Climate change in Arctic more extensive than expected
A comprehensive new report on the the extent of climate change in the Arctic indicates that change is happening even faster than scientists were expecting. There is more on the Science Daily website.
WWF Arctic says the report shows Arctic states have to take urgent measures to protect the Arctic environment – and should take on a leading role in tackling the roots of the problem by radically reducing the production of greenhouse gases.
One thing that makes it clear just how important the Arctic is for the world as a whole is that the report says global sea level could rise through ice, snow and permafrost melting on land by up to 1.6 metres by 2100.
DateMay 6, 2011 | 12:53 pm
Vulnerable Treasure: Icebergs in Disko Bay, Greenland
Vulnerable Treasure: Chukchi Sea, Alaska
There was plenty of icy news awaiting me when I got back from my spring break. One of the items was entitled “On thin ice: vulnerable Arctic treasures identified”.
DateMay 4, 2011 | 2:04 pm
It is hard to keep up with all the Arctic stories happening at the moment amidst all the other news on the environment front with Fukushima, 25 years of Chernobyl and a year since Deep Water Horizon. Let me make up for having neglected the Arctic a little while I was busy on other things by passing on a few links.
At the Oil Spill Response conference for the future in Trondheim, (see earlier entries) I had the pleasure to meet John Farrel, Executive Director of the US Arctic Research Commission. I interviewed him about oil exploration in the Arctic, which I will make available at a later date. The website of that organisation is worth following.
The English website of Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute for polar and marine studies has several interesting if worrying stories about coastal erosion in the Arctic, record depletion of the ozone layer over the Arctic and a significant increase in the freshwater content of the Arctic Ocean.
Icy Meltwater Pooling in Arctic Ocean: A Wild Card in Climate Change Scenarios is also worth reading on this topic. The findings are from the CLAMER project, a collaboration of 17 European institutes with the difficult but important task of synthesizing the research of almost 300 projects funded by the EU over the last 13 years, relating to climate change and Europe’s oceans.
That should provide ice blog fans with some interesting reading while I have a few days off enjoying the definitely ice-free weather of this western European April. More in May, although I will look out for your questions or comments as usual.
DateApril 20, 2011 | 12:34 pm
Norwegian youth for a wind-win situation
In Trondheim at the weekend, I came across this group of young people from Natur og Ungdom, or “Nature and Youth”, also known as Young Friends of the Earth Norway.
Good to see the young generation taking an interest in our future energy supplies.
DateApril 13, 2011 | 2:09 pm
Arctic race against time
I have had an interesting and informative couple of days here in Trondheim, including a visit to the SINTEF laboratories, opened in 2005 on the water-front in Trondheim, so that they have direct access to sea water for their experiments.
This is the view of the fjord from inside the lab. It was a very wild weather day when we went there yesterday. There is a fine view of the water from the lab, and yesterday was unusually windy, so some of the scientists were even taking photos of the waves crashing over the breakwater – photos through the window, though. It was too stormy to open a window.
It was high tide and the wind was blowing strongly right in to shore. I actually like windy weather and have enjoyed watching waves crash on the shore in a lot of places. Apparently this is rare here, because Trondheim is comparatively sheltered in the fjord.
This is a lab dedicated to finding out all about oil and how it works in the environment. There is an “oil library”, with samples of different oil types from all over the world, so that the scientists can figure out how different types of oil behave in contact with sea water and test methods of dealing with oil spills.
Oil exploration and drilling are a “given” to this organisation. Their business is not to question the wisdom of, for example, moving north, but to find out about possible environmental impacts and develop technology for oil spill response.
This laboratory received a lot of funding from Statoil, so there is a clear interest in making oil exploration possible.
I have learnt a lot about the problems of oil spill response and the different technologies available over the past few days.
(test basin where oil is added to seawater)
There were quite a few experts from the USA at the meeting, the Canadian coastguard was represented, and of course plenty of Norwegian oil experts. People said they’d like to see more Russian involvement next time as they are a key player in the Arctic.
Summing up the presentations and sentiments I experienced here I’d say in spite of the Deep Water Horizon catastrophe a year ago, oil exploration in Arctic regions will still go ahead. There is a strong awareness of the challenges posed and the danger of an oil spill either from oil exploration or increased shipping in remote, icy waters. Oil in ice is a big research topic. Of course the DWH accident has drawn public and political attention to the risks attached especially to deep-sea drilling.
I have the strong sense – and quite a few of the experts I talked to agreed – that this is a race against time. Oil and gas exploration are already moving northwards. “Accidents will happen” is a phrase used by a few speakers. Can the technology to prevent and respond to a spill keep pace? The other fact I saw confirmed was that there is a lack of “baseline data” for Arctic areas, from charting to ecosystems. And climate change is changing the Arctic at a very fast pace, making it more difficult still to predict how increased shipping, oil and gas exploration will affect the environment.
DateApril 9, 2011 | 8:14 am