Search Results for Tag: CO2
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.
DateJanuary 27, 2011 | 3:55 pm
Volcanos, the “No-fly”- ban and the climate
None of the experts were keen to give an interview at this stage about a possible link between a warming planet and increased volcanic activity, although some certainly say it’s worth looking into. But as we know, these things take a long, long time and we humans tend to want results “now” – and certainly in our lifetimes. Felicity Liggins,a climate consultant with the UK met office.
Met Office Climate Change Guide
did answer my enquiry, explaining that there is some evidence from the geological record of a potential link between changes in climate and volcanic activity through changes in land ice. But the data and the level of scientific understanding of all this is still very limited, she says, so that it’s not possible to draw any firm conclusions about whether we could expect more things like this to happen as a result of human-induced climate change.
She refers us to the papers I mentioned in the last post, which look at the impact of climate-induced ice unloading on volcanic activity. The authors use examples from Iceland.
Now of course the huge impact and publicity caused by the volcanic eruption make it a fine time to draw the attention of a wider public to research like this, which might otherwise only interest a very small minority. I certainly find the topic worthy of note and would be happy if the Icelandic eruption and associated publicity leads to some more research into this.
Another “positive” thing to come out of the flying ban is the amount of CO2 emissions we saved, although given the current frenzy to make up for it, the question is how high the reduction will really be overall.
I interviewed Jan Burck from Germanwatch about this.
You can see from the picture in the background that the organisation is concerned with “North-South” dialogue and creating a fairer world.
Jan took the emissions from European airtraffic per day, which amounts to an estimated one million tonnes of CO2. Taken over a whole week, he says those cancelled flights would have saved approxiamately one percent of Germany’s annual emissions, or as much as a whole country the size of Latvia emits in a year. That is a lot of CO2.
Maybe this whole crisis has made a lot of people think twice about flying, the form of transport most harmful to the climate. Estimates by Germanwatch and others say travelling just 3,000 km by air emits one tonne of CO2. By car, you could cover 7,000 km, by train between 15 and 20,000 km before producing the same amount. (Of course there are very complex calculations behind all this).
Jan Burck hopes big companies might re-think their travel policy, encouraging staff to use the train inside Europe, for instance. He also made the point to me that being “grounded” can give us a feel for distance and the size of the planet that a lot of people have lost, because air travel takes us across such big distances so quickly. Nice point Jan, good food for thought.
DateApril 22, 2010 | 8:06 am
Polar publicity stunt?
I took this photo during a visit to the Arctic research station in Ny Alesund, Svalbard, during a visit in 2007.
Picture Gallery on Polar Research on Svalbard
I had a kind of deja vu feeling when I saw the place on a tv programme the other night about polar explorers, still very much in action today. This was the mast where Roald Amundsen’s airship was tethered before he set out to make the first flight over the North Pole in 1926. The latest of his successors in the line of polar explorers also set off from Svalbard (a different spot)to cross the North Pole in a balloon last week and made it at the weekend. The French explorer Jean-Louis Etienne had to land in eastern Siberia instead of Alaska as planned, because a snowstorm near the North Pole made it impossible for him to recharge
the balloon’s batteries, run from solar panels.
It’s quite an achievement to cross the Arctic, five days on your own in a balloon. The technology available these days has advanced somewhat from Amundsen’s days. Still, the Arctic conditions are pretty extreme and can still thwart the “best laid plans of mice and men” (Robert Burns). But Monsieur Etienne wasn’t just in it for the thrills. He was also measuring CO2 levels for some French scientific institutions. I wonder what he found out.
DateApril 12, 2010 | 8:41 am
Alarming rise in Arctic methane emissions
Sound familiar? Ice-blog readers will remember methane is more than 20 times as powerful as CO2 as a greenhouse gas, and that scientists in the Arctic are measuring the extent of methane emissions from melting permafrost.
There are billions of tonnes of methane captured in the Arctic soil. As temperatures rise and the permafrost melts, more methane is released. It increases the greenhouse effect further, resulting in a “feedback loop”, with the increased warming melting more permafrost and releasing even more methane.
Zackenberg station in Greenland, which I visited this year, is one of the Arctic stations measuring methane. If you haven’t heard the programme I made including interviews with Prof. Morten Rasch, who heads the Greenland environment monitoring programme, it’s available under the “climate” banner on the right of DW’s environment page. There’s also a photo gallery with brief texts if you don’t have the time to listen to the full feature.
Climate Monitoring in Arctic Greenland
Now a study presented in the journal Nature reports a massive rise in the amount of methane being released from the Arctic permafrost.
See also today’s edition of the Guardian.
Guardian’s David Adam on rise in Arctic methane emissions
Although only 2% of global methane comes from the Arctic, the increase is highest in the Arctic, which is warming much faster than the rest of the planet.
The Guardian quotes Prof. Paul Palmer from Edinburgh University as saying the study “does not show the Arctic has passed a tipping point, but it should open people’s eyes. it shows there is a positive feedback and that higher temperatures bring higher emissions and faster warming”.
Edinburgh Climate Expert Paul Palmer
DateJanuary 15, 2010 | 8:57 am
Cold Wind off the Pole
I never thought I would come to love the howling icy Arctic wind. But it has one big advantage: It blows the mosquitoes away. It’s Sunday morning, and I came outside to drink my tea, since somebody had left windows open and there seemed to be more “grozzies” inside than out. Now a stormy wind has blown up, the strongest I’ve felt here so far, whipping up the dirt all around, lashing the station flags and sending the little weather station spinning crazy. I’m on the sheltered side of the hut, but it would be tough going along the mountain ridges at the moment.
I’m hoping it will reduce to moderate but keep blowing in time for today’s expeditions. Things are starting to blow around, I will have to retreat indoors. So far only the girls are up, except Lone. Sunday is the one day the cook gets off and can have a lie-in. Everybody else can do the same, except Julie. She has to go down to the river and check up on water levels, sediment content etc. at 8 every morning. Sarah is also on the go. She’s made her sandwiches to take down to her plots, where she is hoping to spend most of the day. But in this wind, she won’t be able to work there. Once since she’s been here, they had a storm like this all night, she tells me.
Sarah is measuring the respiration and photosynthesis of controlled plots between the station and the Sound. She waters some every week, to simulate the effect of the increased precipitation that is forecast to become normal in this region as the climate changes. The results will go into her Master’s thesis for Uni in Copenhagen. She has measurements taken here over the last 10 years to compare with. I visited Sarah to see how she works, down at the plots last night.
I’m going to go to the methane monitors with Julie again for some special measurements today. But first she has to bring in the co2 monitor, which is still playing up. She’s going to take it apart in the lab. You are very far away from anywhere here if anything goes wrong.
Meanwhile Philip, our logistics expert, has succeeded in repairing the back-up generator, which had somehow blown. This is a separate machine which can give the station emergency power in the event of a fire or other incident in the main generator hut. We certainly don’t need power for light at this time, most of the time we’re even ok for heat. But imagine what would happen to the electronic equipment and all those frozen biological samples of all sorts (!) – if we had no electricity for the fridges and freezers (not to mention the food supplies)…
DateJuly 20, 2009 | 11:13 am