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Climate Change in the Arctic & around the globe

Not anchored down in Anchorage

Well, we’ve made it. There’s a song about Anchorage, it mentions something about the biggest state in the union and being a long way from anywhere. Now I know what they mean, it’s taken me nearly 24 hours to get here.And we’re not exactly anchored down, as we’re moving on tomorrow.
The climate ambassadors are filming and talking about tomorrow’s itinerary, although it’s now 11.20 pm (9.20am European time, so they’ve all been on the go round the clock) – and we’re leaving for the airport at 4am, complete with full Arctic gear. Temperature is minus 15 in Barrow, could be worse. We had a good laugh at the expense of our Swedish “ambassador”, who was the only one feeling the cold at the airport.
The internet link is slow here and I haven’t been able to upload any pics tonight. Should be better tomorrow, when we visit the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium in Barrow, the northernmost point in the USA.

Date

April 30, 2008 | 7:23 am

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Alaska! Prepare to be Unbaked

Well, the rucksack is packed with the winter gear. Fitting the technology into one bag is a bit more difficult. Although everything is much smaller than it used to be, I find myself working with more media than I used to, so laptop, recorders, mics and camera all have to be safely transported.
To remind us of what it’s all about, and since we’re heading for the Arctic coast first, one of my favourite Arctic pics from last year’s Svalbard trip:

I’m meeeting up with the Climate College group in Amsterdam, which is where they collected for their initial briefing.
I’ll be interested to see how this high-powered group fit together. To recap – they have been invited on this field trip to see climate change – and those affected by it and researching into it – first hand. To get this far, they have all submitted climate protecting projects to the “Climate Change College”, which will be put into practice with support from the College.
Cara has a doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering, but her CC project is all about sustainable home renovation, deriving from her own experiences in Ireland. We’re thinking about more insulation for our own house, so I’ll be listening carefully and hoping for a few tips.
Marie-Laure wants to convince the skiing community to be greener. Sounds goods to me, but she’ll have a hard time, with all those Alpine resorts already creating artificial snow to stop going out of business.
Inés wants to “tackle recycling and deforestation in one fiesta-filled scoop”. The mind boggles just a little.
Filipe is into recycling cooking oil for bio-diesel. We’ve had reports on a couple of ventures like that in Living Planet, let’s see how his is different.
Jakob wants to educate frequent flyers and, from what I gather, make us use the internet more and fly less to business meetings. Hm. The Climate College does offset the flights for the field trip, though.
Erika wants to “worm her way into the food business”. I love that one (Hanno, as master of the puns, this has got to be one for you). Her project is all about composting food waste.
And Aart is successfuly teaching businesses how to go climate neutral.
Well, that’s enough to be going on with. The next blog entry should be from Alaska.

Date

April 28, 2008 | 12:07 pm

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Arctic melting ever faster and nothing in todays papers?

A new study says climate change is having a far greater impact on the Arctic and much faster than previously thought. Like the other journalists and media organisations on the distribution list,this information reached me yesterday from WWF, for publication as of midnight last night.The results of the “Arctic Climate Science Update” are dramatic.
Read the report for yourself via WWF Arctic Programme
But there was no mention of all this on the radio news or in the papers I read this morning. Could it be that melting sea ice, even the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the wide-ranging impacts no longer make the headlines? Are people getting bored with reading about it and starting to take it for granted? Let’s see if it makes the news in the course of today or tomorrow.
I also got these photos from Narsaq in Southern Greenland. The girls are launching a “Messenger Kayak” from an ice floe in the bay. Against the background of a conference on climate change and sustainable development being held in their town, they want to make the voices of young Greenlanders heard, taking on responsibility for the future and asking their leaders to take action on climate change and pollution. Good on you girls.


The picture was taken by Anders Rosenberg, Indra Film.
More info on the Greenland youth initiative

At least I’ve heard quite a few of my neighbours and friends talking about a 2-part film documentary which was shown on German tv last week and this week, which included dramatisations of what climate change is likely to mean for countries like Bangladesh – far away but clearly drastic impact – and places like Cologne in Germany, with huge chemical plants right next to the river Rhine – definitely too close for comfort. I found the film a bit too sensational in style, but I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that we need this sort of tv coverage (evening prime time viewing slot) to get the message across.
What did make the news this morning – John McCain is proposing dropping fuel taxes during the summer holidays. Clearly a very popular proposal. Shame about the climate.
Here are some more pictures from Justin Anderson. They were taken in Denali National Park in January. “Mt. McKinley sunsets”. Emily Schwing adds “it was actually perpetual sunset all day long”. This is Alaska as we’d like to keep it:

Date

April 24, 2008 | 9:01 am

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A visual taste of Alaska?

Emily Schwing works at the university in Fairbanks, Alaska, she’s also a journalist and contributes great stories to Living Planet. I’m hoping to meet up with her and introduce her to the Climate College “ambassadors” when we get to the Fairbanks area.
In the meantime, she sent me some beautiful pictures from Alaska, some taken by herself, some by her friend Justin Anderson. This is one of Justin’s.

Thanks Emily and Justin. Your pictures are beautiful.

I’ve just come out of the studio where Nina Haase and I were producing this week’s Living Planet programme, which goes on the air and on the net tomorrow:
“Environment matters around the globe” – DW’s Living Planet
It includes a story on wind energy by Hanno Schiffer, who is also the one who came up with the “Ice Blog” title. Thanks again Hanno! Hanno’s been speaking to some people who are optimistic that after the US election, things will be looking up for the environment.I’ll be interested to talk to people in Alaska about that while we’re on the road.
We have also been working on a series of features on biodiversity ahead of the big UN conference taking place in Bonn in May. This week Laura Spurway visits a kind of “Noah’s Arch” for endangered species of farm animals. Now there’s something you don’t often hear about. And I tell you, the donkey’s a scream.
We were at a press conference organised by the IUCN here in Bonn today. It was held at the “Environmental Law Centre” – agreed, that doesn’t sound very exciting. But they have some interesting topics on their agenda for the big conference, including “women and biodiversity”. No, it doesn’t mean they think we women are an endangered species. I’ll leave it at that and let you look up the rest on their website.
iucn –
sometimes still known as World Conservation Union

Thanks to Susie L. who sent in a comment on the photos from Australia.Glad you liked them Susie and I’ll try not to disappoint you with the coming ones.Susie and some colleagues are coming to Bonn on a field trip this summer, including a visit to our radio station here. Looking forward to meeting you all then.

Date

April 23, 2008 | 3:42 pm

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Cool news from the Antarctic as preps for Alaska continue in German spring weather

Yesterday I read an interesting press release from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany’s polar research institute. It made the “panorama” page of our regional paper this morning. Their research vessel the Polarstern has just completed an Antarctic cruise and come up with the puzzling result that the deep sea in the Antarctic is actually getting colder. At the same time satellite images from the Antarctic summer have shown the largest extent of sea-ice on record. The question is whether this is the start of a new trend, or just a one-off. The last ARCTIC summer was the warmest on record. The trouble is this latest report on Antarctic cooling might make a lot of people think global warming isn’t a danger after all.
See the latest information on the AWI English web page
Meanwhile, here in Bonn, Germany,it is beginning to feel like spring. The tulips in my garden are in full bloom. After a long cold, wet spell, it looks as if it’s going to heat up in the course of the week – in time to make sure my transition to the Alaskan Arctic is a bit of a shock to the system.
I’ve decided to look out some of my favourite ice and snow pictures to put us all in the right mood.

“Cloud wisps over Ny Alesund”. This shows fjord and glaciers taken from the French-German Arctic research base in Ny Alesund on Svalbard, Spitzbergen last June. I was lucky to get a couple of days of this sort of weather. It’s more likely to be overcast. But even those days still have a certain charm. The colours look completely different, as in this pic:

This is me in my survival suit at the Kongswegen glacier, taken on the same trip. The photo was taken by Rainer Vockenroth, the head of the research base, which is run jointly by the French and the German polar research institutes.We went along the glacier in a small boat. The water was 2°C, which means you can become unconscious in five minutes – unless you’re wearing one of these uncomfortable but admittedly useful outfits.

Date

April 22, 2008 | 7:51 am

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