This year’s ice-blog destination is the Svalbard archipelago at 79° North, a focal point of the world’s Arctic research. Spitsbergen is the largest of the Svalbard islands, which are governed by Norway. Just 1200 km from the North Pole, scientists from all over the world monitor what’s happening to our climate and how changes affect ecosystems at the research station of Ny Alesund. This is also the spot where Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen started the first airship flight over the North Pole in 1926.
I took these pictures during a visit in 2007.
Once the site of a coal mine, around 30 scientists and crew now live in Ny Alesund through the dark, Arctic winter, in the world’s most northerly permanent settlement. When the snow starts to melt in spring and life awakes, biologists and glaciologists migrate to Svalbard to carry out their field research.
Amongst them this year is a team from the IFM GEOMAR, the Leibniz Insitute for Marine Sciences of Germany’s Kiel University, headed by Professor Ulf Riebesell. For the first time, they are cooperating with Greenpeace. The Greenpeace team is headed by Dr. Iris Menn and Martin Kaiser. The organisation’s ship the “Esperanza” is transporting the scientists and their special equipment to monitor the effect of ocean acidification on the Arctic ocean ecosystems off the coast of Spitsbergen.
Expedition prepares to depart – report by Chiponda Chimbelu
DateMay 18, 2010 | 3:28 pm
The Arctic headlines that weren’t?
Although I’m a journalist myself I still often find myself wondering why some things make it into the headlines with some media and others don’t. Sometimes you hear something in the news in the morning that disappears very rapidly. And sometimes, especially if you’re interested in and concerned about climate change, you read and hear things that shock or worry you then, again, don’t make it into any other media.
I have a couple of examples here. The first I can find an explanation for, although I don’t find it justified and hope the situation will change in the next few weeks.
Scientists from one of Germany’s most renowned scientific institutes, the Leibniz Institute for Marine Sciences at Kiel University, set off on an Arctic expedition today.They’ve joined forces with Greenpeace. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is transporting some giant “test-tubes” up to the Svalbard archipelago, where they’ll be lowered into the water to look into the effects of climate change on the marine ecosystems. The scientists are particularly interested in the acidification of the oceans. I’ll be writing more about this later – in fact I’ll be catching up with the team and finding out more first-hand. But the reason I’m mentioning it today is that when I searched the news agencies, I didn’t find anything in English about this venture, although it’s using new, unique technology, and we know how susceptible the Arctic is to climate change – and what a key role it plays in regulating the world’s climate. I assume the reason is the ship left from the German port of Kiel, so only attracted German media. But come on folks, this is not a German story, the implications are as global as you can get.
I wasn’t able to go up to Kiel for the launch, but one of my colleagues went, so I’ll have more on that soon.
The other story which is even more worrying is one I came across in the online version of the German news magazine Focus
It’s headlined (in German)”Melting poles: No Ice, No Summer”.
The article reports on a story in the magazine Science which warns of the dangerous effects of melting ice in the Arctic and Antarctic on the deep ocean currents which help regulate the climate. In a highly over-simplified nutshell, it seems possible that at some point in the future, melting fresh water from the glaciers could reduce the salinity of the sea-water to the extent where the pump effect of dense salt water sinking into the depths would be hampered. This could interrupt the flow of warmer water which helps keep the climate of the British isles, southern Scandinavian and part of northern Germany mild.
Now why am I finding it difficult to get any more information on this from other media?
DateMay 14, 2010 | 1:25 pm
Scotland as marine energy Saudi Arabia?
Your ice blogger has been in Scotland over the past week, intrigued by claims by the country’s First Minister (Scotland is part of the UK but has a devolved parliament in Edinburgh) Alex Salmond that Scotland could become the “Saudi Arabia” of renewable energy, in particular marine energy.
The country is well suited to develop tidal, wave and wind energy and some interesting announcements were made while I was there.
Scotland has ambitious emissions reductions targets, higher than those of the UK as a whole.
More anon, when I have processed some of the material I collected. There should be some photos here by tomorrow at the latest.
DateMarch 22, 2010 | 1:05 pm
We haven’t heard a lot about the iron fertilisation controversy in the Antarctic for a while – at least not in the mainstream media.
(The German research vessel Polarstern, belonging to the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, conducting the research with Indian partners).
– See blog entries of 9.-15-1-2009 for the background –
Are you surprised to hear that the controversial experiment did not produce the desired results? Artificially fertlizing the ocean with iron is not a way to substantially reduce the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere!
It seems the scientists on board the Polarstern were surprised by what did actually happen during the German-Indian experiment.
DateMarch 26, 2009 | 10:48 am
Census of Marine Life in the Arctic and Antarctic
The Census of Marine Life, which is an ongoing project to document life in the oceans, has published some interesting findings about species in the Arctic and the Antarctic, and changes caused by climate change. It’s hardly surprising that cold-water-loving species are migrating towards the Poles to escape water that has become too warm for their comfort. The results are based partly on some amazing resarch voyages during the international polar year.
It’s well worth a read. And there are some amazing photos and video sequences.
Arctic and Antarctic species online
DateFebruary 15, 2009 | 11:39 am