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Greenland ice melting in extra-warm Arctic season

Greenland ice wall

The Greenland ice sheet, photographed 2009

Apologies for a lack of new posts over the last week. The ice blogger was offline “up north”, not quite in the Arctic, but on the Orkney isles, where pioneering companies are testing devices to turn the power of the sea into climate-friendly electricity. But more about that at a later stage.

The worrying news about Greenland and the Arctic has jumped to the top of the ice blog agenda. NASA images of the Greenland ice sheet have indicated that for a few days this month almost the entire surface of the “ice island” was melting. A giant iceberg also broke off the Petermann Glacier in Greenland.

This is part of an overall development in the Arctic, where the summer has been unusually warm. The US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) says a large portion of the sea route between Western Europe and the Pacific has as little ice as it would normally have at the END of the summer melt.

This type of widespread surface melting is not unprecedented, according to the NSIDC.It might happen around every 150 years in Greenland. But the difference is that previous events of this sort happened around 7,000 years ago when the sun was tilted in such a way that it sent more sunshine to extreme northern latitudes. This time, there is no solar tilt to explain the melt.

Mark Serreze, director and senior research scientist at the NSIDC says Arctic sea ice is also at the extreme low end of the satellite record for this time on year and could be on track to equal the 2007 record, when the Arctic ice reached its smallest size in the satellite record. The sea ice is in a “sorry state”, he says, with holes appearing in satellite images much like a Swiss cheese. What next?

 

Date

July 30, 2012 | 9:54 am

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Titanic, Icebergs and a Warming Arctic

Icebergs from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier on ice blog trip 2009

Icebergs from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier on ice blog trip 2009

There’s a lot of media hype surrounding the 100th anniversary of the loss of the Titanic on April 15th 2012. It started so early, I was beginning to get tired of it – until I came across an article in the Vancouver Sun focussing on the fact that icebergs are still a danger in our high-tech age and that danger could increase rather than decrease as you might think at first, as the Arctic ice melts.

Date

April 13, 2012 | 11:01 am

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Greenland ice to melt completely with just 1.6° warming?

Greenland ice sheet, photo by Irene Quaile

If the Greenland ice sheet were to melt completely, sea level could rise by 7 metres

A new study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid indicates that Greenland’s ice sheet could be much more vulnerable to climate change than previously thought. It estimates the trigger for a complete melting of the ice sheet at somewhere between 0.8 and 3.2°C of global warming, with the most likely figure at 1.6°C. above temperatures before industrialisation. A  O.8°C rise has already been registered. In the long term, a huge melting of land ice could result in major rises in sea level, which would threaten coastal and low-lying areas and the lives of millions of people. More on the DW environment website.

 

Date

March 12, 2012 | 9:20 am

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Oil from the Arctic: Is it time for an Arctic Treaty?

The Arctic island of Svalbard from the air

An oil spill would have drastic consequences for the pristine Arctic environment

Given the increased interest in drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic as the area becomes more accessible in a changing climate, concern is also growing about the dangers an accident could pose to the fragile environment of the “high North”.  An editorial in the publication NATURE argues that we need a binding agreement like the Antarctic Treaty to protect the Arctic from pollution.

Date

February 7, 2012 | 12:57 pm

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Greenland’s indigenous people and the race for resources


This is Greenland journalist Nuno Isbosethsen,currently visiting Bonn and photographed here on Greenland’s “national day”. She was taking part in a panel at the “Global Media Forum” on “Indigenous peoples and the race for resources”. She was telling us how difficult it is for indigenous people to have their say when it comes to exploiting the natural resources becoming increasingly accessible in a warming climate.

Date

June 21, 2011 | 3:50 pm

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