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.
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.
DateApril 23, 2008 | 3:42 pm
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.
DateApril 22, 2008 | 7:51 am
TagsAlaska, Antarctic, Arctic, AWI, Barrow, Climate, Climate Change College, Germany, Inupiat, Polarstern, sea ice, Svalbard, USA
Arctic Alaska: the "Last Frontier"?
The map shows the destinations we’ll be visiting on the expedition, from Barrow in the Arctic Circle through Healy in the Interior to Girdwood in the Anchorage area.
Alaska is the northernmost state in the USA. It’s the biggest state in terms of surface area – around 20% of the total – but the fourth smallest in terms of population. Hardly surprising, given its remote location and harsh climate. Part of Alaska actually lies inside the Arctic circle. But the average temperature has risen by around 6° C since 1960. Not enough to warrant bikinis on this trip, but alarming if you see how fast the rate of ice melt is accelerating.
Recent NASA photos indicate that although it has actually been a particularly cold winter, leading to an increase in SEA ice, established ice areas in the Arctic are melting fast.
Our first destination will be the furthest away one: Barrow, the northernmost city in the USA, 340 miles into the Arctic Circle. Its own people describe it as “probably the harshest polar location in Alaska”.
introduction to barrow
The Climate College field trip is going to Alaska because it’s one of the areas most clearly affected by climate change. They’re calling the expedition “Unbaking Alaska”, the idea being to show the selected “Climate ambassadors” the effects of climate change first hand, bringing them into contact with scientists working in the “front lines” of climate research, and introducing them to “climate witnesses” – especially Inupiat eskimos – they’ll be even more inspired to take action to combat global warming.
DateApril 10, 2008 | 1:26 pm
Although I’ve been to the Arctic a few times now, it hasn’t lost any of its excitement. A lot of people find it hard to understand why I want to spend some of the summer in the “frozen North”. Maybe it’s coming from a country like Scotland with its “challenging“ climate that accounts for my attraction to snow and ice. Not that we ever had -40°C there, which is the kind of temperature I sometimes find myself in on “Ice Blog” kind of trips. Mongolia in February is the coldest experience I remember. Travelling in the Arctic in spring and summer is mild, by comparison.
I first visited Spitsbergen in 2007, before the days of the Ice Blog. The climate issue is more worrying than ever, especially given the widespread lack of interest and increase in scepticism amongst the general public since the Copenhagen debacle and the negative publicity given to some of the climate scientists. Then comes the realisation that it will be very difficult to reach a binding agreement of any substantial nature in the next round of UN climate talks.
DateApril 9, 2008 | 2:21 pm