume’, recently published online in Geophysical Research Letters.

Polar Bear Researchers Urge Governments to Act Now and Save the Species

Polar Bears International: A University of Alberta polar bear researcher along with eleven international co-authors, including Polar Bear International’s chief scientist and several of PBI’s advisors, are urging governments to start planning for rapid Arctic ecosystem change to deal with a climate change catastrophe for the animals. U of A professor Andrew Derocher, above, co-authored a policy perspective in the journal Conservation Letters urging governments with polar bear populations to accept that just one unexpected jump in Arctic warming trends could send some polar bear populations into a precipitous decline.

“It’s a fact that early sea ice break-up and late ice freeze-up and the overall reduction in ice pack are taking their toll,” said Derocher. “We want governments to be ready with conservation and management plans for polar bears when a worst case climate change scenario happens.”

A new approach to assessing future sea level rise from ice sheets

Bristol University: Future sea level rise due to the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could be substantially larger than estimated in Climate Change 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, is the first of its kind on ice sheet melting to use structured expert elicitation (EE) together with an approach which mathematically pools experts’ opinions. EE is already used in a number of other scientific fields such as forecasting volcanic eruptions.  The ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland contain about 99.5 per cent of the Earth’s glacier ice which would raise global sea level by some 63m if it were to melt completely. The ice sheets are the largest potential source of future sea level rise – and they also possess the largest uncertainty over their future behaviour. They present some unique challenges for predicting their future response using numerical modelling and, as a consequence, alternative approaches have been explored.

One such approach is via carefully soliciting and pooling expert judgements – a practice already used in fields as diverse as eruption forecasting and the spread of vector borne diseases. In this study Professor Jonathan Bamber and Professor Willy Aspinall used such an approach to assess the uncertainties in the future response of the ice sheets.

They found that the median estimate for the sea level contribution from the ice sheets by 2100 was 29cm with a 5 per cent probability that it could exceed 84cm. When combined with other sources of sea level rise, this implies a conceivable risk of a rise of greater than 1m by 2100, which would have deeply profound consequences for humankind. The IPCC’s report provided figures ranging from 18cm to 59cm for six possible scenarios.

TIMELINE: Documenting Shell’s 2012 Arctic Drilling Debacle

ThinkProgress: This week’s grounding of Shell’s enormous Kulluk drilling rig near Kodiak Island, Alaska has not inspired confidence in its preparedness to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean.

The rig was being towed from Dutch Harbor, Alaska to Seattle when its tow vessel lost control of the massive platform during a harsh winter storm. After numerous attempts to secure the equipment failed, it settled near the shore of uninhabited Sitkalidak Island in the western Gulf of Alaska on Monday night and remains there – with nearly 150,000 gallons of fuel and other fluids on board. The Coast Guard is coordinating a 500-plus person response to assess the damage, but neither they nor Shell has any idea when or how they will regain control of the foundering giant. More

The melting Arctic

EEA: The extent of the sea ice in the Arctic reached a new record low in September 2012. Climate change is melting the sea ice in the region at a rate much faster than estimated by earlier projections. The snow cover also shows a downward trend. The melting Arctic might impact not only the people living in the region, but also elsewhere in Europe and beyond. More

2012 Arctic Report Card

noaa 2012

NOAA: Arctic continues to break records in 2012: Becoming warmer, greener region with record losses of summer sea ice and late spring snow.

The Arctic region continued to break records in 2012—among them the loss of summer sea ice, spring snow cover, and melting of the Greenland ice sheet. This was true even though air temperatures in the Arctic were unremarkable relative to the last decade, according to a new report released today. More

Clearest evidence yet of polar ice losses

ESA 2012

ESA: After two decades of satellite observations, an international team of experts brought together by ESA and NASA has produced the most accurate assessment of ice losses from Antarctica and Greenland to date. This study finds that the combined rate of ice sheet melting is increasing.

The new research shows that melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets has added 11.1 mm to global sea levels since 1992. This amounts to about 20% of all sea-level rise over the survey period.  About two thirds of the ice loss was from Greenland, and the remainder was from Antarctica. More

Science: A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance

Science 30 November 2012: Vol. 338 no. 6111 pp. 1183-1189DOI:10.1126/science.1228102

China adopts 
low-key approach to secure economic interests in the arctic, says SIPRI

SIPRI: (Stockholm, 27 November 2012) Aware of the suspicions some countries have about its intentions in the Arctic, China is adopting a deliberately low-key public stance that avoids talk about minerals, oil and gas and focuses on climate change and shipping routes. Nevertheless, China is determined not to be sidelined in decisions that it believes will directly affect its economic interests, according to a report published today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). More

A Quest to Document Earth’s Disappearing Glaciers

yale 360 extreme ice

Yale Environment 360: For James Balog, it all began with a 2005 National Geographic assignment to photograph the world’s rapidly retreating glaciers. That story brought home to him the severity of glacial retreat worldwide and instilled in him a desire to “preserve the visual memory” of a world of ice fading from view.

The result was the Extreme Ice Survey, a project launched in 2007 that has involved the deployment of time-lapse cameras on four continents to record, every half hour during daylight, the shrinking of the world’s glaciers.

TED Talks: James Balog: Time-lapse proof of extreme ice loss, Filmed Jul 2009 • Posted Sep 2009 • TEDGlobal 2009

Animated graphics show records broken in levels of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice

New Scientist: Last month saw unprecedented conditions in both Arctic and Antarctic. The animations below show the average extent of ice cover in September each year since 1979, when satellite observations began.  The US National Snow & Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, divides the Arctic and Southern Oceans into a 25-kilometre grid, and considers cells covered if they have 15 per cent or more of ice. As the first animation reveals, this summer’s melt left the Arctic with only about half the ice cover it enjoyed in the 1980s. Continue

Loss of Arctic Sea Ice … and of a ‘Giant Parasol’

yale forum

Yale forum on climate change

Yale: A new video produced by independent videographer Peter Sinclair for The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media explains what expert scientists now find to be the lowest extent of Arctic sea ice in recorded history.  The shrinking of the Polar ice cap — providing protection much like a “giant parasol” — presents us “a big problem, a real problem, and it’s happening now, it’s not happening generations from now,” Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis cautions. Continue

High-Arctic Heat Tops 1,800-Year High

LDEO: Summers on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard are now warmer than at any other time in the last 1,800 years, including during medieval times when parts of the northern hemisphere were as hot as, or hotter, than today, according to a new study in the journal Geology.  “The Medieval Warm Period was not as uniformly warm as we once thought–we can start calling it the Medieval Period again,” said the study’s lead author, William D’Andrea, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “Our record indicates that recent summer temperatures on Svalbard are greater than even the warmest periods at that time.” Continue

Arctic sea ice extent settles at record seasonal minimum

nsidc polar ice sept 2012

NSIDC: On September 16, Arctic sea ice appeared to have reached its minimum extent for the year of 3.41 million square kilometers (1.32 million square miles). This is the lowest seasonal minimum extent in the satellite record since 1979 and reinforces the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent. The sea ice extent will now begin its seasonal increase through autumn and winter.

Gurdian: Arctic ice shrinks 18% in a year, sounding climate change alarm bells