Search Results for Tag: CO2
Zackenberg Station feels more like a camp, ten blue huts and some tent-like shelters in a wide valley, with snow-topped mountains behind and the water of the Young Sound fjord below. It is equipped with everything the scientists need for their “High Arctic research”, including wet and dry labs and all sorts of electronic monitoring equipment, but it remains a camp in a very remote area. It was set up 1995-96 and officially opened in ’97. It’s still small and exclusive, for a maximum of 25 people. There are only 13 of us right now, including the two “logisticians” Phillip and “Tower” and the cook, Lone.
The dirt runway can only take the Twin Otter or helicopters. At the moment, starting mid-July, there’s a plane once a week, as this is the high season. Up to last year, there was only one a fortnight. The station is only staffed in summer, June to September, as a rule.
We newcomers had our essential safety briefing with Phillip, our logistician, first thing this morning: radio use, flare pistols and how to use a rifle (!) Phillip is clearly a man who knows how to look after himself, looks tough and wiry, always has a knife in his belt and is clearly a good shot. In his black gear, including “Zero” (Zackenberg Station Logo) T-shirt and tammy, he could belong to some crack army unit (or a James Bond film) and he gives you the impression he is not a man to be trifled with. Still, he’s very patient with a visiting journo who has never fired a weapon in her life.
No, I’m not thinking of applying for the army or even our local “Schuetzenverein” (German traditional local hunting and shooting clubs) after this, but we are advised it’s a good idea to know how to fire a flare pistol and a rifle, in case of emergency (polar bears or musk oxen, plenty of the latter around here, although so far I’ve only seen the droppings and the fluff from their coats, but then I’ve only been here a day).
I was quite surprised by this, only ever having been in places where weapons are only handed out to people with licenses and training. Things are different in Greenland. Even Lone, our new cook, had to have a go with the gun (fresh meat for the kitchen?!).
I’m sure the guys all ducked for cover when I made my attempts, and I don’t think the polar bears or musk oxen have much to worry about on my account. The weather is still incredibly good, bright sunshine around the clock and clear blue skies, fresh cool Arctic air. I headed out towards the “climate station” this afternoon (took the radio, declined the rifle), where Julie Falk from Copenhagen was trying to fix the Co2 monitor. I’m really impressed at her technical know-how.
She tells me she has no choice, in this remote location, but is frustrated about the problems of getting spare parts. We also had a look at the methane measuring station. Zackenberg came up with some headline-making results about methane emissions in the Arctic. Terrestrial wetland emissions are the largest single source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The Zackenberg data provides hourly methane flux measurements from this high Arctic setting, into the late autumn and early winter, which means during the onset of soil freezing.
The scientists found out that the emissions fall to a low steady level after the growing season, but then increase significantly during the “freeze-in” period. Basically, the findings from here suggest that this could help explain the seasonal distribution of methane emissions from high latitudes, which had been puzzling scientists before. The methane is measured in glass traps which normally open and close automatically regularly and are linked to methane monitors.
Unfortunately, there’s a technical problem at the moment, but Julie was able to offload the data already logged there onto her laptop for the Zackenberg BASIC data base. More about that tomorrow, when I’ll be talking to our scientific leader Lars. If D. is reading this, remember you asked if this expedition would be very “physical”? Well so far everything here is being done on foot, with the ornithologists walking 25 km sometimes. So I think the answer is yes, and my trusty hiking boots are getting a good work-out.
DateJuly 17, 2009 | 9:01 am
US Voters for Climate Protection
What an amazing election result.
Change was the slogan, and there is so much that needs to be changed, especially with regard to climate policy.
If Barack Obama succeeds with his vision of ending US dependency on fossil fuels, it will change the world.
Of couse China has now overtaken the US on emissions, but the US could set a precedent.
I was very happy to hear the news, but also worried about whether the new President will be able to fulfill all the expectations directed at him. In fact, I’m sure he can’t. But if he can turn US policy on the climate around, he will be helping safeguard the future of everybody.
And with the Democrats apparently in control of all houses,the new administration should really be empowered to take action. And the Arctic Wildlife Refuge will have a reprieve.
Jodi wrote in that climate policy was blended into the candidates’ entire world view and policy package.She makes the point that you can’t see it in isolation, but only as part of the candidates’ world view. Your’re right Jodi. And, as you say, we can be happy the debate has moved on to tackling climate change, not questioning it. You also say the make up of Congress will be decisive. So I wonder how you interpret the outcome now?
Cara share’s Jodi’s relief about the overall change of attitude to climate change in the US. Cara, I agree with what you say about Al Gore’s key role in bringing Climate Change to the forefront of U.S. politics. You need celebrities and charismatic personalities to get these things across.
Cara says environmental policy was a huge decision-making factor in her vote, and she can’t wait to see what positive changes “our new president makes to improve the health of our planet!” She wrote that before the result was known. Obviously her optimism was well-founded.
Andy T. writes in that there was no other option for him but Obama. But he stresses that he can’t work miracles. Too true Andy, and time is marching on all too fast. Barack has a colossal task ahead of him. As you also mention, the global financial crisis has diverted a lot of people’s attention away from the climate issue. “They don’t realize that new technologies to combat climate change can be money-spinners or that it will cost us much more if we don’t take action to curb global warming now.”
It’s time the Stern Report came back into the headlines Andy.
The Economics of Climate Change
DateNovember 5, 2008 | 7:44 am
This week’s Arctic news has been pretty drastic. The current autumn temperature is five degrees higher than the average. 2007 was the warmest year ever in the Arctic, since people started to record the temperature. The sea ice, as we know, has decreased dramatically.
This is all based on figures from NOAA, the US climate research body (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
NOAA statistics and reports
The Polarstern (translates as Pole Star), the research vessel belonging to the German polar agency AWI (Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research) returned to base after being the first research vessel to sail right round the north pole because the north-west passage was open as well as the north-east.
The Polarstern voyage around the North Pole
White ice and snow reflect heat back into the atmosphere. Water,open because the ice has melted, is darker and absorbs heat, warming the ocean further. The Arctic is heating up at an alarming rate.
“Rudy” sent a comment in to the Ice Blog. He still isn’t convinced about global warming, it seems. I’m still trying to understand how that can be and what his point of view is.
Rudy, forgive me for not publishing the comment, but it contains abridged quotes from people without the context. Without being able to check the context, I can’t put them up here.
I’m happy to pick up on some of your points, though.
You’re right. Thankfully, the Arctic was not ice-free in 2008.(I didn’t think it would be, neither did most reliable sources I follow). But sea-ice cover hit a record low in 2007 and is not recovering. The North-West passage has been open. And the warming trend is continuing. Changes in flora and fauna are being witnessed and recorded. This is happening. And things are changing fast.
You say winds and circulation are causes of sea-ice melting, not global warming. Sure, winds and circulation play an important role. Nobody would dispute that. But these factors are all connected. And the climate is changing. I’ve talked to scientists from all over the world who are desperately trying to make predictions for the future. Nobody has a crystal ball. But we know humankind is pumping masses of CO2 into the atmosphere, melting permafrost is releasing methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere at an increasing rate. Of course there are natural climate cycles. But we are having our own effect.
I was talking to some British friends this weekend, who suggested we should really get away from the misleading “global warming” talk and refer to “climate change”. Apart from the jokes about the British wanting warmer weather anyway – of course climate change manifests itself in colder weather in some places at some times. Is it just the “global warming” term that bothers you?
What bothers me right now is that our EU countries are thinking about reducing their commitment to climate-saving measures because of the global financial crisis. If we don’t take action now, we might not have a globe we can live on, let alone finances to worry about.
I wish someone could convince me that’s too pessimistic?
DateOctober 22, 2008 | 6:27 am
TagsArctic, AWI, CO2, economics, EU, NOAA, north pole, Polarstern, science, sea ice, Warming, weather
Does Anybody Care?
On Friday morning, I was unpleasantly jolted awake by an item in the radio news, saying the world’s CO2 emissions had reached record levels.The Global Carbon Project – a respected international research consortium – tells us in its report Carbon Budget 2007Global Carbon Project
that our Co2 levels are already 37% higher than the benchmark of 1750, with the start of the Industrial Revolution. The scientists say the present concentration of 383 parts per million is the highest during the last 650,000 years, probably even the last 20 million years.
Even since the advent of this millennium, emissions have been rising drastically. And it’s not as if we aren’t aware of the related problems.
If you go searching the internet, you’ll find bloggers and the usual sites are reporting on the GCP report.
Climate Blog from Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (German language, but some good English links)
But on the mainstream media over the weekend, it virtually petered out into nothing.
Emissions have been increasing hugely in China and India. But they haven’t been decreasing in the developed, industrialised, wealthy world either. Will we never learn? Has the message still not come across?
We’re still burning far too much in the way of fossil fuels, deforestation is still going on, and all our carbon sinks – including the ocean and the forests- are losing some of their ability to absorb carbon.
This report is based on data from the UN, on climate resarch published in all the major journals, on sophisticated models and on energy daty collected by BP, which is unlikely to be exaggerating the dangers from burning fossil fuels.
This has got to be a wake-up call. But I have the impression a lot of people just went back to sleep once the alarm had gone off.
Yes, I realize we could be facing another Big Depression – but isn’t the fact that global warming is proving almost impossible to stop, with potentially catastrophic results for the planet worth a bit more attention?
DateSeptember 29, 2008 | 8:26 am
Lions, Giraffes and Hippos on Ice ?
So what are these African animals (I took the pictures in Tanzania) doing on the Ice Blog? Of course it’s all about biodiversity.
The Arctic is particularly sensitive to climate change and acts as a kind of early warning system. At the same time, ice melting up there will have consequences for the whole planet. I’ve gone on a lot about how melting sea ice affects the flora and fauna in Arctic regions. There’s also been a mention of how melting glaciers change the temperature, salinity and light conditions of the ocean. I’m currently working on a radio feature on my trip out onto the sea ice up in the Arctic with the “ambassadors” from the Climate Change College and scientist Chris Petrich. (Listen out for that in Living Planet). One of the main subjects of his research is the “albedo effect”. That is all about how the whiteness of ice and snow reflects solar radiation back up off the earth’s surface. When the snow cover decreases, the “melt ponds” are a much darker cover, and that absorbs warmth – exacerbating the overall warming effect. So, polar areas have a huge importance for the planet as a whole. Then there is the methane (around 23 times more powerful than c02 as a climate gas) being released from the huge areas of melting permafrost.
All this effects not only the area where it happens, but the whole planet. And of course, the sea level is rising, which will have disastrous effects for all the low-lying areas of the globe.
All our species of plants and animals are dependent on particular habitats and living conditions – from polar bears to giraffes, hippos, kangaroos or cuckoos. (Listen to Alison Hawkes on the plight of the “bird of the year” in the Black Forest. Will cuckoos exist soon only in those quaint – or exasperating – clocks?)
The Cuckoo Story
Last night the IUCN and UNEP staged an event here in Bonn to mark Biodiversity Day.
More about the IUCN
During it, I met Pavan Sukhdev,who’s heading the TEEB project,that is a study on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity. I felt very privileged to have the chance to talk to the man who’s in charge of what some people say could do for biodiversity what Nicholas Stern’s report did for climate change. The idea is to put a price on nature and make it clear, in economic terms, what it is worth to protect our biodiversity. The first part of the report will be presented in Bonn next week, but he did give me an idea of the scale of things. You can read the interview here:
Pavan Sukhdev on putting a price on nature
DateMay 23, 2008 | 8:43 am
TagsAfrica, Arctic, Biodiversity, Climate, Climate Change College, CO2, economics, feedback loops, IUCN, Living Planet, methane, permafrost, sea ice, Sea level, TEEB, UNEP, wildlife