Tag-arkiv: Arctic

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

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.


Global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius could see permanently frozen ground thaw

ScienceDaily  stor

Evidence from Siberian caves suggests that a global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius could see permanently frozen ground thaw over a large area of Siberia, threatening release of carbon from soils, and damage to natural and human environments. A thaw in Siberia’s permafrost (ground frozen throughout the year) could release over 1000 giga-tonnes of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, potentially enhancing global warming. More

Guardian: 1.5C rise in temperature enough to start permafrost melt, scientists warn.

Team of scientists use radiometric dating techniques on Russian cave formations to measure historic melting rates


Published Online February 21 2013

Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1228729

Report:  Speleothems Reveal 500,000-Year History of Siberian Permafrost

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

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

Possible consequences for an ice-free Arctic Ocean

Biology Letters: Recent studies predict that the Arctic Ocean will have ice-free summers within the next 30 years. This poses a significant challenge for the marine organisms associated with the Arctic sea ice, such as marine mammals and, not least, the ice-associated crustaceans generally considered to spend their entire life on the underside of the Arctic sea ice.

Published online before print September 12, 2012, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0517 Biol. Lett.

Record Amount of Arctic Sea Ice Melted in June, Plus Amazing Video Of Greenland Ice Melt

ClimateProgress: The Arctic melt season is well underway, and sea ice extent — a key indicator of global warming — declined rapidly during June, setting a record for the largest June sea ice loss in the satellite era. Sea ice extent is currently running just below the level seen at the same time in 2007, the year that set the record for the lowest sea ice minimum in the satellite era. Continue

Warming turns tundra to forest

Oxford University: In just a few decades shrubs in the Arctic tundra have turned into trees as a result of the warming Arctic climate, creating patches of forest which, if replicated across the tundra, would significantly accelerate global warming. More

Paper, nature climate change:

Eurasian Arctic greening reveals teleconnections and the potential for structurally novel ecosystems

Marc Macias-Fauria, Bruce C. Forbes, Pentti Zetterberg & Timo Kumpula

Nature Climate Change (2012) doi:10.1038/nclimate1558

Received 28 November 2011 Accepted 30 April 2012 Published online 03 June 2012

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Climate Change & International Security: The Arctic as a Bellwether

C2ES: In its most recent assessment of global climate change, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences concluded, “A strong body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.” Impacts and rates of change are greatest in the Arctic, where temperatures have been increasing at about twice the global rate over the past four decades. The rapid decline in summer sea ice cover in the past decade has outpaced scientific projections and is drawing international attention to emerging commercial development and transport opportunities previously blocked by the frozen sea. The Arctic is therefore a bellwether for how climate change may reshape geopolitics in the post–Cold War era.

The trend toward seasonally open waters is driving increased interest and investment in oil and gas exploration, shipping, and fishing in the Arctic. The recent economic recession has not affected these developments significantly, as they were always intended to be middle- to long-term developments following the progression of sea ice retreat. Indeed, high oil prices and advances in technology continue to support the drive toward offshore drilling in Arctic waters. Continue

The great Arctic oil race begins


NATURE: The ‘new oil provinces’ are in the Arctic, which brims with untapped resources amounting to 90 billion barrels of oil, up to 50 trillion cubic metres of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, according to a 2008 estimate by the US Geological Survey. That’s about 13% of the world’s technically recoverable oil, and up to 30% of its gas — and most of it is offshore. Continue

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Scientists weighs changes of the Greenland ice sheet

The Cryosphere

ICESat has provided surface elevation measurements of the ice sheets since the launch in January 2003, resulting in a unique dataset for monitoring the changes of the cryosphere. The scientists present a novel method for determining the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet, derived from ICESat altimetry data and find annual mass loss estimates of the Greenland ice sheet in the range of 191 ± 23 Gt yr−1 to 240 ± 28 Gt yr−1 for the period October 2003 to March 2008. These results are in good agreement with several other studies of the Greenland ice sheet mass balance, based on different remote-sensing techniques. Continue

Acceleration of outlet glaciers and ice flows in Greenland and Antarctica is closely linked to ocean warming

“Water has a much larger heat capacity than air. If you put an ice cube in a warm room, it will melt in several hours. But if you put an ice cube in a cup of warm water, it will disappear in just minutes,” said Jianjun Yin, who worked on the study.


Different magnitudes of projected subsurface ocean warming around Greenland and Antarctica

Jianjun Yin, Jonathan T. Overpeck, Stephen M. Griffies, Aixue Hu, Joellen L. Russell & Ronald J. Stouffer

Nature Geoscience (2011) doi:10.1038/ngeo1189

Received 20 March 2011 Accepted 23 May 2011 Published online 03 July 2011

Russia and Norway agree deal over oil-rich Barents Sea

Today Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov exchanged the instruments of ratification of the Treaty on Maritime Delimitation and Cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean. “This is a milestone and a historic day for Norway. Our land borders and maritime boundaries are now all clearly established” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Continue: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

BBC: Russia and Norway agree deal over oil-rich Barents Sea

Barents Observer: OSLO: With the exchange of ratification protocols Norway and Russia end forty years of unsettled relations in the Barents Sea. Oil and gas mapping in the area might start already in July.

Geopolitics of the High North: The maritime delimitation treaty

The Prospects and the Perils of Beaufort Sea Oil: How Canada is Dealing with Its High North

Tuesday, 31 May 2011 By Doug Matthews

Canada has long looked to the petroleum resources of its North as an important part of the country’s energy supply. During the Second World War the oilfield at Norman Wells, Northwest Territory, was viewed as a critical supply source for the American fleet to withstand the expected Japanese intrusions in the North Pacific. The Canadian interest in its North last reached a peak in the late 1970s and 1980s when world oil supplies were subject to geo-political forces in the Middle East and Canada expanded its Arctic exploration programs seeking secure domestic supplies of both oil and natural gas to fuel its economy.

Continue: Journal of Energy Security

Arctic Energy: Pathway to Conflict or Cooperation in the High North?

Energy and Security Research 2011-06-01 13-32-33

The melting of the Arctic ice cap in combination with developments elsewhere concerning future energy security are creating scenarios that range from low level friction to potential conflict between the Arctic littoral states. Much attention has been devoted to maritime boundary disputes involving the Arctic states: Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the US. In addition to this, the emerging interest of non-Arctic states in shipping, polar research and non-living resource exploitation also adds uncertain elements to the Arctic geopolitical development.

Continue: Journal of Energy Security

Danmark til Nordpolen

Information: NUUK For første gang vil en dansk regering nu officielt fastslå, at inddragelse af Nordpolen i det danske rigsfællesskab hører til Danmarks faste, politiske mål.

Samtidig slås det fast, at Grønland og Færøerne også fremover skal være »eftertragtede efterforskningsområder« for olieselskaberne. Strategien bekræfter også på dette punkt de ambitiøse olieplaner, Grønlands regering allerede har lagt: Selv de stærkt isplagede farvande ud for det nordligste Østgrønland skal nu åbnes for selskaberne. Denne udvidelse af de grønlandske oliekoncessioner, der er de nordligste på kloden, vil ske allerede i 2012.

Snow, Water, Ice, Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA)

SWIPA Display 2011-05-12 20-21-23 AMAP arctic

Scientists have known for decades that global climate change has been having an outsized impact on the Arctic, but according to a new assessment from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program — part of the Arctic Council — changes in the planet’s vast northern region have been more dramatic than expected.

The new Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA) study offers the most up-to-date review of how quickly some of the Arctic’s hallmark features are changing. The study found that the past six-year period, between 2005-2010, has been warmer than any other recorded time in the Arctic, where records extend back to the 1880s. The study found that Arctic warming is accelerating, in large part because of feedbacks caused by the melting of ice and snow cover.

Continue: ClimateCentral

Wikileaks cables show race to carve up Arctic

By Meirion Jones and Susan Watts

BBC Newsnight

Secret US embassy cables released by Wikileaks show nations are racing to “carve up” Arctic resources – oil, gas and even rubies – as the ice retreats. Continue BBC

Video: BBC Newsnight



Guardian: Battle for Arctic oil intensifies as US sends Clinton to polar summit

Alert: Global sea level is projected to rise by 0.9–1.6 m by 2100

AMAP Conference 2011-05-04 10-13-56

AMPA: Latest science supports an unprecedented rate of change in the Arctic.

The observed changes in sea ice on the Arctic Ocean, in the mass of the Greenland Ice Sheet and Arctic ice caps and glaciers over the past ten years are dramatic and represent an obvious departure from the long‐term patterns.

FACTBOX 1 : Key findings SWIPA-report

Key finding 1

The past six years (2005–2010) have been the warmest period ever recorded in the Arctic. Higher surface air temperatures are driving changes in the cryosphere.

Key finding 2

There is evidence that two components of the Arctic cryosphere – snow and sea ice – are interacting with the climate system to accelerate warming.

Key finding 3

The extent and duration of snow cover and sea ice have decreased across the Arctic. Temperatures in the permafrost have risen by up to 2 °C. The southern limit of permafrost has moved northward in Russia and Canada.

Key finding 4

The largest and most permanent bodies of ice in the Arctic – multiyear sea ice, mountain glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland Ice Sheet – have all been declining faster since 2000 than they did in the previous decade.

Key finding 5

Model projections reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007 underestimated the rates of change now observed in sea ice.

Key finding 6

Maximum snow depth is expected to increase over many areas by 2050, with greatest increases over Siberia. Despite this, average snow cover duration is projected to decline by up to 20% by 2050.

Key finding 7

The Arctic Ocean is projected to become nearly ice-free in summer within this century, likely within the next thirty to forty years.

Key finding 8

Changes in the cryosphere cause fundamental changes to the characteristics of Arctic ecosystems and in some cases loss of entire habitats. This has consequences for people who receive benefits from Arctic ecosystems.

Key finding 9

The observed and expected future changes to the Arctic cryosphere impact Arctic society on many levels. There are challenges, particularly for local communities and traditional ways of life. There are also new opportunities.

Key finding 10

Transport options and access to resources are radically changed by differences in the distribution and seasonal occurrence of snow, water, ice and permafrost in the Arctic. This affects both daily living and commercial activities.

Key finding 11

Arctic infrastructure faces increased risks of damage due to changes in the cryosphere, particularly the loss of permafrost and land-fast sea ice.

Key finding 12

Loss of ice and snow in the Arctic enhances climate warming by increasing absorption of the sun’s energy at the surface of the planet. It could also dramatically increase emissions of carbon dioxide and methane and change large-scale ocean currents. The combined outcome of these effects is not yet known.

Key finding 13

Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland Ice Sheet contributed over 40% of the global sea level rise of around 3 mm per year observed between 2003 and 2008. In the future, global sea level is projected to rise by 0.9–1.6 m by 2100 and Arctic ice loss will make a substantial contribution to this.

Key finding 14

Everyone who lives, works or does business in the Arctic will need to adapt to changes in the cryosphere. Adaptation also requires leadership from governments and international bodies, and increased investment in infrastructure.

Key finding 15

There remains a great deal of uncertainty about how fast the Arctic cryosphere will change in the future and what the ultimate impacts of the changes will be. Interactions (‘feedbacks’) between elements of the cryosphere and climate system are particularly uncertain. Concerted monitoring and research is needed to reduce this uncertainty.

Continue: AMAP conference web

Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme

Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) 2011-05-04 09-41-59 AMAP

AMAP is an international organization established in 1991 to implement components of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS).

Now a programme group of the Arctic Council, AMAP’s current objective is “providing reliable and sufficient information on the status of, and threats to, the Arctic environment, and providing scientific advice on actions to be taken in order to support Arctic governments in their efforts to take remedial and preventive actions relating to contaminants”.

Continue: AMAP