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Ice-Blog

Climate Change in the Arctic & around the globe

Oil from the Arctic: Is it time for an Arctic Treaty?

The Arctic island of Svalbard from the air

An oil spill would have drastic consequences for the pristine Arctic environment

Given the increased interest in drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic as the area becomes more accessible in a changing climate, concern is also growing about the dangers an accident could pose to the fragile environment of the “high North”.  An editorial in the publication NATURE argues that we need a binding agreement like the Antarctic Treaty to protect the Arctic from pollution.

Date

February 7, 2012 | 12:57 pm

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Greenland’s indigenous people and the race for resources


This is Greenland journalist Nuno Isbosethsen,currently visiting Bonn and photographed here on Greenland’s “national day”. She was taking part in a panel at the “Global Media Forum” on “Indigenous peoples and the race for resources”. She was telling us how difficult it is for indigenous people to have their say when it comes to exploiting the natural resources becoming increasingly accessible in a warming climate.

Date

June 21, 2011 | 3:50 pm

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Greenpeace boss risks jail to stop Arctic drilling

 

You can’t get much higher-profile than this. The International Executive Director of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, has scaled the controversial Arctic oil rig currently 120 km off the coast of Greenland. He is breaching a court injunction against his organisation imposed by a Dutch court a week ago at the request of Cairn Energy, the company operating the oil platform. The court order, sought by the company a week ago after 20 Greenpeace activists were arrested for stopping the rig operating, means a 50,000 Euros a day fine and the risk of jail for the Greenpeace chief.

Date

June 17, 2011 | 1:02 pm

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Permafrost “tipping point” in less than 20 years?

I have been concerned about the effect of melting permafrost on the climate for quite some time, not least in the wake of encounters with scientists working in Greenland (this picture is Zackenberg, Greenland, 2009) and Alaska. Now research results published by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSDIC) in Boulder, Colorado are indicating that there could be a “tipping point” or a “starting point”, as Professor Kevin Schaefer prefers to call it, in less than 20 years. That means a point when the vast areas of permafrost in Alaska, Canada, Siberia and parts of Europe go from being a “carbon sink” to a carbon source. The study indicates as much as two-thirds of the carbon frozen into the permafrost could be released.
There’s more info on the NSIDC website and on the ips news website, based on an interview with Prof. Schaefer. Not happy reading, but without big reductions in emissions, it will probably be impossible to prevent this. On top of that come the methane emissions, not included in the study. Methane is much more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

Date

February 18, 2011 | 3:12 pm

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On the trail of the truth about Greenland


Running for campus…

Let me recommend you a website and the book it’s based on.I’ve seen it here and it’s very impressive:Arctic Tipping Points
is the title, and it contains some beautiful and in some cases moving images relating to climate change and the Arctic. The editors are Carlos Duarte (quoted in earlier post) and Paul Wassmann (University of Tromsö.


(No tipping point for these swings)

I have been following the presentations dealing with the Greenland ice sheet closely. Sometimes it is a little frustrating when speakers hint at important results of studies which they cannot reveal fully ahead of publication. If you guys are trying to increase the suspense and arouse my interest in reports coming out in the next few months – you have succeeded. On the other hand, it seems a pity, with quite a few journalists sitting in the conference, that we can’t use the opportunity to pass on some interesting results. Unfortunate timing, it seems some of the reports were originally planned to have been ready. But let me sum up what I can here.
Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean Physics at the University of Cambridge introduced the strain of the conference dedicated to “ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions in the Arctic”. He refered to very large changes on the Greenland ice sheet, with very large areas of melt occurring in summer and a substantial net flux of fresh water into the sea every year. Now that is one of the key factors in measuring the changes. He told us the amount was almost the same as the total melt from mountain glaciers, suggesting this could be making a comparable contribution to global sea level rise as melt from all the rest of the glaciers in the world put together. He stressed the rate of melt on Greenland is accelerating and scientists just don’t know how the acceleration rate will continue.
Lars Otto Reiersen is the Executive Secretary for AMAP, the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme. He reported on the SWiPA (Project) (Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic), which is preparing a report to be presented to a meeting of Arctic ministers in May. (sigh!) Suffice it to say, he indicated that when it comes to the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet, the updated figures will show even higher melt. All will be revealed in a few months, it seems. And it will not be cheery reading.

Late afternoon impression of Tromsö campus while the weather was still beautiful (some like it cold). It is thawing at the moment, but forecast to cool again soon.

Date

January 27, 2011 | 3:55 pm

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