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Climate Change in the Arctic & around the globe

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Svalbard 2010

This year’s ice-blog destination is the Svalbard archipelago at 79° North, a focal point of the world’s Arctic research. Spitsbergen is the largest of the Svalbard islands, which are governed by Norway. Just 1200 km from the North Pole, scientists from all over the world monitor what’s happening to our climate and how changes affect ecosystems at the research station of Ny Alesund. This is also the spot where Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen started the first airship flight over the North Pole in 1926.

I took these pictures during a visit in 2007.
Once the site of a coal mine, around 30 scientists and crew now live in Ny Alesund through the dark, Arctic winter, in the world’s most northerly permanent settlement. When the snow starts to melt in spring and life awakes, biologists and glaciologists migrate to Svalbard to carry out their field research.
Amongst them this year is a team from the IFM GEOMAR, the Leibniz Insitute for Marine Sciences of Germany’s Kiel University, headed by Professor Ulf Riebesell. For the first time, they are cooperating with Greenpeace. The Greenpeace team is headed by Dr. Iris Menn and Martin Kaiser. The organisation’s ship the “Esperanza” is transporting the scientists and their special equipment to monitor the effect of ocean acidification on the Arctic ocean ecosystems off the coast of Spitsbergen.
Expedition prepares to depart – report by Chiponda Chimbelu

Date

May 18, 2010 | 3:28 pm

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The Arctic headlines that weren’t?

Although I’m a journalist myself I still often find myself wondering why some things make it into the headlines with some media and others don’t. Sometimes you hear something in the news in the morning that disappears very rapidly. And sometimes, especially if you’re interested in and concerned about climate change, you read and hear things that shock or worry you then, again, don’t make it into any other media.
I have a couple of examples here. The first I can find an explanation for, although I don’t find it justified and hope the situation will change in the next few weeks.
Scientists from one of Germany’s most renowned scientific institutes, the Leibniz Institute for Marine Sciences at Kiel University, set off on an Arctic expedition today.They’ve joined forces with Greenpeace. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is transporting some giant “test-tubes” up to the Svalbard archipelago, where they’ll be lowered into the water to look into the effects of climate change on the marine ecosystems. The scientists are particularly interested in the acidification of the oceans. I’ll be writing more about this later – in fact I’ll be catching up with the team and finding out more first-hand. But the reason I’m mentioning it today is that when I searched the news agencies, I didn’t find anything in English about this venture, although it’s using new, unique technology, and we know how susceptible the Arctic is to climate change – and what a key role it plays in regulating the world’s climate. I assume the reason is the ship left from the German port of Kiel, so only attracted German media. But come on folks, this is not a German story, the implications are as global as you can get.
I wasn’t able to go up to Kiel for the launch, but one of my colleagues went, so I’ll have more on that soon.
The other story which is even more worrying is one I came across in the online version of the German news magazine Focus
It’s headlined (in German)”Melting poles: No Ice, No Summer”.
The article reports on a story in the magazine Science which warns of the dangerous effects of melting ice in the Arctic and Antarctic on the deep ocean currents which help regulate the climate. In a highly over-simplified nutshell, it seems possible that at some point in the future, melting fresh water from the glaciers could reduce the salinity of the sea-water to the extent where the pump effect of dense salt water sinking into the depths would be hampered. This could interrupt the flow of warmer water which helps keep the climate of the British isles, southern Scandinavian and part of northern Germany mild.
Now why am I finding it difficult to get any more information on this from other media?

Date

May 14, 2010 | 1:25 pm

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The “Art”of keeping climate in the headlines

There is a danger of climate change sliding into the background. Recently I talked to Professor Mojib Latif, one of Germany’s leading experts on climate change. He said he thought people have a natural tendency to try to find ways of avoiding doing unpleasant things – like changing your lifestyle to reduce emissions. He’s still optimistic overall, though.
Today I received some info about an art project to draw attention to climate change by having sculptures created on icebergs and letting everybody follow the iceberg’s progress online. Interesting? Or just a gimmick? Judge for yourself here. I’ll be interested to hear peoples reactions:
The Cool Emotion Iceberg Sculpture project
The IPCC has appointed a “watchdog”, it seems, to try to avoid any more damaging errors making their way into the reports. The Amsterdam-based InterAcademy Council, or IAC, will be bringing out a report on its review of the IPCC procedure by August.
Meanwhile, the negotiators are gearing up for the next round of preparatory talks here in Bonn for the “big meeting” in Mexico towards the end of the year. They’re starting early, in May.
I’ll try to keep you posted on any important developments.

Date

March 12, 2010 | 12:37 pm

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